You ever have one of those days where you're super prepared and you've got your two page to-do list ready to go, and you sit at your computer for a solid 8 hours until you stop to make dinner or do errands or do something that isn't work. Which would be a fairly standard day for many people.... except that I bet you get back on your computer after the kids are put away, or the kitchen has been cleaned and you're finishing off a few more tasks. OR, if you're like me, you're watching Brooklyn Nine Nine with your significant other, while sending emails on your laptop.
The to-do list is never complete, is it? You always have something to add, and there is never a point in which all the tasks are completed before you must add additional ones on. It drives me CRAZY. I feel like I'm living in a perpetual state of "must get things done" instead of feeling accomplished!!
That feeling came along quite a bit during the past year and even up to now. Trying to figure out how to do EVERYTHING, and still keep the business growing has been a true struggle. So last year, when I found a photo editor who was very close to my style of editing, I happily reached out and began outsourcing my editing.
Talk about a game changer. An entire window of time opened up for me, and I was able to put my focus on things I WANTED to do. Now I have someone reliable taking the bulk of my editing time off of me, then when I get the images back, I spend about half a day doing a final editing.
A task that used to take me DAYS (because I'd find every excuse to get distracted), now took a total of one day from culling, delivery, to final edits.
So what about you? Are there things you KNOW you should be doing, have tried to do, and either can't finish them, or just don't want to? Is it time for you to outsource?
These are four signs it might be a good idea to outsource.
You're totally backed up.
Are you 9 on the Richter Scale backed up? Is it DEFCON 1, "Houston, we have a problem", "mayday, mayday" level backed up? Are you "drowning and screaming for a life jacket to rescue you" backed up?
First off, shame on you!! Because you should have asked for help at DEFCON 3. You're not superman, you know (thanks Aunt Mae). But if you're here, or on the path to here, then it is definitely time to outsource. There are a lot of options out there for things you didn't actually realize you could hire someone else for.
- social media
- client care packages
- miscellaneous virtual tasks
All of the things listed above, at some point or another, are essential to your process. Maybe they're the personal touch you give to a client that increases your word-of-mouth, or it's something that's absolutely necessary for your marketing. If these are things you're foregoing, because you're too busy doing the work you're being hired for, then outsource! Eventually avoiding these things could catch up to you, and you'll have a whole different sort of stress on your plate.
You're completely overwhelmed.
I separated this from the last point because I definitely think they're too different things. See, I've been backed up. And it means I work 80 hour weeks and am constantly on my phone, and I'm basically a terrible person for a while.
I've also been overwhelmed. And that was this awful combination of too much work and no direction. It was cry on the couch and watch Netflix because the thought of sitting at my computer for another hour made me sick to my stomach. It was sleepless nights writing to-do lists over and over in my head, only to wake up and realize I've forgotten every plan of action I had originally. THAT is what I mean when I say overwhelmed.
But being overwhelmed is a symptom of being in DEFCON 1 for too long, and never asking for help. Asking for help before you get to this point is probably wise, but if you're hiding from work right now, then that's okay too. Breathe, write down everything you need to do, and then start weeding out those items you can pay someone else to handle.
You're constantly procrastinating on it.
You know you do it. That one task that you have yourself convinced you can do yourself, that has been on your to-do list for WEEKS and, for some reason, you STILL HAVEN'T DONE IT.
Guess what? It's probably because you don't actually want to do it!! Lightbulb! I'm sure you feel all sorts of guilty about the fact that you are avoiding this task, but stop wasting time. Outsource it to someone, or call in the cavalry and get it done.
You're just not good at it.
Let's be real. We all have our strengths... and we ALL have our weaknesses. While we may absolutely kill it in one task, we may be the absolute worst at another (like who else filed their taxes in April like I did?) If you're a photographer who takes stunning images, but is a TERRIBLE writer, outsource your blogging. If you have three kids, and no time to spend on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Google Plus, (okay, you get it), then outsource your social media! Get an intern, or hire a social media manager. The fastest way to Overwhelm City is to try to do things you're just not good at. You'll get frustrated. DON'T LET YOURSELF GET FRUSTRATED.
Guess what, my small business owner friends? You don't ACTUALLY have to do it all. Being overwhelmed and questioning why you ever started your own business in the first place isn't some sort of rite of passage, and while we'll all face that moment of shocking reality, you can lessen how often it comes up by simply asking for help.
Now, if you're wondering how you can afford to outsource, particularly in those early stages of business, trust me, I get it. Outsourcing does cost money... but so does your time! And every hour you spend working on items at half speed lessens the value of every dollar that you bring in. Adjust your pricing to account for those additional expenses, but take the time you're gaining back and invest it in projects that you will have a high return of investment on. You'll find yourself loving what you do again, and being an even better business owner to your clients.
Have a happy and fabulous Monday!