4 Ways Outsourcing Can Make You More Productive
By Echo Huang, CFA, CFP®, CPA
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” --Mark Twain
We all know the classic saying, “Time is Money”, right? We also know that time and money are the two things we often wish we had more of. The key to time management and overall life quality will always be finding that balance between what you have to do, what you want to do, and how to afford it all. Outsourcing some of your daily tasks may be a more efficient use of resources than taking the valuable time to do it all yourself. Sure, we could all learn to change our oil or fix a leaky toilet, but by paying a professional to handle these tasks, we free ourselves up to focus on more important tasks, like our work, which in the long run may make us more money rather than lose it. This is called "Opportunity Cost"-- the next highest valued alternative use of a resource.[i] An example: If you make $100 an hour at your job and it takes you 3 hours to do a deep clean of your house, that’s essentially costing you $300 to clean your house. If you can have a service clean it for $150 in 3 hours, you’re actually saving money outsourcing the labor.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked the United States 29th out of 34 countries in work-life balance.[ii]
Outsourcing Can Actually Save Money
Most things in life need two out of three of these things: sweat, money, or time. We may not be able to afford to refinish an old antique table, for example, but with time and effort (sweat equity) we could restore it ourselves. Tending your own yard, mending a tear in your pants, baking something for your child’s bake sale, these need time and skills. If you enjoy doing them and have the time, that’s one thing, but if you don’t, it may be worthwhile to remove from your plate. Tackling a bigger DIY project could end up costing you money if you need to bring in a professional to fix your work. Everything in life is a balance-game between how much time it will take and how much it will cost. You may be surprised at how much more time and how much less stress you have outsourcing certain things on your to-do list. A good bookkeeper may help streamline your household budget and expenses, for example. Hiring a shopping service or an afterschool service for your kids can carve out more productive work time in your day. The more space you free up from your schedule, the more you can focus on your actual paid work and the tasks you enjoy doing.
Outsourcing Gives You More Free Time
The most obvious benefit of outsourcing is the time you gain. The less you have to be running all over town on errands, or climbing ladders to get leaves from your gutters, the more time you have in general. The other benefit of outsourcing to free up your schedule is that the work will most likely be done better by a professional than if you had done it yourself. For example, hiring a trusted financial advisor who has the expertise and experience in helping people get financially organized and execute effective investment and tax strategies can free up so much of your time to do things you love. If your training is not investment research or tax planning, doing research on investments and monitoring the risks of your portfolio would cost you precious time. There are no do-overs at retirement. The right advisor will liberate you from layers of stress and provide better outcomes. We’re all so busy and often overscheduled, freeing up time to create memories with friends and family is an invaluable investment and well worth the money to outsource.
Outsourcing May Improve Your Business Productivity
Outsourcing can make you more productive at work as well as at home. You may find your day tangled up checking emails, returning calls, updating social media accounts, and other things that eat up your schedule and your productivity. It may make more sense to outsource through apps, or digital assistants, to have more of the little things that need more time than expertise so that you can focus on what is most important in your workday. Outsourcing here cuts out the fluff so you can really accomplish the more vital aspects of your job. Outsourcing can give you the best of both worlds, a huge talent pool to choose from without the time and cost of a new employee.[iii]
According to Harvard Business Review, the psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the United States.[iv]
Outsourcing Frees Up Space for You
Outsourcing to make your schedule more productive both at home and work is wonderful. Making time to be present with your loved ones by not being bogged down in to-do lists will also improve your day-to-day. Another benefit to outsourcing a lot of your schedule is giving yourself more time for you. In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek by 2030 as society becomes more affluent and more time to enjoy “the hour and the day virtuously and well”[v] Unfortunately for us, Americans are working more hours and only 28% plan use all of their allotted vacation time.[vi]
Taking time for yourself should not be seen as a luxury but a necessity. Getting enough rest, taking time for healthful meals, regular exercise and checkups should be the norm and not the luxury. Outsourcing some of your daily responsibilities may help carve out that much needed and deserved time.