Every one of us has a slightly inflated self opinion – if not in all matters, then certainly in what is and isn’t the sort of task that matches one’s specific level of skill and intellect. Selfish though it may seem, you probably have a point: several hours of a busy working day spent doing something that would have been below you before you reached secondary school is not a good idea.
Wasting time with mundane tasks is not what you are paid to do, probably, and it is not only inefficient – but also de-motivating. Working on a lot of boring things will inevitably frustrate you and, consequently, reduce your efficiency and general contentedness. It hardly seems far-fetched to suggest that, if you continue to carry out the menial and unskilled tasks, your perception of what you can and should be doing will suffer.
Fear not though; the solution is not to dive into a punch-up with your employer, demanding an assistant because as is so often the case, the World Wide Web comes to your rescue. Your shock at that revelation, I suspect, was rather tempered by your having read the title, but nonetheless outsourcing online has its merits. The traditional point of view here tends to go something like: ‘don’t put your money anywhere near the web, it’ll be stolen’ (stolen, here, might equally mean ‘taken in exchange for substandard services or goods) and it would be naïve to suggest anything other than that you continue to be wary of the odd types who lurk down our phone lines and between our servers, but the situation has advanced in recent years.
While the ‘make thousands of pound with no effort’ sites remain, far more reputable ones have emerged. Frequently these operate on a model something like a social network, acting as a virtual labour exchange, pairing hundreds of contractors with hundreds of employers (that’s you), benefitting both for a small commission.
Elance has the biggest collection of freelancers and independent contractors from around the world. You can find someone to do your writing, programming, graphic designing, and just about anything else you can think of.
Tips for using Elance:
- Mark your projects as a pre-defined fixed price job rather than paying by the hour. That way you only pay for work once it has been received up to your standard (most contractors will offer revisions).
- Post projects to international virtual assistants at the end of your working day and set a deadline for the next morning. This way your assistants will be working for you while you’re sleeping and will have it ready for you when you begin work the next day!
- You want to be focusing most of your time on that 20% of important tasks yourself (market research, business strategy, creative tasks) and outsource the 80% of less important, but time-consuming tasks. Being able to utilize Pareto’s principle smartly is the key to getting the most out of outsourcing.
oDesk is the main competitor to Elance. Its very impressive screen capture and time-logging systems make it a better option for those looking to hire contractors for pay-per-hour jobs requiring extensive project management.
Outsourcing reflects a global shift: the most successful companies in India, to take an example, are those that capitalise on the inequality between what people are prepared to do for money. A typical illustration (on a less personal level than what I am advocating, I hasten to add) is one that provides management (etc) consultancy to Western companies, working through Western representatives but utilising its domestic workforce.
So there you go, hand over the drains on your time to others, and concentrate on the cutting edge of your career, not the slow and profitless bits.