Eliminate, Automate, Outsource, Transform
Not everything on your to-do list is meant to be done by you.
As you look at the list, which tasks fit all 3 criteria?
1. Enjoyment: You do — or wish to — enjoy doing it
2. Expertise: You are — or wish to become — an expert at it
3. Effect: Compared to other things you could be doing, the effect of this action is worth your time
If it passes all 3 checks, then it is worth you doing it, with mindfulness and deliberate practice.
If not, then consider one of these 4 actions:
The fact that you are reading about productivity means that you’re more conscientious than most people. You tend to carry a lot on your shoulders.
You probably have far more items on your to-do list than you have time for.
For your mental health and personal sustainability, it is time to practice eliminating tasks from your list.
“What if I need this later?” This is the one question that leads to clutter and overwhelm.
Instead, practice just getting rid of it. Each time you do this, you grow your muscle of simplicity.
When fear arises, remind yourself / reconnect with your limitless source of abundance within, or above.
The truth is that you really need to do very little in your life. No matter what, you’re going to be fine.
If you are still hesitating on deleting a task, quickly run it through the 3 criteria above: Enjoyment? Expertise? Effect? It must be a strong Yes on all 3 to stay on your list.
Or at least, remove the due-date and have it essentially go into a “someday / maybe” pile.
If you see a task appear again and again — and it doesn’t meet the Enjoy, Expert, Effect criteria — then it’s time to either Automate or Outsource it.
The way technology is going, it is inevitable that machines and software will get increasingly smarter and more capable. Most of human work will become automated. Even in the next 10 years, studies are showing that huge swaths of human industry will be taken over by robotics and artificial intelligence.
Resistance is futile…
If the purpose of life includes growing in love and intelligence, then we humans are being called to ever higher levels of work: To bring more creativity, more caring, more connectedness with other humans, than machines can.
It’s time to stop doing tasks that don’t meet your Enjoy, Expert, Effect criteria. If the task keeps coming up, find a way to automate it.
A few examples:
* Scheduling: www.AcuityScheduling.com
* Reminders: www.Todoist.com makes it easy to create recurring reminders
* Email sorting: use Mail Rules/Filters in your email software to put newsletters into a separate folder for reading all at once, to save you lots of time
The automation software I’m excited to explore in the coming months is www.Zapier.com
I’ve already automated my payment & course delivery by using Zapier to intelligently connect my Paypal and Mailchimp accounts. Zapier can do a lot more than that. As I explore and implement, I’ll share more.
If there’s no available technology (that you know of) to automate your recurring tasks that don’t pass your Enjoy/Expert/Effect filter, it’s time to hire someone to do it for you.
I have a wonderful VA (virtual assistant) named Anne Barton who has a team, and they do a variety of online tasks for me. Their rate is $50/hour, and they are effective with each hour. They specialize in helping coaches and other “personal brand” types of businesses. Contact Anne here: http://annebarton.coachesconsole.com
If you want to vet your own assistants and freelancers, there are two websites I recommend getting familiar with:
www.Fiverr.com — can do your graphic design, website creation / management, internet research, copywriting/editing, audio or video editing, transcription, all kinds of technological troubleshooting, and many other virtual tasks. For example, I used Fiverr to get book cover designs, convert my book to Kindle version and format it for paperback publishing, and edit/master my audiobook.
www.Upwork.com — a searchable directory of millions of freelancers that can do all kinds of things for your business. A couple of examples of my successful hires: Researching best places to live in Mexco; Putting my content up on Udemy as an online course; Tax prep and filing that is affordable, accurate, and fast.
The sky’s the limit as to what you can find on Fiverr and Upwork.
What about the low fees? Is it unethical? I’ll let you decide once you know this fact:
A software engineer in the Philipinnes, or Pakistan, both earn about $4 USD per hour.
If you could pay them $5–10/hour, allowing them to work as a freelancer, it’s a better lifestyle for them. Your money makes a much bigger difference in their life, compared to paying someone living in a first world country.
A couple of helpful notes about outsourcing:
1. Some of the people you hire will want to do more work for you than your business really needs. If you hire them by the hour, they are incentivized in that way. Be smart and only outsource the tasks that are truly productive. You may want to check in with a business-savvy colleague or a coach before you spend money outsourcing something.
2. Once you’ve determined tasks that are truly productive to outsorce, then Hire Quickly… don’t get bogged down by trying to pick the perfect person. It’s almost impossible to know in advance, unless they just have terrible reviews. I’ve had some of the best freelancers have NO reviews, so don’t be afraid to give someone new a try. Hire quickly, but here’s the next key:
3. Give a small task first, and if they do well, a slightly bigger task, and then increase your trust in them in that way.
4. If at any point (including the small task) there’s a doubt in your mind they’re the right person, please do yourself (and them) a favor and quickly end the contract/project with them, and go onto trying the next freelancer.
5. Often, for an important project, I will hire several freelancers to do the same small task, to see which one I’ll give the next bigger task to.
Another way of filtering out things you really shouldn’t be doing is to ask:
“What tasks am I resentful about?”
Make a list of such tasks.
If you must keep the task, can you Automate it?
If you can’t, then can you Outsource it?
If you can’t, then the only thing left is to Transform it.
Do your inner work, or work with a coach, to make that task something you can truly enjoy.
For more, read my other writings about joyful productivity.
The world can be a better place, if we can each spend our energy doing the things we Enjoy, want to be Expert at, and are Effective use of our time.