Close your eyes (only for a moment and then keep reading!). Now imagine you managed to ‘find’ a few extra hours every week. In fact, imagine that you have more time than everyone else around you. You can spend your extra few hours on anything you’d like, whether that be closing an extra deal, or going on a long date.
Think hard, what would you do with a few extra hours every week? How would you spend that new free time? How would gaining extra time change your life, or would it?
There is one thing in the world that you can never earn more of, and that’s time.
This is why outsourcing exists, to free you up from tasks that you don’t want to do or that don’t improve your life, so you can spend more time on things that you enjoy and that add more value to you. The tasks that make you feel bogged down, but that you have to do, should be first on the chopping block.
“Lost time is never found again”, said Benjamin Franklin, and time spent on tasks that you dislike, and that you can hire an expert for, is in fact lost.
Of course outsourcing only adds value to your life if you use your extra time productively. If you instead sit in front of the tube to veg out you’re simply spending money without adding any value.
Develop Your Expert Team
Not only do you free up your time outsourcing, you also hire an expert. A personal cook can probably cook better than you, a maid is likely to clean more efficiently, and an investment advisor should be better at guiding you to a successful financial future.
Take time to handpick and develop your team, then lean on them to take over your workload that doesn’t forward you to your future goals. This way you can focus on the big wins, such as getting a promotion, landing a new client, or beating your personal record in a hobby. Go ahead, launch yourself to the next level.
To make the most of outsourcing, think of something that will really help change your life.
For example, have you ever tried to work your hardest and focus on the task at hand, only to semi-consciously login to Facebook and waste a few minutes?
This happened frequently enough to Maneesh Sethi that he outsourced his attention span to someone else. Maneesh hired a woman named Kara to slap him in the face every time that he strayed onto a social media site (1). And guess what happened? His production quadrupled from when he was working without the pressure of slaps to keep him on task.
This isn’t the only case of creative or strange outsourcing, but it deals with a very common problem. People often get off task due to the endless entertainment of the internet. Each has his or her own favorite online distraction, whether it’s Facebook, YouTube, BuzzFeed, checking stock tickers, etc. Let’s call these ‘vice sites’.
How much would your production increase if you actually felt physical pain if you visited your vice site? As crazy as it sounds, it may be worth hiring someone, or something, to keep you on track. It can add hours per day to your life and drastically increase your output and results. How much is your time worth?
There are of course other ways to stay on track and outsource your attention. The best and most popular is Chrome Nanny (2) which blocks sites for a certain duration or time of day. Think about some of the distractions and useless time sucks that are in your life. How can you creatively minimize or eliminate them?
(1) Maneesh Sethi
(2) Google Nanny
BONUS: Interview With An Outsourcing Expert
Dave Hensley built his business, a photo and document scanning service (www.scangaroo.com), by leveraging outsourcing. He has gone through the trials and tribulations, and knows how to outsource and leverage Virtual Assistants as well as anyone else out there. He shares some of his insights with us below. I have bolded the best parts for those of you with short attention spans, enjoy!
Tell me a little bit about how you got started outsourcing. What was the first thing that you outsourced?
“The first thing I outsourced was a job to build index books of the photos that we scan. Actually, I didn’t end up hiring anyone for that. I didn’t get a great response on that job posting because of how I wrote the job description. I learned that a lot of it depends on how well you write your ad and how detailed you are.
You are dealing with people that may not have the best communication skills, and their English can be limited. If you use slang or references, someone overseas may not get that.”
What was your first successful outsource?
“We do a number of scans of old slides like the ones that you put up on the wall in the living room and the whole family would gather around. Those have gone by the wayside and people have boxes of these lying around decaying.
We have a scanner that scans the image with a border around the outside. So someone has to crop out the border on each slide for the image to be pure. I had gotten quick at doing it, but my time is better spent correcting the color back to the original state.
I was very specific in the ad, even with the software to use while cropping the slides. I get screen shots of what they are working on, so I get to check in on them and help them get better at their work.”
So you actually train your virtual assistants?
“Yeah, you can. Out of the group of responses I had the top 3 hired for the first job as a test. One at $1/hour, one at $2/ hour, and one at $3/ hour. I used this first job as a test to see their efficiency and skills, and ended up hiring the $1/ hour guy. He listened better, was the quickest, he wanted feedback, and cared about the work. He wanted to make sure that he was doing the work the right way, and asking what he could do better. This was his first job; he had no experience and ended up being the best option for us.
The best way to do it is to identify a job that is not the best use of your time, set up the job, and hire a few people for it. Whoever you like the best at the end of the job is the one that you will hire for the services down the line. You have to do a little bit of work to get exactly what you want, but if you put in your time it is well worth it.”
What other tasks have you outsourced?
“We have a list of different places that want to have guests, such as radio stations and other interview opportunities. We needed the list narrowed, and organized, so we hired a Virtual Assistant to do this for us. Eventually they will also be sending out templates that we’ve written to the list.”
How do you decide when your Virtual Assistant graduates to a more complex task?
“What you decide to do with the Virtual Assistant depends on how they do with their previous tasks. You find a great Virtual Assistant: you keep testing them and growing their talents. As they prove themselves you move things into their pile. They are almost like an employee. You can give them bonuses and raises, but they are on contract work. I just gave my $1/ hour guy a raise based on his performance.”
How do you choose what to outsource.
“If you go through your day and write things down you will see that a lot of your time is spent doing busy work and is not building your business, and your time can be better spent elsewhere. These tasks are the best places to start.”
What are you looking at outsourcing in the future?
“Identifying potential customers and leads. Say we want to do a campaign and get a mailing out to every historical society in Colorado. The old model is to dig on the internet, ask around and pull out the phone book and make calls, and this takes a lot of time to do. The new model with a Virtual Assistant is to say, we want to list of every historical society in Colorado. We want their phone number and email in an excel spreadsheet, and we want it delivered on this date.”
You’re outsourcing part of your marketing strategy up to finding leads and building lists, have you looked at outsourcing and implementing part of the marketing or call strategy.
“We actually show them where we are in each step, and they understand the process and where they are in the overall scheme. We’ve built in Virtual Assistants in our process maps already with our customer satisfaction. They send out the meeting reminders, confirmations, and thank you cards. We have the templates and formats built out to where our Virtual Assistants are part of the process.”
What is your advice for someone looking to start outsourcing?
“Start by identify one thing to outsource to get the experience of how it works. To learn the most you have to act and do. For example, every business needs a list of leads. A Virtual Assistant can mine data online, which is very time intensive. They can also piece together the data on your spreadsheet. Then you can focus on how to best reach those people.”
Any last thoughts or suggestions?
“The biggest piece of advice is to try it. If you try it and it’s a failure you will only be out $10–20 dollars to find out that it isn’t the right job for that person. You can spend many hours and days interviewing people and training them and they don’t always work out.
To make it easy you can have them carry out a very small task that is easy, then you will see how it works, and once you feel more comfortable you can outsource bigger and more important jobs.”