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Tim Ferriss on Outsourcing and Streamlining

Aug 4, 2012 | Reviews, Vee's blog | 0 comments

4-Hour Work Week - reviewMany people dream of taking extended holidays, changing careers or pursuing their dream hobbies and Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-hour Work Week sets out a plan exactly how you can achieve this through a series of mini-retirements.  My previous blog post discussed his first step of deciding what the dream is you want to pursue.

The next step is taking a serious look at what your time is filled with doing and cutting out wasteful activities of being busy for being busy’s sake.  That includes what you do at work. The idea is to be more productive with less time. So you set up systems that stop you being productive, with an aim to eventually be able to work virtually, from any location. Now I will add a note here, because if you are an employee this won’t work for all professions. Sure, if your job involves you working from a computer this will work, even if your employer ‘requires’ you to be in the office. But if your job actually requires you to be physically there like a hair-dresser, bus/train driver or a plumber where you’re working with your hands, then improving your productivity is going to be a challenge. (But he does have a solution – I’ll reveal in a later blog post)

Tim advocates outsourcing areas of your personal life, by using overseas cheap workers from developing countries. So whilst this may seem an attractive proposition to start with paying $5/hour to have someone research the internet for you, pay your bills, respond to emails on your behalf, all while you sleep, this comes with a caveat. The old adage you get what you pay for still holds true.

Overseas VA’s command of the English language will never be as good as a VA who’s local, so while at $5 per hour it may seem attractive on the surface, getting your instructions conveyed in a way that they get understood could prove a challenge in itself. The entailing results could also be way off mark, that you could end up spending more time trying to compose your instructions in a fool-proof, easy to understand by a non-English speaking VA that you could have done the task five times over yourself and therefore the whole exercise of outsourcing a complete waste of not only time, but also money.

Not to speak of time-zone issues. While it may seem ideal that you send your instructions as you finish for the day to wake up to completed tasks, the reality could be quite different. If the VA needed further clarification or came up with the wrong results, then you’d have to wait a further 24 hours for them to respond.

Then there are cultural differences. Local knowledge counts for a lot. While there may be a lot of information that can be gleaned off the internet, it’s not infallible.

I recently had to source some stores local to my client who happened to be in a neighbouring town to me. If the internet was to be believed, then a music store I know to have been closed down some years ago, still exists and if I was an overseas VA would have no idea of this and wasted the client’s time with duff information, as he had intended to make a personal visit to the store that weekend.


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