Two weeks ago I went camping in the desert, without a phone signal or Internet connection.
During the 10 days when I was “unplugged,” a handful of urgent issues formed. A nasty virus infected Afford Anything, triggering “malware” alerts every time a reader tried to visit. Google de-listed me from its search rankings until I fixed the issue.
Meanwhile, a pipe in one of my rental houses exploded. Each time the tenant tried to take a shower, water saturated the living room carpet from a ruptured pipe underneath.
In another rental unit, a different tenant had no hot water at all. The gas company needed access to the furnace to fix the issue, but the furnace is locked in the basement. I’m the only person with a key, and I’m 2,000 miles away.
You can imagine the emails and voicemails that greeted my return.
Yet the last thing I wanted to do was respond. I resurfaced from the camping trip in time to attend a financial blogger’s conference, a series of 18-hour days consumed by socializing with some of my favorite online writers.
I could have saved hundreds of dollars by sitting cooped up in my hotel room trying to fix the virus/malware issue … but I would have missed building relationships with bloggers at the conference.
I could have spent hours on the phone with plumbers, getting estimates and quotes for the tenant’s ruptured pipe … but again, I would have missed mingling with my fellow writers.
So I delegated.
I paid someone to fix my site’s malware issue. I found an “interim” property manager and told him how to access the furnace. I called my general contractor, explained the pipe-rupture issue, and effectively handed him a blank check.
This demanded trust.
“Use your best judgment,” I told my general contractor, “and send me the bill.”
I was potentially authorizing a $2,000+ expense, sight-unseen. He and I both knew it. It gave me butterflies. But if I want the freedom to travel, I can’t operate alone. If I want to unplug, I can’t micromanage.
“Whatever choice you make, I’ll stand behind it,” I told my contractor.
“Alright, I’ll tear your house down,” he joked in reply.
You Can’t Delegate Relationships
Leaving civilization behind — leaving cellular towers and broadband – forces me to face the fact that I spend 80 percent of my day doing things that don’t matter.
Six months ago I spent huge chunks of time ripping out carpet, painting decks, fixing fences. If a virus had infected my site one year ago, I would have spent hours troubleshooting.
But I can delegate all those tasks. I can tap into people who are far more experienced (and therefore faster) at mending fences and troubleshooting websites.
Meanwhile, I can focus my new-found time in three critical areas: my relationships, my health, and raising capital.
I’m better off paying someone to work the bugs out of my website while I build relationships with other bloggers, thinkers and investors.
I’m better off spending my limited time exercising, preventing future illnesses that could cut my life short and deplete my independence.
And I’m better off raising and managing money, watching the coffers to make sure everyone else gets paid.
There’s a certain authenticity to these tasks. No one can outsource relationship-building. No one can delegate their time at the gym.
These take top priority. The rest is just details.