How to Create Your ‘3 Lists to Freedom’ to Start Outsourcing More Effectively!

by Chris C. Ducker · 50 comments

3 Lists to Freedom

With the entrepreneurial lifestyle being as hectic as it is for most small business owners, anything we can do to leverage our time better, get more done and ultimately boost productivity is a good thing.

One of the questions I get asked most often is how I can be so darn productive? People see me running several different businesses that employee hundreds of people, producing content for this blog and my new podcast, attending to numerous speaking gigs, as well as other projects that I work on regularly and they want to know how I do it!

The fact is that I wasn’t always this productive and streamlined. There was a time when I was working 14-hour days, chasing my tail to earn a living and spending very little time with my family. Nowadays it’s a different ball game – thank God. And here’s the thing – I’m still not the best manager of people out there – what I have become very good at, however, is the ability to delegate.

And I delegate like MAD!

The ‘3 Lists to Freedom’ Exercise

One of the easiest ways to get started with delegating work and become super productive, is to work with a virtual assistant.

I just got back from New Media Expo where I spoke in front of jam-packed crowd on the subject of working with VA’s to help grow the content marketing side of small businesses – something that can take up to 96-hours a month (publishing 3-times a week). Once they realized that they could save all this time each month by delegating the bulk of the work to VA’s, it blew their minds!!!

I want you to feel the same way. So, in the video below there’s a quick exercise you NEED TO DO, in order to get going with the outsourcing mindset that every entrepreneur needs to have, in order to bring a little calm to the chaos!

Superhero Syndrome

We’re all the same, us entrepreneurs. We suffer from what I call ‘Superhero Syndrome’, believing that there is no kryptonite to our hard working, ‘saving the business world’ ways. Believe me – we couldn’t be any further from the truth.

There is something that can hurt us. Stop us in our tracks. Fundamentally put the proverbial spanner in our entrepreneurial works.

It’s called burnout.

One of the things we can do to avoid burning out is to become more effective delegators. At first it’s hard letting go (we’re also micro-managers!), but trust me folks, once you start letting go of the steering wheel a little, you’ll want to hire a full-time driver sooner or later!

It Aint Rocket Science!

Once you create your ‘3 Lists to Freedom’ you’ll have a blueprint, a roadmap if you will, that you can use to start outsourcing all the simple tasks that are bogging down your workload and stunting your productivity every day.

It really isn’t rocket science, and ends up being way easier to get started than most people originally think it will.

You get to focus on working ON your business, whilst someone else (or a team of someone else’s!) takes care of the tasks that trap you and have you shackled to your desk, working IN your business.

When you’re done with the exercise, I’d like you to list down ONE thing from each of the three lists in the comment section below. That way you’re holding yourself publicly accountable to start delegating effectively.

You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your business. Do the exercise NOW, and I look forward to seeing your comments below!

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Murray Lunn January 17, 2013 at 15:06

Let’s see if this works out:

1. I HATE doing photo editing for InDesign work (because it’s tedious)
2. I CAN’T do the the full editing by myself (since I need a fresh set of eyes)
3. I SHOULDN’T be doing the photo editing (as my time is better suited for bigger projects)

Ah … I know where you’re going with this …

It’s something I thought about in the past which I couldn’t do because I was in a full-time, employed position. Now, I’m full-time freelance for a client which basically means: if I get the job done, that’s what I get paid for.

For me, it would be the removal of photo editing.

I would say, on average, I spend about 5 – 10 hours editing photos for product documentation when I’m working on larger projects. It’s very tedious but essential for the completion of the work. However, I should send this work to someone else since I could use that time to piece together the remaining production items (i.e. release cycle). I’d spend some money for the work but save more by passing it off.

Once I’m situated and setup the complete process – I’m definitely game for this.


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 01:13


A live self assessment, right here on the blog, in the comment section.

I love it, Murray.

‘Being game’, and actually PLAYING the game are different. Don’t wait too long to pull the trigger, my man. Your 2013 depends on leveraging your time, getting maximum productivity out of every day and killing it for your customers!

Good to see you commenting, man. Been a while…



Josh Marsden August 3, 2014 at 05:51

Hi Chris!

Can I use the term “Superhero Syndrome” in my marketing with your consent? I feel I need to ask you since I essentially heard the phrase from you. I love it!



Chris C. Ducker August 4, 2014 at 10:24

Sure, Josh – of course… as long as you credit me, in some way, please.


Josh Marsden August 3, 2014 at 05:54

P.S. When you are ready to automate and ride yourself of potential multi-system chaos ( noticed that you are using Aweber so you may be using some other systems on top of that ), we should talk. I’m an Infusionsoft Certified Partner. :)

You’ve given me such great inspiration and advice through all your outlets that I’ll be very passionate about helping you implement Infusionsoft to it’s maximum potential for your business.

Ok, I’m done with the shameless pitch.


Chris C. Ducker August 4, 2014 at 10:25

Appreciate the heads up and the offer. Please feel free to email me with your contact details, and we’ll talk when the time is right – which will be soon, actually.


Jared Easley January 17, 2013 at 22:32

Great video! You are killing it. Congratulations sir.


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 01:12

Thank you, my man – much appreciated.

I’ll take all the ‘killing it’ comments I can take!!!



Steve Wyman January 17, 2013 at 23:28

hey Chris

As always great solid advice.

Column 3 is really the key for many people and they don’t realize it !! they do now..



Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 01:11

Thanks, Steve.

That it is, my man.

Hope you’ve been well – haven’t seen you online a whole lot recently.




Steve Wyman January 19, 2013 at 22:16

Hey Chris

Alive and kicking :-) im definetly in a DIP phase and the mountain top in fog. This happens.

Just less to say on line at the moment. To much noise and crap being written by to many.

So i tend to be more focused in commenting on whats worth while. Pus ive really got ijnto podcats now i have an Ipad (I knew it would be assume and its epic…) which doesnot lend to commentary so much.

going to try to make DC BKK and hope to catch up in london when your back..


Chris C. Ducker January 20, 2013 at 04:48

I hear you, man.

London will happen. Wait for more info here on the blog next week.

Keep listening to those podcasts, too. I also consume most of my content via video and audio now, too!



Kelly Alford January 18, 2013 at 00:33


Positively Amazing stuff! I can’t wait for the day when I’m pulling profit so I can start out sourcing everything. LOL! Okay, maybe not EVERYTHING! I’ve already started capturing screen shot videos on how I do things, like keyword research, as soon as I feel like I’m doing them the way I like them done.

This is such an exciting time to become an entrepreneur and especially an Internet Entrepreneur!

Good Day! And Thanks!


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 01:11

Hi Kathy

Remember, you don’t need to have a lot of spare cash to enjoy outsourcing some project-based stuff (logo design, transcriptions, etc.) to get your feet wet.

Just be sure when you DO invest the money into working with a VA that you use the time you’re saving productivity, instead of just chilling out… Unless, of course, thats the reason why you’re doing it in the first place!

Ultimately, this should be about leveraging your time.

Thanks for the cool comment.



John from FoodCyclist January 18, 2013 at 01:01

It’s funny, I had made those lists, which is why Virtual Staff Finder is currently finding me my very first VA. I know how to do link building, but my time is better spent on content creation. I’m looking forward to you guys finding me a good match.



Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 01:09

That’s awesome, John!

I’m stoked that you’ve made the jump and used VSF to do it – good for you.

We’ll take great care of you, fear not! :-)



diamantis January 18, 2013 at 03:45

Hi chris !

Last year out of necessity ( and a little bit of a super hero syndrome I have to admit ) I did it all by myself .
This year I have to suck it up and start delegating jobs.
Anyway , we’ll see how it goes .

Be healthy and smile !

PS : Is there any chance of visiting , lets say Berlin , at the end of April ?


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 18:17

Hi Diamantis

Great that you’re already rockin’ this exercise yourself. So, when are you gonna start suckin’ it up…?!!!

Berlin in April, no. But, London in May is a possibility for me. We’ll see though.



Joey Kissimmee January 18, 2013 at 04:26

DAMN!!! My list is to scary to look at, lol

Great exercise brotha. But now you got my head spinning all types of crazy ;-)


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 18:16

Hahaha. Scary – yes, maybe to the point where ACTION is NEEDED…????

Spinning heads are all part of the entrepreneurial journey, my man. Embrace them :-)



Steven Dixon January 18, 2013 at 06:46

This is wonderful advice Chris. Always full of great content.


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 11:39

Thanks, Steve!

I believe you might have heard of this exercise before somewhere…!???



jayne Jenkins January 18, 2013 at 13:42

Column 1 – returning emails and admin
Column 2 – updating my website with key words and supporting the SEO efforts I am paying for
Column 3 – scheduling clients and confirming appointments

Nice easy tool Chris – you rock again!
Now – how do I choose and find a virtual assistant with confidence?


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 18:19

Hi Jayne

Good that you went through things and got some clear defined tasks to start getting rid of – I bet there were / are many more!

As for finding a VA, you can look into one of the many freelance job sites online, or there’s always my company, Virtual Staff Finder, if you need something a little more permanent put in place.

Keep thinking, planning and doing!



Jason Lavis January 18, 2013 at 13:51

I think a common dilemma is that entrepreneurs tend to be overworked/ overwhelmed at the beginning of their ventures. This is a time when little or no revenue is coming in. If you have revenues it is easier to spend some of them on outsourcing. Without revenues outsourcing can represent extra risk. At what point do you recommend taking the “leap of faith?” Would you start outsourcing in a small way early on, or would you develop the business to a certain number of customers or subscribers first? I would be interested to see your thoughts on this…


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 18:22

Hi Jason – great question.

I’d suggest that everyone ALWAYS start out with simple tasks, first – such as a logo being designed, or a landing page developed. The fact is that you can ‘try’ outsourcing for very little, think of, for example. How solid the output will be will vary, of course.

Once you’d done a few things, and got your toes wet, so to speak, you can start planning for something a little more long-term. The fact remains, however, that you need to speculate to accumulate – letting go is tough. But, not developing and growing at the rate you should be is a much tougher pill to swallow in my book!

Thanks for the comment and question, mate.



Paul Donovan January 18, 2013 at 14:01

You know for me the problem is that to train someone means I have to take away from production time (which is already overloaded) to train someone who will then take over. Its that time lost to the training that is the killer. Plus I’m now earning less when I’m not out there producing and have to pay that trainee otherwise they won’t stay on for very long. The best way to teach is to have someone shadow me. Watch what I do, and then learn from that. That way I’m both productive and in a short time I gain another set of hands.
Thanks Chris


Chris C. Ducker January 18, 2013 at 18:24

You bring up some solid points, Paul.

Have you worked with a VA before? How did you handle the ‘shadowing’ side of things, if you have? I’d be curious to hear more from you on that.

And I hear you loud and clear on the time required to train people – but, you CANNOT escape it. Workers will NEVER know what you want and how you want ‘it’ done, unless you show them how to do it. Training is extremely important for the longevity of any staffing relationship, I’ve found.



Susan Guinto January 18, 2013 at 19:17

Hi Chris,

Great insights here! Btw, I haven’t really thanked you yet for the wonderful client I get to work with thru your company – VSF, and I’m taking the opportunity to say, “Thanks!” now. :)

I guess for all entrepreneurs looking to hire a VA, the best time to hire a VA is when they are really ready to delegate tasks with a certain level of trust that they can be done by someone else correctly – while paying a cost that would be a lot lesser should they decide to do the job on their own. At times, it boils down to cost-benefit analysis. But hiring a VA is never really a cost per se, ‘coz they can really turn out to be one of the best assets an entrepreneur can ever have.



Chris C. Ducker January 20, 2013 at 04:53

Great observations, Susan.

And you’re welcome on helping you find a cool job! Good luck with it.



Sergio Felix January 19, 2013 at 00:09

Hey Chris, that superhero syndrome thingy had me laughing on the floor man!

I used to like editing my own videos, it was fun but recently after editing more than 100 videos (and more to come) for just ONE product, I absolutely HATE IT!

It takes the whole day and life out of me and I seriously can’t wait to have some decent income and never do this again myself.

I started outsourcing graphics mostly because there was no way I could do them myself but now, video editing is at the top of my list for my next product, hopefully no more video editing for me!



Chris C. Ducker January 20, 2013 at 04:52

Hey Sergio

Sounds like you’re starting to get a little more serious on things, which is brilliant.

I also used to do my own videos and still do from time to time, but only the simple quick stuff. The one features here was done by my video editor, for example.

Keep rockin’, man.



Rick Resch January 19, 2013 at 09:14

Hey Chris,
That was a great idea to have an exercise so people can put their ideas down on paper to get it out of their head.
Another thing is I listened to an audiobook by Pete Williams entitled, “How To Turn Your Million Dollar Idea Into A Reality” and he mentioned about leveraging other people’s money, time, effort, skills, ideas, experience and knowledge. I think your experience and knowledge is priceless, and thank you for sharing it.
Also that is a good suggestion for someone that is new to outsourcing to try out to get their toes wet to gradually get used to having someone do something for them so they gradiently work their way up from part-time to full-time VA. People are scared and are not sure how to employ a VA, and their confidence goes up when they start off small and work their way up.
I finished reading, “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau and it is a pretty good book. He keeps things simple and I like that because the most USEFUL concepts are deceptively simple, but are the most powerful, effective and efficient. I think people get confused because they don’t understand something because it is too complex and can’t APPLY the knowledge. The only reason a person can’t APPLY is because they have a MISUNDERSTANDING. It all gets down to APPLICATION, if a person can do what they LEARN.
Take care and I wish you well.



Chris C. Ducker January 21, 2013 at 10:12

Great insights, Rick.

I, too, have read $100 Startup and also enjoyed it, but not as much as Chris’ first book, The Art of Non-Conformity.

Appreciated you commenting more regularly, buddy. Keep it up! Always a joy to read.



Rick Resch January 21, 2013 at 11:15

Hey Chris,
My twin brother recommended reading, “The Art of Non-Conformity” too because he read it so I guess I’m going to have to read it also. It must be better than, “The $100 Startup.”
What is the #1 business advice you have ever received? I’m inquisitive.



Patricia Nixon March 20, 2013 at 04:19

Good question, Rick. Hope an answer is posted but maybe this thread is dead now.


Patricia Nixon


Chris C. Ducker March 20, 2013 at 11:24

Threads are NEVER dead here at, Patricia!

I’m not sure why I missed this comment from Rick – as he knows, I always reply to my comments.

Thanks for yours, too!



Chris C. Ducker March 20, 2013 at 11:27

Hi Rick

Apologies for missing this, bud – not sure why that happened.

Best piece of biz advice I’ve ever received was to simply HUSTLE. Work hard. Not to expect things to fall directly in front of me… I’ve learned that the harder (and smarter, obviously!) I work, the more I achieve and the more success comes my way.

I don’t really class myself as a ‘success’ in life quite yet – I still feel as if I have a few more years ahead of me until I can really say that, confidently myself. However, I have done okay for myself and my family – which is always the number one priority.

Hope that sheds a little light. Now, go HUSTLE, my man!!!



Tony Matos September 5, 2013 at 09:20

Hi Chris,

As always great post, I do believe that people should be working on “their business not on in their business” I also feel that people should focus on their strength and have someone else help them with weak points, and learn from them.

Its all about developing a good team of people and helping each other, I do know that everthing takes time. I did enjoy exercise that you provide in your video, Chris so until next time have a great day.

Tony Matos


Chris C. Ducker September 6, 2013 at 08:22

Hey Tony

Appreciate the comment and kudos, bud.

And congrats on getting to the point of doing the exercise – a lot start, but don’t stop… Arrrghhh!!! Finish it, and the roadmap is right there for your own virtual freedom.

Thanks again for the comment.



Carolina March 23, 2014 at 22:15

Chris and everyone on this comment thread,
I am now going through Virtual Freedom Chris’ brand-new, super-helpful book and this is part of one of the exercises. I have created such a LONG list that I will probably need at least three VAs in different areas of expertise, BUT I feel hopeful for the first time in a long time. VAs can help us live the life that we always envisioned for ourselves by allowing us to be the makers of our own time and our own destiny. True freedom, friends, not just virtual. Thank you, Chris!


Chris C. Ducker March 24, 2014 at 11:06

Hi Carolina

Glad you’re enjoying the book.

Thanks for the comment and remember that you don’t need to outsource everything at once. Just prioritize and get active doing ‘something’ – thats the secret to kickstarting everything.



Jennifer April 5, 2014 at 09:28

I’m a new to this game. I was working 2 jobs for the past 2 months and finally took the plunge to become a full time freelance writer.

My demand continues to grow each day as I reach more and more clients. My true issue is I spend 10 to 14 hrs a day writing. I have no time to do my financial books nor do I have time to get my website up and running. Most of all my pricing needs evaluated and I can’t find the time to breath.

These are vital to my business and I know I need to do them, but I can’t pull myself away from writing to get them done.

I would like to hire a team of writers to delegate projects to, but here is the super hero syndrome. It’s hard to find a dedicated quality writer.

Again another problem. I need to let go but I killed myself getting my clients to where I need to so I could quiet my 9-5 job. Now I am faced with decisions so I can see my family.

It’s a hard place to be!



Leslie Nicole April 30, 2014 at 20:47

Chris, your blog is just what I need right now. 3.5 years into my business and feeling over-whelmed. Love my business, but I’m just always running to keep up, my health and personal life suffer and I can’t take the business to the next level by my self.

I actually found your blog by searching for how to work with a VA for email and then clicked through to this post. I immediately bought your book (ebook) and subscribed to your podcast.

I started my 3 lists as a Trello board. As I’m making my lists, I thought 2 other lists were good adjuncts.

1. What Are my strengths / only I am able to do? In my case, it’s create textures (my biggest money-maker) and do blog posts / tutorials (my biggest traffic referrals to my store.)

2. What do I want to expand on – develop? This list will help me to think about where I need to put thought into and expands the possible need for assistants. For instance, I’d like to do a membership site and offer online courses.

I can see how might have to be careful getting distracted from the 3 lists with these, but I am finding it helpful. If nothing else, they become a brain dump.

It’s my goal this year to optimize and structure my business and get assistants / professional help so I can have more time for personal life but also to think of new areas of business I’d like to pursue. (Wow – talk about a run-on sentence!)

Thank you, thank you.

Oh, as an aside. I’ve thought of creating e-books to sell out of my training materials. For instance, create an ebook on how to create Photoshop brushes and use this to also train an assistant to do this for me.


Chris C. Ducker May 8, 2014 at 17:33

Thanks for dropping by, Leslie. You’re taking GREAT action. Good job!

Glad you’re enjoying the blog – lots coming up.


Bruce May 3, 2014 at 00:02

I am ready to start an internet based business now….ASAP…right away!
The decision I am struggling with is….What type of business should I start? I have, for years, been “researching” Internet marketing….to the point of information overload. I have owned successful small businesses in the past, mostly in sales related types of businesses. My strengths have been the ability to sell face to face to small business owners and train others to do the same.
My weakness is that I have no technical skills whatsoever. I do, however possess numerous products that teach how to build these skills. To that point, would it be wise to outsource all the technical work right from the beginning and if so, how do I know if my GVA is doing a good job in a timely fashion given the fact that I have no idea how to know how to judge my GVA’s effectiveness?
The other question is what type of service would be the most profitable to offer offline businesses in today’s market?


Ste Murphy July 17, 2014 at 01:45

Great advice chris loving the blog!

I definitely need to start outsourcing more of my projects, doing everything yourself can be extremely time consuming as a lot more time is spent learning.
Great stuff buddy more outsourcing is on my to do list now!

Ste Murphy


Chris C. Ducker July 29, 2014 at 18:30

Brilliant, Ste. Good to know you’re embracing a smarter way to work and build things up!

Stay tuned.


Roland Martinez November 18, 2014 at 23:24

I was reading through this and I realized this works for your personal life too. Are there things I should be hiring people for or teaching my kids to do that would free up time for me to do things that are more important or that I would like more.


Chris C. Ducker December 12, 2014 at 15:32

Absolutely… teaching the kids is good as it helps you spend more time with them, too – something we, as fathers should always aspire to!

Thanks for dropping by, Roland.


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