You can't do everything. You shouldn't do everything. And if you try to do everything, you will die.
This is wisdom. I wish I could label it as some Chinese proverb, handed down by generations of wise sages. In reality, this is a lesson I learned in the crucible of entrepreneurship.
As an entrepreneur, you don't have any extra time.
Every minute is crammed to capacity. Every day is scheduled to the hilt. Every moment has something--usually a lot of somethings--screaming for your attention.
How do you overcome this incredible challenge?
The solution is easy. Really easy. Simply do less.
How can you afford to do less? Outsource more.
But what should you outsource? Here are 11 of the most time-wasting tasks you should outsource right away.
I've started with this one because we're in the middle of tax season.
Businesses have to deal with taxes, even fledgling businesses that are struggling to make any money. Taxes take an enormous amount of time.
The level of tedium involved in filing personal, corporate, and state taxes is not where you should be spending your time. Pay a CPA to take care of this essential but time-hogging task.
Time saved: 30 minutes per week (averaged out over the year)
Payroll services are well worth the cost. Plus, if you screw up payroll, you have a major headache to deal with.
Time saved: Two hours per week
It's hard to let go of the reins. After all, this business is your baby. Can you trust important responsibilities to a new hire? An intern? A mere mortal?
Surely, a little micromanaging is justified, is it not? Well, only if you do it right.
Most micromanagement isn't done right. If you're wasting time or doubling up on work, then you're doing it wrong. Besides, you can outsource your micromanaging to mid-level managers who are better able to do these kinds of tasks than you are.
Time saved: One to four hours per week
4. Driving places
I don't like driving, so this one's easy for me to outsource.
I'm not suggesting that you hire a chauffeur or anything. But what about Uber or public transportation? Why not? The average American commute is 25.4 minutes. That's about one hour per day that you spend driving. How much could you get done during that hour?
If you can find a way to eliminate your commute or become productive on your commute, then do it. So much time is frittered away sitting behind the wheel of a car.
Time saved: Five hours per week
5. Social-media management
Your personal reputation is important. You wouldn't trust it to just anybody. But it's possible to waste entirely too much time curating your Buffer and crafting the perfect status update.
You may want to maintain some level of control of your social media, but there are plenty of things that a social-media manager can take care of. Plus, you may be able to grow your social media under the expert care of a consultant.
Time saved: Two to 10 hours per week
6. Cleaning up
Sometimes a messy desk is OK. But sometimes you need things to be clean.
Don't spend your own time and mental stamina organizing, sorting, straightening, and taking out the trash. Someone other than you can handle the cleaning.
Time saved: Three to five hours per week
7. Travel arrangements
If you travel a lot, you know just how time-consuming it can be to...
- Coordinate travel dates and times
- Purchase tickets
- Arrange for pick-up at the airport
- Determine the right hotel
- Make reservations at the hotel
- Arrange for transportation to and from the airport
Travel arrangements take huge amounts of time--time that is better spent building your business or dreaming up your next big move. Outsource it.
Time saved: One to three hours per week, depending on how often you travel
8. Editing and proofreading content
Many entrepreneurs produce a steady stream of content to publish on their blogs or industry websites.
I encourage entrepreneurs to write, to blog productively, and to develop voice and authority. But when it comes to the details, outsource it.
What kind of details? Copy editing, proofreading, posting, formatting, adding images, submitting to editors, etc. All the nitty-gritty details of blogging should be handled by someone else.
Time saved: Two to four hours per week
9. Making meals
If cooking is your hobby or a great form of family time, then keep at it.
But if you've discovered that preparing meals is getting in the way of your productivity, ditch it. Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich hires a personal chef at around $20,000 per year.
The result is healthy meals, delicious cuisine, nutritional perfection, and hours saved. I usually have an assistant prepare my meals for me.
Hiring a chef doesn't have to cost $20k per year, nor do you have to live in New York City to find a good one. A quick Craigslist search (ask your assistant to do it) could turn up a few qualified leads.
Time saved: 10 to 15 hours per week
If a task requires research, you don't need to do it. Why? Research is a fairly routine task. Anyone with a bit of inquisitiveness, organization, and an internet can conduct basic research.
Quartz reports that most employees spend 19 percent of their average workweek "searching and gathering information."
If you find that a business issue requires some basic research, save yourself the hour or two of work, and have someone else do it.
Time saved: One hour per week
11. Managing email
Tim Ferriss explains, "Email is the last thing people let go of. Fortune 500 CEOs, bestselling authors, celebrities--I know dozens of top performers who delegate everything but email."
For some reason, people cling to this time-sucking activity like a flea hangs on to a dog. Is it really worth all the wasted hours and endless frustration? Is that how you want to spend your life?
Tim Ferriss says it like it is: "Get over yourself. Checking email isn't some amazing skill that you alone possess."
Time saved: 13 to 20 hours per week
If you are passionate about doing taxes or payroll, micromanaging, driving, cleaning, researching, emailing, or whatever else it is you spend your time on...go for it. But if you want to thrive at this adventure of entrepreneurship, clear your plate, empty your mind, and do stuff that really matters.