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Welcome to the Cranking Widgets Blog. We exist to help you get more done by showing you ways to be more effective and let go of the stuff that doesn't make you awesome. Be sure to subscribe to our feed and follow us on Twitter here.

The Delegation Experiment is a living documentary of Aaron Mahnke’s journey to free himself from parts of his freelance design business that get in the way of doing what he loves. Part 1 dealt with finding the courage to let go. Part 2 centered around creating an inventory of tasks, responsibilities and time. And part 3 taught how to begin teaching those tasks and responsibilities to others.

Delegating out pieces of a freelance business can be frightening and challenging, but I think it’s pretty clear that if you want to grow, you’ve got to let go. So for all of those following along on this journey and trying to live it out for the first time, way to go. You’re stepping out on a new adventure that will take you places you’ve never thought possible. You’ve made your list of job responsibilities, and you’ve spent the time you needed to craft detailed “how to” guides for all of them. Now it’s time to test out the system.

I think it’s fair to say that any time we build something new, we have to test it before releasing it to the wild. In the movie Julia and Julie we get a glimpse into the life of Julia Child as she and her partners write the two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What surprised me about her writing process was the fact that, for each recipe they put in the book, they tested it out in the kitchen over and over to make sure it was easy to follow the instructions. Perhaps that’s the reason for the timelessness of her book.

If we are going to delegate tasks effectively, we need to write them effectively. And the only way to know if we have accomplished that is to test them out. Put your procedures in the hands of someone you trust and tell them to get to work. Specifically, when you ask someone to test your procedures, have them look for:

  • missing tools or items they need to complete the task
  • steps that are out of order
  • missing steps
  • unnecessary steps
  • unclear language
  • broken links
  • general typos and spelling errors

Some of these are issues we might notice ourselves if we look hard enough. But some are errors or omissions due to the Curse of Knowledge, and we could never find them on our own. This is why finding a trusted friend or family member to test the procedures out is so important. You don’t want nice responses; you want honest responses.

Lastly, one more point to keep in mind. Testing out our procedures becomes a way to break the seal on delegation. If we can’t find the courage, time or energy to hand a new procedure to a spouse or friend and ask them for a no-pressure test drive, how will we ever be able to do this with someone on a permanent, paid basis.

Delegating is about baby steps, not jumping into the deep-end. Testing out your procedures on others before releasing them “into the wild” is one more small step to move you in the right direction. Give it a try today.

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Delegate or die: the self-employed trap. | Derek Sivers: Because my team was running the business, I was free to actually improve the business! I moved to California, just to make it clear that the running of things was up to them. I was still working 12-hour days, but now I was spending all my […]

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Systems give you power. This was a hard pill for me to swallow. Luckily I have a great support network around me and my friend and strategic partner Charlie nudged me into overcoming my limiting perspective around this. For the longest time, I’ve viewed systems (established processes in business) as something stifling and cold. I […]

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In the last installment of the Delegation Experiment we worked through the challenge of deciding what pieces of your business you could, in theory, hand off to someone else to do for you. Because if you plan to delegate, you need to identify what it is you plan to delegate, right? But once we’ve done […]

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9. Pay someone to do it. This flies in the face of some theories: “Why work an extra week at your job to afford to hire someone to paint your living room? Work less and paint the living room yourself.” Um, no thanks. My theory is this: earn your money doing something you’re passionate about, […]

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In the opening post of my Delegation Experiment last week, I spent my time lamenting the stress and difficulty in handing the reigns to my business over to someone. It’s frightening to think about. But in the end the conclusion needs to be one of resolve and determination. If I am going to grow my […]

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Some tasks you just shouldn’t be doing yourself, even if you could do it better and faster yourself. By avoiding delegation you are piling up work for yourself that may not be the best use of your time. As a boss you’re the only person who can do Task A. Yet you’re spending your time […]

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I’m at a crossroads with my freelance business. After over two years of plugging away and cranking the levers, I’m at the point where I can’t get enough done in my day. I’ll be the first to admit that this is a great problem to have. But it’s a problem nonetheless. Maybe you’re there as […]

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