How would you like become super-productive? We all know of someone who appears to have super human abilities and manages to get more done in a day than most of us could possibly manage in a week. But, you too can get more work done by outsourcing tasks. You only need to learn about the tasks you can outsource, how to go about it and you are well on your way to being more productive.
This article examines 20 tasks you can outsource and gives you some tips on how to do it the smart way.
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But, Wait, What is Outsourcing?
Lest, I am accused of making the age old writing mistake of assuming my reader’s have some fairly good knowledge on a subject, let me first explain what outsourcing is all about. Feel free to skip to the next section if you don’t need this primer.
In a word, delegation. Outsourcing is all about getting someone else do your work for you at a fee. This person (s) or company can be in the same office block, neighborhood or half way around the world (thanks to the Internet).
Thanks to books like “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris, outsourcing has become a popular way to delegate tasks and even entire jobs to a horde of freelancers all over the world.
Having someone else do your tasks for you, frees up time to focus on things that add more value to your life or business.
Five Things to Consider Before You Outsource any Task
But, while anything and everything can be outsourced, it isn’t prudent to do so unless the task or job fits the description laid out in the following five criteria for task outsourcing.
- Dread – Does the thought of working on the task fill you with dread? Would you rather grow a rat tail than work on a particular task?
- Lack of Knowledge – Can someone else do the task better than you?
- Procrastination – Do you keep procrastinating, rather than starting the task?
- Repetition – Is this something you keep doing over and over again, without it adding real value to your life or business?
- Time – Could your time be better spent doing other things?
If you have answered in the affirmative to all of the above questions, then you should definitely outsource the task. The only time you shouldn’t outsource is if doing so will be more time-consuming than doing it yourself.
So, let’s get right into it, what kind of tasks can you outsource?
Your email inbox is supposed to be sacrosanct, right?
Well, yes. But, if you are in a profession where you get lots of emails, say for instance, fan mail, you can always forward these to a freelancer to deal with so that you can focus on more important emails.
Just make sure you teach your assistant how to respond to different types of email. You can have a template for this so that everything is clear right from the start.
Appointments and Reservations
Busy professionals seldom have time to make appointments and reservations.
Hiring a virtual assistant is a wise move if you swamped with work.
They can schedule calls, make importnant appointments like a dentist’s appointment, book hotels and flights, buy tickets to gigs — whatever you can think of!
Do you sometimes see something online and make a mental note to buy it only to completely forget? Personally, I often come across books I would like to read while browsing the Internet. But, I end up forgetting. This is just one example but is a case in point of how a virtual shopping assistant can help.
If you find something you want to buy online, you can send a super-quick email to your assistant, for example,
Buy Book: The Four Hour Workweek
Your assistant should have prior instructions on exactly what to do, i.e. the edition, total spend and where the book should be delivered.
This model can be extended to shopping for any item online.
Do you spend long hours on the Internet searching for information? Many people are in professions where they spend long hours searching the World Wide Web for information, data, statistics and so forth. In most cases, this is time better spent doing something of more value.
Outsource such a task to a freelancer with clear instructions on the type of information you want and where the information should be sourced, for example, government websites, reputable industry sources, leading news organizations and so on.
Cleaning and Laundry
This is a daily chore that you can’t avoid unless you are privileged to have people waiting on you.
Why bother with cleaning and laundry when you can have someone do it for you. This a good example of a task that would fill the ordinary person with dread. Best to get an assistant to help you out with this task and sites such as Taskrabbit are a good place to start.
Another example of a daily chore that is necessary but one many people don’t have time for. Outsource it on sites like Taskrabbit and free your time to focus on more important or fun things.
Writing, or more specifically, good writing is an art. In fact, there are almost scientific rules that govern good writing. If writing isn’t your forte, it’s best to let a competent freelancer do it for you.
You can outsource just about any kind of writing at freelance websites, this includes, business letters, blog posts, brochures, documentation …you name it.
We have all used Google translate at some point especially when you land on a non-English website. But, if you need something more accurate than Google Translate, go to a freelance website like Elance.com and request a translation from freelancers all over the world.
It takes only a few minutes to set up an account and begin receiving proposals.
Busy professionals often lose count of the many meetings they have been in.
It is easy to be completely zoned out or miss out on an important conversation. One way to ensure you don’t get completely overwhelmed or sidetracked is to record your meetings on a mobile device and immediately send the file to a freelancer to transcribe.
You can later go over the notes and pick the salient points.
There are numerous other tasks you can outsource, whether personal or business related. The following are more examples that complete my list of 20:
- Software & Web Programming.
- IT Support.
- Creative Arts including Artistic Illustration and Graphic Design.
- Video, Photo & Audio.
- Typing, data entry and office assistance, and virtual reception.
- Accounting and bookkeeping.
- Sales & Marketing including search marketing, social media marketing and public relations.
- Business plans.
- Business Support including data analysis, excel, recruitment & HR, and training.
- Legal Stuff.
- Engineering and other technical expertise.
Checkout out the ultimate list of tasks you can outsource to a virtual assistant.
Task Outsourcing Tips on Tasks You Can Outsource
There’s no question that outsourcing tasks can pose a challenge. The very fact that you are hiring someone automatically makes you a manager. You therefore need some managerial skills to ensure the process runs smoothly.
Stay on the right track with these tips.
Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)
It’s an old legal principle of contracting whose gist is, it’s your duty to know what you are buying. Whilst sites like Taskrabbit, Upwork (formerly oDesk) have made hiring easy, it is your duty to ensure that the freelancer has the capacity and skills to deliver what s/he claims.
When you post a job at freelance sites, you will normally get dozens of applications.
Peruse each one carefully.
Check portfolio (where relevant), feedback/rating reviews, work history and references carefully.
Come up with a shortlist and mull over it before you hire. If necessary, invite them for a Skype interview.
Be Clear & Concise
The last thing you want to do is to keep repeating instructions. Create a document containing clear and concise instructions of how you want the work done. This way, your assistant can refer to it anytime they aren’t clear about anything.
If dealing with computer related tasks, it’s best to record a screen capture video showing your assistant how you like things done.
Also, specify how long should be spent on each task. This is important where you are being billed hourly. The last thing you want is to go over your budget.
Don’t be Ebenezer Scrooge!
Don’t expect to hire a writer or programmer from halfway across the world for a few pennies simply because you read somewhere that it can be done. This is an unrealistic expectation.
The reality is, you get the quality of work that you pay for.
Whilst cross border wage disparities can save you some money, don’t insult professionals by offering dirt cheap rates. I always find it amusing when I find someone in New York posting a job at a freelance website seeking to have a “Build website like Yelp for $50” or “Write 100 articles at $5 per article“. It’s laughable to expect good quality, from any part of the world, at such rates.
Be fair, offer a fair rate and you will get value for money.
Use Hubstaff’s Time Tracking Software
Why? For a few simple reasons. To name a few;
- Hubstaff’s time tracking application lets you know when and what your freelancer is working on in real time.
- It comes with simple but effective time tracking tools for Windows, Mac and Linux. Our lightweight desktop timers record screenshots, and activity levels so you can monitor your remote worker. If you manage many freelancers, you can see who is effective and who isn’t.
- Over 3,000 remote teams, including leading organizations in their industries, run Hubstaff. A stamp of approval doesn’t get better than that.
- Hubstaff is completely free for 14 days. You don’t need a credit card and there are no obligations when you sign up. Invite as many members as you want and get a full-featured trial.
With Hubstaff you can track time, take screenshots, monitor activity levels, export reports and create invoices.
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