I am a huge fan of delegating. Part of what makes me good is that I love time management advice, and I’m constantly asking myself what is most important to me. I keep my list to about five things, and everything else is fair game for delegation. Also, I am lucky to have many traits of a good delegator, including:

1. Little interest in details
Perfectionists are the worst at delegating. They are delusional and might die early from obsessive fixation on detail if they are lawyers.

2. Strong sense that time matters more than money
I am willing to sacrifice money to buy time whenever possible. Often, even when I overpay I feel good about not having had to do the task. And you can generally tell how much money I’m making by how many people I have helping me because that’s always the first thing I spend money on.

3. Young kids at home
There is no such thing as “free time” when you have toddlers at home. There is only time to parent and time to do the whole rest of your life. So time management is figuring out what you’ll either give up completely or delegate.

People who have a long list of things they won’t delegate are really just making excuses. I never regret having tried to delegate, even when things don’t go that well. I delegated my whole move from New York City to Madison and found out in 20-degree weather that I don’t have my winter coat. But so what? It’s worth it to have been able to do things that really matter to me instead of spending a week moving my stuff.

I delegated buying my mom flowers once. I decided that if it’s the thought that counts, it was enough that I thought to tell someone to do it. My mom wasn’t crazy about that idea, but the world is not the judge of what is okay to delegate. You are.

I got used to FreshDirect, the amazing online grocery delivery service for New York City (whose successful business model includes $600,000 in parking tickets a year.) In Madison, I was not about to start going to the store when I had already tasted the excitement of delegating the walk through the aisles. So I ordered online, but the Madison store didn’t save my grocery lists. And pointing and clicking 70 times to buy 70 items is not that fast.

But then I discovered that our local food co-op, Willy Street Co-op, has a great delivery system. No point-and-click ordering, just email them a list. So I started writing my list. But then I realized that not only does conjuring brand names and quantities takes a long time, but it takes a lot of brain power plan a family’s food for a week.

So I wrote list items like:
A few treats for kids –stuff that looks fun to eat
6 things that are microwavable that I didn’t think of.
Dinner stuff. Surprise me.
Fruit that’s in season. 4 servings

The food I got was healthy, appropriate and fun. (Thank you, Kelly). And this brings up overlooked benefits of delegating: you get to see things done another way; you learn from someone else about what is available; you get to have a surprise. If you are not a control freak, these are good experiences.

You spend so much time food shopping. Don’t tell me it is an integral part of your family life. It’s not. Sitting at the table together is what’s important. You don’t need complete control over what you eat. You probably don’t have the luxury of controlling as much as you are trying to control. And for most of us, the way to preserve and celebrate what is most important in life is to off-load what is not.

Look at your life for the things that are not at the core. Admit that the core is small. Question everything you think you need to do yourself. It comes down to how much are you willing to give up control, and how much you value your time.