How to Delegate Work You Shouldn't be Doing
There's a few different stages that outsourcing takes in your business and there's also a, there's a difference between delegating and outsourcing. Which a lot of people don't necessarily recognize. So true delegation is really a form of leadership. Not that surprising, but if you are conveying your needs or the needs of your vision or your company to somebody in a way that they are able to take it, run with it to a good extent, overcome hurdles on their own because they've been empowered to do so, that is delegation and truly leading rather than them having to come back to you for you to manage them. It's generally consider I would say at this point that management itself is not necessarily a really good use of anybody's time so we need to be able to empower people to do this kind of stuff. There's different levels of delegation. There is the very simple level. Outsourcing would basically be like hey, here's a thing, you do it, let me know when it's done. That's pretty much outsourcin...
g. Delegating is more like do this, come back to me if you need advice. Or if you need direction once you get to a decision point or go find out more about this. Research it, come back to me, let's discuss and brainstorm this how we're gonna do. Or I don't wanna know unless there's a problem. Just get it done. So those are all different levels of delegation that you can either help or hurt depending on the tools that you put in place. So generally though with outsourcing, we'll just use that as a sort of overall, you can outsource at an individual level, you can outsource at a company level so one of the things that we often see with a service like ours is that will be a support service to other people in a company. It's not that we're necessarily gonna replace someone's in-person executive assistant. That's not the goal, but we might help them get things done that they couldn't necessarily get done. And a big part of outsourcing effectively is that idea of being replaceable because if you were to figure out the things that you really shouldn't be doing, then that's sort of naturally is gonna lend itself to things that other people could possibly do for you. And if you stop sort of holding on to those and you can even start with things that are very small and have low risk, you can start there and then build out from there to see how people can help move those projects along. It's a really great way to smash through procrastination in many ways is to give it to someone else to run with it. I'm really big on helping people become more decisive and doesn't mean that you're always gonna make the right decision, but stagnation is the worst thing for anybody. The thing sitting on your desk waiting for you to read it is just a terrible place for any business to have something be in. And to some extent even if you make a sort of bad decision or chronical bad decision at least, you'll be in a new place now hopefully where you can then make another decision, but we never wanna stop. A lot of times I see leadership, really good leadership, as something like playing hot potato where you get the potato just long enough to maintain control of it and then you pass it off to the right person and you're moving things around. It's an important image because you never wanna be holding onto something to the extent that you slow it down and I don't care what business you're in nowadays, everybody has to be thinking about growth and scalability. That might not have been the case before, but now we always have to be thinking about growing and not having anything slow that down as much as possible. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't be doing those things that are important to your business, but you should do them to the level that they don't slow things down. Really, really key because there's never gonna magically be like three minutes later when you can look at something if you could've looked at it right now. There's never gonna be any slow down in work. Even if you have a dry spot in your industry, it doesn't matter. There's always more things to do. That pipe is always gonna back up if you don't keep things moving. And it's an important balance to strike too by the way. This should do this as an aside, but to your point before about going back and doing quality control on our processes, it's a very individualized balance because if you make this really wonderfully shiny pipeline that's all perfect and all the joints are really tight and everything, but there's no water flowing through it, it's not really purposeful and so we can end up slowing it down. It's actually an interesting thing that we look at is relevant to this too. One of the metrics that I think is often overlooked in companies and is really important in ours and we're looking at this all the time is the ratio of internal work to external work. Now whatever business that you're in, there is some level of this. If you're a lawyer for example this is really obvious. It's billable versus non-billable time, the time you're working in the business versus on the business, but every business has this. Even as a founder or as a CEO, whatever it might be, there's going to be time when you're doing things that are generating for the company and other times when you're doing things that are maybe cutting costs or enabling your business to generate more income and there always has to be that balance because you can be tinkering and tinkering as long as you want, but if you're not servicing this need over here there's no point. So there's no golden ratio for that, but in our company we usually try to keep internal to 20% or less on a weekly or monthly basis and that seems to serve us very well because the way you can think about that is that if you're growing that's great, but this is the efficiency of your growth because if it's requiring half of your time to grow twice as big, that's not necessarily a good thing. So with outsourcing what we also generally wanna thing about is it's not just about are we overwhelmed, do we have enough time, do we have the resources. The resources can be time, but sometimes it's just knowledge and skillsets because you might be a really great group of financial advisors for example or accounts or doctors, but it doesn't mean that you know anything about marketing and it also doesn't mean that you should be hiring somebody in-house to be the marketing person. Maybe you really need to be sort of touching on different people's skillsets, somebody who has the experience with medical, somebody who's with that particular area, whatever it might be so thinking about expanding your skillsets and having unlimited access to any skillset that you might need on a oftentimes piecemeal basis is really important so that's another part of this as well is that there is... It's not as common now, but I think that generally speaking there has been this mentality for a lot of older generations that you really have to have a full time person. They really have to get on board and they have to know your vision and understand your branding and all that kind of thing and you're really limiting yourself when you're doing that because people like to work in different ways and people like to work on different projects and they learn from doing other projects with other businesses that they can bring into yours as well. This is particularly true with marketing. There all sorts of tricks that come up every day for Instagram growth or for how we reach big audiences with things like a ThunderCloud campaign which you may not be familiar with, but there's all these different things that you're siloing somebody in if you try to get them to be just with your company. So you can outsource really small things or really big things so this is Trello which is a big tool for us that we use for project management, but these are some examples of things that we have outsourced for different people and different businesses. So I'm still often sort of flummoxed by seeing the things that people aren't aware that they can outsource. So everything from those really big processes like we mentioned before with machine learning and algorithms and whatnot to little things like booking travel and they all have their different values. If you look at the sort of projects that you have on your horizon or for your company or your to-do list, that's a really good place to start. There's a number of ways that we can look to figure out what you should be outsourcing. So I'll actually take a little aside here to talk about to-do lists for a second. So I am really, really against these traditional to-do lists. I always have been. I think that to-do lists themselves, the way that they've historically been used are about as anti-productive as it gets because they lack movement. So there's a psychological basis to this as well. There's something called the Zeigarnik effect which I've talked about before, but it's always relevant. It's the voice in our heads that pushes us to complete the uncompleted. That's the Zeigarnik effect. And there's a whole big backstory to it, but effectively if you look at most to-do lists, there are things on it that you just can't do right now because they're either too big or you're waiting on somebody else to do them first and again most to-do lists have those all in one place so the things that you're waiting on somebody, that's there and the things that are too big. So I've seen things like write book on to-do lists. That's a pretty scary one actually. Or new brand, that's a good one too. Even new logo can be kind of a scary project. People need to break these things down and they tend to not do that. So you see these things on a to-do list and the Zeigarnik effect pops up and it's saying like do that now. I wanna get that done. Let's get that done. It's looking for closure, but you can't for whatever that reason is and that creates cognitive dissonance where our brains basically can't make a right out of two wrongs and then it puts the brakes on any productivity. So the reason that I like Trello and this is not a standard sort of Trello layout, but it's what's known as a Kanban system. So a Kanban is a old Japanese light manufacturing principle basically. It's Toyota and Mitsubishi essentially for their assembly lines so it's that movement. And as you can see what this has is sort of different columns or different phases so a typical Kanban layout and the reason I'm not showing you that on this slide is because again Trello doesn't, it doesn't matter if it's Trello or not. You could literally do this with post-it notes. The people who, if you've ever seen people with post-it notes on a wall like this for their to-do lists, they're actually in the best possible situation to do this kind of thing because there is sort of that movement ability. So typically what you'll see is some form of to-do, doing, done. Whatever that could be, to-do, doing, done. Prospecting, in contract, closed. It could have 17 phases. It doesn't matter, but some arc of to-do, doing, done. And that's really important because the to-dos should be broken down as much as possible so they're sort of on deck. So if it's sitting in your to-do part of it, then you need to figure out what that next action is. And then if it's doing you're working on it right now so you know what you should be focusing on, you know what that one thing is and things can move back and forth between those lists. And then obviously things are done or done, but there's a motivational aspect to that. We love getting things done. Progress begets progress so if you can see all of those things there that you've gotten done, it's not the same as just crossing it off a list which people love to do. The other thing that people love to do is if you see somebody who's really overwhelmed, really, really overwhelmed, a lot of times what they'll tell you if they had a good day is that they got seven or eight things on their to-do list. That was their accomplishment for the day and that's a problem. That's a big problem. So the idea of doing something like that with Kanban and again if you do a post-notes, you could actually do this with paper. There are plenty of other tools that do this. Trello is just one that we like, is that you're gonna have that sense of movement too and that sense of a direction of where you can take it. So some of the ways to figure out things that you can outsource is those things that are on your to-do list. If you're getting held up for some reason because you're not able to move that forward, it actually may be something that you can just give to somebody else and see what questions they come up with. A lot of times the information that they don't have is the information that you don't know you can give. And also you might not just have the skillset to know what you don't know so if you're just being held up on something for some reason and you're like I just gotta get to this place before I give it to somebody, don't. Perfectionism is the same thing as procrastination quite honestly. You're better off having lots of really good screws than just one perfectly tight one that if you turn it one more time you strip the screw. So look at your to-do list, look at what's on there, look at what's being held up. Those are probably good opportunities to start looking at outsourcing and whether you're outsourcing to some sort of generalist like a virtual assistant or some just general executive assistant or to a specialist like a graphic designer or a sales funnel specialist or a copier or whatever it might be it doesn't matter. You can have those sort of things in place. The other thing that you can start to do is look at things that were big accomplishments over the last quarter for you. This is something I really like doing with people. So look at something in your business that was big and think about why. Why was that important to you? Then start to look at what is it that you can do to drive that forward. Whatever it might be. Maybe you landed a huge client, maybe you hired some really key hirers, maybe you opened a new factory, whatever it might be. Why was it big? What is the next thing? What can you do to make that go forward and then what is the very next action to do that? And nine times out of that's something that you can outsource. So it might be that you need research done. Maybe you need a marketing specialist to look at how you're gonna brand this new opportunity whatever it might be. Maybe you need to start having a new client appreciation program for that new big client and how we do that kind of follow-up. So a lot of times that way of looking at it, that sort of positive focus is a really great way to see what can be outsourced. The more negative way of looking at it which is also effective is look at the things that are repetitive so there are gonna be the things at the end of the processes. Look at the things that you don't like doing or that you're avoiding doing and also look at the things that you don't know how to do. And a lot of times you can sort of access talent to do those kinds of things and then the last one which is the hardest one, but it's really valid is look for unforced errors. So I'm stealing this from tennis obviously so in tennis an unforced error would be something where you made a mistake that had absolutely nothing to do with something that your competitor did. It's completely on you. You had the complete control of it, you made a mistake through no fault of your own. Whether it's because you hesitated or you made the wrong direction, whatever it might be. It can sometimes be a little bit of a tough journey, but you look at the things in your life or in your business that were unforced errors, things where you just really screwed up and it had nothing to do with anybody else. It's sort of a form of extreme ownership and that also will present you with opportunities where you should've outsourced, you should've asked for help from somebody or something and that's a really key point that I wanna make as well is that outsourcing should not just be seen as giving something to a mechanic to do. You can outsource strategy. It's something that really good services pride themselves on and something that you really can get a big benefit on and a big return on because just having someone do something is great. That's a good start, but if you actually start to have somebody look strategically at your business and what you're really trying to do and that is outsourcable, that's where you can really start to see the benefit of this kind of work. And it enables you to do more with a smaller team, to take advantage of opportunities that you might not have been able to before and to realize opportunities that you might not wanna take advantage of actually. So part of this too is just idea capture and getting this stuff out of your head as quickly as possible so this is sort of the last thing that I wanna talk about that ties all this together is decision-making as I said, but... So for me decision-making is really having at your disposal the pathways available to you to do these different kinds of things. Okay, so what I mean by that is it's not just... I shouldn't be in the situation where I have to think well it's this kind of project so I should go find this kind of person and get them to help me with this or I need to whatever it might be. It really should simply be if it's this kind of thing I go that way and if its this kind of thing I give it to that person, if it's this kind of thing I respond in kind so the more that we can remove those decision fatigue moments the better. So idea capture is the real key to this and I take this to a bit of an extreme honestly so as entrepreneurs, as founders, as people in businesses, as people working a nine to five job, it doesn't... Yes?
Sorry, can you, for those that are not familiar with decision fatigue, can you explain that a little bit more?
So decision fatigue is basically that we're making, we're doing those context switching all day long where we're switching back and forth rapidly between task and it actually is physically exhausting on our brains and our bodies. So the average person probably makes 1000 decisions by the time they get to one o'clock and that's usually too many. It's why people like Mark Zuckerberg wears the same thing every day because it's one less decision. Or you don't have to think about what you're having for lunch because you have the same thing for lunch every day. Those are pretty basic ones, but not having to decide every single time a marketing project comes in who is gonna do this, that's a bigger one that would be a problem for people or how we're gonna pay people this week, which account we're gonna use. The things that we can do to remove those decisions the better. We need to be able to get ideas out of our head as quickly as possible and again this is at any level of you're running a business or you're working a business, doesn't matter. The human brain is great at coming up with ideas. It's really bad at acting on them usually and it's also really, really bad at holding on to them and just have... Limited memory is kinda why U.S. phone numbers are seven digits because that's basically what most people can remember. The ATM pin code is four digits because the guy who created the ATM wanted to make it six, but his wife couldn't remember six digits so there are four. So it's this pretty common that the brain that we have is limited. We're really great at innovating and I don't believe by the way that you can innovate and hustle at the same time. Everyone loves to hustle and talk about how they're hustling 24/7. I don't think that you can do the two things at the same time. It's a very different mindset as far as I'm concerned. You can balance the two in your day in your business, but they don't really mesh as far as I'm concerned because hustle is go, go, go, innovate is let's stop and make this smarter. So idea capture. This can take so many different forms, techy and non-techy, but I'm just gonna give you kind of a list and idea capture is great if you can actually get that into a place where the idea starts to move forward for you and people can start to work on it. That's gravy. So in our house for example we have a couple Amazon Echo Dots so any time I'm with the kids, I have four small children by the way, any time I'm doing anything I can very quickly say Alexa, remind me to do this or Alexa, make a Trello card or Alexa, send me an email about this. So the key there is that not only are you not getting frustrated that you can't hang on to a good idea or not, but you have the, basically the sort of a garbage cleanup situation there because I don't wanna oversimplify the neurology of this, but if you're holding onto a lot of different ideas, you're really lacking the ability to come up with others and you're just filling your head up with nonsense and we tend to judge our ideas really badly. We're very, most people are pretty harsh critics on themselves. It's actually one of the reasons why when you're tired you tend to be more creative because you're less likely to shoot down those sort of bad ideas and let them come out which is kind of crappy to think that's how we are. And the thing is is that you can't identify bad ideas. You certainly can't identify relevant ideas which don't have a crystal ball. So you gotta get these ideas out of your head and have this sort of idea flow. So that Amazon Echo is one example. I have post it notes around the house, there's something called AquaNotes. I've written about that in my first book. In the shower I have AquaNotes which is a scuba diver's post it notepad so it's waterproof. I get good ideas there every now and then and then a lot of time I will capture things into Trello directly and that's where things get really interesting and there's an automation I'm gonna talk too to wrap this all up. So the Trello stuff, in my case we use Trello with the assistants on our team so if I put something in Trello, somebody will start working on it. And it's the kind of thing where literally last week, one of my sons is really into Minecraft which I actually I find kinda fascinating, but I was picking him up at school, picking him up at school and I was like we really should have a Minecraft club at school and that was the idea and then I put it into a Trello card and I was like research the ability to bring in somebody to do a Minecraft club and that's it. And then the person who picked it up came back with four or five questions which I answered later that night when I had some time to think about it and then they found the information that we needed and we're gonna have Minecraft club at our school because of that.
And now you're a cool dad.
That's right. We'll see. He's five so he doesn't have the concept of me being cool yet. But it's... More importantly I would've forgotten about that. I really would've. So we actually even use Trello for our honey do list at home, my wife and I so the things that need to get fixed in the house, it's visual, we have pictures in Trello. It's actually in Trello and we know what's being done, what needs to be done and if it's not in Trello she did not ask me to do it as far as I'm concerned. So that would be the ultimate one, but now there's a way to automate this as well. So with IFTTT there's a few things that I can do in my phone that make this just super powered. And as a very, very small aside I would say that if you can make anything mobile, you're gonna be way more efficient. If you can do it from your phone, then when you are at a computer you're gonna be super powered. It's a really good way to sort of stress test systems. So with my phone, with an iPhone and with Android you can do this as well, you can take a screenshot. So with the iPhone you push the home button and the power button at the same time. With the Android I think it's the same thing. It takes about a tenth of a second to do that. So IFTTT has a trigger which is any new screenshot so if I take a screenshot on my phone and whether that screenshot is a text message or a podcast I'm listening to or a photo or a website or an app, it doesn't matter. I screenshot it, I move on. At eight o'clock at night I get an email with a digest of all the screenshots from the day. Now eight o'clock at night is a good time for me because the kids are sort of wound down, usually asleep. I can think a little bit more. It's also the second time I'm being exposed to it so it's hitting long term memory and short term memory at the same time. I don't have to waste any time in the moment. I can click it and move on and then I know that it's safe and I'm gonna process it later. And the cool thing about that is at eight o'clock at night I might have five or six screenshots and I can say okay, that one was just a reminder. It's good, it's done. This one is something I wanna assign to somebody to do for me. This is something I wanna write about so I'm gonna put it on the Trello board where I keep all my content ideas. And I can do that hot potato thing when I'm ready for it and never have to miss an idea. Another place where I do that is I use a tool called Feedly which is a RSS reader to follow about 200 blogs. Pretty common service. Feedly has a tie-in with IFTTT so if I see an article that I think is interesting, I don't even have to read it, just have to see the title. I can save it by hitting the little bookmark icon in Feedly which again takes about a tenth of a second and again eight o'clock at night I get an email with all of the things that I saved from Feedly. I also get an eight o'clock email from all the things that I upvoted on Product Hunt. Product Hunt does a sort of website with all these new, cool tech companies that are coming out. Any new RSS. I'm sorry, any new item that is on the reddit productivity subreddit I will get as an eight o'clock digest that night as well. So I get like seven or eight emails at eight o'clock and I know that and I'm ready for it and it's my time. I can make that any time I want, nine o'clock, 10 o'clock at night, the next morning at 9 a.m. I could do it once a week if I wanted to, but there's a difference between capturing the idea and processing those ideas. And a lot of times, the majority of the time, this leads to somebody that I've outsourced this to or delegated to working on it to then take it forward for me so that I can go back to focusing on what I'm really good at which is something that we'll cover in one of the other courses, but really about deciding what you are best at and what you like doing the most, what you can deliver the most value in and in my case that's creating and curate. Sorry, creating and curating content and anything that I can do to avoid doing other stuff I'm going to do and this is a big part of that. So idea capture is a really, really big part of being able to effectively outsource and that's something that should be systemic to your organization and to the team that you work with.
I have a question. With the optimize, automate and outsource process very much geared towards the entrepreneur and the business owner, for those who are the resources in it, the virtual assistants, the people that are outsourced to, what would you say to those people to be the best resource in that field, to be the best resource to the business owners, to the entrepreneurs so they can have their own brand within that?
Yeah, that's great. So the main thing I'd say, well the biggest thing is understanding that that process exists and that is the framework that ideally somebody is going through and you are sort of helping them through that journey because just because... In the right situation just because you are providing the outsourcing service we wanna be strategists, we don't wanna be mechanics, so we can actually move up the chain and say this thing that you had me do we can actually automate it by doing that and if we're automating it well let's look at how the process works overall. I don't wanna just be the cog in the machine. Let's think bigger. Because quite honestly like I said before, if it's just being part of the machine you're gonna get disenfranchised. It's not gonna be interesting long term, it's not gonna be something that you wanna sink your teeth into. So how do you make it something that you can sink your teeth into? By making it that bigger project that has a long term benefit to it. Great example is in our business we'll see processes a lot of times that are those mechanic processes that we can then make more efficient so we do a lot of podcast production and the most complex one I've ever seen was for a really successful entrepreneur that was... The first time he gave it to us was eight hours to do it, the first week or two. And now that process takes a person about three hours of billable time instead of eight hours of billable time because they were able to automate and outsource, sorry, automate and optimize a lot of what was involved in that. So I think that taking a little more ownership I guess is a big part of it and understanding that I'm not just being asked to do this. I'm a partner in this process and how can I make it more efficient for everybody involved start to finish.
Then what's the incentive? If you're automating for your clients, obviously the incentive is good service to the client, but then you're getting less billable hours in the short run.
Yeah, but you should be able to take advantage of way more opportunities. That's kinda the big point there is that you can be a one man show working for 50 clients in that situation.
Virtual assistants for example, on average in the industry, the average virtual assistant works with eight clients at a time. That's pretty typical. In a business like ours for example, that one person might work with 50 different clients because they have the ability to sort of do those touch points and you also don't have to get bogged down on the things that you really shouldn't be doing because a marketing person who does marketing strategy, even though they're doing the strategy, they might also then be setting up the how we're gonna put it to Twitter and Facebook and stuff like that and those mechanics shouldn't be part of what they do. So it will ultimately make them better at their craft.
I guess I'm surprised. I've never heard a outsourcing firm talk about reducing hours.
Yeah, so as much as that's... I always say that I own an outsourcing company and I am constantly looking at ways at avoiding outsourcing because we're gonna make mistakes if we do that and we're gonna be stuck, we're not gonna scale. You cannot scale if you do that. It's the whole thing about making yourself more replaceable.
So I had a professor in college who used to say that, he would say never be irreplaceable because if you can't be replaced you can't be promoted. And whether a promotion means you get promoted to a better job or you retire or you get a bigger house, whatever that next level is, you can't get there if you're stuck here dealing with all the stuff that you have to do. So yeah, it'd be great to say yeah, I'm gonna do as many billable hours as I can. I'm gonna hustle now, but you can't innovate at the same time. You can't grow.
I have a suggestion.
On your screenshot and end of day journal emails and your Feedly and all that, you could probably stick in MonkeyLearn in between. It can give you suggested actions.
Yes. I actually am working on that. That's a good point. And it's actually a great one because like I said before I can't necessarily tell you what is interesting about it and I may not even, I may think it's interesting in the moment and then not later, but yeah, that would be something where MonkeyLearn could actually...
Or you may have to have several MonkeyLearn accounts or brains or whatever.
Yes. Yeah, there are different instances that you can set up. Absolutely. It's a perfect use for it. And good, good. So I'm sparking thoughts for this. So that's sort of the package of how to think about how we automate and outsource your work. So are there any sort of last question on that before we wrap up? Yeah?
You mentioned earlier that for your business, for your company, you have a 20% efficiency rate. For someone that is just getting started and doesn't have that data, do you have a resource that has general benchmarks for what to be looking for?
So there really isn't some sort of a golden ratio, but I think that that 20% mark is pretty good because then you're saying that you're basically spending four times as much time making money as you are sort of tuning the engine so I think that's a pretty good ratio, but we've been as high as 33% in a week and we've been as low as 14%. And that's the thing. You don't wanna be too low either because if you're not improving the business you're not spending any time to improve the business, then you're just gonna sort of stagnate as well. So you have to kind of find the balance for you, but I do think that somewhere between 15% and 25% is probably the best way to do it. And it's really easy to track, whether you're a solopreneur or not, you can use even something like Toggl, T-O-G-G-L, which is a timer and you literally just hit the button when you're working on something and hit it when you're done and then categorize it. And even two categories is fine, internal or not so you can look at it that way and look at your efficiency.