What would make you happier: spending fifty dollars to buy yourself a couple hours of free time, or spending the same amount on a material good? According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and reported on by the New York Times, people who spend money to save time experience a boost in happiness that doesn’t occur by simply buying more stuff. So how can you save time and maximize happiness? Stop doing the chores you hate!
Five Chores to Outsource Right Now
1. Meal planning and preparation
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American woman spends 37 minutes per day on meal and drink preparation, while men average 17 minutes. The first takeaway is that men need to help more in the kitchen! The second is that both groups could benefit from ordering in.
Unless cooking is genuinely enjoyable for you, consider spending a bit more money to buy yourself some time. Those same minutes that you spend in the kitchen could be spent exercising, pursuing a hobby, or playing with your kids. I would much rather watch my three-year-old ride his bike in circles on the driveway than stand at the counter chopping onions. While delivery from restaurants will save you the most time, it’s also the most expensive (and possibly least healthy) option.
Meal kits from companies like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh are a nice compromise—cheaper than take out, but more expensive than doing it on your own. These kits save you valuable planning, shopping, and prep time while still allowing you to serve up a home-cooked meal.
Laundry is another top contender for most-time-consuming chore, costing the average American woman about two hours a week. Men spend, on average, about one fourth the amount of time, which leads me to believe that either women are doing their laundry or they are wearing dirty clothes. Assuming you are doing your own laundry and don’t particularly enjoy it, consider reclaiming that time.
In addition to the time you spend sorting, loading, folding, and (in my case) scrounging around for quarters, you may also find yourself waiting for the machines to finish or interrupting other activities to move the clothes along.
How nice would it be to forget all that and have your clean clothes delivered to your door? The cheapest way to live this dream is through a subscription laundry service like Rinse Repeat. Rinse Repeat lets you stuff your dirty clothes, towels, sheets, etc, into a bag that’s picked up and delivered to your door. While most laundry services cost upwards of $2 per pound, a Rinse Repeat subscription can cut that price in half.
How much time do you spend cleaning your home? Now, how much time do you spend thinking about cleaning your home or, perhaps, feeling guilty about the grime on the top of your microwave? Hiring a cleaning professional to clean your place once or twice a month is a worthwhile investment.
First of all, you’re probably not that skilled at cleaning the grout in your shower, so why not outsource to somebody with specialized knowledge? Also, when you know that your place is in for a thorough cleaning, you can stop worrying about the dust on your bookshelves and enjoy the moment instead.
4. Yard work and landscaping
I know a handful of people who get joy from tending their gardens and maintaining their yard—they are usually eager to tell me about their most recent blooms and overflowing crop of arugula. Are you one of these people? If not, it might make sense to hand your yard work over to a professional.
A weekly visit from a gardener will save you about two hours a week of yard work, and their expertise could leave your yard looking even better. With weeding and trimming out of your mind, you can enjoy your outdoor space rather than seeing it as a chore.
5. Furniture and other assembly
Maybe you grew up crushing lego kits in record time, but if you’re like me, and you break out in a cold sweat every time you see instructions written in 17 different languages, you need to hire a professional.
Fortunately, Amazon, IKEA, and others give customers the option to purchase assembly right in the checkout. Alternatively, you can hire a tasker via Taskrabbit to complete the task. Spend the time you saved doing something fun or just enjoying your magnificent new nightstand.
Pick you favorite (or rather, your least favorite) chores from the list above and outsource. Give yourself more time for the things you actually want to do!