What is outsourcing?
In business, outsourcing means hiring people outside the company to do a project or a process that is not a core function of the business (e.g. customer support, legal work, or manufacturing). The idea is that the outside help will be more efficient at doing the task because they’re specialized in it.
Nowadays we’re starting to use that approach not only for business but for our personal lives as well. We’re developing very specific skills and moving away from the “do it yourself” mindset. Anything from hiring a maid to hiring a personal trainer can be called outsourcing.
Another form of outsourcing is automation. As tech and AI continue to grow we can start delegating more tasks to machines for a very low price.
Why should we outsource?
If you do an online search for any service, I bet you’ll find people that can do it better and more efficiently than you. There is no way you can do a task better than somebody that has been doing it for 10+ years as a profession.
Therefore, the more tasks that you outsource to people better than you the more time you free up for the things that you are good at.
On the other hand, the more of the trivial tasks that you’re trying to do yourself, the less time you’ll have to do your best work and contribute with your core strength and skill.
How and what to outsource?
A great question to ask yourself before starting to do any task is, “Am I the right person to do this?”
Changing your car tires, reinstalling your operating system, or making dinner —all these tasks have to get done. But is it more efficient to do them yourself or to find a way to outsource/automate them? What’s a good way to decide which way to go?
There are 3 factors that we can consider when outsourcing:
- Skill — What are you good at?
- Inclination — What do you like doing?
- Cost — What can you afford?
If you’re very good with software and you like tech, you probably already know how to reinstall your operating system or factory reset your phone/tablet. There is no point to look for somebody to do it for you. It’s probably going to take more time to find an expert than to do it yourself. Also, it’s not an often recurring event that will save you time every day. So in this case, doing it yourself is the more efficient choice.
On the other hand, if you’re not good with software it’s going to take you a long time to learn how it’s done. And the chance of screwing something up and losing your data is much bigger. Plus, if that’s not your inclination, you’re probably going to hate the process. If that’s you, clearly the better option is to spend some time looking for an expert and outsourcing it.
The cost efficiency of the outsourcing depends on how much you’re earning per hour. If you can outsource the task for less money than you are earning, then it’s a no-brainer. You will earn more money simply by doing your main work.
However, even if it’s more expensive than doing it yourself, sometimes outsourcing it is still worth it. You’ll pay more to save yourself not just the time but also the negative emotions and wasted energy from doing something you hate.
Where can we outsource?
The best place to outsource depends on what the type of task is. In most cases, finding an expert by a personal recommendation is the best way to go. Just ask around and see if you can get a good recommendation.
If you’re looking for something professional like graphic design, coding, or advertising help the best places to go are Upwork.com and Fiverr.com. Both websites offer thousands of professionals in each field and a great ranking system to pick the best person you need.
If you’re short on cash but you have more time, something like Simbi.com is a great option. The idea is the same but instead of real cash, you use virtual currency (Simbi points) to pay for the services. You can earn the virtual currency by providing services that you are good at to other people.
Cleaning is nobody’s favorite thing. Can you afford to hire a maid to do it for you? Could you earn more money doing something more pleasant in the time that you usually spend cleaning your home?
Another way to go is to get a robot to do the cleaning for you. It’s a bigger investment upfront but it pays itself by saving you time and effort. Here’s one of the top brands of cleaning robots: www.irobot.com
The good thing about hiring a maid is that you can kill a few birds with one stone.
The shopping being the third bird.
4. House Repairs
Is it worth calling a guy just to change a dead light bulb? Probably not… but how about a leaking sink? Or a broken door handle? What about repainting the walls?
5. Pet Food
Have you seen those automatic pet feeders? Pretty cool!
6. Delivery and Assembly
Do you typically carry and assemble new furniture yourself? How much time and effort can you save by hiring others to do it?
Do you have a garden or a yard that needs maintaining every day? How about hiring a gardener or paying somebody to mow it for you?
Body & Mind
This one is primarily for the ladies. How much time does it take to do your nails? Does it make sense to pay for a professional to do it every time? What about investing in laser epilation and saving yourself the shaving time every day?
9. Researching a good diet
Do you want to spend months researching what’s a good and bad diet, trying to sift out all the scams out there? What about hiring a good dietitian to design it for you?
10. Food preparation
What about preparing the food? Do you want to spend time preparing every single meal yourself? Or find an affordable meal delivery service and get it delivered to you every day?
Do you want to spend months researching and learning what is an effective exercise routine? Or just hire a trainer to design one for you and show you how to do it properly?
How can we possibly automate reading or learning? Simple — book summaries. Let’s face it — most books suck. So why spend several hours reading a book to find out if it’s good if you can read a summary for 5 minutes instead? After reading the summary you can decide if the book is worth reading in depth.
If you’re looking for good summaries Blinkist.com is the place to start.
13. Reading #2
What if you discover a book is worth reading but you still don’t have the time for it? Audiobooks! In today’s busy life it can be difficult to find time to read consistently. But audiobooks you can listen to everywhere — in the gym, while commuting, washing the dishes, or even in the shower.
14. Your calendar
Do you have a busy schedule with a lot of appointments and meetings? Instead of scheduling the meetings yourself, send people to your calendly.com page and let them sign up.
Are you years behind on doing your taxes? Is it one of the things you hate most in the world? Why not pay a professional accountant to do it for you?
16. Paying your bills
Do you still wait in line to pay your utilities? Even if it’s online, do you still do it manually every month? Just set up an automatic payment and forget about it. Mint.com is a great service to automate your bills.
17. Design work
Are you trying to create a website, presentation, or a business card yourself? You can get a good design for $5 on fiverr.com instead.
Do you waste your time every day sorting and cleaning your email, just so you can get to inbox zero? Be proactive instead and set up filters or unsubscribe from useless newsletters. www.unroll.me is a great service to mass unsubscribe.
19. Carwash & Gas
Most busy people already pay for a carwash instead of doing it themselves. But what about paying a guy to take the car to the carwash, fill up the tank, and bring it back?
Considering all the costs around owning a car, it might even be more efficient to get rid of it and use Uber to get everywhere.
Is your computer/phone/tablet lagging or crashing lately? That’s just what happens with an operating system after you’ve been using it for a while. Instead of trying to figure out what’s wrong with it, just take it to a pro for cleanup and maintenance.
Hardware doesn’t apply to just computers and phones. Pretty much all machines need support and maintenance occasionally — vacuum cleaners, stoves, fridges, air conditioners, etc. Instead of wasting time maintaining them yourself, find a good maintenance service and save yourself the trouble.