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Outsourcing: A Worthy Investment

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingDuring the past two posts I might have convinced you to think about looking for some help. You might call people, get some quotes for some assistance, and then have sticker shock (especially if you have not had contractors working for you).

A few things to keep in mind. (more…)

Outsourcing: How to find help for your business

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingIn a previous post, I’ve suggested you find people to help you with tasks that don’t fall within your strong skills. You might note that nobody can do your job as well as you can. Nobody can love your business as much as you do. Nobody can understand your business to the same degree.

That’s probably true. If you decide to hire someone to help you with some of your work, you might need to spend MORE time upfront training that person (but I don’t have the time).

Money Time Buttons Showing Prosperity Or Income

In the Related Articles Section I have included an article titled The 6th Realization of Rich People — R.O.T.I. — Return on Time Investment. Following is an excerpt from that article …

A professor in one of my business classes taught me that “when trying to decide whether to delegate something to someone else or to do something yourself you should use the 30 to 1 rule.”

That is, that if it was a daily task that took a skilled person like yourself five minute to complete, you should plan to spend at least 150 minutes (5 minutes multiplied by 30) instructing the subordinate on how to complete the same task.

Now the 150 minutes shouldn’t all be done at one time and could be spread over a few months as you help the subordinate master the task.”

He then explained the math behind it.

“If a task were to take you personally 5 minutes a day for 250 days in a working year then that means you would spend 1250 minutes per year on that task.

Rather than doing that however, if you decided to spend 150 minutes training someone to do that 5-minute task and they instead did that task for you then that would give you an annual savings of 1100 minutes per year.”

Think about it just for a minute …

If you spent some time, up front, training someone to do a task for you, what would you do with the extra time that you found?  (more…)

Outsourcing: How to “Let it Go”

Outsource Definition Closeup Showing SubcontractingCopyrights probably forbid me from adding the lyrics, but I’m sure if I use the phrase “Let it Go” and suggest you think about recent Disney movies — well the song will be stuck in your head (see below).

I’ve written about outsourcing in the past (see Related Articles), but I think this is a good time for areview.

Today we’ll talk about why to outsource, next time we’ll talk about finding good people to work with, and after that, we’ll talk about costs.Stress. Woman stressed
Most of my readers are busy solopreneurs or small business owners, and most of then can define their life using one word — BUSY!!!

I know the feeling. Somewhat overwhelmed, somewhat confused (what do I do NEXT).

(more…)

How to clean up your inbox

Mailboxes On Monitors Showing Emails Inbox And Online Communication

Mailboxes On Monitors Showing Emails Inbox And Online Communication

An email in box seems innocent enough. It’s just bits and bytes in a digital format that you look at a few times a day to see if anything important has popped up.

  • BUT — did you ever open your inbox and realize that you haven’t really cleaned it in a while (like years)?
  • Did you ever open your inbox and realize you have no clue how to prioritize, not the 50 new messages you’ve received today, but the 50 new messages you’ve received today plus the 50 new you’ve received each day for the last 50 days?

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to muddle through way too many messages.

One idea (developed by Merlin Mann) that has taken hold over the past few years is Inbox Zero:

This is probably a great goal to aspire to, but realistically speaking, there are people I know (heck I’m one of them) that might give up on something if it seems unattainable. So I’ve always been about actually DOING 85% instead of procrastinating if I think 100% is too difficult or time consuming.
evie quote
With that in mind, what are some TIPS for attaining Inbox Manageable:
  • Limit the time you spend reading email. Check email a few times a day (for longer periods of time) instead of many times a day. Perhaps pick 3 or 4 times a day you’ll just muddle through your mail instead of checking every 5 minutes. (Though I’ll admit to doing that at times – perhaps if a friend has run off to the hospital because a new grand-baby is about to appear).
  • Turn off notifications. Even if you don’t instantly jump to check what’s happening when you hear a “ding” or a “buzz,” you are still slightly distracted by it.
  • Your Inbox is NOT your To-Do list. You can make a separate folder for ToDo – or “Items Needing Action,” but don’t keep these “front and center”
  • Touch it once. Many organizational gurus suggest “touching it once” for paper that comes into your home (file it or toss it or act on it). The same works for electronic communication. Look at it and decide where it needs to go. If it’s something that needs to go on your schedule, put it on your calendar and delete the email.
  • User folders. Using filters you can create folders, and send mail from certain parties directly to a folder. In Gmail (and I assume in other email applications), if you have a folder with something “new” in it, you can look at it when you have the time.
  • Don’t use folders. One suggestion I’ve run across is to only use “inbox,” “trash,” “draft,” “sent,” and “archive.” With current search engines, you’re often able to find a message if you can use the proper search parameters.
    (Yes – I know that’s the exact opposite of what I said above – but your mileage may vary on any of these points, so take what works and leave the rest).
  • Make subject lines clear. This helps if you’re looking for something later, because it makes things easier to identify.
  • PICK UP THE PHONE. Sometimes you can be more productive by spending a few minutes talking to someone than going back and forth by email.
  • Print – or print to PDF. For myself, for information I need to retain from clients, I will “print” an email to PDF, and save the email in my client folder. Sometimes that’s the best place for me to find it.
  • Kill ’em while you’re killing time. Two years ago Gmail rolled out the tabs. (I wrote this at the time about the Gmail changes). I love the “new” (is it “new” if it’s two years old?) Gmail tabs, but sometimes I ignore things in my tabs. Sometimes you really need to go through and remove things, but this is great use for down time, for instance while you’re in the cell phone lot at the airport or while you’re waiting in line at the DMV.
Gain control of your email and don’t let other people prioritize your day.

Tuesday Tip – Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – or NOT

ID-10079666Tuesday Tip – Decisions – or NOT?

It’s been a few months, but a while back there was quite a bit of news about Mark Zuckerberg’s wardrobe (see related article). From the Business Insider article: “He said even small decisions like choosing what to wear or what to eat for breakfast could be tiring and consume energy, and he didn’t want to waste any time on that.”

This actually makes a lot of sense to me in some aspects. While I wouldn’t want to have the same thing for breakfast every day (I like to “mix up” my smoothie ingredients), I can see the benefits to limiting decisions.

I recently updated a filing system (a real PAPER filing system). Had I wanted to, I could have come up with some kind of color coding system. But I just ran with what I had on hand for 2 reasons.

  1. It was on hand, so I didn’t need to make any runs to Staples or Office Depot and (more importantly)
  2. I could easily have spent days with an internal debate (do I have certain color hanging folders for “months” and others for “days” and others for “general” and others for “clients” or do I have certain tabs for the above — should I get multiple color pens for each different tab to make different things stand out.

20150611_144132These files are in a lidded case that nobody but me will ever need to see, and as you can see, there are yellow tabs and blue tabs and clear tabs, and blue and brown and yellow and … files, but there is no method to this. Because what really matters is what the tabs say, and that I have set this up to better organize myself and serve my clients needs.

If I had spent days fretting over which color scheme to go with, it wouldn’t have served anyone’s needs.

Sometimes it’s okay to have things planned out and look a certain way (for instance, a Powerpoint presentation, or a proposal), but when it doesn’t really matter, just remember the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

How do you simplify your decision making?

“Tips” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What will you “give up”?

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Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

As I’m writing this it’s Mardi Gras, and in some parts of the world, people from some Christian traditions are discussing what they are “giving up” for Lent.

So, inspired by that and also by a post from Michelle Combs at Huffington Post, I’m going to state what I’m “giving up” for the next 40 (or more) days.

  • PERFECTION 
    Have you ever started something but couldn’t get it finished because it wasn’t “perfect?” This can happen with blog posts, artwork, graphic design, or insert your own challenge here. I am here to assure you that you can do more “skating by” in life at an 80% or 90% efficiency than you can by sitting quietly in your room WAITING for things to be 100%.
  • WORKING BACKWARDS 
    This is one of my challenges. Sometimes you have plans, goals, or projects that you have an outline for and something happens and you fall behind and you realize that you will NEVER catch up to where you were SUPPOSED to be. I’ll give an example. I have a pedometer and I have challenged myself to do 10,000 steps a day. I’ll be quite honest and say that I don’t always make it. The real problem comes if I decide that I’m going to do 70,000 steps a week. Let’s say Sunday comes and I get busy and I only make it to 7,500 steps. So that means MONDAY I have to do 10,000 steps + the 2,500 steps I’m behind from Sunday. So let’s say there’s an emergency and I have to pick up a child from school and take them to the doctor and I only make 6,000 steps. So that would mean on TUESDAY I’d have to do the 12,500 steps I was supposed to do MONDAY and then the extra 4,000 steps and … I completely throw in the towel because now I’m so far behind I’ll never catch up. I suppose there are some people out there that can work backwards and manage to make up the steps (or the time or the ….), but it’s really okay to look FORWARD and say, “Well, I fell behind and instead of trying to catch up, I’ll just move forward from here and do …”

Additionally, there is one thing I am not giving up (with an exception for emergencies).

  • SLEEP
    Girl Asleep On Her Notebook ComputerIn theory, middle-aged adults are supposed to spend 7-9 hours a night resting. I find if I don’t do that, everything else suffers. I have less focus, less energy, less patience, and I’m less healthy. At the beginning of 2015, many people I know were setting intentions with a “word of the year” and I realized I didn’t have a major insight into that. And then one day it came to me.

    REST

    Because the 1/3 of my life I’m schedule to spend rejuvenating my body and my mind is really the most important part of the day.

Is there anything you can “give up” that will improve your life?

Related articles:

Thursday Tip – App Review

English: Gmail logo

English: Gmail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In looking through my posting history, it does seem that some of my short tip posts are in praise of certain apps. I don’t mind being the person that tries things out so my readers can find out what works.

Longtime readers might have noticed that I tend to have a pretty high rate of use of Google apps (and — HELLO — FREE!!) I use Google calendar and Google Docs and Gmail, and often I’m one of the first people to adopt anything new coming out of Google.

But one frustration I’ve had with Gmail, (not enough of a frustration to CHANGE my email but a frustration nonetheless), is the inability to schedule mail.

Boomerang for Gmail was developed by Baydin and it gives you the ability to:

  • Schedule an email
  • “Boomerang” a message for later
    (for example, “resend” you a message the day before a meeting)
  • Track Responses
  • Schedule recurring emails.
  • Request read receipts and track clicks.
  • Manage scheduled messages

This is also available for phones, but after reading the reviews (and that it slowed down mail loading), I’ve decided that I’m going to keep it on my desktop, where I do the majority of my email.