An Economist Can Help With Your To-Do List

An Economist Can Help With Your To-Do List. What?

As a leader, you know the amounts of responsibilities you hold. You are worried about your team, your board, your clients, and really want to be the best leader you can be, but sometimes you wonder how you are going to get it all done. And, not just done, but done well. You work and give and work some more but just don’t seem to be getting it all done. You wonder, “Will I ever feel like I have accomplished anything?”

There were moments in my leadership career that I felt like I could (insert should) do everything. However, I needed to learn that delegation is not only good for me, but good to model for those with whom I work. Often I was overwhelmed with all the demands.  I wondered how I was going to accomplish all that was on my to-do list.  I had to find something or someone to help me.  I had to ask for help.  And, I also had to consider if I really needed to do the items on my list.  What priority did they have?  Were there systems that I needed to put in place to make life and work easier?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when thinking about all your responsibilities as a leader? What did you do? Start small? Did you Eat That Frog (did the most important, most impactful, hardest thing first)? Did you binge-watch The Crown on Netflix because you just couldn’t start? Did you use self-talk as a means to help or hinder yourself?

A tool to help you with your leadership responsibilities.

The 4 Factors: Eliminate, Delegate, Systems, Ask

Think of your to-do list as an economist might think of production. Economists divide the factors of production into four categories: Land, Labor, Capital, and Entrepreneurship. I’d like you to make 4 columns: Eliminate, Delegate, Systems, Ask for Help.

1. Eliminate (Land): The first factor of production is land, but this includes natural resources, the gifts given by nature.  Do we really want to use up our dearest natural resources?  No.

Eliminate those items that you really don’t need to do.  Ask yourself why this is a to-do item and if it truly doesn’t need to be done, eliminate it.  It’s still in your eliminate column, so for those of you freaking out, you can go back to it later.

2. Delegate (Labor):  Labor, as a factor of production, involves human input.  The quality of labor depends on the person’s skills, education, and motivation.

What items on your list would be better suited for someone with different skills, education, or motivation?  Delegate those items.  Just do it.

3. Systems (Capital): Here capital refers to manufactured resources such as factories or machines.  To put it plainly, systematize.

What on your to-do list can be done more efficiently?  Is there anything you do over and over again that can be done in a better way?  Put those items in the Systems list.  Look at them.  Are some better suited to be handled with a system in place? This will take a little more time up front, but over time, will save you in the long run.  Think, ordering groceries on-line to be delivered.

4. Ask for Help (Entrepreneurship): An entrepreneur is someone who takes on risk and brings the other three factors together.

What items on your list can benefit from you bringing in someone else?  I know it’s hard to ask for help.  I get it, but two heads are better than one, right?


Whatever program you use to accomplish your responsibilities, the important part is to develop a way that works for you.  What do you do to navigate your list?

Lead Others, Without Losing Yourself

All parts of our lives are integrated. To improve one aspect, we must improve all – mind, body, spirit, heart.