Self-employed and spread thin? How to delegate

How many times in any given week do you wish you could clone yourself? Like most freelancers and microbusiness owners, chances are you lost count after Monday.

You may think you don’t have time to find and train a virtual assistant, bookkeeper or other small business professional to help you out. You may also think you can’t afford to pay them. But if you’re drowning in administrative tasks, investing in reasonably priced help a few hours a week or month should pay for itself quickly. The more time you free up to pursue and complete paid projects or sell your products, the more money you stand to make.

As a freelance writer, I often need to interview subject matter experts for the articles and case studies I’m asked to write. If a project is on a fairly technical topic and I’m being paid at least $2,000 for it, I’ll hire a transcription service to type up the audio recordings of my interviews.

Transcribing a 30-minute interview myself takes me about two hours. If I have four of these to transcribe, that could take an entire day. Instead, I pay someone $1 per audio minute to do this transcription (totaling $120 for four 30-minute interviews) and use the eight hours I saved to forge ahead on my assignment. This allows me to get to the next $2,000, $3,000 or $5,000 assignment that much more quickly, which means I can make more money.

Behold all the tasks that you, too, can delegate to apps or other people:

Tasks that don’t pay. You only have so many productive hours in a day. Save them for chatting with potential customers, closing deals and completing project deliverables. Let someone else handle the rest.

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Repetitive tasks. Tasks that you find yourself repeatedly doing are ripe for delegation. For me, it’s sending release forms to interview subjects and updating my writing portfolio. For you, it might be sending contracts to business partners, ordering supplies or updating your social media accounts.

Easily automated tasks. If you’re not taking advantage of all mobile banking has to offer, get on it. If you schedule a lot of meetings, tools like YouCanBookMe and Calendly can save you several rounds of email per appointment. Likewise, invoicing tools like FreshBooks and PayPal’s invoice template can greatly simplify your accounting.

Tasks you can’t stand. What do you loathe doing with the heat of a thousand suns? Whether it’s paying your bills, returning phone calls or entering expenses into QuickBooks, save yourself the headache by hiring someone else to do it.

Tasks that aren’t your strong suit. Don’t spend time muddling through website design, tax prep or computer optimization if you don’t know what you’re doing. Get it done quickly and correctly by hiring a pro.

Still don’t believe delegating is a worthwhile investment? Get yourself a time tracking tool like RescueTime, SaveMyTime or Harvest. Spend a week tracking every minute you work and what you spent it doing. Look up the cost of hiring a virtual assistant or other helper. Then get back to me.

Remember, every task that doesn’t involve wooing new customers, working on billable projects or improving your products or services is something you can farm out. Delegate the right tasks and you stand to lighten your workload and boost your income significantly.

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