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Help for Adult ADD: Learn to Delegate

by: ADD Coach Jennifer Koretsky

Adults with ADD are not "wired" for details. We're creatives, entrepreneurs, inventors, idea generators, and big picture thinkers.

When an adult with ADD is confronted with too many details to tend to, overwhelm quickly sets in. This is not a character flaw - it's quite simply just not what we're wired for.

There is actually a simple solution for dealing with details, and it might surprise you: don't deal with them.

A truly successful adult with ADD knows how to delegate the details, in both the personal and professional realms. But many ADDers struggle with delegation. When coaching clients to delegate the details (projects, tasks, and chores) that overwhelm them, there are three common objections that I hear.

Objection #1: Cost
A client has an online business that has a loyal customer base. He sells a lot of merchandise, and has been doing all the order processing by himself! This means taking care of the order fulfillment, the shipping, and the customer service - all on his own! He was reluctant to delegate order fulfillment to a company that supplies such services because he was afraid it would cost too much money.

Delegating this type of ongoing task to a service company certainly will cost some money, but it's an investment in the client's piece of mind and the company's future. When the details of order fulfillment are taken care of, he is free to focus on what he does best - business development. The business then grows, more money comes in, and the cost of the fulfillment company is more than made up for in sales and growth.

Objection #2: Perfectionism
Another client is a single mom who is a partner at a top-notch law firm. She works a lot of hours, and does her best to spend quality time with her two teenagers. But she was also spending a lot of time stressing - and I mean stressing - about how clean her house was (or wasn't). She was reluctant to delegate house cleaning to a professional cleaning person or to her kids because she thought it would take too much time to explain how she likes it all done.

This is perfectionism - she's not willing to let go of a task and let someone run with it. This client felt that if the house wasn't cleaned her way, it wouldn't be cleaned right. In order for her to delegate this, she had to trust in a professional cleaning service, and in her kids, and just let go of the responsibility altogether.

As a result, this client has found that her relationship with her kids has improved. They certainly did object when she first delegated certain daily responsibilities to them, but her stress level has decreased tremendously and that has had a very positive effect on her relationship with her kids.

Objection #3: Taking Care of Others
Another client is the president of a professional organization and is in charge of a big annual event. As the lead person on this event, she needs to delegate a lot of work, or it simply won't get done! But she had a lot of guilt about delegating projects without first "cleaning them up." Instead of handing over a file and saying "Here you go, this is what I need, please figure it out," she was spinning her wheels trying to clean up the file and make the project as simple as possible.

In this example, the client is not really delegating, because she's too busy taking care of the people helping her. It's very considerate, but doesn't move her project forward. Politely delegating projects, chores, and tasks is not mean, rude, or unreasonable - it's necessary, especially in the position that this client was in. Without delegation, nothing would get done.


In order to lower stress and ensure success, adults with ADD should ask themselves on a regular basis "What would I really love to delegate, and how can I go about delegating it immediately?"

© Copyright 2005 Jennifer Koretsky is a Professional ADD Management Coach who helps adults manage their ADD and move forward in life. She encourages clients to increase self-awareness, focus on strengths and talents, and create realistic action plans. She offers a 90-day intensive skill-building program, workshops, and private coaching. Her work has been featured in numerous media, including The New York Times Magazine and The Times (UK). To subscribe to Jennifer's free email newsletter, The ADD Management Guide, please visit www.addmanagement.com/e-newsletter.htm

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