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Time Management

Outsourcing Definition – What Is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing DefinitionHave you ever wondered what the outsourcing definition is?

As entrepreneur, you’ve probably more than likely come across the term outsourcing by now and it can sort of be frustrating figuring all this out.

I’ll share with you a few outsourcing definition that I found, then I’ll share with you the way I think of it.

According to Dictionary.com, it says:

“Outsource” can be used as a verb (used with object), outsourced, outsourcing.

  1. (of a company or organization) to purchase (goods) or subcontract(services) from an outside supplier or source.
  2. to contract out (jobs, services, etc.): a small business that outsources bookkeeping to an accounting firm. verb (used without object), outsourced, outsourcing.
  3. to obtain goods or services from an outside source: “U.S. companies who outsource from China.”

The Business Dictionary says:

The contracting or subcontracting of noncore activities to free up cash, personnel, time, and facilities for activities in which a company holds competitive advantage. Companies having strengths in other areas may contract out data processing, legal, manufacturing, marketing, payroll accounting, or other aspects of their businesses to concentrate on what they do best and thus reduce average unit cost. Outsourcing is often an integral part of downsizing or reengineering. Also called contracting out.

Finally here are a few relevant excerpts that I found on Wikipedia

In business, outsourcing involves the contracting out of a business process to another party (compare business process outsourcing). The term “outsourcing” dates back to at least 1981. Outsourcing sometimes involves transferring employees and assets from one firm to another, but not always.

Outsourcing includes both foreign and domestic contracting, and sometimes includes offshoring (relocating a business function to another country). Financial savings from lower international labor rates can provide a major motivation for outsourcing/offshoring.

Outsourcing Definition

From what I gathered, the “outsourcing definition” is pretty much an extension of the “outsource definition” and the way I define outsourcing is that basically if you’re starting up your business and don’t have employees yet, the tasks that you can’t do or don’t have time to do you delegate to someone else through hiring an outsourcing firm or hiring an independent contractor, also known as a virtual worker.

This also works if you are a big company, you can outsource specialized tasks that are only temporary, hence why you can’t justify hiring a full time employee just for that.

So again, my definition of outsourcing is pretty much to get someone else, better qualified than you to get the job done on a per contract basis. It could be for a day like it could be for a month, you decide.

If you’d like to get more information on outsourcing, I invite you to watch this free 59 minute webinar. In there you’ll learn how an engineer was able to get 25 hours worth of work done in a 24 hour period while working is 50 hours/week job.

What about you, what is your outsourcing definition?

Project Management Software Free & Paid

Project ManagementBefore I jump into the project management software free & paid options, I just want to address the following question: “What is project management?”

Project management is about getting things done on a specific deadline. It’s the whole process from start to finish of planning the outcome, figuring out milestone & deadlines, breaking down the project in tasks and assigning those tasks to your team.

The help of project management tools can really help keeping track of the whole process. Under the free project management software category you can think of the web based tool from Trello.com. Imagine a giant whiteboard with post-it notes that you can move back and forth, Trello is basically that but electronically.

If you prefer having something on your own servers, you can install the open source project collaboration tool from ProjectPier.org. This requires more technical knowhow but it’s free.

On the paid side one of the software that you’ve probably already heard of is Microsoft Outlook, its got a lot functionalities to create to do lists, tasks, calendars, etc.

If you’re looking more for a web based, in the cloud so to speak, then take a closer look at Basecamp.com for its simplicity & ease of use or ActiveCollab.com for its extra added capabilities, like measuring time taken to do a task or track billable time.

These two companies are some of the top choices for paid online project collaboration and management and are used by some of the big players out there like Nike, Twitter, Nasa have used Basecamp and BBC, Adobe, Universal have used ActiveCollab.

Project Management Continued

I often hear about people looking for the absolute best project management software that exist out there but that what most people fail to realize is that it’s very subjective. Each different software bring their own qualities and you should try or explore them to figure out what works best for you and your organization.

I personally like to use Trello because I can see everything at a glance, it’s available in the cloud and you can have access to it from any device and your computer.

What about you, which one do you think you’ll like the best and why?

Computer Shortcuts And Hot Keys

Computer Shortcuts And Hot KeysComputer shortcuts and hot keys, what are they and how can they improve my business productivity? What about a systematic approach? But first, let me share a story with you.

When I was hired as the man in charge for a special project at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, it was certainly not for my good looks but rather my discipline, productivity and performance results I was able to get other people in the past.

Here’s how it all went, I was working on the set of the TV show Reign as a stunt performer, that’s when I got the call from a manager at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. She called and right away identified herself.

She knew who I was and my work ethics because of a recommendation that she received. She also knew that my career as a stunt performer took precedence over everything else but that in between contracts I was open for side contracts if the pay was right.

After clarifying our terms it was a done deal for a four month contract to establish a systematic approach. As soon as I came back from Toronto, the next morning I went to the office where she introduce me my 2 my employees. There was 3 more starting the day after.

It was very chaotic to say the least. Because it was such a new project, there was no formal training, no efficient way of performance tracking and lack of trained personnel. Here just to give you an idea of the scope of the work, DFO changed the way vendors send invoices to them.

They went form a paper environment to a more efficient digital environment but like all change, there’s a steep learning curve. It didn’t help that this new system change was incorporated 3 months before the end of the fiscal year, where all invoices must be sent in and process before the deadline.

First things first, when you’re faced with a new project, the first thing to do is to create your plan of action. You’ve got sit back and overlook at the project’s needs, the goals the clients want to achieve and map it all out. In this case it was to process of all invoices by a certain deadline.

You’ve also got look at what you have as resources, do you have budget to hire more personnel or do you have to increase personal productivity? The department was limited on budget so we had to maximize on personal productivity.

Once that was cleared out and I knew what I needed to do. I looked at the current approach that was currently being used by shadowing my employees that had been working for a week already.

After a week of experience working on the project without a direct supervisor, I asked them their feedback on what could make their job easier and I took some notes of everything that made their life difficult. Computer Shortcuts and Hotkeys

You’d be surprised on how much information you can gather just talking to your front line personnel. Then I proceeded to compile all the data, I took the old clunky paper tracking and created an Excel template where all my staff had to send me their stats on a daily basis. This way now, my employees were accountable for their performance and productivity.

Sadly we had let one person go after exhausting all other alternatives (communicating, offering more training, etc.) but that person was just non reliable, not productive and not open to changes.

Those are the tough decisions but you can’t lead with your personal emotions, you’ve got a job to do, you’ve got deadlines to meet and a project to finish on time. Turned out to be great, we hired new employees that were a lot better.We were a total of six (five employees plus me).

After re-designing the training, the work flow process and showing how to operate the computer efficiently with computer shortcuts and hot keys, my staff’s productivity went through the roof.

It went from an average of 25 processed invoices per person per day to an average of 120 processed invoices per person per day. With my top performer getting 212 in one day! Can you see the improvement? We’ve increased the productivity average by 480%. Now through good leadership, there are all kinds of other things you can do to make your staff feel part of the team and when the time is right, you can ask for favors in return; such as staying overtime, coming in on weekends, etc. but that’s beyond this information session.

Notice there’s a lot of similar characteristics here and network marketing. You’ve got to be an awesome leader if you want to grow in your business, you can’t force productivity out of people but they must be inspired and perform because they want to.

Computer Shortcuts And Hot Keys

Coming back to computer shortcuts and hot keys, computer efficiency will save you lots of time, especially if you work on it all day long, there’s a faster way then clicking away at everything on your screen. Hot keys basically are shortcuts to perform certain actions. Here’s a list of the most popular ones:

  • CTRL + S = Save (I use that all the time, like every 5 seconds)
  • CTRL + C = Copy (so instead of right clicking with your mouse, wait for the menu to open, look until you see copy, you can just select your word and hit CTRL + C on your keyboard)
  • CTRL + X = Cut
  • CTRL + V = Paste
  • CTRL + Z = Undo
  • CTRL + Y = Redo
  • CTRL + A = Select All
  • CTRL + F = Opens the “Find” dialog box
  • CTRL + P = Print
  • CTRL + B = Bold
  • CTRL + I = Italic
  • CTRL + U = Underline
  • F5 = Refresh
  • ALT + Tab = Switches back to the previous window you were working in
  • ALT + Shift + Tab = Switches back to the very last window you’ve worked on
  • CTRL + right or left arrow = Allows you to jump from word to word
  • Shift + right or left arrow = Allows you to select letter by letter
  • CTRL + Shift + right or left arrow = Allows you to select word at a time
  • “Home” key = Brings you back at the very beginning of the line
  • “End” key = Brings you back at the very end of the line
  • Shift + Home = Select anything from where your cursor is to the beginning of the line
  • Shift + End = Select anything from where your cursor is to the end of the line
  • CTRL + Home = Goes at the top of the document
  • CTRL + End = Goes at the end of the document
  • CTRL + left mouse click = Opens new hyperlink in a new Tab
  • Shift + left mouse click = Opens new hyperlink in a new Tab
  • Shift + left mouse click = Selects all the text in between where the cursor started and where you clicked
  • CTRL + left mouse click = Selects whatever you click on
  • “Print Screen” button = Takes a screen shot of your desktop, you can then paste that image into a word processing document or an image editing software.

If you’re not sure what are the computer shortcuts or hot keys in a specific program, you can always click on “File” or look at the other menus in that program and look at the information on the right hand side to see what the hot keys are. Essentially every action that you take that can shave off a few seconds from moving your arm away from your keyboard to your mouse will affect your end result.

After all, we can never buy back lost time, therefore we’ve got to make good use it and use it efficiently to get our job done as fast as we can with the help of computer shortcuts and hotkeys so we can enjoy life after. What about you, how will you be using your computer shortcuts and hot keys from now on? 

Share your thoughts.    

Lorraine Testimonial

Time Management Skills To Have

Time Managment To Do ListIf you are new to time management, there are a number of elements you have to take into consideration.

Make sure to schedule some time for your time management. It sounds kind of silly but if you fail plan, you plan to fail. You should take 15 to 30 minutes daily just to create and organize the time for your day. Be generous with the time you allocate a specific task. Normally there’s always some unpredictable surprises that occur.

Say you know a task should take you 1 hour, then give yourself on schedule 1h15 or 1h30pm. It’s better to allocate more time for a task and finish your work earlier than falling behind schedule.

It has a psychological effect to.  I don’t know how and why but I know for me, that’s what I noticed. Sometimes I feel like I’m going in circle and I’m not moving according to my plan but when I notice the time, I’m still within my allocated “time budget”. It’s like giving me a second wind of hope when I’m not far behind, in fact, I’m right on target.

Unlike writing a personal journal which records your daily activities and stories, writing your own goals is like planning and shaping your future with the stories you want. Instead of just going with the flow that life is throwing at you. Successful people understand the value of time management and use it to their advantage.

Take some time to figure out your long term and short term goals and write them down. Do a yearly goal breakdown, then break it further down into monthly, weekly, daily and hourly.  It’s easier to do time management effectively when you know where you want to go. Just like when you’re driving somewhere, you know the destination of where you want to go so you align yourself to go into that direction. The same attitude should be applied for goals and time management.

Side Note! One good idea to use in time management is working a day ahead. If possible, lay out your plan for the day the night before.

It’s good practice to write down your goals and plan your day first thing in the morning when you’re fresh or the night before just before you go to bed.  That totally depends on your personal preferences. Try out one week one way and the other week, the alternate way and see what works best for you.

In Tim Ferriss’ book, “The 4 – Hour Work Week” (audiobook available here), Tim talks about effective time management as one of the main core for productivity in business.  He suggests to take whatever the 3 most important things that you know you need to do; write them down on a piece of paper or notepad and get those three items done regardless of all the other kind of work distractions that you might be exposed to.

Check out my other video about the “2 Workloads” that explain the difference between being busy and being productive. It’s important that your time management revolves mainly around the productive work.

Time Management Shortlist

Take these tips and go over them carefully and you should do just fine with this.

Boost your time management by keeping one day ahead of schedule. Whenever possible, sit down the evening before and develop an agenda for the following day. Creating tomorrow’s to-do list for a great work day to look forward. Starting the day already knowing in advance what needs to be done will give you better chances at achieving your goals.

Calendars are a great way to manage time. Many people like paper calendars since they are easy to write on. When I was selling life insurance, I loved the fact that I could scribble all over my notes and schedule especially because I was always in the car or driving somewhere. That being said, now that I’m a volunteer vice-president board member at the condo where I live, I’m always using my computer and e-mails. I find the flexibility from an electronic calendar to be a lot more effective.

Side Note! Setting a timer can help you to focus on the task at hand. If you wish to get an hour of work done, set a timer for 20 minutes, take a break, and continue on until you are done.

Google calendar is free to use, so does Hotmail, Yahoo they all have a web based calendar feature now so you can have access to it everywhere there’s an internet connection. Whatever method you chose, make sure to add all your to-do items and appointments to your daily calendar so you can stay organized!

If you struggle with managing your time for a lot of items, try focussing on one individual task at a time. A lot of people are unable to multi-task effectively and cannot get things done at all. The quality of your work can decrease if you are tired or out of focus. So focus on just one project through its completion.

Get a timer and break it down into 20 minutes segments of pure work with not distractions. Close your social networks accounts, your e-mails, your phone and get all your attention on the most important task.

Time management planning is a great asset. It will help you create a strong workflow. Remember consistency over time will generate you results!

What about you, which time management solution do you like the best?

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