I'm a huge fan of outsourcing to improve your productivity. When done properly, delegation can crank your output up to unparalleled levels.

It's especially perfect for "busy" work, research, repetitive tasks, data entry, data verification, and other basic tasks, but you can (and should) also outsource tougher tasks that don't fall into your areas of proficiency. The benefits of outsourcing some of your work are obvious: the time you're not using to worry about work that someone else could do can be spent on work that only you can do.

When Should I Delegate?

I've got an easy way to help you figure this out. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is an hour of my time worth to me? (Or, if you're a contractor yourself, what's your hourly rate?)
  2. What would it cost me to outsource this task?

If your answer to No. 2 is more than No. 1, you may not want to outsource. If your response to No. 1 is larger than your response to No. 2, outsource away!

To Whom Should I Delegate Tasks?

To someone available, affordable, adept and ambitious. Ideally, the person you outsource tasks to isn't similarly overburdened. You also must ensure that this person is capable enough to do the assigned task well, but works at rates within your budget. And, finally, an enterprising candidate will want to do well to secure further work or other advancement, a fact that ensures his or her loyalty and effort.

For what it's worth, I've found outstanding professionals from the following outlets:

  • Craigslist
  • At work (colleague, direct report, intern)
  • Through local universities' career services centers

Take a look at your current workload. What tasks could theoretically be done by someone else?

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