Around the home: When should you outsource?
Updated: May 16, 2019
With the hectic lives that we live, it's no surprise that one of the most frequently searched topics across the internet is "time management". Life continues to move at an ever-increasing pace, people are expected to do more with less, and time is a commodity that has to be used efficiently and effectively.
We are now expected to work longer hours, multi-task practically all of the time, and wear more hats than ever before. With this going on at your place of work, there is a strong likelihood that your to-do list at home continues to grow with no end in sight. So when do you reach the point that it is time to bring in support? Let's take a look at prioritizing tasks and deciding when you should outsource.
With this in mind, there is a high probability that someone has introduced you to the idea of Steven Covey's 4 Quadrants as a way to manage your daily tasks. What we typically find is that many people spend the majority of their time performing tasks that are urgent but not important, or not urgent and not important. In reality they are wasting their time completing unnecessary tasks but feel satisfied at the end of the day as they have "accomplished" a lot. In reality they have done a lot of things, but they haven't really made any true progress. To be as effective as possible you need to spend your time living in Quadrant 2 where the items are "Important and not urgent".
As a happily married father of three with a full time job, a small business, a home, 2 cars, and numerous bills to take care of, things are typically quite chaotic. I have a list of things that need to be done around the house, and as most people will understand, there is just no way of handling every single item on the to-do list. The first thing that is done is deciding which of these truly need to be completed. There might be something that I would like to do, but it is not urgent and can be put on the back burner. There are other tasks that simply cannot be ignored. For example, winterizing the sprinklers in preparation for the harsh Midwest temperatures. If this isn't handled, then we will find ourselves with huge bills to repair our irrigation system in the spring, or we could just not repair it and let our grass and plants die when the summer heat hits.
The sprinklers are an item that I have no clue about, and to be honest, I have no interest in figuring out what needs to be done. There is expensive equipment involved and there is a lot of risk that has to be mitigated. Sure, I could "save" the $79 it costs to blow the system out in the late fall/ early winter but what happens when things go wrong? The water that I left in the system freezes, causing my entire system to need replacing. Both the front AND back yards need to be completely dug up to remove the damaged system, and install the new system. Who do you think is on the hook for this bill? That's right, I am.
So I instead decide to use a local landscaping company who take care of all aspects of my irrigation system. Not only do I have more time to do more fun things with my family, I also have peace of mind knowing that I am not responsible for any issues that happen with the system. $79 is a bargain so that I don't have to lie in bed at night wondering what I might wake up to the following morning.
Then there are other jobs that are easy to do, that need to be done, but just take up a lot of time that could be spent in other directions. If these were placed onto the Covey Quadrant, these would be in the "Urgent but not important" category, and are typically things that can be delegated. If I have the option of paying a neighborhood middle-schooler $20 to collect all of my leaves, which allows me to spend an extra couple of hours with my family, it's a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. Instead of washing my car by hand I would rather use that time to take a walk to the park with my family, and pay $8 at Charlie's Car Wash for a great clean!
There are other tasks such as repairing the washing machine and tuning up my lawnmower that can be achieved with the help of a YouTube video. Then there are those tasks that just have to be done by a professional.
At the end of the day you have to decide what is important to you, and what your time is worth. I pay $8 for a car wash because I would rather spend that time playing with my three sons, or sitting on the patio drinking a glass of wine with my wife. I would rather pay someone to do the more complex jobs where I do not possess the required skill set nor am I prepared to take the risk associated with completing the task myself.
What matters to you? What are some things that you will never complete yourself because you value your time? What are some responsibilities that you have no interest in due to a lack of technical knowledge? Most importantly what are those "not urgent and not important" tasks that can be immediately thrown on the scrap-heap?!