As an Edinburgh Executive you are probably short of time, what with all the staff meetings, networking do’s and CPD courses you attend. It doesn’t really leave time to stop and smell the flowers. One of my favourite movies of all time is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I laugh ‘til I cry every time that Ferrari goes out of the window, and I can’t stop dancing to Twist and Shout, but it’s the film’s message, it’s reason for being that gets me coming back time and again.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it
Now that film was made in 1986, when life moved pretty “slow”, imagine what Ferris would make of today’s world, the world that Millennials try so hard to keep up with. I read somewhere once that we make more decision now in a day than our grandparents made in a month, and if you have kids, you could probably double that, and if you have a business, double it again. So where do we find all this extra time? The truth is, we don’t. There is still only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, but somehow, we manage, just. It could be that Millennial Executives work harder than previous generations, but I doubt it. The best that I have met definitely work smarter, and it’s from those few that we should learn.
I first read about outsourcing your life in a wonderful book called the 4 Hour Week by Tim Ferris. If you haven’t read it, you should, especially if you have a lifestyle business that is sucking the life out of you. For the rest of us there are many great nuggets of advice that can help us streamline our lives and get more done in less time, and for some, most importantly freeing up time to enjoy life.
The premise is thus, look at every little thing you do in your life from, driving to work, cooking your meals, cleaning, working and so on and find a way that you can chip away at the time spent doing them. By freeing up 10 minutes here or there you will soon find you have an extra hour at the end of the day. What you do with that hour, well I am sure your Mum will appreciate the call.
But how can a busy executive like yourself find the time to assess what can be outsourced and what cannot. Well, the first thing you need to do is free up time in your day, and the easiest thing to do there is free yourself of the tyranny of emails. If I could teach you just one thing it would be that. Set times for reading emails, and set auto-responders so the sender knows you will respond at a given time.
If you were to email me right now, you wouldn’t get a response. That’s because as I write this it’s 2 pm and my time for replying to emails is 10 am and 4 pm what you would get is an auto-response like this.
Emails are reviewed and replied to, if required, at 10am and 4pm daily. If your enquiry is urgent (ie it needs a reply within the hour) please call our office number which you have on file.
Now the first thing you will notice that I only reply to emails if they require a reply. So many of my friends and colleague will reply to emails with the usual “Thanks for sending this” and so on. Well, there’s 1 minute saved already. The second thing that stands out is the call to action; phone me if it is urgent. Now when I first started doing this I was worried that people would get frustrated, but strangely they didn’t and in fact, there was an overwhelmingly positive response. Many customers would say how great it was because now they knew they would get a response at a specific time, and it let them get on with their day without wondering if I had replied, and others were happy that there was now a definition of urgent and “it can wait”, the former they pick up the phone and the latter is sent in an email. And for me, it meant that I could now schedule replies to all those “it can wait” emails without feeling guilty, and to help further I often let the customer know when they will receive a full response once I have reviewed their email. It revolutionised the way I work and many of my friends and colleagues now use exactly the same system. But what if you have an overbearing boss who always needs a reply there and then. Well, I have a strategy for that too, that you can read more about it HERE
So there you have it, you have freed up enough time in your working day to assess the rest of your life and prepare it for outsourcing. And how you outsource it depends entirely on the specifics of your life and to a degree your finances but I have to say there is always a workaround to seemingly expensive problems. Here are just a few of the things you could outsource.
- Cleaning (employ a cleaner, hopefully, their hourly rate is less than yours so it makes financial sense)
- Travel to and from work by bus or train (use public transport and work while you travel)
- Buy your lunch (sure making your lunch is less expensive, but isn’t your time worth more)
- Have your suits picked up and delivered to and from work rather than taking them yourselves to the dry cleaners
- Have someone else answer your calls or use a call screening service (this one is great if you run your own business and I know companies that will answer around 5 calls per day for less than £100 per month and with a UK voice)
- Use the likes of Fiverr or People Per Hour to find talented people to do all those niggling little things like setting up your email, maintaining your social media and designing your business cards.
That’s just half a dozen examples but before you know it, whether you are an executive in a large company or Millennial CEO you will find an extra day in your week just by making small changes. I am always reminded of the hillwalker who met a woodsman in the forest, toiling to chop down a row of trees before dusk. The hillwalker saw he was using a blunt axe and suggested he sharpen his axe which makes cutting down the trees easier and would allow him to meet his goal. The Woodsman replied, “I have no time to sharpen my axe, have you seen how many trees I have to chop down”.
Sometimes it’s the little things that you need to change to make a big difference to your day, but then some people can’t see the wood for the trees.