What’s on Our Minds: Eisenhower’s Box and Delegating Personal Responsibilities at Home

Yesterday, we shared a short video on the Eisenhower box as a decision-making tool to decide how to prioritize your time based upon the urgency and importance of tasks. Triaging responsibilities as urgent, but not important suggests that delegating those duties to others may maximize the effectiveness and productivity of your own time. Delegating means entrusting a responsibility to another person.  Depending on your role, this may be a fairly easy option in a work environment—especially if we work as a collaborative team accustomed to lending-a-hand and helping each other out—or if we already have a built-in organizational support system to accomplish this (supporting staff, executive assistant, travel agent, etc.). However, delegating personal responsibilities to others in our personal lives can be a completely different and more difficult undertaking.


Why It Matters

When we consider everyone involved in our day-to-day personal lives, how responsibilities are divided across cooking, cleaning, errands, household tasks, children, work, hobbies, etc…can impact how smoothly life runs in the home.  Are you living alone with no readily available person to pick up slack when needed? Is one individual being saddled with most of the burden, eating up their energy and available productive time for more of their important things?

In best case scenarios, people will assume responsibilities proactively for tasks that they don’t mind and require very little of their energy; while doing the family bills and accounting may be one person’s strength, another may find making beds and doing the laundry comes easily. But also knowing when and how to ask others for help can potentially reduce burnout and stress.


Something to Think About


How we approach delegating responsibility to others, like a spouse, partner, friend, or child is as important as what someone is asked to do. It’s often not a clean hand-off.  Push back and negotiation may come into play—especially when “to-do” lists are more or less equally divided from the get-go. However, it is important to communicate needs and ask for help in the first place….as long as it’s not seen as off-loading a previously negotiated responsibility.  Otherwise, we might need to double check how we’re thinking about our priorities.

But assuming that we have a helping hand willing to pitch in, clearly specifying what needs to be done, and how to do it, is critical. We also need to understand that someone who is covering down on a task for us might not execute on it exactly the same way we will! Guilt-tripping others or expecting perfection rarely works as a long term solution to engendering cooperation and teamwork. When it comes to recruiting children to help, they actually benefit in the long term from completing age-appropriate responsibilities.

Finally, in areas that consistently generate stress and arguing amongst those you live with, it’s worth considering where to budget money to employ someone to assist with these less favorable tasks.