Give It Away Now: 3 Ways to Free Up Your Time

Click here to learn more about Bench. I'm a new fan.
Click here to learn more about Bench. I’m a new fan.

I never considered myself a DIY kind of girl: I don’t hang my own shelves or put up preserves; I derive no greater joy from painting a wall or doing my taxes than paying a professional to get it done right the first time.

But what I do have is a control problem, and letting go of that is difficult indeed, especially when I feel I should be doing myself. And that gets in the way when you have a business to grow, not just run. I might have deluded myself into thinking I did it to save costs, but I know my ego plays a bigger role. Fact is, I’m losing money by doing it all, or waiting to get “around to it,” and you are, too.

This month I took some big steps in the direction of delegating some stuff, and I’ve already been feeling the benefits. In fact, a chunk of it I did this week alone. I’m feeling pretty awesome about it. (Note: These are NOT paid sponsorships. Just my take.)
1. Automate your scheduling. I know, I know. When I first got those emails that enjoined me to book a time with them, I was turned off, too. But you know what? I need to get over it and so do you. This kind of delegation, in which you a) put a system in place to do it, and b) let someone pick a time based on what you have available makes sense. It just does.

This resistance you feel (or at least that I did) is cultural, emotional, as if the other person is the pope and you need to kiss their schedule. But you know the alternative is? Having five email chains going with different time slots that you have available, but then those slots get filled by the time someone wants it, and oh, who was that other person who wanted to meet with me? It’s a waste of time, confusing, and inefficient and leads to miscommunication and mismanaged expectations–not an option.

These days I use Acuity Scheduling. Easy, reliable, right on my website.

2. Hire a bookkeeping service.  I’d been wishing for a while that I had someone to hand all this stuff to, and say “you figure it out.” But I feared the cost would be prohibitive, and that it would be too “hard” to explain it all to someone. And that I technically “could” do it. Just as I technically “could” run a marathon (another thing I’m happy to delegate).  When I saw an ad for Bench on Facebook that showed bookish young hipsters who swore they really liked doing it, I was like, ok.

I did the free trial, where they walk you through one month’s worth of your business statements. For a small business with less than $10K in monthly expenses, you pay $135/month. TO NEVER DO IT AGAIN. I love the simple interface, and the fact that you get a dedicated person who learns your business and you can email your receipts to the account directly, and they wrap it all up in a bow and send it to your accountant.

My response? “Now, where is that credit card…” Sign me up.


3. Outsource tasks. I’m putting together, for the first time, a newsletter, basically because I’ve done zero to reach out or build my audience in a real, consistent way. So dumb. What was holding me back? I have all those contacts to go through in excel and ugh, it’s such a time suck. Enter: Taskrabbit. There are lots of other services that can do administrative stuff (Fancy Hands I have used and liked, but you have to commit to a monthly fee, and I haven’t tried Elance yet but may). While Taskrabbit is usually for in-person, local stuff (moving, cleaning) I used it to hire someone to go through and clean up spreadsheets, check for duplicates, etc. DONE in a day. I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.

I’ve also hired people I know to other things, like:

  • Edit the Solopreneur show (airs here Tues @ 4p). I like doing it, but having someone else do it gave me back 6+ hours/week (and my entire weekend).
  • Stir my social media pot and get posts up more consistently;
  • Handle operations for getting my newsletter up (coming soon! Sign up by putting your email in that little box–it won’t be a lot, maybe twice a month).

What has this yielded? More time for the things I want to do, and which yield me far more in terms of building my own business:

  • Met up with 1-3 new contacts a week;
  • Attended at least one networking event each week, which has expanded my network and inspired me with ideas and people to reach out to;
  • I have nine—NINE—interviews for Solopreneur in the can.
  • Been able to do some focused work on my own branding efforts;
  • Redesign and relaunch my website with a designer;
  • Read!
  • Write!

You can’t think big when you’re in the weeds, and you cannot scale if you don’t give stuff away. Think of it as an investment in your systems, in your network, and in yourself.