How outsourcing household tasks can help your career

How outsourcing household tasks can help your career

Multitasking man

Shedding everyday tasks can free you up to focus on high-value work.

By Mary Ellen Slayter, Monster Careers Expert

I believe in outsourcing. If someone can do something better and faster than I can, I delegate it when I can. This applies to my relationship with my accountant and my lawyer, as well as my housekeeper and mechanic, and it’s critical to maintaining my overall productivity and sense of balance in my life. This principle can help anyone who is looking to get ahead in their career — not just people who own their own companies, as I do.

An article by the American Association of University Professors backs me up: It argues that work done in the home shouldn’t be considered a side issue by employers. It goes so far as to recommend providing customized benefits packages for employees that could be used to pay for housework support, with the idea that it would significantly boost productivity on the job.

It’s also why tech employers such as Google offer their workers perks like onsite dry cleaning, meals, car washes, oil changes and hair cuts. All of these little things add up to a lot of time — time you could spend working instead.  

Still, you don’t have to work at a tech giant to capitalize on this concept. It's more about how you apply your disposable income and your time.

For example, if someone is an associate at a law firm clocking long hours to make partner, I would argue that they would be far better off hiring someone to pick up their dry cleaning and cut their lawn so they can put in extra time at work. You may have to tighten up your budget in other places to make it work, but in the long run, saving that time can do you more good than say, cable TV.

What should you outsource?

The list of stuff to delegate is endless, capped mostly by your budget: yard work, home repairs, cooking, laundry, running errands and more. We have a housekeeper who comes every other week. In the past, I’ve used a grocery delivery service — and if it were available where I live now, I’d sign back up in a heartbeat.

Don’t forget child care when you’re thinking about outsourcing. Bringing in great babysitters can be beneficial to kids as well as to their parents. Over the years, I’ve found wonderful caretakers who have interests that align with my daughter’s, and having them around has brought fresh energy to our family even when my own was lagging. It adds to the richness of children’s lives to be cared for by other awesome adults.

The result of outsourcing is greater than the actual hours I save. It’s less about the time and more about where I can apply my energy. I don’t have to dedicate bandwidth to routine administrative tasks others can easily handle. And my family and I never argue about who’s going to mop the kitchen floor.

How to outsource effectively

Start with the thing that drains you most. It may not even be the most time-consuming thing, but if it wears you out or causes friction in your household, see if you can find a way to budget for paying a third party to take it over. Keep in mind that it’s OK to hang on to the stuff you actually enjoy. I love cooking most days, for example, so I doubt I’d ever want to give that up. But I have no such sense of attachment to picking up the dry cleaning or folding clothes.

Word-of-mouth can help you find services to hire (or avoid), and online resources can put you in touch with child and pet care services, personal shoppers, housekeepers, and others who can run errands and perform tasks for you. Consider virtual assistants for administrative work as well.

For me, outsourcing has resulted in a mix of additional focused leisure time with my family and higher-value work on the job. What could it do for you?