Photo by Tillah Freckleton
I gotta be honest, this topic really gives me a rock hard lady boner. We’re gonna discuss outsourcing, delegating, and setting up systems that give you your time back - so you can do less of what you hate and more of what you love. I’m gonna cover how to do this in your business, and in your life.
You can get the worksheet that corresponds with this post here.
For in depth discussion about this topic:
I used to think outsourcing was for rich and famous people. That it was not an option for me to pay people to do things for me, to get help in my business, to set up automations instead of responding to literally everything myself.
I didn’t think I had the luxury to do this stuff. My first thought when considering outsourcing or getting assistance was honestly, "who the fuck do I think I am that I think I can hire a housecleaner or an assistant, or set up a meal delivery service?" My old approach was of the mindset that maybe I would implement some of this when I made more money, when I had the time to figure it out, when I felt confident that I was worth it. Hot tip, when rarely, if ever, arrives.
That mindset of holding off on getting help and holding off on freeing yourself up is not how success happens. Nobody out there that you admire, whether it’s because they’ve reached a level of success in their career or personal accomplishments of some kind - nobody has done it alone. We all need help in order to get to where we want to be. This might be help from coworkers, employees, romantic partners, family, service providers, and so on.
I used to think that I had to do everything on my own - especially when I was a newb entrepreneur. Every chore, every task, everything in my entire business and life had to be done by me. And I thought that by doing everything on my own, instead of asking for help, would save me money. I was trying to keep my overhead really low and be resourceful and teach myself certain things (and all of that can be great to an extent, you need to be resourceful in the beginning and you might have to do a lot on your own while you’re figuring things out, but for certain tasks, it’s very counterproductive). Little did I know at the time, but by trying to do everything on my own, it not only cost me a great deal of time (time that I could’ve spent doing the things that I was good at, things I enjoyed, things that moved me further, faster instead of trying to get better at things I hated or sucked at), but this way of thinking also cost me a shit ton of money.
Because I’m not an expert at everything. I was sitting there trying to google info about finance and taxes and LLCs - basically trying to give myself a DIY finance and law degree from what-the-fuck-am-I-doing university, and I set things up improperly that I ended up having to undo years later when I finally did seek help. Those mistakes alone cost me probably around five thousand dollars when it was all said and done because I had refused to send just one email, or make one phone call, to a financial expert. And I know it can be hard to determine in the beginning what you might even need for your business - I remember being confused as to whether I needed a CPA or an attorney or an accountant or a financial advisor, and you know what, it’s OK if you don’t know. Ask. Reach out to them, send that email, most people offer free consultations anyway, and if they’re not what you need, they probably have a referral for you. Just don’t try to do everything on your own. You are wasting your precious time, and you are slowing down your growth.
There’s a reason we’re all good at different things and have different interests. Let the people who love finance and are experts at finance - do finance, let the people who are trained at graphic design and can get a website built in a day do that for you, instead of you piecemealing something together that takes 5 weeks and ends up sucking, if you hate cooking with a fiery passion, buy more frozen meals. You don’t have to be good at everything, you don’t have to love doing everything, the great news is you only need to be good at like, 1 thing - and you can have the success and the fulfillment that you want.
I had dabbled in outsourcing here and there which I’ll get more specific about in a minute, but I actually ran a little bit of an experiment a few months back where I decided to outsource as much as possible for an entire month, just to see what would happen specifically in my business. I knew I could always adjust if it got too costly to outsource a bunch of things, or if I found that missed doing certain things myself. Wanna know what happened? I more than doubled my income that following month. I was so concerned that outsourcing would be too expensive, but what happened was that I had more time and energy to focus on what I loved doing most, and what moves my business forward the most, and it led to me making more money, not losing money.
So I’m going to share with you everything I’m currently outsourcing which has resulted in freeing up about 40 hours per month for me. 40 hours that I can now spend on the parts of my business I love, time I can now spend on seeing my loved ones more, practicing self-care, and all kinds of other fun shit I enjoy doing more than these tasks that were draining me.
And I’m aware that everyone is in different financial positions, has different availability, is maybe struggling with mental or physical health - everyone will have a unique approach to attempting to free up time for themselves. I’ll be dishing out a lot of ideas, but I invite you to get creative, you know what’s going to work best for you. Whether it’s paying for a service, getting more strategic with your time management, bartering, or asking a loved one for help.
Whip out your worksheet, or a piece of paper, phone, laptop - whatever might be near you, and ask yourself this question:
1. What would you do if you just had more time?
Maybe you’d see your family more, spend more time outside, cook, nap, vacation, start a side hustle, date, watch TV, do more art projects with your kids, write a book, do pilates or anything else that looks incredibly challenging. Maybe you want more time to just do nothing.
So ask yourself, What would I do if I had more time? Write it down.
What I wrote down in response to this question not too long ago was, if I had more time I would: start a podcast, take on more clients, have more date nights with my fiance’ Cam, see my family and close friends more, paint, and hike every weekend. Write it all down.
What you’ve written down are your awesome reasons for following through on what we’re going to talk about now. Keep referencing your reasons for wanting more time - these are the things you truly care about. That shitty voice in your head might pop up throughout this episode and try to tell you that you can’t get the help you want, that you’re not worth it, that you’re not important enough, that it’s inaccessible, that it’s too hard, and you can’t listen to that asshole of a voice, ok?
2. Write down alllllll the chores and tasks you do that you HATE.
You might have been told growing up that hate is just such a strong word and we should really refrain from using it, it’s so harsh - "you don’t really hate doing your science homework you’ll learn to enjoy it." Nope, I want you to write down all the things you hate, and you know what you hate doing. These are the things that you dread, that drain your energy, that you you might even procrastinate on, that you feel annoyed while doing them. If you read the post, "6 Questions To Ask Yourself When You’re Indecisive," you might already have a list like this ready to go - awesome. If not, go ahead and make a list of any task, or chore, that you do whether in your personal life, or your professional life, that just sucks for you. These are the things that if you had help with, or didn’t have to do ever again, it would make your day, weeks, life, better. Write it down!
Be honest with your answers. It’s OK if you don’t enjoy something you think you should like doing. Your list might have 3 things on it, or it might have 30, both are great. Side note: if you’re a woman who is in a romantic relationship with a man, you should know that statistically women do more housework even if both parties work full-time. I’m sorry, excuse me? It’s ingrained in women to take care of everyone and everything and put ourselves last, and then we’re criticized for being selfish when we do take care of ourselves. So ladies, this exercise is especially important for you, and can be really empowering. You are not a bitch, you are not selfish, you are not a shitty woman - if you hate some chores, tasks, and responsibilities. You’re a human being with likes and dislikes and your own interests. There is nothing wrong with you.
Here are some things that were on my own list of things I hated doing, if you need some inspiration and permission, to hate some shit:
Cooking - I hate cooking, I’ve tried to force myself to like it many times. I’ve experimented with recipes, I’ve tried just doing like half frozen half cooked combo meals, I’ve baked, I just don’t like any part of it, even though when I try, I make decent stuff that tastes good. I like eating the food, and I don’t mind cleaning up afterwards, but anything that leads up to the point of cooking a meal can fuck right off. I find myself annoyed and angry when I cook - that’s a pretty good sign that it's not my jam. People often find out I don’t like cooking and they’re like, "oh you’ll learn to like it, or you just need to do it more often, or you need to just meal prep, or you need to find quick and easy recipes" - nope. Don’t like it, and I’ve given myself permission to not like it. Also, if I were a dude would people have so many fucking opinions on how I can like cooking better? Let me go out on a limb and say hell no.
Grocery shopping - like I mentioned I don’t like anything that leads up to cooking, including grocery shopping. The lines, the not being able to find things, the people walking around aimlessly bumping into your shit. Hashtag no thanks.
Laundry - I find that folding laundry and putting clothes away can be meditative for me, but actually getting clothes together and going back and forth to the washing machine and dryer is very draining. I currently live in an apartment so we go outside, down the stairs, and into the laundry room (sometimes machines are open sometimes they’re not). It’s possible I might enjoy this more if we had an in-unit washer and dryer but for now the entire process takes about 4 hours. which is a huge time suck for my goals.
Deep cleaning - I actually enjoy cleaning, but on a very surface level. I like putting things away and wiping down a counter, but when it comes to getting on all fours to scrub a tub, baseboard, or a piece of moldy ass tile - that is where I just suck.
Dishes - I don’t hate the doing of the dishes, what I didn't like was always going back and forth with my fiance’ once the dishes had piled up a bit: “You do them. Ugh can you? I did them last time. But I made dinner tonight. I’ll give you a back rub if you do them. Fuck, fine.” That was part of our life on the reg. These types of conversations are more draining than actually doing the damn chore.
Feeding my dog at the crack of dawn - I dislike this one for similar reasons as the dishes - having a conversation about who is gonna feed our fur son at 7am every single morning was making us both total twats. Taking care of our dog Maverick is great, talking about it, not so great.
Number crunching - Any finance stuff, accounting, taxes, receipts related to my business - barf. I can’t think of anything I want to do less in my business than organize and categorize expenses. No wonder why I waited too long to get help with this, it doesn’t excite me at all.
Admin tasks - also a very draining part of my business for me. Spending a lot of time on emails, scheduling, data entry, and organizing excel sheets can make me feel exhausted, even if I had a great night of sleep and I’ve only been doing this stuff for 20 minutes.
So there are some examples from my list, go ahead and write your own list of the things you hate doing, whether in business, or in life.
So you have your list, but before I share with you the steps I took for everything on my hate list, ask yourself, is there anything on my list that I could just…stop doing entirely?
I believe true efficiency is always asking yourself, "do I even need to be doing this shit anyway?" Once you omit the unnecessary, you can simplify what’s left.
For example, I used to keep my emails in different folders with different categories to keep things organized, and to keep my inbox clear. I realized this was an unnecessary task I was doing, so I stopped wasting my time on it. Now, I just have a folder on my account titled, “everything,” and I send all of my emails there after I’m done with them. It’s the same result, a clear inbox, and I can still find what I need by using the search bar.
Another example, when I had my corporate day job I was given this really draining, time-consuming task from day one of the job by someone who wasn’t my boss, and the task was not on my job description, it seemed like it wasn’t even meant for my department - there was just something off about it. So I asked my boss about it several months into the job, "is there a reason why our department handles these? I feel like my time could be of better use either training new hires or doing sales outreach or something." Long story short, my boss looked into it, and it turns out I wasn’t supposed to be doing that task, it was something that just kinda fell through the cracks and was dumped on our department by someone who just didn’t want to do that thing anymore. So that task was immediately taken off my plate.
Another thing to think about, can you remove some social media platforms from your life? I deleted Facebook and Twitter but kept instagram, since it's the most effective for my business, as well as the one I enjoy using the most. Does your time on social media feel good to you, or does it feel draining? How can you adjust?
So look at your list and ask yourself if there’s anything you can get rid of.
I'm going to share the current, and past, solutions for everything on my list to give you some ideas, and a jumping off point, to start your brainstorming about how you can create more time for yourself.
1. Cooking - We use a meal delivery service monthly called Veestro (I don’t get paid to plug them by the way, I actually no longer participate in paid partnerships so anything I share are things I genuinely love and use). I like Veestro because they're pre-made meals, they taste good, it’s great quality food, there’s a variety, it's all plant-based which is important to me, and all we have to do is heat these babies up in the oven or microwave. Cam uses the oven for his meals and I’m a microwave lady m’self (I don't have as much patience as him when I’m hungry). This covers most of our lunches and dinners, which is such a huge weight off of our shoulders. And for breakfast, I’ll do simple stuff like yogurt, a smoothie, fruit, a bagel, leftovers - whatever's easy to grab from the fridge. And we leave some wiggle room for eating out or ordering in, and we get some treats for dessert. Before using this service I had dabbled with a few different meal delivery services to try them out, my partner Cam and I were taking turns cooking, we had tried to do the whole meal prep Sunday shit but nothing was consistent, none of those stuck. So this is what works for us for now. If you don’t enjoy cooking much but you’re not interested, or able to, use a meal service, maybe you can purchase more frozen items at the store to reduce cooking time, or if you live with a partner or roommate maybe you can come up with a dinner schedule that you can both stick to, or do a weekly, biweekly, or monthly meal prep day so you don’t have to think about this stuff every day.
2. Grocery Shopping - We use grocery delivery. And what’s been great about this one is that we can actually plan better for what we actually want and need versus walking around the the store just kinda grabbing shit, ya know? Then you get home with like 1 bag of potato chips and 3 carrots and you’re like well that was a waste of fucking time didn't get anything that makes a full meal. I recommend checking out what service is best for your location - I know there’s Instacart, Amazon Fresh, I’m sure places like Task Rabbit do this kind of thing, careof.com probably as well. If you don’t enjoy grocery shopping but aren’t interested in grocery delivery, or are unable to use that, maybe just ensuring that you take a list into the store with you so it can be a quick, intentional visit, or trying to go to the store when it’s not so busy so it’s less stressful for you, or going to the store less because you're stocking up on things ahead of time, or visiting your local farmer's market to make the outing more enjoyable. Having simple meals you can whip together can help. For me, having beans, rice, and vegetables were great because if those were ready I could throw them together and make a burrito bowl, a burrito, nachos, and so on. I would also get tortillas, hummus, vegetables to make wraps - throw it all in there with some olive oil and some pepper, and fill a dish with 20 of these sandwiches for the week.
3. Laundry - We use a laundry service called Laundry Butler, and they give you this enormous reusable laundry bag, and you put whatever you want them to wash in the bag, stick it on your front porch (or wherever you want them to pick it up), and they return your clothes washed and folded within 24 hours. This has given me SO much time back. I still wash our towels, sheets, blankets, and delicates - because those are simple since they’re bigger items and I just want to ensure our delicates are being taken care of to our liking, but everything else I dump in that bag and hand it over to Laundry Butler baby. Before using the laundry service, I would aim to do 1 load of laundry every Wednesday so our clothes didn’t pile up too much. So, maybe staying consistent with what day and time you do laundry could help you free up some mental energy? Maybe pairing it with an activity you enjoy like reading, napping, listening to a podcast? If you don’t enjoy doing laundry, but aren't interested or able to use a laundry service, perhaps you can work out a laundry schedule with a partner, or do a monthly laundry day where you get it allll done at once - maybe you can donate the clothes, sheets, or blankets, you don’t love and use and boom, you just freed up some time by having less items to clean.
4. Deep Cleaning - We have a wonderful housecleaner now who comes once a month, and she’s incredible. Our apartment looks new every time she comes over. It makes us feel happy in our space, and when we were doing it on our own, it looked like shit. It’s freed up time for us on our weekends together too to do fun things as a couple. Before we hired a housecleaner, we would deep clean an area of our apartment every Saturday morning.
5. Dishes - Cam and I got tired of having the "who’s gonna do the dishes" conversation, and because he knows how much I love having systems for everything, he actually came up the system we have for our dishes now (and that’s when I knew I loved him - kidding but ya know, it helps). I handle the dirty dishes and Cam handles the clean dishes. I scrub any dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher, and when the dishes are clean, he pulls them out of the dishwasher and puts them in the cupboards. This has been a game changer for us, there’s no longer a question about who’s job it is to do what, no back and forth wasted energy, no more us laying on the couch for two hours talking about how much neither of us want to do dishes and how great it would be to have Sabrina The Teenage Witch type powers so we could clean shit with the snap of our fingers.
6. Feeding our dog at the crack of dawn - We now split up days on who takes care of this. I wake up to feed our son Maverick Friday through Monday and Cam takes Tuesday through Thursday. I presented this idea so I thought if I offered to take more days Cam was more likely to say yes (and I was right). He does Tuesdays through Thursdays because those are my busiest days of work so I can sleep in a bit longer while his work schedule is pretty consistent throughout the week.
7. Number crunching - I have a CPA and an accountant now. My CPA handles my taxes, any forms I need for my contractors, reminds me of quarterly deadlines, etc. My accountant organizes and categorizes my expenses and handles my books monthly. All I have to do is sometimes answer a question about a certain charge so it can be organized properly. I also hire an attorney now when I want to trademark something instead of doing that shit myself. Before I hired help in this area, I would have a weekly finance meeting with myself and to do my own books. I had this 20 minute meeting with myself every Monday and called it Money Monday - so maybe you want to start with something like that. Feel free to do a Money Monday, Treasury Tuesday, Wallet Wednesday, or Finance Friday. If you name it something fun it might trick your brain into thinking it’s an enjoyable task instead of a total nuisance. Before I got a CPA I did my own taxes using on of those online platforms which was easy when all I had was my corporate day job paycheck, but once I was a business owner, stuff got confusing. And before I hired a trademark lawyer, I filed my own business entity and trademark paperwork and of course fucked up all kinds of shit and a lot of it was unnecessary and expensive.
8. Admin tasks - I have an operations manager who handles all of my admin tasks, I also use an auto-reply on my email account that gives inquiries the information they need, and I use quick replies on Instagram which are responses you can write ahead of time and with the click of button you can respond to questions you might get asked frequently. Before I had an operations manager, I started with a virtual assistant who worked a couple hours a day just to take some of the admin stuff off my plate. I also didn’t always have auto replies, I would either try to respond to everyone and I was usually sharing the same info over and over again, or I wouldn’t respond at all if I didn’t think it was necessary. The auto-replies are great because everyone gets a response, but they're also aware that they might not receive a personal response from me depending on the content of their inquiry. Another thing we implemented as a team for The Self-Helpless Podcast is instead of starting from scratch every week with our recording availability, we have a standing appointment at the same day and time each week. If we’re all available great, we just prevented a lot of back and forth, if we're not available at that time, at least we have a jumping off point and it’s easier to stick with that same day and timeframe each week.
Here are a few more ideas for freeing up time:
If you live with a partner, roommate, friend - can you sit down and have a little house meeting and discuss which chores each of you love, hate, or feel indifferent about? Cam and I are very aware which tasks each of us enjoy and which we hate. I hate cooking, he doesn’t mind cooking. He hates cleaning, I like cleaning. I hate cleaning our porch potty where our dog goes to the bathroom, he tolerates it. Cam hates long walks, I love long walks and am the one who takes our dog on those. We leverage what each of us enjoys in order to get shit done in a more fun way. We both benefit when we’re in a good mood so these things are important to us to determine. So, you might need to ask yourself, how can you, or each person in your household stay in your happy flow, or zone, as much as possible - even while doing chores and tasks? You don’t always have to split the same tasks up evenly or 50/50. I think sometimes we assume that we're just being lazy, or even that other people are being lazy, but actually, what if they just hate doing that thing and they’d be consistent with something they enjoyed?
Can you create an outsourcing budget for yourself, or with a partner? A lot of people have vacation budgets, grocery budgets, holiday gift budgets - how about a budget to give you some time back? Maybe you have a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly outsourcing fund where you choose which service you want to treat yourself to for a month or here and there. Even if you aren’t interested, or able, to outsource everything at once - what about outsourcing the thing you hate doing most, as often as possible? Maybe you hire someone to clean your home 4 times a year, maybe you set up a meal service when you know you’ll be having a busy month at work, maybe you hire an assistant seasonally gearing up for the holidays, or can you hire a virtual assistant in your business for two hours a week? Can you get a gardener a couple times a year, or a personal assistant 1 hour per week to run errands - or maybe a random cousin who will do both of those things for you? There’s a lot of options in between having zero help in your business to having 10 full-time employees with benefits. Same thing with your life tasks. Can you try something just once to see how it feels? What does your happy medium look like right now?
Can you trade services? For example, if you hate cooking but love tutoring kids and your friend loves cooking but hates tutoring kids, can you ask if your friend would be willing to bake you a lasagna once a week in exchange for a weekly tutoring session for their kids? Keep in mind, you want to trade for a service that you actually like doing, if you hate cooking and tutoring then this deal wouldn’t make sense for you. You don’t want to replace one task you think is shitty for another one you think is shitty, you want to upgrade. How can you upgrade your tasks utilizing your own network?
4. Now, I want you to write down a solution for each task on your hate list.
Whether the solution is removing it completely, setting up a system that frees up some mental energy, delegating to a partner, friend, or someone in your network, or outsourcing the task to a service.
I also want you to keep in mind that the way you outsource might change and evolve. The way I was outsourcing a year ago looks different than what I’m doing today. And 5 years from now will probably look different (like maybe instead of a meal service, in five years I’ll have a chef heyoooo! One can dream ok?). So you can do this exercise every few months, every 6 months, once a year, and you might notice that you upgrade the way that you free up your time, especially as you get more comfortable with not doing everything on your own.
It's not selfish to free up your time. It's selfish to continue to do things you hate, when you have other options. Think about how you show up when you're well rested and fulfilled vs. when you're miserable AF?
Implement 1 solution on your list today.
For more info about my coaching program, click here.