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Is Task Outsourcing The Enemy of Personal Development?

Is Task Outsourcing The Enemy of Personal Development?

Every day you learn something new is a good day — that’s what my mother taught me.

As someone who grew up with ADHD (and still dealing with it), I was not overly successful at getting things done at school. My inability to sit in one place and do one action at a time prevented me from focusing.  Often, sitting at class led me to doodle in my notebook or, worse, being asked to leave the classroom all together.  For me the result was the same: missing a lot of classroom material.

For me, the gods of fortune smiled at me and sent me a persistent mother that knew a thing or two about how to raise a kid like me (she has ADHD too).  So I learned everything I needed to learn again at home, surrounded by my own favorite distractions in a protected environment.  It was one of the best things ever to happen to me.

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Why was it such a good thing?

Because someone who fails in one environment (i.e. class) needs to compensate with little victories in other environments (i.e. home) to remain stable and develop. I gained my little victories at home, studying both from encyclopedias and history books, gradually getting addicted to auto-didacticism and the ensuing benefits.

The passing years taught me to manage my time better and segment my work more effectively, ultimately helping me get more done. I have also learned to harness people around me.  Hey, if someone can do a job as well as you, why not let him do the job for you, right? …Ah, the hubris.

So, I started to manage more and do less, outsourcing most of my tasks: one after the other, small tasks, big tasks, short tasks, long tasks…you name it. I figured out that if I don’t work on mundane tasks, I’ll have more time to explore my more creative side and work on those things that matter to me the most.

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…Big mistake.

Why?

Sure, it worked at first; I was able to get more things done, but there were a few things that I didn’t take under consideration that hurt my ability to continue doing so effectively over time.

1.  All my life I made sure I learned something new each passing day.  When I began to outsource tasks, I experienced a steady decline in my motivation to learn because I thought to myself that someone else can do it for me… and probably better.  I was hiring people to do professional tasks for me instead of learning how to do them myself.

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This developed my managerial skills for sure, but prevented me from developing new capabilities. Today you can outsource just about anything, so why should I keep learning what to do when there’s a cheaper, faster option waiting a few clicks away?

2.  I started missing out on opportunities — not only learning opportunities, but also opportunities related to my projects and goals.  Being out there, doing things, experiencing them first hand — there’s no substitute for that. If someone else does that for you, you’re probably missing out on a lot of things without ever knowing.

3.  Outsourcing most of my tasks left a vacancy that I filled with leisure activities.  Instead of personal development, I spent more time on leisure activities.  Don’t get me wrong, leisure is great, but too much numbs your mind and makes you lazy.

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Outsourcing is a slippery slope; you don’t want the success of your project hanging on someone else’s shoulders.  Too much reliance on someone else is a sure way to fail.  If knowledge is power, you’re giving up that power, hanging your hopes on someone else and making yourself irrelevant.  You can remain in your managerial comfort zone for a while, but as I mentioned, something will eventually flush you out.  If you’re living an easy and comfortable life because someone else is slaving for you, when things will change (and they usually do), you’ll find yourself facing reality’s cold blank stare.

So learn how to outsource and manage your projects without losing touch.  Make sure that when you’re leading, you’re in the trenches and not shouting commands from afar.

Until next time.

More by this author

Haim Pekel

Haim Pekel is an entrepreneur and shares tips on productivity and entrepreneurship at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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