Saturday, September 12, 2015

Passing Work Along

Most writers don’t even think of passing work along when they get swamped. But it’s good business to do just that. Instead of saying “No” as noted in last week’s blog, it might be a good idea to consider farming out some tasks. But which ones?

Obviously, you want to do all the writing. That’s only natural. But there are other more mundane jobs that could be done by someone else. Passing a task along to someone else in a more appropriate position to do it can maximize the value of your time—and help you make more money in the long run.

As the owner of a one-person business, you have only so many hours in a day to get things done, and that includes your writing and other household chores. So let’s begin with business tasks.

Whether an expert who knows something you don't, somebody under you whose time costs less, or a colleague with time to spare when you're in a crunch, delegating to the right person can be more efficient all around than taking on every task that crosses your path. To delegate work is not to dump, instead, it’s a way to assign a task in a clear, productive way.

Other tasks that could be delegated to someone else include doing background research, typing final drafts on another computer, taking photographs to accompany articles, sorting mail, and filing. The person you assign to take photos must be adept enough at photography to provide good results. However, the other tasks can be done by high school or college students looking to earn some extra money or seniors who are looking for something to do.

Either way, you need to pay these people. “Won’t that cut into my bottom line?” you ask. Yes and no. Paying them minimum wage to take care of these extra tasks will enable you more time to work on writing and thus to write more, increasing your income. Calculate what your time is worth and compare it to the cost of hiring out. It’s just good business.

So when is the right time to pass a job along? Usually, it’s when you face routine, technical, or short tasks or those you don't have time for.

An expert, such as a professional photographer, can often do specialized jobs better. And though they charge more, they can do the job faster and better than you can, saving you both money and time.

Tell the person who will be doing the task exactly what you want done. But unless you're teaching a brand-new skill, don't dictate how to do the job, itself. People learn more and are better motivated when they can figure things out for themselves. Communication is very important when you're delegating. And be sure to ask if the person understands what they are to do.

Tell the person exactly how much authority you're granting. In other words, how much they can do in your name. Is there a dollar limit to the job? A decision point at which you must be consulted? Defining authority helps the person perform the task within the bounds you consider appropriate.

Lastly, you have deadlines, and so should any person doing tasks for you. Set a deadline for any job you farm out and find out if the person can do the job within that time before they begin. What they’ll be doing for you may also affect your deadline, as in the case of outsourced photography. If you have a deadline on your end, make sure their due date is earlier in case they need extra time or you need to correct something.

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