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The Outsourced Life


When I decided to quit my job and join the world of entrepreneurs, I knew I was signing up for long hours, sleepless nights, and plenty of stress. This certainly isn't a condition unique to those starting a business--in general, Americans work more and sleep less than other developed countries, so many of us probably feel that it would be nice to have a couple of extra hours in the day to get everything done and have a social life.

Luckily there are several websites and apps that can connect you with people to help tackle your to-do list and leave you with more time to do the important things, like catching up with friends--or a few Z's.

TaskRabbit: If you’re in one of the handful of cities where TaskRabbit has a presence, you can hire your neighbors to do pretty much anything you need. I was introduced to the service by a friend who needed someone to pick up his lost luggage from the airport while he was at a meeting; I recently had a nice young woman take some clothes to Goodwill which freed up another hour of my Saturday afternoon.

Zaarly: Zaarly feels a little more like Craigslist, mostly because Zaarly features postings for people selling products in addition to services, but the same get-stuff-done-easier mentality applies.

oDesk & Elance: oDesk & Elance are the two big players in outsourced services, and have people available to hire in every field that involves using a computer. Several entrepreneurs I've spoken with have found help on things that we can all use in our lives, like a virtual assistant to help clean up your email inbox or research where to find a special gift.

There are several more of the local person-to-person help sites sprouting up--Done and Exec are two that come to mind--so it seems as though the trend is only going to get bigger, and I for one plan to take advantage of it. Free time, here I come!

(photo courtesy Courtney Dirks)