In the Summer of 2013, I knew I needed to change.
I had once again taken on too many responsibilities. I had aspirations for many things and new ideas seemed to be always knocking at my door.
I knew I needed to hire help, but I hesitated.
My last experience of hiring a virtual assistant felt like more work then it was worth (but that was my fault which I’ll explain later). Not knowing where to start, I began at the very beginning. Instead of jumping in and hiring help, I chose to be slower and more deliberate about what my needs were and where I needed help.
I want to share with you the steps I took that have made me easily twice as productive.
1. Evaluate Workload
When you are a busy blogger, the last thing you want to do is give yourself more work. However, we mistakenly think that if we just hire a VA all our problems will magically go away. That’s not how it works.
So, I did what I resisted in the past. I decided to document my actual work day. I wanted to get clear on where my time was going.
This had to be easy or I wasn’t going to follow through. I ended up using evernote to document my work. On a Mac, the Evernote logo rests in your menu bar. Once you click on it, a handy evernote note bubbles out. This allowed me to quickly and easily just jot down what I was doing. I did this for about a week.
Once I had documented my work, it was time to evaluate it. I divided a whiteboard into 3 sections: what only I can do, what someone else can do for me, and what I need to stop doing.
2. Eliminate Nonessentials
After everything made it onto the whiteboard, I began by deciding to quit the things under my “need to stop doing list.” This was hard at first, but it can’t help but stare at you if it’s on the whiteboard.
I was surprised at how many things I was doing that just weren’t all that important. Yet, these things were taking up a good portion of my week.
3. Engineer Processes
Remember the first virtual assistant I hired that was a disaster? Well, it ended up being my fault. I didn’t take the time to create processes for her to follow. Since I had no checklist for how to do things, I was spending more time on training her two or three times on the same thing.
This time I decided to take all of the items under “what someone else can do for me” and create checklists for each. I signed up for Sweet Process, which is a slick, online process documentation tool (I interviewed the owner of Sweet Process on the Blogging Your Passion podcast here).
Within a month or so, I had several checklists on how to run my blogging business. I actually began to enjoy doing this. I also noticed something – it’s easy to improve a process if it has been documented first.
4. Enlist Help
Hiring a virtual assistant became much easier as my documented processes now served as my job description. I searched high and low and finally found an assistant who was blogging herself and she was even more successful than me in some areas. This ended up being an easy transition for me.
Besides the VA, I also enlisted project help using the following resources:
- FancyHands.com – ideal for researching and proofing for blog posts (see: 4 Ways I’m Using Fancy Hands to get More Done as a Blogger)
- Elance.com – great for graphics, infographics, and much more.
- Fiverr.com – terrific resource for creative things like audio intro to a podcast or a neat bumper video for YouTube.
- SpeechPad.com – they handle all of my voice to text transcription needs.
5. Execute Core Gift
Only when you do the first four steps above can you create enough space to get to creative freedom. Creative freedom is when you have time to do your best work. For me, it is about spending more time doing “the things only I can do.”
For example, only I can record a podcast episode. You are expecting to hear my voice. However, everything that needs to be done to the audio file after I’m done recording can be done by someone else.