When does it make sense to outsource personal tasks to others?
This is a subject I’ve been thinking about recently because for the first time in my life, I’ve used a lawn service. This started with me being ill—I was sick for nearly a month and wasn’t well enough to cut the grass. But now my health has returned, and I’m left with a tough decision whether to continue the service or not.
One of my neighbors (perhaps noticing the lawn service does a better job than me) made the point that I should continue with the service. She has her own business (in the same industry as me) and stated I would be better off “billing an extra hour at $200.00 an hour) while paying $30.00 for the lawn service. She considers this a net $170.00 transaction. Her business is so busy, in fact, that she attempts to outsource any activity that costs less than $200.00 per hour.
So, for her, it would make perfect sense to outsource everything from lawn services to house cleaning to perhaps even food shopping.
The problem is that my business doesn’t have enough work to justify using a lawn service. In other words, I can’t find an extra hour to bill during the time I would normally be cutting the grass. I imagine my neighbors theory is that I would still be better off taking the extra hour and using it to generate more business. That is to say, if I spend the extra hour doing nothing, then I would be better off cutting the grass myself. If I could, however, utilize that hour to bring in extra business, work on marketing, free up time for more billing later on, then perhaps I should continue to pay someone else to cut my grass.
There are, of course, other considerations. I hate cutting grass and do a lackluster job (probably because I hate it). That said, it’s probably the one time each week I’m forced to go outside and be active. Perhaps the time away from my office leads to greater productivity when I return to work? There’s also an element of personal pride—-as a (seemingly) healthy twenty-eight year old, I feel that there’s no reason why I should be paying someone else to cut the grass.
Another task that I tend to outsource is car washing. I do not have a nice car and I’m not the kind of person who would take very much pride in the car I drive even if it were nice. That said, I want my car to at least look presentable. Accordingly, I would rather pay $10.00 to run my car through the car wash real quick rather than to take a whole afternoon to get my car spotless just to have it covered in green pollen (spring, summer), leaves (fall), salt (winter), or bird crap (all year long) within a few days anyway.
In our busy modern world, we’ll all be forced to make more choices regarding whether to outsource certain personal tasks. When we do, there will be more factors than whether we could earn more money during the time saved. Being able to actively manage one’s life with regard to what tasks we perform v. which tasks we outsource, may be a key to success in the modern era. After all, isn’t who we are somewhat related to what we spend our time doing?