In January of 2013, several news outlets reported on the remarkable story of Bob.
With Bob’s programming speed and code quality, his company named him “Best Coder in the Building” and gave him an excellent performance review. He was a model employee; in his mid-40s, Bob clocked in by nine each morning and sent his boss a daily summary of his productivity before he left at five.
But if we had been able to secretly peek over Bob’s shoulder all day—to discover how he spent his time—we would have seen something peculiar. On Bob’s typical day, he would read Reddit and watch YouTube videos from about 9:00 to 11:30, which is when he would head out to his 90-minute lunch. Back at 1:00 p.m., Bob would then spend the next three and a half hours on Ebay, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites. At 4:30, he would send a report to his boss and go home—without writing a single line of code. The next day would be the same.
How could this be? How could Bob be his company’s star programmer, yet goof off all day?
It turns out that Bob was very smart.
Instead of asking, “How can I do this”, he asked, “How can this get done?”
The answer, in Bob’s case, was that he outsourced his task—actually his job—to a software development company in Shenyang, China. Bob’s company gave him approximately $200,000 a year to do his work, and he in turn gave $50,000 a year to a programmer in China to do it for him.
For the longest time, Bob’s company marveled at his productivity and quality, while he surfed the Internet eight hours a day.
Eventually Bob’s company noticed unusual server access from China, and thinking they were being hacked, they stumbled upon Bob’s brilliant scheme. They were not amused. Bob was fired.
If I had been the CEO, I would have doubled Bob’s salary and made him the CTO. That way he could have outsourced all the development work and saved the company millions of dollars.
While Bob ultimately got fired for breaking company rules, we can learn a lot from his approach to getting things done.
How to Apply It
Ultra productive people know that time is of the essence. But it’s also the great equalizer—we all have the same amount of time in a day. We can’t just buy more time when we need it.
Or can we? It depends on how you look at it.
For example, Shane and Jocelyn Sams built a high six-figure business selling digital products and started FlippedLifestyle.com to help other families “flip their lives” with online businesses. They insist that you can “buy time”. In their words:
“Leverage every dime you have to outsource and buy other people’s time. That is the key. Organize your 168 hours, then buy hours from others to grow.”
Andrea Waltz, co-author of the bestselling book Go for No!, puts it this way:
“Nothing will slow you down, take you off track, or keep you unproductive more than doing things which you both: do not like to do and are not good at. Anything that falls into that category must be outsourced to someone else (ideally who both likes it and has competence) as soon as possible. The extent to which you continue on those types of tasks is what will hold you back from truly loving what you’re doing and also being fulfilled.”
And Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, keynote speaker, and author of Youtility, shares a simple process that pays rich dividends. Every year, he sets aside a block in his schedule to audit his time and to find a way to delegate at least 15% of what he’s doing.
In 2015, I conducted survey research on thousands of working professionals and the data was clear: People who actively look for things to delegate report higher levels of productivity, happiness and energy, and are less likely to feel “overworked and overwhelmed.”
So, what can you outsource or delegate? What should be on your stop doing list?
Kevin Kruse is the host of the Extreme Productivity Podcast and author of the ready-to-print “Infographic: 15 Things Ultra Productive People Do Differently.”