How you start each morning sets the tone for your entire day. What you do or don't do directly impacts how productive you are and how energetic you feel as the week goes on. All that plays into how successful you are as an entrepreneur.
It doesn't matter how early you wake up, how much water you drink, or how intense your insanity workout is - nothing is going to stop your productivity from being killed by time-wasters. Time-wasters can be obvious - like spending too long on Twitter, getting caught in a Reddit rabbit hole, or lingering over just one more cup of joe. They can also be less obvious to you, like the daily blog post you write, your regular trip to the grocery store, and content curation for social media.
Steve Jobs famously said this about his daily routine: "For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
It's time to change something.
Take back your work/life balance and start outsourcing these tasks that are killing your productivity.
1. Appointment, meeting, and reservation coordination
How much time could you free up each day if you had to spend considerably less time making calls for dinner/lunch reservations, hair appointments, car service, physician appointments, package delivery and shipping, or just sharing information with clients? The simple day-to-day tasks can and should be delegated in order to free up hours in your schedule each week - perhaps even each day.
2. Research and data gathering
A lot of new projects start with data gathering and research. You can do it on your own if you feel like it needs to be done a certain way, but you're just going to sink a lot of time. You can get the same - if not better - results by outsourcing that data gathering. There are plenty of services like UpWork.com that can link you to talented professionals who can help you get the research you need fast, even if it's just finding a couple peer-reviewed studies to support a hunch for your next presentation.
3. Graphic design and presentation prep
Unless you've got some serious graphic design chops, it's best to stop tinkering with Photoshop and leave the design elements to people who can do it faster, better, and won't pull from Google Image Search to get the job done. Instead of frittering away your time on the software and mulling over which font looks better on which background, use a service like Fiverr, 99designs, or DesignCrowd. Use all that time you just saved to brainstorm and rehearse for your next presentation.
4. Menial in-person tasks
Personal errands can eat up so much productivity, it's amazing anything else gets done. Everyone has a laundry list of tasks to get done, such as picking up the dry cleaning, stopping at the bank or hardware store, getting groceries...the list goes on. Enter services like Zaarly and TaskRabbit, which can connect you to people in your area who are willing to tackle those simple tasks for a small fee. Name the task, and more than likely someone has already outsourced it. If you can wipe a lot of your little local errands from your day, imagine the extra time you would have to focus on getting real work done. "It's [outsourcing] something that everyone needs to consider at some point as they become more successful,"says Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg.
5. Major administrative tasks
There's general work stuff and then there are the bigger administrative tasks that you struggle with delegating. They might feel super important, but you're never going to be more productive if you keep wasting time on things that other people learned to outsource a long time ago. Stop trying to micromanage and handle things like payroll, scheduling, order management, and personally grabbing every single phone call that comes in. It's noble that you want to be that guy, but that guy never gets work done. Like # 1, these are areas where you'll greatly benefit from hiring a personal assistant through a service like Zirtual.
6. Content marketing
Content is a huge part of marketing any business, but producing and curating that content can take a significant chunk of your day. The tradeoff can be worth it, but there are other areas of your business you should be focusing on. You never want to slack on your marketing, so the best thing to do is outsource it. Content production can be tackled using a service like Upwork.com or putting up a specific job post on the ProBlogger job board looking for talent.
If you're not quite ready to stop producing content but want to supplement it with curated pieces, you can use a service like Quuu.co to help you find relevant pieces to share with your followers. The best bet, though, is to find a professional writer who can ghostwrite content and free up your time going forward. "Hire great writers," writes Jason Fried in ReWork. "Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else's shoes. They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate."
7. Social media management
Effective social media engagement requires consistent, long-term activity across a number of channels. If you can't devote the hours the task deserves, then the results will suffer. You should consider outsourcing the job to a single person who can learn your business well enough to accurately represent you. With a tool like Hootsuite, you can make management and monitoring of that social activity even easier.
Delegating and outsourcing menial to major tasks may rattle you at first, but it's a necessary requirement if you want to reclaim your day and start being more productive. If you're struggling with it, then ease in slowly. Choose your least favorite tasks or a big time-suck (like writing) and outsource it on a trial basis to see how it goes. Then you can best determine the value of outsourcing on your own. Which tasks have you found absolutely necessary to delegate to reclaim your time? Share in the comments below: