The Sucks List

by Erica Cosminsky

One of my favorite exercises to do with new clients is what I like to call The Sucks List. It usually goes a little something like this.


Question 1: What is your main driving purpose right now?

I’ll accept personal or business answers.


Question 2: Where do you feel like you need help in that purpose or your business?

Usually this answer is “I’m not sure what I can offload.” Or “I’d like more help with customer service/graphics/websites/_______ but…”


Question 3: What’s your biggest fear?

After some hesitation, I usually hear spiders, snakes, clowns, flying, falling, being alone or dying. I ask this question because the response to Question 2 is usually fear based.

If you analyze these responses, spiders or snakes are an underlying fear of the unknown. Fears of being alone or dying is obviously a fear of lose or not being liked. Fear of flying from a psychology point of view is a fear of succeeding- falling is a fear of failure. These underlying fears can be very helpful in finding solutions to releasing control and succeeding in the delegation process.

Personally my two biggest fears are of succeeding (and not knowing what to do then or not being able to out-do myself) and grapes. Actually to be quite honest, I’m mortified of all purple foods. My little brother used to torment me by chasing me around with purple Skittles. I know it’s irrational – don’t judge me. Next…


Question 4: If I gave you $100 right now but you have to use it to hire a housekeeper, what would you have them do?

As you can imagine, this list comes quite quickly especially after the hesitation of the last question.

So why is it easier for us to allow some person into our house to touch our stuff than to let someone approve comments on our blog or to do research for us?


Now comes The Sucks List…

For a few days, keep a notepad with you to write down the following:

1. Things you find yourself hating having to do (e.g. going to the post office, accounting, follow up emails or calls)

2. Things that need to be done that you are too busy to do. (e.g. scanning receipts)

3. Things that you don’t necessarily have to do yourself (e.g. uploading and downloading audio files, or anything that doesn’t require your voice or physical presence.)




Erica Cosminsky is an HR Business Strategist for small businesses. She can slog through the pile of applicants and help deliver the best assistant to your “office door”, she transforms mile long to-do lists into manageable bites, and like your best friend after a raging party, she sticks around to offer assistance or clean up any messes, etc.

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2 Replies to “The Sucks List”

  1. Laura Click

    This is great, Erica! It just goes to show how irrational we are about our fears and delegating and letting go. The psychology behind this is really interesting and I love your questions. They do a great job at pointing out our hang ups with delegation.

    So, once you create this sucks list, what do you recommend someone DO with it? Use it to delegate or hire help?

    1. Erica Cosminsky


      Great to “see” you! I suggest three things after you create your sucks list. 1. Identify items that can simply be eliminated. Considering the 80–20 rule, I’m a big fan of removing as much of that 80% that isn’t producing value.
      2. Delegate anything and everything you can from your dislike list. I use a time log tool with my clients as well, and on the time log I have them mark items as Love It, Like It or Hate It so they can prioritize their delegation of regular tasks.
      3. Hire help if you know you are going to continually delegate the same items. Example: I write my newsletters and my VA proofs, formats and sends them for me. I’m perfectly capable of doing it but she does it so much more efficiently that I’m able to use my time for other things like writing.

      Thanks for the great question! Let me know if my long comment raises more! 🙂

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