This Week’s Guest:
Tim Ferriss is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and public speaker. He’s a guest lecturer in high-tech entrepreneurship at Princeton University, and is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek. You can find Tim on Twitter @tferriss.
While most entrepreneurs and busy professionals are glued to their email and phone, Tim Ferriss mastered the art of delegating. The majority of your to-do list can be outsourced, and with a little direction, a virtual assistant can free up your time, allowing you to work less while earning more.
- Where you can find virtual assistants, and why a group is better than one.
- How to determine what you should delegate, and what you should work on yourself.
- How to decide on a fair pay rate.
- Hiring the right candidates and avoiding costly mistakes.
Here’s what I learned:
Tim’s Journey to Personal Productivity
- Tim attended Princeton as an undergraduate, focusing first on neuroscience then on linguistics.
- He moved to Silicon Valley in 2000, working first as an employee and then as a founder of his own startup until mid-2004.
- His startup had two branches: one was pharmaceutical design and then the second was over-the-counter sports nutrition products aimed at elite athletes.
- In mid-2004, Tim was working 80-90 hours per week.
- Financially, he was very successful, but he had no free time.
- He decided to take a step back and assess his goals by going to London for four weeks to decompress.
- During this time, he set a rule that he would only check his email once per week, which was a huge difference from his normal routine.
- Within four weeks, the company’s profits went up close to 30%.
Outsourcing Your Life
- Tim ended up traveling the world for 15 months, to see how far he could push the concept of outsourcing and automating.
- He started to delegate the time-consuming, unpleasant, and boring tasks in his professional and personal life to someone else.
- The first step to effectively outsource is to calculate the value of your time.
- Your annual income is a deceptive number, if your income raised from $50,000-$75,000 you may be putting in 30 or 40% more hours.
- Tim recommends determining your per hour earnings instead.
- For example, you can find someone to compile excel spreadsheets for $12.50 an hour, but you need to know what you make per hour before you decide what you can pay someone.
- Tim started running his entire company with a virtual system, including product manufacturing, quality assurance, shipping, customer service, and accounting.
- This was all done by people in different states.
- You can delegate everything from travel arrangements and having a digital concierge who’s on call 24/7, to hiring an army of MBA’s in India or the Philippines.
- The first thing you need to do is a time audit.
- Use the 80-20 principle-20% of your activities produce 80% of your desired outcomes.
- If those activities can be done in front of a computer or from a phone, they can be delegated to someone who costs much less than you per hour.
- The trick is to find the appropriate person to outsource to, and Tim has rules that he follows when hiring virtual assistants.
- The first rule is that he never hires a single individual.
- If someone gets sick, gets fired, or quits, he doesn’t want to have a project fall through the cracks because of that.
- He searches for virtual assistant groups or companies who have several assistants to outsource to.
- He will sometimes use Elance.com, and when he posts projects on the website, he will usually receive between 20 to 30 proposals.
- He then takes the top 3-5 candidates and assigns them a short task that should take them less than 30 minutes.
- He does this to test reliability, which is even more important than their skill set.
- There may be times when you think it would be faster to complete a task yourself as opposed to explaining it to someone else, but it’s still on your to-do list for a reason.
- Also, once an assistant has completed a certain type of task for you, they can help you with similar tasks in the future, which saves a lot of time.
What Not to Outsource
- There are certain tasks that Tim won’t outsource, and it’s usually because he either enjoys doing them, or they require a high-level of English proficiency, which is hard to replicate with overseas assistants.
- He keep all of his high-level marketing and budgeting decisions in house.
- He makes all of the creative decisions on marketing and copywriting.
- For Stephan, having an assistant write drafts of blog posts or article helps him to overcome mental blocks.
- Besides these high-level decisions, there are very few tasks that can’t be outsourced.
- Tim even delegated his dating life at one point, and his assistant got him 50 dates!
Mastering the Low-Information Diet
- Tim has recommended for others not to keep up with all of the innovations in their field, because you can’t possibly try everything.
- He knows people who have their assistants compile summaries of various magazines and trade journals that they want to keep up with.
- Tim tends to limit his core competencies to just two or three activities that he will focus on.
- Developing this selective ignorance and following a low-information diet is key to being good at anything.
- You could also pick up a book from the 1930’s and it would probably do more good than trying to keep up with every new trend.
- Just because something is new doesn’t necessarily make it good, so you have to separate new from valuable.
Avoiding Outsourcing Mistakes
- Fortunately, Tim hasn’t had any huge outsourcing mistakes.
- To ensure that mistakes don’t happen, you have to be very clear with instructions and expectations.
- Another helpful tip is to ask for updates very soon after the task has been assigned.
- When you assign a task, make sure that they confirm and understand the task by paraphrasing it back to you.
- Then, have them send you an update shortly after starting-for a task that is going to take 10+ hours, have them check in after 2 hours of work with a progress report.
- This will help you to fix any misunderstandings or errors before they spend that much time working on the project.
Links and Resources Mentioned
- Search for virtual assistant groups or websites that have several team members, so if someone gets sick, fired, or quits your project will not be left unfinished.
- After finding a few trustworthy candidates to outsource to, assign them all 20-30 minute tasks to test their communication and turnaround time.
- Check out Tim’s book The 4-Hour Workweek to get more inside tips on how to effectively delegate and find more time for your personal life.
Thank you for listening!
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