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Balance

Outsourcing as a busy doctor

May 16, 2020

Everyone wants more time. As a student or trainee, you might wish you had more time to study or go out with friends. These days, as an attending who’s passed my IR/DR exam, I don’t have any “studying” on the horizon- can you imagine? One day, you’ll be done with exams too, and you’ll be poised to think about your time in a whole new way. What will you do with this time? You’ll use it intentionally! And part of accomplishing this is outsourcing of tasks you don’t want to do, or don’t derive value from. Outsourcing as a busy doctor can allow you to reclaim time for the things you find important. 

Outsourcing the things you don’t like to do

There are tasks that I find value in learning or that I enjoy, and others I don’t. Some examples of tasks I’ve outsourced include: 

  • Deep-cleaning my house
  • Laundry & folding
  • Meal prep
  • Food shopping
  • Book-keeping 
  • Tax prep & accounting
  • Pool care
  • Yard care
  • Cleaning my car
  • Childcare
  • My Pinterest account
  • Website help

And there are other things I haven’t outsourced, because I enjoy doing or learning to do them: 

  • Teaching my toddler to swim
  • Reading books with said toddler
  • Bath & bedtime routine
  • Reading/ listening to books (for me)
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Meditating
  • Managing our money
  • Managing our rental property
  • Writing this blog
  • Writing an e-book
  • Networking on social media
  • Learning about business & marketing

To outsource a task… or not?

When deciding whether to outsource a task, some compare the cost of outsourcing to their own hourly rate, or how much they make per hour in post-tax dollars. This is one way to evaluate whether it’s worth outsourcing a task, or doing it yourself. You can calculate your hourly rate by dividing your net income (after taxes) by the number of hours you worked to acquire it. Or, use this handy calculator here. If a task takes an hour to complete, and costs less to outsource than your hourly rate, you might consider paying someone else to do it. As a busy doctor, time is your most precious resource, and most tasks will be cheaper to outsource, when compared to your hourly rate.

But there is more to the decision than cost. What value or enjoyment do you get from a task? For example, hiring someone to manage my rental property would cost me 9% of gross monthly rents, or almost $200 per month. That’s quite a bit, especially since doing it myself doesn’t take that much time. And even if I outsourced management, I’d still need to manage the managers. By doing it myself, I’m learning the process, which is valuable to me. If this task no longer feels educational, or becomes a burden, I could outsource it in the future. In the meantime, my goal is to learn enough to know whether a professional manager is doing a good job. The value of managing my rental property is not just in the money I save, but in the skills and processes I learn. 

There are some things you simply can’t outsource: 

  • Sleeping
  • Eating well
  • Moving your body

And finally, there is a list of things I pay minimal attention to, which saves me lots of time! I ignore these things most days, and they get only small, intermittent bursts of my attention. 

  • Netflix
  • My car
  • My clothes

If you are struggling to find the time to do the things you care about, take a look at where your time is going, and what tasks you might be able to share, delegate, or outsource all together. Are there some things you could ignore or let go of, based on your personal values? Your priorities will likely look different than mine, but in the act of examining them, you might find ways to use your time more intentionally. Outsourcing as a busy doctor might lead you to find a gold mine full of time! 

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