I am a woman who loves (LOVES) structure and routine. Without them I feel untethered and out of control. For example, if I don’t have laundry done, work outfits picked out and set aside for the week, breakfasts and lunches prepped/cooked/boxed up by Sunday afternoon I have a terribly difficult time sleeping through the night on Sunday and getting through the week feeling like I’m on top of it.
But that kind of structure (and I have many other examples) can also leave me feeling tied down, mentally exhausted and unable to be spontaneous (like having an unplanned dinner with friends on a weeknight or feeling bad about choosing to nap instead of writing last week’s newsletter that never went out...).
You yourself likely have 1000+ things that need to be taken care of under the umbrellas of “family” and “work” and “home”. And then there are of course the “friends” and “pets” umbrellas that we love and want to pay more attention to. And then, hopefully not lastly (though for many cases this is the case), there is the umbrella of “me”. How often is it the case that we make sure all of the other umbrellas are taken care of before we get to “me”? SO often, right? And once you get to "me", do you have extra energy to work out on your own?
What if, in this evolving world of "push a button and it's done" services like Lyfts and Task Rabbit, we could learn to outsource things that “me” really doesn’t need to do so that “me” might be able to pay more attention to the big picture items that matter: Exercise; going to the doctor when we need to; sleeping 7-8 hours a night. You know, the things that actually need to happen in order for "me" to stay healthy to properly handle all of those other umbrellas long term.
Another way to think about this is, as a business coach said to me this year: What are the $15 tasks we’re doing that are preventing us from doing the $150 tasks? What can we outsource to make time for the things that we value the most? How can we declutter our time and our minds so we have more time to play with our kids, have a date with our partners, go to the gym, get to bed at a decent time?
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
1. Laundry and dry cleaning: The first time I learned you could get your laundry done for you was from friends in NYC. What CAN’T you have done for you in New York? You can get your dirty laundry picked up and dropped off all neatly folded and ready for you to put back in your drawers and closet the very next day? Well, luckily that sort of thing isn't just for mega cities like New York! Services like Rinse and Laundry Day in the Chicago area have apps so all you have to do is hit a few buttons and voilà! It’s like magic (and can cost less than $15/week, says Laundry Day).
2. Meal prep: I’m not talking about great services like Blue Apron where you still have to make the food. I’m talking about food that’s been lovingly cooked and packaged for you in advance! No, I don't mean mass-packaged Jenny Craig or Seattle Sutton either; I’m talking about local companies who use organic and whole ingredients sans preservatives. I’ve most recently tried Evanston (and female-owned) company Green Spoon Kitchen (and am again this coming week thanks to travel!). BTW, when you use the code Izzy25 you get $25 off your first order!
3. Dog walking: So, yeah, walking your doggie can TOTALLY count toward getting steps in the day which is great. Here’s why I’m suggesting that it’s sometimes more than fine to let someone else do it for you, though: If using a service like Wag can help you get to your yoga/strength training/Zumba/class instead of having to run home to let the dog out which would cause you to miss your sweat session which would help you reach your fitness goals: Get the dog walker!
4. Cleaning your house: We all have a different tolerance when it comes to home cleanliness and that is absolutely OK. The trick is knowing what that tolerance is and what the time cost is to achieve it. The good news is there are many ways of getting help in this arena. If you have the ability to hire someone on a more regular basis (every week/two weeks/month), I might suggest asking friends for a referral. It is a pretty personal, in-your-space service, after all. But if you're not in that boat and want someone to come quickly or less regularly, check out maidsapp.com for house cleaning on-demand.
5. Grocery shopping: Some of us can grocery shop like ninjas (I like to think I’m one of them, creating my shopping list in the order that I’ll find the items at the store…Oh, boy…). But there were times I was using services like Peapod and Instacart because my then-job was so demanding I felt like my time was best used working than wasting time at the store. I have zero regrets. Another plus to getting groceries delivered, beyond time being saved: Sticking to your list! As my friend Jen reminded me the other day, using a delivery service might actually SAVE you money (and calories) if you tend to wander away from your list.
6. Yard work: Some people LOVE pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and raking leaves but if you are not one of these people and you don’t want to commit to a regular landscaping service, you can use a company like Lawn Love. Just like so many new companies (some of which I’ve just mentioned above), you can download an app on your phone, get a quick quote and order a service to be rendered at a scheduled time. (Lawn Love also does snow removal and gutter cleaning, among other things.)
7. Your fitness: Nope, I'm not telling you to hire someone else to do the exercising FOR you but you can certainly outsource the programming! Ways to do this: Hire a trainer (hello!); join a group class facility (think Zumba, strength training, yoga; download the MindBody app to find classes near you); find an already-made program you can follow on your own at a gym; start a Couch to 5k program.
So, OK, we might still not at a Beyonce level of outsourcing but: Did this job the brain a bit about how to possibly take things off your plate that suck time and energy out of your life that could be spent doing things that actually make you healthier? I hope so.
And I want to know: What are some ways YOU'RE delegating life things? Leave a comment!