Advertise with us

Enjoying this blog? Check out the rest of the Business Channel Subscribe to this Feed

Pimp Your Work - Improving Your Work Day Efficiency

How I Got to the 9-Hour Workweek (Part 2)

by Celine on May 15th, 2008


In the previous installment of this series, I talked about how I defined work and modified my e-mail habits as my first two-steps to a 9-hour workweek.

Step 3: I applied the 80-20 rule.

I’ve talked about the 80-20 rule (or Pareto Principle) in the past, so I won’t define it here. I’ll just discuss how I applied it.

I made a list of my current paying jobs (blogging) and listed them as how much each paid per hour, including notes on how much I enjoyed these jobs. Here’s what my list looked like:

  1. Job A - $50/hr - love this job
  2. Job B - $30/hr - like this job
  3. Job C - $10/hr - indifferent
  4. Job D - $8/hr - love this job
  5. and so on…

Of course, there’s some personal projects I do that don’t pay much (if at all), but they’re not what I was evaluating here. I was evaluating what I defined as my “paying work”.

In the end, I decided to focus on Jobs A, B, and D. Job C and the rest that paid lower, I outsourced (for some reason, my contracts for the lower paying jobs allowed me to outsource them). Even if Job D paid the lowest, I loved it so much I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s about doing the work that pays well, of course, but don’t ignore some work tasks you love just because it won’t strictly adhere to the 80-20 rule. It’s meant to be a suggestion, not an unbreakable law.

Of course, this puts me in a relatively precarious situation. True, the blogs/companies I work for are doing well and I doubt they’re going to let me go any time soon. However, since I rely on only 3 companies for most of my income, what happens when I lose two or all of these gigs? (Hell, that’s what. Although I do have an emergency fund tucked away.)

I found an interesting take on the 80-20 rule on The Golden Pencil. Some of the ideas I agree with (it’s hard to apply 80-20 to more creative tasks, your activities or income sources won’t be diverse, some tasks you just can’t outsource), but I disagree with the others.

The 80-20 rule isn’t meant to be a fixed proportion, it’s just a way to look at your situation and see what vital tasks you benefit the most from. Anyway, it’s an helpful read, especially for writers. So if you find that you can’t apply the 80-20 rule to what you’re doing (I can’t apply it to my comics and fiction writing, for example), don’t stress about it.

Step 4: I outsourced some tasks.

I already mentioned above that I outsourced some of my lower paying jobs. But that doesn’t make sense, does it? Contractual obligations aside, shouldn’t one outsource the higher paying tasks, pay contractors extremely low for them, and pocket the profits while laughing on the way to the bank?

Well, no, not for me, and here’s why:

  • I felt indifferent about the lower paying tasks. Not because the pay was low, but because the tasks were either not challenging enough or were too repetitive for my taste. I’d gladly pay someone else to do them if it means gaining hours of my life back. Hours that I can put into writing fiction (which I haven’t done in over 3 years) and comics (which I’ve done sporadically over the past year). If I’m indifferent about something, I guess it’s not worth the time and effort I put into it.
  • When I outsource, I prefer to pay a fair percentage to the contractor. This makes me sleep better at night, and the contractors (who need the job more than I do) get paid fairly for their time.
  • I really love the jobs I picked for myself (Jobs A, B, and D) and there’s no way I’m gonna let someone else have all that fun!

All in all, only 3-7% of my income comes from outsourcing work. I’ll try to make this higher over the next year as I iron out some business, but I think I got the better end of the deal, since I have more time (which is more valuable to me than money).

Apart from paying jobs, I’ve started to outsource some administrative tasks. For now, this includes 75% of client support and handling some of my business email accounts. This has cut off 2 to 3 hours from my average workday.

We’re halfway into the 9-Hour Workweek Series. On the next installment, I’ll talk about my schedule experiments and geoarbitrage.

Photo Credit: Images from Celine Roque from Blue Rabbit Media and from Steve Woods via sxc.hu

POSTED IN: General work pimps, Productivity, Worklife Balance, Workplace hacks

3 opinions for How I Got to the 9-Hour Workweek (Part 2)

  • Laura Spencer
    May 17, 2020 at 9:12 am

    Hi Celine!

    Good series!

    Can you be more specific about outsourcing administrative tasks. More specifically, I’m wondering about outsourcing e-mail. Does that mean that you have someone else answer your e-mail? Aren’t there decisions involved?

    (Of course, I could see having someone else delete all the spam.)

  • Celine
    May 17, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Hi Laura :) I have someone else answer a response-heavy email account. She doesn’t answer as me, she answers as herself, under the title “Client Support Assistant”. There are decisions involved, but I basically laid out a few rules and an FAQ for her to use as her guide when she needs to make decisions.

    If you want a more detailed explanation, I can write a new post about it.

  • Debbi
    May 17, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Celine,

    Thanks for linking to my post on the 80-20 rule and weighing in on it.

    I get where you’re coming from about the 80-20 rule not being a fixed proportion. But you must admit it places a lot of emphasis on the status quo, which is a bit limiting as strategies go.

    Your own example seems to demonstrate this-if you focus on doing work for $30 to $50 an hour, you could be passing up opportunities to find work that pays $75 to $100 an hour. It might be work that’s a bit outside your comfort zone, but as entrepreneurs it’s a good idea to try new things, if the potential for greater reward is there.

    I also realize it’s not meant to be a hard-and-fast rule, but it seems to discourage thinking about the possibility of doing something that may be a bit of a stretch for you and may involve some time (in terms of client development, learning curve, etc.) and an element of risk-but could pay off financially.

    Just a thought. And, if you’re really making a living working a nine-hour week with rates like these, you must be incredibly frugal. :) Unless they were just numbers you made up to illustrate your point?

Have an opinion? Leave a comment:

Site Meter
E-mail It