Outsourcing my life, day 2: Hiring a virtual assistant, meditating on outsourcing

Not too much happened today physically in moving towards outsourcing, but since it was on the mind, I had some small epiphanies and thoughts that may be worthy of sharing.

On the logistical front, I awarded my virtual assistant job on Elance to two providers, a company in India who can provide a team of folks for $5 / hr and an individual in the states fo r $8 / hr. The India-based team got back to me later in the day, but I haven't heard back from the state-side one yet.

I think taking physical steps towards trying something like this is probably the way to get into the right mindset. Just like I mentioned in Day 1, it seems like actually getting your hands dirty with a task is the way to pull your mind into it.

Here are some outsourcing thoughts I had today:

My original plan was to have the two virtual assistants complete the same tasks so I could measure them against each other. However, a lesson came to mind which I learned playing Mastermind one day with my father-in-law. My idea was to apply an algorithm to the challenge - doing all yellow pegs, then purple, then pink, and identifying without a doubt what colors were on the board. What my father-in-law suggested was that every move should be a possible solution based on what you know. So, if you try all yellows and you find out that one of pegs is yellow, all of your guesses from that point forward should have a yellow peg. The lesson being that every step you make should move you forward as much as possible. My guess is that I can move forward faster by having the two VAs do different things, even if I sacrifice the ability to isolate variables and have a more scientific experiment.

Often, what takes the longest amount of time when accomplishing a task is the exploration around the task, getting sidetracked and exploring other things. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes it distracts us from what's the most important to us. By outsourcing, we end up telling someone to take the shortest route to accomplishing the task, which might be way more efficient than the way we'd go about it.

One thing that makes outsourcing a hard concept for me is that I've tried to simply my life as much as possible. Part of this appeals to my sense of minimalism and portability. If the s**t hits the fan and we all have to fend for ourselves in some world of post-apocolyptic chaos, I want to know I can handle my life. I want my needs to be simple. But, what I might not realize is that the skills you develop in being able to guide people, in being creative enough to distribute meaningful tasks to others, might also prove a very useful skill in that kind of situation.

Sometimes the most important things you learn when doing your own research are not associated at all with what you're researching. You'll miss out on these things if you outsource them. I wonder you can find the right people that will also share stuff that they learned along the way.

Having a VA is like having a nanny of the mind. You can use them to augment your time in a good way, or take over responsibilities that you really shouldn't be delegating. I think that this is a bit of a fear for me, that I may end up outsourcing things that would actually help me grow into a more interesting person.


What is the evaluation of your test. Is the home base more effective than the Indian VA?

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John V