Thursday, December 30, 2010

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Okay, time management is a big deal with writers. Most of us do not support ourselves entirely (or even partially) from our writing. That means juggling a "day job," family, friends, hobbies, church or charitable activities and, somewhere in the mix, writing.

There are several time management tools you can use such as working in smaller chunks of time, getting up a little earlier or going to bed a little later, selecting projects with time as a priority, trimming down unimportant stuff, prioritizing, etc. However, I want to talk about one that business people know, but writers rarely think about - Delegating.

Many of us live by the credo - "If you want something done right, do it yourself." We know, at some level, it's balderdash. After all, I don't try to perform surgery on myself, fix my own car when I don't have the tools or expertise, act as a lawyer without legal training or do a thousand other things I delegate to others. Sometimes I delegate because I don't have the skill to do the job. Sometimes I delegate because others simply do the job better. But sometimes, I also delegate because I need the time.

I have had to learn this lesson as my health issues have become a significant part of my life. I have about eight really healthy hours a day with another 3-4 that aren't that healthy, but I can still get some work done. In that time I have to take care of my teaching, ministry work, writing, fixing dinner, doing shopping, and all the other facets of daily life. Some people ask how I do it all. My reply: "I don't"

I delegate. I am fortunate to have a job which allows me to pay someone to come in a clean house. So, I do that. She does a better job than I would and that's a few hours a week I have to work on writing. I have bad asthma. So I can't do gardening. So, I pay my brother-in-law to do the gardening for me. Okay, saying I pay him is sort of a misnomer. He tends to spend what I pay him on other things for the garden, but still the idea is sound.

As far as that goes, my brother-in-law is a great cook and I love some of his wonderful mexican soups. So, I buy the ingredients and he cooks up a pot of soup and I freeze containers of soup. (Have you ever had mexican meatball soup with meatballs bigger than golf balls? Wonderful!) When I'm tired and don't want to cook, I pull out his soup or other meals I've asked him to cook.

Being single, I pretty much have to do everything myself. I mean everything. I know my married friends say the same, but while they are talking to me on the phone, they have their husband bring them a cup of coffee, their kids answer the door or bring something home from the store. It's pretty simple. In my house, if the phone rings, I answer it. If the door bell rings or I want a cup of tea or the car washed, it's all up to me. I can't even say, "Could you bring me the phone book or hand me the remote?" Or could you bring home a few things from the grocery store on the way home? Well, that last one, I can. I have discovered home delivery of grocery items from places like Schwanns and Omaha Steaks. I also did most of my Christmas shopping for my younger nieces and nephews online this year at Edmunds Scientific. Good quality, educational toys they loved and I didn't have to go anywhere near the mall. I saved time and money.

We talked about marketing a couple of days ago. While you can't avoid some of the work, you can delegate some of that as well. There are marketing people who will write your press releases and develop media packs for you. (I'm one of those people). You can get someone to design the website for you and help develop promotional ideas.

Of course, much of this will cost you some money. Although, sometimes you can work out trades with people. But if there is one thing I've discovered over the 5- er - years I've been on this planet it's this simple truth. You can buy time with money or money with time. But it may be a worthwhile investment. If you are writing, how much is your time worth?

Fiction writing is harder for me to judge because I have less experience, but for my nonfiction writing or advertising/marketing/PR work, I can say with certainty that it is worth about $75 an hour. If I pay someone $25/hour to clean my house, then I'm $50/hour to the good.

While this won't work for everyone, before you reject it out of hand, ask yourself what things you can reasonably delegate to others and don't let the pride of "If I wan't something done well, I do it myself" get in the way of freeing up a few hours you can use writing.


Dianne G. Sagan said...

I am right with you on goals and plans that are realistic rather than vague, short lived resolutions.Your comment about how much your time is worth writing or doing the business of writing is a worthy consideration. Delegating can make a huge difference. I also think that multi-tasking helps. I try to research once for several projects at the same time so I don't have to recover the same ground twice. I keep the research information on a flash drive for the future and some of it in binders on the shelf in my home office. I'll be posting some goals on my own blog this week.

Terri said...

I thoroughly agree. I multitask all the time. It's like the old joke, you know you are old when you bend over to pick something off the floor and ask, is there anything else I need while I'm down here.

I do the same with research. When I am writing magazine articles, I start with a broad topic and see if I can get several targeted articles out of the topic. For instance, several years ago I researched shyness. I sold an article to an inflight magazine about shyness counselors, I sold one to a business magazine about dealing with social anxiety in a business setting. Then I sold one to a woman's magazine about shyness and women. One bit of research and three articles. I've even thought about doing a book on the subject.

So, I'm definitely with you on multi-tasking.