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Vox Pop: Have you tried outsourcing your life?

A lot of my friends have been reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and, to varying degrees, several of them have started trying on some of his more audacious ideas, such as checking email once a week, finding an "income muse," going on an extreme information diet -- a few people I know are considering outsourcing pieces of their personal and professional lives.

For reasons I can't fully explain -- and will, for now, just write down to Tim's engaging style -- I also found this outsourcing idea weirdly fascinating. You identify the tedious tasks in your life that don't represent the best use of your time, and assign them to an overseas worker who can complete them for a few bucks an hour. This apparently can be virtually any kind of mundane task, from booking a dinner reservation to doing research on a company to -- heck, why not? -- answering your email.

So, while I know lots of people share my theoretical interest in this, I wonder how many of you have tried it, and how many of you are using outsourced help on a regular basis. What's your experience been? Does this work? What sorts of task are most amenable to long-distance assignment?

By the way, if you haven't read the book yet, here's an excerpt from Tim's chapter on outsourcing.

Comments are open for your stories. I'd be grateful if you can try to limit your comments to firsthand experiences hiring and utilizing outsourced employees or in regard to evaluating the quality of their work. Thanks.

gawp's picture

I've done one small experiment...

I've done one small experiment in outsoucing which was a success.

I was wedged a while ago on some silly IE/Safari javascript inconsistency. Several hours of experimentation and research didn't get me a solution and I was running out of time. I posted the problem to guru.com and got a bunch of bids ranging from $25-$500 for a solution. The lowest bid was also clearly someone who knew what they were talking about. $25 and a few emails later some dude in Romania solved my problem.

I'm looking to scale this solution type up to a midsized project next, though it turns me from a developer to a designer/tester/integrator, but I think that this could double-triple productivity in some cases.

As for delegation of everything it'll work if you find someone competent you can work with: you can accomplish more but you spend time managing. If your skills (and tolerance) lie there, go for it.




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