Don’t DIY

02.22.14

Just Don’t Do It: Why You Should Outsource More of Your Life

Think not DIY-ing makes you a slacker? Think again. Less Doing’s Ari Meisel says that delegating itself is a major feat—especially if it costs as little as $5.

I outsource approximately 600 things every month. Before I get into the details just realize that I’m talking about 600 things I don’t have to do each month. If each of those things took one minute, that would be 10 hours of my life I get back to do with as I please. I can use that time to be with my family, read a new novel, get to sleep at a reasonable hour, or simply come up with new ideas like an online course.

Of course, many of the things I outsource take much longer than a single minute, which means I’m really making out.

So what is outsourcing, exactly? Outsourcing simply means that a person, or even a machine, will perform an operation for you. Think phone calls, emails, shopping, planning, organizing, researching, writing, reserving, correcting, complaining, confirming, and any number of other verbs you can think of that you simply don’t have to deal with. Since you don’t have to deal with them, you won’t have to stress about them. Anything we can do to stress less is good because it’s the biggest obstacle on the path to true progress.

Delegation is a very important skill and most people lack it.

I know what you’re thinking: Won’t the time it takes to explain the task—especially if it’s a minor one—make delegating it to someone else moot? Wouldn’t it just make more sense to do it yourself? Delegation is a very important skill and most people lack it. Even if the task you’re delegating will never be repeated, the next time you have to issue one you will do it more efficiently, hence making it worth your while to do so.

Take for example virtual assistants, which I recommend everyone try at some point in their life if for nothing other than the educational experience of delegating a task to someone. Many people either have trust issues when it comes to working with a VA or they simply don’t know what they should have them do. You can start working with a virtual assistant from an on demand assistant company like FancyHands for as little as $25 per month or $199 for a dedicated assistant from Zirtual.

Before you commit, though, try TalkTo, a free service that lets you send a text message to any business in the United States and get a text response. Let me be clear, though: TalkTo is NOT a virtual assistant service, rather I suggest it because it can be used like one to try out the experience for free. Ask for a dinner reservation, change a doctors appointment, or simply find out if a store has an item in stock.It saves you the time of waiting on the phone, but it also allows you to take advantage of the time shifting benefits of a virtual assistant. For example, you can make a request when a business is closed and then clear your mind of it. When the business opens, they will respond to you and you can deal with it then.

One of the things I love to do is offload a bunch of tasks to my VAs around 9PM each night. It helps clear my head and I sleep better. If I want to make an appointment with a doctor and the office doesn’t open until 9a.m. the next day, why should that be on my plate for the next 12 hours? I can issue the task, whether through FancyHands or TalkTo and then I’m “done” and I can forget about it until I get confirmation that the job was completed.

You can outsource just about anything these days and the proof is on Fiverr, a marketplace where people will do things for $5. I’ve had logo’s designed, 3D models created, podcasts edited and remastered, videos made, translations completed, and much much more. All for $5 at a time.

It’s a wonderful place to dip your toe in the waters of outsourcing because it’s very low risk and you’d be amazed at what you can get done for just $5. And don’t be fooled into thinking it’s exploitative and people are being taken advantage of for a few bucks. Many people on Fiverr offer a basic service for $5 and if you want faster service or additional features the seller will upcharge you appropriately. The service providers are very talented individuals around the world who often do this in the spare time, and if they are lucky and successful in their tasks, their side hustle even becomes their main hustle.

These are some of the things I have received on Fiverr.

A review of my website and 10 suggested improvements (I’ve done this 4 times)

Custom “album covers” used as graphics for my online courses

Tweak of my Wordpress site for faster and more secure performance

A formal letter for any purpose

Transcription of 20 minutes of audio

A recording of a 150 word voiceover

Everyone has ratings and feedback so you can sort the good providers from the not-so-good ones. If you are really happy with the results you can buy another service from the same provider or see if someone else offers a similar service with more value.

Once you’re ready to outsource a larger project, try Elance, the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace. There you’ll find everything from graphic designers to architects to translators with the skills to effectively communicate your needs and manage your project remotely.

The biggest outsourcing hurdles are self-imposed. If we can get out of our own way, the bigger ideas and revelations we have; the ones worth devoting our time to, can shine. Clear your mind by effectively and efficiently delegating. It’s an important skill that will transfer to other parts of your work, and, of course, you’ll have more time to devote to it.