Episode 56 – Saving Time Through Outsourcing

In episode 56, of The PE Geek Podcast I share ways in which you can utilise outsourcing to leverage your greatest asset, time. We discuss the fact that no one on earth has an expertise or skills in everything and as a result teachers need to be comfortable with the need to outsource.

Throughout the episode we explore outsourcing in the following areas

  1. With immediate colleagues/experts in your school or district
  2. Mobile apps and online resources such as fitnessblender, yogastudio & pelaton cycle
  3. Online experts and outsourcing services such as fiverr.com

Press Play below to listen below. Alternatively, download a full episode transcript here


00:29 Jarrod Robinson: Hello, runners. Jarrod Robinson, the PE Geek here and welcome back to episode 56 of the PE Geek podcast. Now, a few episodes ago, we explored just how teachers can utilize automation in the form of apps, and websites, and different services, and so on to try and automate some of the day-to-day tasks that we do in the classroom. Now, since we’ve published that episode we’ve had a number of emails from people who’ve just made tiny little changes on things that they do regularly and it’s absolutely given them back time, things add up and I absolutely recommend you go and check out that episode if you haven’t done so yet.

01:10 JR: Now in today’s episode, we’re gonna be taking it a little bit further and exploring how you can use the concept of outsourcing to give you back more time to do things that you probably may not have been able to do prior and to ensure that we’re actually doing the thing that we’re meant to be doing, and that is teaching the face-to-face aspect and trying to sorta minimize all this extra stuff that happens that really does get in the way of that. So I’m excited to share that with you today. I’m gonna talk about the things that I do that are really relevant to this space, and how I’ve been able to achieve some major, major projects with this whole idea of outsourcing in mind.

01:55 JR: Now, over the years I’ve read a number of blog posts and spoken with a number of teachers who criticise the whole idea of outsourcing, and they sorta condemn people that do it, and there’s a number of big schools that go down this path of outsourcing major units or major activities because they maybe don’t have the resources, or the expertise, or whatever it may be. And here I am, this is my opinion, I’m gonna tell you right now that that’s complete nonsense. For anyone to critique someone because they’ve outsourced instruction or whatever it may be to another source is absolutely absurd. And the reason I say that, and there’s no debating this, I mean this is fact, complete rock solid fact, that there’s no room for discussion in this sort of equation and that is, you’re not meant to be a world expert in everything that you teach. And what I mean by that is, the reason why people go down this path of outsourcing, or finding different ways to bring in experts into their classroom, is because that they don’t have the skills in every single area that we’re trying to teach.

03:10 JR: I’ll give you an example. I absolutely cannot at all teach yoga, but that shouldn’t prevent me, and my skills shouldn’t prevent my students from being able to experience it. So because of something like outsourcing and bringing in talent or experts from outside into my classroom, that really does make it possible for my students to have a better experience. And that means that they could participate in yoga. Now, this concept seems to be sort of really, really disrespected amongst the experts and people who think that you need to be the person in your class who’s delivering the content in every possible area, and I’m just gonna call that that’s absolute nonsense, and you cannot possibly be an expert in everything; it isn’t possible and pretending to do so is a complete disservice to your students and to yourself.

04:09 JR: And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn new skills and that you shouldn’t try and improve. It’s really not what I’m trying to get across here, but I am really trying to get across that you are not an expert in everything, and at some point you’re better off finding, and bringing in, and tapping into the expertise that exists in this amazing planet. And technology can play a huge role in that. So the very first way that you can outsource is to tap into people who exist in your area, in your faculty, or wherever it may be, and have them teach a lesson for you. I think there’s a real big problem in schools where in the past everything was sorta treated like a silo where every teacher had their own class, and there was very little communication between staff and sharing of resources and so on. So I say break those walls down if you haven’t already. Ask a teacher at your school who has a speciality in the different area to you to share some ideas, or share some resources, or record them teaching the thing that you don’t know so well, and then sorta present that to your class.

05:19 JR: So the first thing you should do is look into the skill sets that are existing in your area and see how you can leverage those. Now, a great example of this would be a teacher at my school where I taught was like sort of world class in the outdoor education space, really high quality, really impressive with his knowledge and skills and ability, and we did exactly that. I recorded him explaining something that I just really would’ve struggled to explain, and I’m not afraid to admit it. It was outside of my skill area, I probably would’ve really mucked it up if I attempted to, and we got a much better result, because I was more than happy to admit that it’s not my speciality and got someone who could do that.

06:03 JR: Now you could take this to the next level. And sure, you’ve got your staff and you can tap into them and bring in some skills. But let’s say you connected to the internet now and you’ve got this amazing social networks, and you’ve build up all these connections of people across the planet. All of those people are gonna have different skills and abilities too, and you can do the same thing, just on a bigger scale. So there’s been some really good stories throughout the social media world of teachers who have actually done that. They have taught a class for a peer across the other side of the planet. And the net result of this is that the students actually get a better result, or a better outcome. Again, I’m gonna say it, you’re not an expert in everything, and pretending that you are is sort of like robbing the students of the chance to learn from someone who is. Now you can take this even further in today’s day and age with the use of a variety of apps and different websites, and so on, where world leading experts have actually recorded themselves teaching a variety of content.

07:09 JR: Now, the very first example I can think of is Fitness Blender. Fitness Blender is something I’ve shared a lot here and it’s basically a website at fitnessblender.com, and you visit it, and you’ll find that there’s a husband and wife pair who used to do this professionally in a studio, and so on, and have people come to them. But then they just decided that they could have more impact and more leverage if they recorded it and made that available for free online. And the result is that more people see their work now. But for me, as a teacher who has a skill set of a generalist across so many different things, I can get access to someone who knows a lot more than me in, say, the areas of pilates. So I visit fitnessblender.com, click “Pilates”, sort through the workouts and find what I might need, or what I would like to expose my students to do, and then hit “Play”. And what’s gonna happen is, there’s gonna be someone who knows way more than I ever will producing and running through the session, and I get completely freed up to do sort of one-on-one assistance, help students, even model the activity and sort of join in with them.

08:20 JR: So just the act of outsourcing that instruction of a complex fitness activity, such as pilates, makes it really possible for me to get a better result for the students. Now Fitness Blender, that’s just one example. Look no further than something like Peloton Cycle, which is an amazing iPad application that is a virtual spin class. And the cool part about it is once you’ve got the app, you can see a list of the actual live training sessions that are about to take place. And all you need to do is you wait until the session starts… And it’s actually happening live. Live broadcast. And then just sit on your exercise bike and you follow along, and you’ve got yourself a trainer who’s somewhere in the world, who’s being live streamed to the people with the app, so that everyone can participate in this spin class without actually having to have an expert on hand, or go to a gym, or whatever it may be. So if you can imagine a class scenario where you’ve got a couple of exercise bikes and you could sit there and pretend to run it yourself like you are an expert in everything. I’m gonna say it again, you’re not. You could use something like Peloton Cycle and bring in the expert who will be able to take the students on this incredible journey. And this just continues.

09:39 JR: If you wanted to teach yoga, then you could attempt to do it yourself, or you could find an expert who does. And the app would be Yoga Studio, and very simply, you would have this professional person running through this amazing content and, again, freeing you up to do the thing that you do best, which isn’t delivering the yoga. Because let’s face it, it’s pretty difficult to teach. The thing that you do best is supporting students, asking questions, motivating them. They are things that you should be doing, and the other part, which is the instruction, we can give to someone who knows more than us. So I think it’s actually in our best interest and our students’ best interest to look for opportunities to outsource the physical teaching of quite a few of these different types of activities. I’ve just given you a few examples here but they definitely apply to other areas.

10:32 JR: If you want PhysEd games, for example, then go to PhysEdGames.net. There’s so much information out there. There’s so many people who, that’s their speciality, they are experts in that. Tap into them and bring them into your class so that you can be freed up to do the things that are way more valuable. Now last year during the PE Geek World Survey, I asked the question that revolved around the biggest issues and sort of areas that impact on your ability to teach and so forth. And it’s no surprise that one of the most common issues that teachers face impacting them is time. And for that matter, a lack of time to do their job. Now if I was to ask most teachers, I think this would absolutely be the case. We’re really time-poor. People find it difficult to actually get through all of the tasks that they’ve been given, and I’m gonna go ahead and say that the reason why that happens is we do too much, we get given too much, and we say yes to too much. And the net result is, we wind up spending more time doing things which are really sort of outside of our teaching role.

11:49 JR: Now, all of us sort of became teachers so that we could work with students, and we enjoy that aspect. That’s probably the part that people say they love the most, they love seeing their impact, and so on. But as time goes on, we realize that we start to do and do more things, and more of this stuff creeps into our job, and the only place to put it is in our free time, which might be your planning time, your own personal time. And, as a result, we end up getting busier and busier. And this tends to fall in with any sort of progression in our career. There’s the expectation that you would do more work but, unfortunately, we have a very fixed capacity. You’ve got so many hours per week, that’s it. Any additional stuff that you need to do, you’ve gotta cram it into that time. And the thing that actually suffers is your own life, that gets thrown out of the way for some of these really mundane things that we do.

12:51 JR: And I know, I’ve been in this situation. I’ve had to do those mundane things before, and I look at it and think, “This is absolutely the furtherest removed from what I actually am good at, and it’s impacting me from being able to do that.” And also, it’s impacting on my ability to be with my family and my friends and, as a result, you start to resent the things that happen in your job. And this isn’t good. This is why teachers, in many ways, leave the profession. They’re not supported, they get too much thrust upon them, and it’s a real shame.

13:24 JR: So what I want you to do as a bit of an activity is actually think about how much you earn in the period of a month. Now, you don’t need to share this with anyone but this is just for your own thinking and processing. So think about the take home element of your pay on a monthly basis, and then I want you to divide it by the amount of hours that you would work. Now, you don’t just work from nine ’til three when the school is there. Think about the preparation that goes into it, that’s in your personal time, all the other stuff, add that up too. Any sort of extra curricular things that you do that are just part of your job and you have to do it. Add them up. Now, what I want you to do is to take your take home pay and divide it by how many hours worked.

14:11 JR: And what you’re gonna get is your effective hourly rate, and that there may surprise you. That figure is probably gonna shock you. You probably earn way less than you think you do, for someone who has the skill set and work elements and so forth that make you successful. But it’s a real shame. We get thrown in all of these, really, things that just take away from our best work. Now, if you were to somehow get rid of those elements then our jobs would probably be a lot more interesting. Now, I’ve been able to do that. I’ve basically done the exact same activity as you across my teaching career and realized that I was doing so many more hours than were actually needed. And the net result was I was pretty much working for not much at all.

15:06 JR: And it’s not all about money, sure, don’t get me wrong, but it’s all about time. And time is the absolute commodity that we have, we cannot get it back. We can get money back, but we just cannot get time back. And too many people are just going through the motions, abusing their time, just saying more, yes to everything because it’s part of the job. And I think it’s a real disease of our culture. Now, I’ve been able to, as I mentioned, escape that by outsourcing much of the things that I do that are possible to outsource, and it’s freed me up to be able to take on more, which was great for me. But I’ve seen it free people up so that they can take on less and do less, and one of the ways that you might be able to do that is to think about how much per hour your time is worth. Now, think about it. It’ll be based sort of on your effective hourly rate and how many hours you work.

16:05 JR: What is one hour of your time worth to you? And you might say, “Yeah, I’d happily spend an hour at home with my kids for $5,” so an hour of your time might be worth $5. For me, I think, it’s worth more than that. I think our time is the only thing we have that we cannot get back so I would put more than $5 on it. So, with that being said, if your time is worth $5 to you personally and you have the capacity to find someone to do whatever it is that you need to do and pay them to do that, then you absolutely should. Now, there’s a couple of ways that you can make this happen. So the first website that I use all the time, and I’ve had hundreds of jobs done that sort of align up with things in my profession is Fiverr.com. So F-I-V-E-R-R.com. Now, if you’ve sorta read the domain correctly, Fiverr stands for $5. And the basic premise is that you can go here and have pretty much anything you can possibly imagine done for $5, and I’m serious.

17:18 JR: You can hire a virtual assistant which is literally a person somewhere in the world who will do tasks for you, which could be anything from data entry to spell checking, or proofreading, or anything like that. You can hire a graphic designer to produce a poster or a flier for you. You can… Anything. Literally anything you can imagine, you could have someone do for you. And I’m gonna say that I’ve used it on a number of occasions to get things done. So I was organizing a carnival, and the carnival had to have some promotion in it, and we had to produce a flier and get it out to different schools, and all that sort of stuff. I could have sat around and tried to make it myself, or I could pay $5 and have someone else to do it.

18:03 JR: And that very mindset shift makes me sort of appreciate just how valuable our time is. And when I got back the file, it was better than what I would have done, absolutely, and I had saved myself about two hours of sort of work to make that happen. Now, you could do the same thing for so many different areas of your job. Have a look at it and think, break your day up into tasks, the things that you have to do that are only sorta possible by you, and the things that are possible by mainly staff in your school, and then, the things that are possible by anyone, so that no matter who got that task, it could be done.

18:45 JR: And start doubling down on the things that you can do well, the things that have an impact, and start getting rid of the stuff that you don’t necessarily have to be the person to do. You could find a colleague who really enjoys that and work out some sort of symbiotic relationship, so that they do this element, and you do this element, and it saves you from having to spend time on the elements that you don’t like. Or you can take it further and find someone who literally is your right hand virtual assistant who helps you through the day-to-day mundane tasks that you need to do. Now, if you can do this, and get yourself in that position, and find out what you’re willing to spend from your monthly take-home pay to give yourself more time, then I can guarantee you, that time can be used more effectively in your own personal life.

19:37 JR: So hopefully, you’ve started to think a little bit about outsourcing and how valuable it can actually be. For me personally, it’s changed my life. It gives me the capacity to do 10x what I would be able to do if it was just me, and the result of that is I get more done, and I have more impact because I get to focus in on the things that actually matter. And that is the face-to-face teaching, the learning component, and as many ways as I possibly can, I’ll outsource or find ways to leverage the skills of other people in return for me helping them in an area that I am also better at.

20:15 JR: So hopefully, that’s has got you thinking. If you’ve ever thought about this then I think you should go ahead and do it. And this doesn’t just have to be for your school life. You should be outsourcing other elements of your day-to-day life as well. Your housework, other things like that. What can you do? How can you find someone to free up time? Can you order your groceries online and have them delivered rather than going to the supermarket to do it? Now, these all might sound trivial and ridiculous but I’m gonna say it again, you’re not meant to be an expert at everything, so stop trying to be one. And time is the ultimate asset, and we should be looking for opportunities to do less. I’m gonna leave it there. If you have any questions, then you know where to find me at the pegeek.com and I look forward to hearing what you thought about outsourcing and how you can use it to leverage more time. See you.



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