Blinkist a remarkable example of outsourcing

Back on the subject of what you can outsource I recently stumbled across an amazing outsourcing model that probably wouldn’t have made it on dragons den. It’s a subscription service called Blinkist, which is basically outsourced non-fiction reading. Yes, you read that right, this service reads books for you and then delivers a summary of the main points of the book called blinks, that you can read in about 10 mins. With this service anyone, even the busiest of people can easily read a book a day in a spare few minutes, which puts a lot of power at our disposal.

I recently signed up for a trial of Blinkist and the first ‘book’ I read was The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo. It only took about 10 minutes to read over breakfast but this book had a profound effect on my day: I was already using the Pomodoro timer built in to toggl desktop, a time tracker I use to keep track of my day, to remind me to take a break every half an hour but I didn’t actually know what its real purpose was or why it was even called a Pomodoro timer!

The Pomodoro technique is actually a method of breaking up your day into 25-minute chunks called Pomodori. This helps you stay focused on the task at hand, as you blank out everything, including emails and phone calls, for just 25 minutes while you focus on your task, knowing that you can come back to the things you blank out after the 25 minutes is up.

This technique works just as well for longer tasks as it does for things that actually fit in a 25-minute slot. In fact, I now think of each task in terms of how many pomodori blocks I need to complete it.

The great thing about this technique is the way it helps you maintain focus on a task that could actually take you the whole day, or even longer. By breaking your focus up into bite-sized chunks, minimising interruptions and giving you structured breaks, it’s amazing how much more productive you become. That day my productivity went up by at least 30% and it all happened in one day after 10 minutes reading!

Like I said Blinkist puts a lot of power at our disposal by summarising an entire book into carefully designed, easily digestible blinks. By outsourcing my non-fiction reading I have been able to read a book a day since I started my subscription to Blinkist and as I read a lot about productivity and time management it has transformed the way I think about and approach my work. All this for about £70 per year or £5.85 a month, it’s actually cheaper than buying the books that I don’t have the time to read in the first place!

The pricing structure of Blinkist makes having the service a no brainer for me, as long as I read more than a book a month (at the moment I am doing about four or five books a week!) it’s cheaper than actually buying books. This is a great point at which to come back to considering how to approach the costs involved in outsourcing and the decisions on what to outsource:

As I said before the first step is to calculate how much an hour of your time is actually worth. Anyone can do this very easily by taking your yearly earnings and dividing them by the number of hours you work in a year. Then ask yourself, is what I need doing within my skill set, if it isn’t you are probably better off outsourcing it. If the task in question does fall within your skill set, try to work out the time that you need to complete it and then multiply this by your hourly rate. If the total for you to do it is cheaper than someone else doing it then there is no reason to outsource. If on the other hand, it works out more expensive for you to do the job, then consider outsourcing it.

I realise that this is starting to sound like an advert for Blinkist but that is not the point at all. The point is it is a great example of modern outsourcing. Blinkist has taken something that is seemingly impossible to outsource, reading and with a bit of thought and a clever plan have turned it into a business that can actually be of huge benefit to its target market.

Being an avid fan of outsourcing myself when I stumbled across Blinkist and its radical model of outsourced reading, it was this along with the CEDIA groups interest in the subject that I mentioned in my first article in this series that inspired me to start writing this section of my column. I have to thank my editor again at this point for allowing me to diversify my column to include this. I can’t wait to find out what else people are outsourcing and what other outsourced services there are out there that I haven’t discovered yet.

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