Not in my book.
When I say “outsourcing,” I mean the people I hire who help me with whatever I need help with.
My 10 years in New York really made me appreciate the service-based nature of this city.
Temporarily living in the Netherlands means being in a culture that revels in its Do-It-Yourself Attitude. Imagine the raised eyebrows I get when I tell folks I hired someone to do “xyz” for me!
“Can’t you do that yourself?”
Me: “Sure I can!”
And if I’m in a Dr. Phil-ish mood, I might add “So how is it working for YOU, doing everything yourself?” (Knowing very well they’re overwhelmed and stressed out.)
I see so many people struggle with being “SOOOO busy,” never having enough time, yet they don’t as much as get a cleaning lady on board. They’ll spend an entire day (typically Saturday) just running errands and cleaning up.
My mother always taught me to enjoy the nice weather (or whatever fun thing) first, then fit in the dishes and your laundry.
She’s right; if you make cleaning your first priority, you’ll never get out of the house. I always do loads of laundry while I’m cooking or when I’m home with my son or whatever. It gets done, but not on my day off when the sun is out!
However, truth be told…I know how easy it is to fall for this “we need to run all these errands during the weekend” trap.
When I was married, my then-husband and I did the same thing. I vividly remember how awful it felt. We never got to relax. Always running around to Home Depot and the supermarket, and who knows what else. In all fairness to him: it was often me who pushed for taking care of the next project…and the next…
These days, I’m heeding my mom’s advice as much as possible. Deadlines are deadlines, but the dishes can wait! (And yes, they always get done by the end of the day. My place is not a pig’s sty!)
Renaissance personalities in particular have a tendency to do it all themselves. It’s another challenge to learn something new and because they have such diverse talents, chances are good they’re actually able to pull it off.
This is one of those areas you need to watch if you want to keep your sanity. And your marriage.
If doing it all works for you; great! But if you feel stressed, if you complain about not having enough time for relaxation or for your partner, if you are exhausted, then seriously consider hiring help.
I have nine people that I outsource to.
Here’s what they handle for me – in no particular order:
- My virtual business support team. Without them, nothing would ever happen. (Thanks guys!!!)
- Daycare for my son: I found him truly the most wonderful “guest parent” in the world!
- The occasional baby sitter.
- My wonderful cleaning lady who also tidies up and makes my bed look like one in a hotel.
- A handyman as there are no maintenance guys in Dutch buildings. (DIY…remember?)
- A professional organizer to declutter my apartment and help me create systems. (Highly recommended!)
- A professional who helps me with my paperwork. (Ditto.)
- My next door neighbor whom I pay to run errands for me; grocery shopping (ordering groceries online is normal in the U.S. but here it’s still catching on), library returns, special item purchases, taking my bike to the shop to have a flat tire fixed, and even some online research. (This one is huge. These are the errands that add up and end up taking out your entire Saturdays.)
- My accountant. (Of course.)
My friends here in the Netherlands are getting used to my outsourcing habits and joke whenever we talk about something I hate doing or am not good at. At this point, they know that “I have people for that.”
Tasks you’re not good at or that just eat up your precious time I believe should be handed to someone who is more qualified so you can focus on what you’re good at – or where you’re needed.
The relief you feel when you no longer experience stress from being bogged down with those tasks and time-devouring projects is unreal.
Think you can’t afford it?
I totally understand.
In some situations, it truly may not be wise for you to invest in outside help.
However, it is my experience – both with myself and others – that if you really want something and make it a priority, you’ll find a way. I hear people complain about money issues who are walking around in designer clothing and eating out several times a week.
Here’s another thought: try it. You’re not signing a contract for life. And you can space it out. You can get a cleaning lady every other week. I do.
Sometimes it takes experiencing the difference their help can make in your life to realize the value.
To me, it’s worth it to not spend money in other areas to have this extra time, energy, and piece of mind.
And, some professionals you hire only once or twice a year, such as an accountant and a professional organizer.
What would you do with the time you would save if you outsourced some tasks to someone else? Spend more time doing research on your next career or project? Make more connections that could get you in the door with your dream company?
Relax and sip your favorite drink at the park, reading?
It’s astounding what creative ideas you get when you give your brain some “off” time. It’s one of the reasons vacations are not a luxury.
Or, maybe you moonlight as a freelancer so having more time simply means more money because you get to spend that time on making money.
If you want to outsource your errands (or part of them), and you don’t have a friendly neighbor, you could try finding a teenager or someone’s (older) kids that you pay to do this for you.
You’d be amazed how much time you spend searching around for something particular (non-food related) or buying stamps and contact lens liquid and standing on line at the post office to return a package. Assistance with these types of errands is not expensive and really worthwhile. It’s like having a personal assistant but on an hourly basis.
It can give you your marriage back. And your sanity. I’m serious.