Biz Notes: How to Bring on Help

March 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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It tends to drive me nuts when people talk about how busy they are, how much work they have, and so on. In my mind- everyone has work, and everyone is busy- we need to just deal. But the last few months have felt unbearably busy for me when it comes to work. On the one hand- it’s great. I’m thrilled to have a constant stream of clients. On the other hand, it’s taken some of the joy out of the work. I’ve been exhausted, generally more irritable, and starting to resent the tasks I used to enjoy. Clearly, I’m really fun to be around right now!

I knew in the back of my mind I needed to get help in some form or fashion, but the decision to bring someone on felt really daunting. Hiring someone would require up front work in terms of getting that person set up. Up front work is more work, so add that to the pile of tasks I already had and well, it sounded even harder- so I kept trying to push through. But week after week I was left feeling miserable, like I couldn’t rise above it all. I finally bit the bullet, and decided to bring on part time support (our girl, Sarah, in case you’re curious!). I’m now (of course) kicking myself for not doing it sooner!

Once I made the decision, getting things set up wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated. These are the steps I took:

  • One of my biggest fears was that I would bring someone on and then wouldn’t have enough work to sustain their position. In order to figure out if that fear was valid, I sat down and made a list of all the tasks I needed support on that wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to have someone else complete. That list become rather long very quickly. The other thing, too, was that once I started actually breaking my work into separate tasks, a bunch of other tasks become apparent as things I could have someone else do. That was a key realization- to not be so limiting in the areas I outsourced.
  • To transition into working with someone slowly, I started small- meaning roughly one day per week. This made things much easier on a planning and financial front. I started with one day a week, with five hours of “in person” work, and three hours of remote work. I outlined the hours, structure of work, and pay per hour all up front.
  • Even though I sat down and completed that big list up front, it still felt challenging to break that down every week. So I started making notes. At the beginning of each week I take a post it and label it “Sarah’s List” and stick it in the notebook I carry with me everywhere. Every time I think of a task for that week- which seems to happen at the most random moments- I jot it down. By the time the next work session arrives, I already have a full list of things I need taken care of. That post it is so simple, but it’s made a world of difference.
  • At the beginning of each work session I devote 20-30 minutes to reviewing the list of tasks with Sarah. By specifically reserving this time in my calendar, I’m prepared to take a break from my work. At the same time, it allows both she and I to work independently for the most part.

So far these steps have made bringing on help and outsourcing my work a pretty smooth transition. And, most importantly, work is feeling much more enjoyable, and I’ve personally experienced a complete resurgence of energy. I’ve still got a lot of growing and learning to do when it comes to managing help and handing off my responsibilities , but I’m headed in the right direction. It’s one of those things that, I now realize, I had to start in order to even start learning- but thankfully it’s not as scary as I thought it was going to be. I only wish I had made the decision to do it sooner!

 Image via The White Ruffle

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