Offload and Outsource It (so you can be more awesome)

Posted by on Sep 7, 2010 in Inspiration, Productivity, Word Flow | 11 Comments
Offload and Outsource It (so you can be more awesome)

So, I *just* had a great exchange on Twitter and I wanted to share the information generated from it in the hopes that it will help other people in the same situation.

As creatives (and often independents) in an ever-changing field, we end up doing a lot of work and having to wear quite a few hats. Whitney Hess, super-fabulous User Experience Consultant and all-around kick-butt woman in general, sent out this lament on Twitter today:

Whitney Hess twitter post 1

I have just gone through this process in the last couple of weeks myself. At the time, a dear friend gave me the verbal equivalent of a (helpful) slap in the face, and suggested that if I didn’t enjoy what I was doing and this was adversely affecting everything else, then I should offload it and outsource the task(s).

In empathy, I responded to Whitney:
Denise Jacobs twitter response
To which she responded:
Whitney Hess twitter post 2

This is the advice I gave her. It just came off the cuff from my head, but I am thinking of it as “Offload and Outsource: How to be Awesome in 4 Easy Steps”:

  1. Know that you can’t do as much work and help as many people when you are gritting your teeth through a task
  2. Remember that the thing you hate is the thing that someone else loves, and you are helping them by offloading
  3. Ask for help/support/leads to good people. everyone is looking to be recognized and approached for the work they do
  4. Believe that you deserve to only do what you love to do and are brilliant at, and you’re worth the effort

My final quip to her on the matter was “how does all of that sound? that kind of work is a log-jam and prevents us from shining our brilliance.“, which is so, so true.

Have I mastered it myself? Heck no — but I am working on it. But that talk my friend gave me last week pushed me to outsource 2 major defacto time and energy logjams which have, in turn, unleashed an avalanche of productivity and creativity for me (including giving me the idea for a presentation on the subject, which I am really excited about putting together and doing soon). So I know that does it really work.

To further this process and change in mindframe along, I’ve finally started reading the book “Work Less, Make More” (it’s been on my shelf for over five years!) in efforts break myself of many ingrained habits of working like crazy and wearing it as a badge of honor but then losing out on the richness of life and relationships with people around me. So far, it has been a great read and exactly what I need right now to move forward so that I can go out do and be more out in the world — and achieve my goals of just being more awesome in general.

If anyone else has tips or anecdotes on offloading, outsourcing, or working less and making more, I would love to hear them.


  1. steph
    September 7, 2010

    One of the things that I’d picked up from years of grassroots work/leadership and also from having been a director of a studio — nothing beats working with a team.

    My own focus is on UX Strategy, but for a given project, I may bring in a graphics designer, a front-end engineer and an application developer, or just a combination of great folks with the right kind of aptitude and skills.

    It doesn’t matter that I have the skills to do it all, I’m just not going to be quite so good as someone who’s chosen to focus on that particular area of expertise. It’s better value for the client. Plus, when you have a team, better ideas get generated, and I love it when the team I’m working with make my ideas better as things get built out. The end-product is much better because I have someone else to bounce ideas off, and because they can look at the same problem from a different perspective.

    • Denise
      September 7, 2010

      Very well said, Steph. That is indeed the entire point and the spirit with which to approach getting past of the point of doing something that you just aren’t that excited about doing. So, with what you suggest, not only do you get to offload something that you may not be great at and give someone else the opportunity to do what they love, but you may also create an environment for collaboration and collective synergy, which is so much better than trying to slog through unpleasant tasks by yourself.

  2. Janie Coffey
    September 8, 2010 has been wonderful. I have a great VA, a great graphics person and will add more from then as I need. I make screen casts of my tasks, converse with chat and it works really well. I am super happy and have been using them for months. My biggest challenge so far is simply finding the time to train on all the “little” things I do.

    • Denise
      September 8, 2010

      Yes! Virtual assistants are going to be the boon to many people’s success. I just got an email with a referral to an awesome husband and wife team,, which I am going to try out ASAP. Ironically, this email came when I just finished a section the book I am reading on delegating.

      Interestingly, several weeks ago, I tweeted to get an idea of how many people use VA’s and the response was minimal at best. I don’t think people realize that offloading/outsourcing/delegating could be one of their most valuable assets.

      I am really looking forward to having all kinds of things done but not having touched any of them. Heaven!

  3. jen
    September 8, 2010

    Yup-a-roo! I just had a talk with someone today about the very same thing. I hate the financial management, tax stuff, of my work — and it turns out I can easily have someone who actually enjoys doing it take care of it, for a reasonable amount, so I can focus on my work, without fear. On the to do list now. I can’t wait to check that sucker off!

    • Denise
      September 8, 2010

      Jen, I don’t like any of that stuff either, so I totally hear you! Another friend and I were talking about using the service, which will scan and organize all of your receipts AND business cards. Shoeboxed then connects up with many of the popular online accounting tools like You have everything virtual and have someone else taking care of it all at the same time — which is as about as close to heaven as it may get in this lifetime 🙂

  4. Adria Richards,
    September 9, 2010


    The question is, “What I’m doing right now, is it moving me closer towards my goals?”

    Tim Ferriss poses a question like this in his “Four Hour Work Week” book asking a friend/client to imagine they’ve just had a heart attack and are told they can only work a limited number of hours per day. The man was asked stop and question himself 3 times a day and only work half the hours he was working in a “normal” week. He scheduled it and three times a day would look at what he was doing and ask that question. After a few weeks, he reported fantastic results! Tim then asked him to only work half of the half hours. The man was worried he would get less done but again to his surprise, he got much more done!

    Part of his success was delegation.

    Glad to see you thinking about increasing your productivity!

    Delegation helps you step back. It reminds you of the big picture and encourages you to step off the hamster wheel.

    I was skeptical of getting a virtual assistant but now I love how they help me prioritize and keep things from slipping through the cracks!

    One thing I did was make a list of “high value” and “low value” tasks. It kept me mindful that I should not do laundry during a weekday because I could be working with clients, looking for new opportunities and enjoying the sunshine!

    Good luck and let me know how the Work Less book is!

  5. Mayra Ruiz-McPhersron
    September 9, 2010

    I’ve been outsourcing for over a year now and I can’t begin to tell you how positively this has impacted my business! It’s always hard to let go at first but if you source the right team members, the sky’s truly the limit in so far as output potential, productivity and synergy. I went from a one-man army to now about a team of 15 or so; each with a specific skill set and specific expertise to augment our overall offerings. If you can align your team members to your mantra and way of life in so far as expectations, how to maneuver around X or Y situations, etc. then the rest is gravy. The “down side” if I had to identify one is that once you outsource, you do find yourself managing more than processes; you are managing people which can present unique challenges. Some folks need a bit more guidance than others. And no matter how much you manage and take great care in being explicit with instructions, etc. miscommunications are bound to happen when you are managing folks, no matter how meticulous you are in your own communications. We are all human and, as a result, mistakes *will* happen. However, when you have the right professional(s) on board, anything truly is possible.

  6. Charmell
    September 11, 2010

    Now’s the absolute perfect time for me to finally come visit Denise’s blog. Just this morning I told my husband (and business partner) that I intend to start offloading certain tasks and functions in the very near future. I’m excited to see how offloading and outsourcing can help us execute on our vision and free us up to do more great work without compromising our ability to chill out or play.

    Denise, I’m eager to talk, so please phone in early October.

  7. Sistergirl
    April 3, 2011

    Wow! That was great advice. We are really not effective when we grit our teeth to do things we hate. Thanxs.

  8. Denise Link List #5 / Project Secret Octopus
    July 13, 2011

    […] And Denise just wrote an awesome blog post that we’re linking to because we love her too: Offload and Outsource It (so you can be more awesome) […]


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