Do you ever lament that there are not enough hours in the day?
Many mums do - usually around 10pm when theyíre still tending to domestic duties three hours after the kids have gone to bed. These mums long for the soft caress of their pillows, but the thought of waking up to a filthy kitchen and that pile of unfolded laundry will rob them of peace during their sleep, or will make the following morning unbearable.
Too much needs to be done, so you either:
- Sacrifice sleep,
- Work instead of spending time with the kids, or
- Lower your standards (well, you have to do that anyway when kids come along).
There is a fourth option: outsource.
I was a passionate outsourcer long before I became a parent. My hectic travel schedule for work meant I was not willing to give up any precious time at home, so I outsourced whatever I could.
I even had someone receive and scan my postal mail so I wouldnít have to pick it up from the PO Box and go through it. Lazy? Perhaps. Worth it? Absolutely.
Now that Iím a parent, I am even more enthusiastic about delegating the boring, menial and repetitive tasks necessary to keep to a household running. George Gissing summed up my thoughts on this best:
ďMoney is time. With money I buy for cheerful use the hours which otherwise would not in any sense be mine; nay, which would make me their miserable bondsman.Ē
Iím so keen on outsourcing Iíve even been quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald about it. After many years of experiments and honing my outsourcing skills, I consider myself something of an expert.
I still come across people Ė mostly mums now Ė who think outsourcing is a fabulous idea and would love to do it, but they donít. I commonly hear four reasons (*cough* - excuses):
1. They donít know what tasks can be outsourced.
2. They donít know where to find people to outsource to.
3. They think they canít afford it.
4. Theyíve had a bad experience outsourcing in the past.
Letís address these and get you outsourcing by running through some of my favourite tasks to outsource:
This is easily the best value money outsourcing money for me Ė and for my marriage!
Find a cleaner: in your local paperís classified section or via a service like Absolute Domestics.
How much: $66 a fortnight gets me two hours, which is sufficient to do both bathrooms, all floors, some dusting & a once-over in the kitchen.
Bad experiences: avoid any dissatisfaction with quality by giving clear feedback at the end of your clean in the first few occasions. Ask friends for referrals.
Avoid the in/out of car routine, and the less-than-joyful experience of kids in your shopping trolley.
Find delivery: A multitude of home delivery or Ďclick and collectí options are available. Donít like shopping with our two big chains? Donít worry, there are smaller, healthier options available, like The Naked Butcher and The Organic Collective.
How much: A $40 box of fruit & veg from The Organic Collective lasts 1.5 weeks in our house. Delivery for the chains can be a few bucks, or free on specific days or over a certain amount.
Bad experiences: Donít expect Coles to deliver your Christmas prawns this way Ė they run out. Yes, I am writing from experience.
My son and I doing the grocery shopping... from my desk
For seriously busy people, you can sidestep the grocery shopping and get complete meals delivered to your doorstep.
Find meal providers: Lite n Easy may be the best known, but there are many other providers to choose from like My Fit Lunchbox. A Google search will uncover whatís available in your local area.
How much: obviously itís more than the cost of the raw materials, $8 to $15 per meal for those bought in bulk (e.g. Lite n Easy) is fairly typical.
Bad experiences: this is where Googleís review function is useful. Make sure you check out what other people are saying about the meal provider before you launch in.
Mowing, pruning, planting, weeding Ė not the best fun in the heat of summer. Someone else can do the sweating for you.
Find gardeners: again, the local newspaper is good place to start. You could also put a specific job up on Air Tasker to get a local individual to do it.
How much: will vary. My typical Perth suburban property costs $25 to get mown every three to five weeks.
Bad experiences: I havenít personally had one, but have heard some pruning horror stories. Donít get an amateur to trim your lemon tree!
When youíre ready to graduate to outsourcing administrative tasks, you can try Upwork, Air Tasker and Time Saver. Here are some non-work related tasks Iíve outsourced this way:
- Collecting, opening and scanning my mail
- Sitting on hold on the phone for me (then patching me through when a human answers)
- Booking hair appointments
- Booking flights
- Making complaints on my behalf
If youíre interested in learning how to outsource tasks like these effectively, leave a comment and Iíll write another article.