Leverage Existing Tools to Supercharge Productivity

I'm a developer. I like to build from scratch because the end result is exactly what I want, infinitely flexible, and insanely fast (because I'm just a little OCD about performance optimization). But as a business owner, every minute I spend optimizing page load time is a minute I can't spend getting our next customer. Worse, because I build all of our websites and apps from the ground-up, a lot of those minutes are spent reinventing the wheel.

Every decision you make, every time you choose to spend time on a task, there is a hidden -- but very real -- opportunity cost. This year, I'm resolving to spend less time reinventing the wheel and more time creating value, both for my customers and my businesses.

I began the process already, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. The first app to go was the childcare software I wrote almost a decade ago. The migration was daunting, as everyone in our childcare organization depends on the software on a daily basis. Every staff member and all of our parents were affected by the switch, and, as you can imagine, there was pushback from our key people.

But we pushed forward, set a cutover date, and flipped the switch on January 1. Sure, there have been a few hiccups this week, but people adapt and realize their fear of change is almost always inflated. They realize they can still do their job and, in many cases, new features make their job easier.

For me, the change is bittersweet, but absolutely the right decision. Sometimes, you have to swallow your pride and hand over the reins to make progress. My to-do list got an early Spring cleaning, and I haven't received a single call, email, or text for support -- there's documentation and 24/7 support for that! While my app is still online as we transition, I'm looking forward to officially pulling the plug!

Childcare is our business, not childcare software. We're entrusting our childcare software to a childcare software company. I'm stepping back to determine and laser focus on our core competencies. Everything else becomes someone else's problem.

Even this blog was just moved from Jekyll to Ghost. Don't get me wrong: Jekyll is an amazing tool for building static websites, which can cost next to nothing to host, but my time was spent on building the site instead of writing. I bought a domain and started blogging to write, not to test cross-browser layout and research asset minification and optimization. Is Ghost perfect? Definitely not, but it allows me to write, distraction free. No git repo, no deployment script, no wasted time, yet my site will continually improve and seamlessly scale and change over time.

I'm writing this from a mobile app, an app that is fairly new. By leveraging existing tools and the core competencies of others, not only can you focus on what matters, you can wake up one day to a new app or feature that makes it even easier to do what matters.

What are your core competencies? What distracts you from focusing on those competencies? Where are you reinventing the wheel or settling to save money? What could you accomplish if you freed up that time or paid a little more for a better tool?

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