All of life, my parents (teachers, coaches, etc.) would always tell me things like:
“Good things will happen to you if you work hard.”
“If you want the good things in life, you have to work hard.”
“You better work hard or you’ll end up working at McDonalds.”
and many more…
Over the past few years, I’ve slowly realized that it’s not about working hard. Working hard (in and of itself), won’t guarantee you anything.
The baby boomer generation is slowly figuring this out. They worked hard all of their lives with the hopes of retiring and living a comfortable life. They are now coming to realize that Social Security isn’t for sure, their houses aren’t worth what they used to be, the stock market wiped away half of the value of their investments, and their pension plan is underfunded.
When you’ve had a belief system for such a long time (work hard and you’ll be rewarded) and you find out that it’s not true, it can really turn your entire world upside down.
I argue that it’s not about working hard (not that there’s anything wrong with working hard). I believe the better option is to work smart. There’s plenty of people that I know that work their asses off, day in and day out, and never seem to get ahead (both business owners and employees).
Over the past year, I’ve been trying to “work smart” by introducing outsourcing into my business. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with outsourcing. You see, I’m quite the micro-manager (and maybe a bit of a control freak). I have the whole “nobody can do it better than me” attitude. So, needless to say, it’s very tough for me to delegate tasks.
I realized something recently. The more I outsource, the better I feel, the better I think, the less stress I have… the list continues. Now, I should point out that I have no problem with working hard. I’m definitely not a lazy person. But I used to measure my success by how much I worked. I used to put 12 to 16 hours a day into my business thinking that it was all I needed to do. Just keep working hard. Not so. Working on so many of the little details doesn’t give you the time (or energy) to focus on the big picture and direction of the company (which is one of the few jobs that you MUST do).
What I started doing was categorizing the things on my to-do list into 3 different categories:
$10 an hour tasks
$100 an hour tasks
$1,000 an hour tasks
An example of a $10 an hour task is graphic design work. There are tons of people all over the world that will do graphic design work for $5 or $10 an hour.
An example of a $100 an hour task might be programming (web design, software creation, etc.). You could learn how to do this yourself but it’s probably not a valuable use of your time.
An example of a $1,000 an hour task is marketing stuff. It brings in the money. It’s a money task.
You shouldn’t be doing ANY of the $10 an hour tasks. Those all get outsourced (including the ones in your personal life too: mowing the lawn, laundry, cleaning the house, etc.). You should do as few of the $100 an hour tasks as you possibly can. You should focus most of your time and energy on $1,000 an hour tasks. Focus on the money tasks.
Currently, I have 6 outsourced employees working for me:
1. PHP Programmer
2. HTML Programmer
4. Graphic Design Artist
5. Virtual Assistant
6. Traffic Manager
I use www.odesk.com for a lot of my outsourcing needs. I’ve found some great people on there (and plenty of duds too)… so make sure you screen well.
When you want something that most people don’t have (a job that you actually like, a spouse that you’re happy with, lots of money, etc.), DON’T do what everyone else is doing. Do something different. Meaning if most of the people on the planet are unhappy, don’t do what they are doing.
Now. Get back to work. Working smart… not hard.