Why aren’t you happy with your work? Could it be because you have to do stuff you don’t like to do?
I’ve certainly felt that way. I had so much stuff to get done that I didn’t want to do that I dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. I knew I was going to have to trudge through task after task, laboring away at the stuff I hated.
Of course, I only did that stuff at the last minute. I’d wait until the absolute deadline before I’d start. Then I’d rush through it and do a pretty crappy job with much of it.
What was I doing while I was putting off doing the stuff that needed doing? Of course, I was doing the things I like to do. There was always something interesting to me that I found enjoyable.
Thankfully, some of what I enjoy doing is actually productive and profitable. Unfortunately, certain things just weren’t getting done.
At some point, I concluded that I really wasn’t going to do the stuff I was avoiding (or I was just going to rush through it and do the least I could). Once I accepted that I wasn’t going to change, I realized that I’d better do something about the situation, or I was going to get myself into major trouble.
That’s when I went hog wild with delegation.
What Did I Outsource?
I started hiring people to do the crap I couldn’t stand (well, crap is an overstatement. In fact, some of my “crap” is stuff other people love. They actually like doing this stuff—different strokes…).
Anyway, I quickly found that I could hire someone to do the stuff I wouldn’t do so I could immerse myself in the stuff I enjoyed.
Wow, what a productivity change! Suddenly, I went from accomplishing next to nothing to accomplishing more than I could have imagined.
All I did was focus on what I liked and delegate the rest. It was like magic.
I hired people to draft documents for me. I hired people to handle the billing. I hired people to run to the courthouse. I kept the stuff that I loved—the stuff that helped me rocket out of bed in the morning.
Over time, of course, the things I liked changed. I shifted my focus as my preferences changed. I moved from doing lots of trial work to less of that and more of the marketing work for the firm (it’s all basically sales—just that instead of selling to the judge, I started selling to referral sources).
I suspect I’ll shift my focus again at some point down the road. Once I figured out how to delegate, I realized that I can change my work as my interests shift. It’s fantastic.
Can You Afford to Outsource?
As my interests changed, I had to make some changes to the mix of employees. That wasn’t a big deal as I’d become pretty good at hiring new folks and helping old folks shift around within the firm.
How did I come up with the money to hire my first person? How did I finance additional people?
Back in the day, I did it by borrowing money from the bank—lots of it. I used the money to onboard staff, train them, and pay their salaries as they became productive.
Things are different today.
You won’t need to borrow money. Today, you can outsource much of the work to independent contractors and virtual assistants. These folks are usually already trained. You won’t need to pay in advance. In fact, don’t tell them I told you this, but you can frequently dictate the amount and terms of payment (it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there).
You can delegate today without having a big wad of cash for hiring employees. Life is good.
What Should You Delegate?
Here are the steps you should take to figure out what to keep and what to give away.
- Take inventory. The key is figuring out what gets you jazzed about getting out of bed. Decide what it is that you want to keep. Think long and hard about what gives you energy and what sucks the life out of you. Go with the energy. Give away the life-sucking pieces of the work.
- Develop systems. Then, package up the work you’d like to delegate. Figure out exactly what needs to be done and draft instructions (systems) for doing it. Put energy into developing the systems (if you can’t bring yourself to do it, then find someone who can do it for you by interviewing you and drafting the instructions—delegate it!). You’re going to need excellent systems if you’re going to outsource the work. Systems are critical.
- Take the plunge. Once the systems are developed, start testing. Hire your first person and put him or her to work. Expect some challenges to arise. Things won’t always go as planned. Minimize your exposure to mistakes by delegating tasks with minimal contact with others (clients, opposing counsel, the court), and keep a careful eye on the progress.
Over time, you’ll develop expertise in delegation. You’ll build systems that make it easy to repeat the cycle over and over. You’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t.
Soon, you’ll find yourself doing what you love. You’ll find yourself focused on the parts of the work that brought you to the practice and feeling comfortable that the rest is being done by people who are passionate about doing their part.
You can be happy with your work. You can wake up and feel energy and excitement about starting your day. Now is the time to start heading down the path to doing the work you love.