July 09, 2020
My dream was a house on a lake. I wanted to wake up and have coffee on the back deck while watching the sunrise reflect off the water. After looking for a few years to find a lower cost entry point to the lake-life, I asked my realtor to show me a place I couldn’t afford. Eventually, out of frustration, I put a low-bid offer on the expensive dream “starter” lakehouse and, to my surprise, I ended up closing the deal (after some tense negotiations).
I was ecstatic. But the house came with some issues. It sat about an hour away from both my gym and office (the two places I go daily). My gym and office were also about an hour from each other because I was training to become a professional hockey player, which required me to join a specific facility. This created a triangle of a minimum of two hours of driving I needed to complete each day to live near my lake. I had to solve for this loss of time I would spend on the road.
The best way to do this? Outsource every single chore I had at home.
This goal of outsourcing every chore, from dusting, vacuuming, washing dishes, cleaning clothes, making the bed, maintaining the yard and anything else you have to do to keep a home together, became an obsession. That first year, I wanted to try and offload all these mundane tasks, to see how much time I could save. In the process, I would double my income.
In the time of Covid, what you outsource and how may slightly change. But the thought process remains: If you can do less of what doesn’t provide you income or joy, then you will have more time for those things that do.
Here’s how I outsourced my life and what I learned in the process.
The first tasks I hired out were exterior chores. I needed someone to handle the lawn, other outdoor maintenance and a dock install, plus general repairs. Since these were the most time-consuming chores, I accounted for these first. Even in my small community, I didn’t settle for poor service. This led to a couple different tries to find the right person. Don’t be afraid to test a few different companies out. You are, after all, trusting them with your home.
Once I had the outside taken care of, I hired a cleaning service that would handle all my needs, from making sure the house shined to washing my clothes and linens. I also hired a local handyman to handle any small repairs that might pop up. Having everyone’s role clear made it easier to know who to turn to when I had a concern or issue arise.
Because I didn’t have to worry about all the small stuff when I got home in the evening, the house became my oasis. My place to relax. I needed a space to unwind with all the extra driving, so I treated my home like someone might treat the spa. It was my place to breathe, pursue my hobbies, watch television, call friends and family, or whatever else I needed to recharge before the next day began. I could even have more people over for visits because I didn’t have to worry about cleaning both before and after they left. The home was no longer a place of chores, but a place of refuge. I made sure to keep it that way.
With my house chores completed, I didn’t have a laundry list of home to-dos filling up my mindspace, while at work. I didn’t need to rush home at the end of the day to fix a doorknob. A client wants to have a late dinner, no problem. My parents wanted to spend some time, absolutely. A friend needs a hand moving some things, I’m there.
I had removed my obligations at home, which actually left less on my plate than the additional driving time. It freed me to do more, so I took advantage of it.
Good economics is all about specialization. If I can make more per hour than it costs me to hire out a task, then that’s a wonderful idea that I should pursue. Often, by doing this, the task can get completed better than if I did it myself and fewer issues arise that require my attention. I did the math, and by clearing out these tasks, I saved between five and ten hours a week, depending on the time of year (yard maintenance takes more time, but there’s less of it in the winter) I could easily out earn the amount I spent outsourcing these tasks, by working the same number of hours doing something I excel at.
The math works even better when you recognize that you can outsource tasks that take you four hours, but the person you’re hiring only needs one hour. I could hire someone at $50 for one hour of work. For me, it would take four hours. I earn a higher rate than $50 an hour, so the math becomes very simple. That basic math doesn’t account for the compounding effect of extra hours I spent focusing on my career. That time spent strengthening my business, connecting with clients and going to networking events would pay off, over time, as well.
After a year, I had outsourced about 450 hours of chores around the house. In return, I was able to work about 850 more hours at my job (or about 16 extra hours a week). The total cost of outsourcing the chores increased my expenses by 10%. My income, on the other hand, more than doubled during the same year. And all my efforts during the year will eventually compound, leading to even more returns in the future.
Beyond the income, I was happier, more relaxed and enjoying more of my life. I no longer consider outsourcing my home life an experiment. Instead, it’s a smart lifestyle decision.
By Timm McLean, MBA |
CEO at WLTH