How to Accomplish Anything Principle #5: Outsourcing

This is part five of a nine part series on How to Accomplish Anything When You Don't Have Any Time.

Previously I addressed a mantra to stay focused, prioritizing only three things for action, stacking functions, and avoiding time sinks. Today I'll talk about outsourcing work.

Outsource

Purpose: Free up time and maintain focus

Gifford and Libba Pinchot ran a consulting business, authored multiple groundbreaking business books and founded an MBA school, all while raising three children. They were smart, passionate, hard-working people, but at some point, that’s not enough. 


Guess what? They hired someone else to wash the dishes and clean the house.

Outsourcing household work (cleaning and yardwork) is often one of the first steps. But it’s sometimes harder to figure out the next step.

After I published Avogadro Corp, I knew that I wanted to send review copies to newspapers, bloggers, and other folks in the tech industry. At the same time, I needed to be blogging and engaging online. And I needed to work on the sequel. I simply could not do all this in the time I had. 

I was able to hire a friend to work about ten hours a week over the course of a month to research outlets, draft cover letters, and send out review copies. For my second novel, I hired someone to research Amazon’s top reviewers for me.

The trick to outsourcing creative work is to have a clearly defined goal (e.g. send a copy to each person in this 150 row spreadsheet, with a cover letter customized to them), and to set up a review point part-way into the work (e.g. “Draft all the material for the first ten rows, and let me review it before you go on.”)

Are you concerned about the investment? Are you wondering how you could justify spending money on an activity that might only be a hobby? In my experience, once I’m investing money, I’m even more motivated to ensure that I’m using my own time wisely. If I’m going to spend $15 an hour to have someone else do something, I want to be using my own time to do something worth way more than $15 an hour.
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