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If you try to do it all yourself, I bet you’ll fall over

overloadI just got off the phone with a friend. She was telling me about her morning. Like me, she’s a freelancer, but of graphic design. This morning, before she even opened Photoshop, she did her bookkeeping, went to the bank and the post office, cleaned her office, fixed the leaky faucet in her bathroom, booked plane tickets for an upcoming conference and worked on a video segment she’s trying to edit to put on her blog.

Did you forget what it is that she actually does for a living? I almost did – and I’ve known her for years.

It all boils down to this: If you’re going to be a graphic designer, be a graphic designer. If you’re going to be a plumber, be a plumber. If you’re going to be a writer, be a writer. Don’t be a graphic designer – and a bookkeeper, a plumber, a travel agent, an administrative assistant and a videographer. It’s just not an effective use of your time.

And it reminds me of an interview that I did for journalist Marilee Crocker not too long ago – and that I’ve tweaked and pasted in below…

Note: Before I get mauled for suggesting that you don’t try to be as self-sufficient as hell in this economy, hear me out. The issue of outsourcing work is vitally important to understand and explore – as a businessperson and as a person in general.

What gets in our way when it comes to outsourcing? Why do we hold back (if we do)?

We are fantastic multi-taskers, and we’ve been socialized to think we need to do it all. As if getting help or outsourcing is somehow lazy, representative of us shirking our duties and a sure sign of failure. For women in particular, I’d say, ‘SuperWoman complex anyone?’ It’s outdated, but deeply ingrained that we will watch the mothership – both at home and at the office (and manage each one magnificently) – no matter what.

So…why is it so important for us to outsource?

It’s important because if we can give some of the work away, we will open ourselves up to more greatness: more time for creativity, more time to grow the business, more opportunity to spend our time in the places where we’re most needed, where we shine, where our passion is. In the end, it provides more work/life effectiveness, severely reduces stress and increases productivity. Which all equals happiness and fulfillment and success.

What can help us get over it?

Talking to other people and getting strength from each other as we march into uncharted territory is always supportive. Share well – and this includes sharing success stories and encouragement. I think it also helps to hire people you respect and feel good about as your outsourcers/contractors. This way, you aren’t just relieving your full plate, you’re simultaneously supporting another ‘good guy’ in their work.

Why should we? How is the reluctance to outsource holding us back?

It’s interesting to examine what we readily outsource (putting on a new roof) and what we tend to cling to (writing our own marketing materials). Why should we outsource as much as possible? Because why should you spend 40 hours a month balancing your books, when you could hire a bookkeeper that can do it in 10 while you design this winter’s fashion line? We think we can’t afford to pay the bookkeeper for those 10 hours, but can we afford to give up the 40 hours of our own? We’re paying for that lost time as well. Not to mention that if you’re a fashion designer, those 40 hours spent with your finances promise little more than frustration, boredom, stress and confusion. What’s the payoff? Who wins?

Ultimately, this is about letting ourselves off the hook – giving ourselves the freedom to achieve what we desire.

Image credit: antwerpenR

Check out the latest interview on The Daily Norm: Banker White, Filmmaker, Artist & Activist

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Paula Hersey says:

    I outsourced our web training and my bookkeeping this year -so true, understand your core offerings. -It’s just not an effective use of your time-

  • I’m very guilty of trying to do too much – for some reason I’m a control freak over something that directly reflects myself, but not when I’m just a part of it, or its a family thing or whatever.

    I never like to ask for help, its weird.

  • Jason says:

    I dunno… it has all been such a blur, these last 10-12 years. I suppose not having any life outside work/related has just become the daily norm for me. This past season was 167 days of work without one off. Owning your own small business is just that glamorous. I do stay away from the money and pay professional bookkeepers. Other than that, it’s all me…
    Yes, noodles, U R right but I have not yet fallen over.

  • Lorraine says:

    Man does this hit home–as I’m struggling to wrestle content into an ebook template, rather than pay a pro designer.

    Can think of sooo many more donkey-me choices I make–but won’t bore you. Thanks, Julie.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    Touche, Julie, touche.

    During my recent electoral campaign (I was elected as a city councilor last week), I needed to design both a postcard and a yard sign as pieces of literature. I can fiddle with Photoshop Elements but I’m not a designer; your friend has the eye I lack. I turned to some colleagues and asked if they’d be willing to help me out. They obliged and did it pro bono; and everyone loved the designs when they received the postcards and drove by the signs.

    Sure, I could have created them but it would have taken too long. Now, my designer friends know (and have taken me up on my offer) if they need help in areas they are not proficient, they know who to ask for similar pro bono help.

  • CJ Rivard says:

    Such on the mark words of wisdom for all of us struggling “superwomen” (and men) out there! I would love to be able to outsource more both at work and home. Would love to outsource all of my housework :)to spend more time on what’s really important (my family). Similar to the business environment, however, ya gotta have the cash to be able to do the outsourcing and reap the benefits. I’m a firm believer in outsourcing whenever it can be done, however! Thanks for the reminder Julie.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Great comments, all!!! Fabulous examples…thank you for making this point so strong!

  • Do you see a link between the willingness to outsource and belief in the quality of one’s product or services? I do. In the past I have been unwilling to outsource because I couldn’t afford to – or so I thought. Yet lurking beneath this stated reason was this: I did not believe that investing in my business would pay for itself. However, when I am confident of the value of my services, I am confident that spending money to free up my time, or paying someone to help market my business, will create more success. Last week, for the first time ever, I hired a web developer/designer to upgrade my homemade blog and website. What a feeling!

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