Do you need a clothes closet overhaul? Help pulling weeds out of your garden? A relocation assistant, declutterer or personal concierge to plan that family vacation you haven’t had time to book?
According to a New York Times article, “The Outsourced Life,” if we can afford services like these, many if not most of us are prone to say, sure, why not?
The article takes a look at the increasing trend of people turning to paid personal services to run their lives. It seems that outsourcing so much of our lives — to task and errand services like TaskRabbit — is the answer to our busy schedules. Or is it?
The more time deprived and overworked we are, author Arlie Russell Hochschild writes in the article, the more likely we are to turn to paid personal services. To finance these services we work longer hours and the more we rely on the market the more hooked we become on its promises: organized shelving, cabinet labeling, the perfect wedding, signed, sealed and stamped Christmas cards, babies that sleep through the night thanks to sleep consultants, and even the well-gestated baby.
A look at classified and service ads on Craiglist for the Peninsula proves that Pacificans and Coastsiders are not immune to this evolving service market, which is expanding to fill the increasing demand, confirming that anyone anywhere can hire others to do almost anything: “Compassionate Help for People Who are Overwhelmed,” “What Came First, The Clutter or the Depression?” “Weeds R Us,” “Rent a Fairy Godmother,” “We walk your dogs so you don't have to,” “Backyard Waste Removal,” “Wardrobe Stylist,” and “My sweet husband your personal maid assistant” are just a few of the many services available to people living in Pacifica to Half Moon Bay.
There’s even one person on Craigslist offering to “work with your children on chores to engage them in household help.” Another ad promises to be “your much needed extra pair of hands.”
Browse the bulletin boards at any café from Pacifica to Half Moon Bay, and you’ll find even more personal services, from the well balanced dinner delivered to your doorstep, shop-in-your-closet wardrobe analysis, in-home fitness and health coach, Crib & Critters, a house and pet sitting service, meal planning for your family, career coaching, and gift arranging.
The existence of these services shows how far the market has penetrated our private lives, writes Hochschild. If you want a perfectly organized family photo album or wedding or simply a more efficient streamlined life, there’s a service to help you achieve that. No life skills? No cooking skills? Want to rent a pet? It's out there. You just have to pay for it.
A Google search for a professional organizer in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay turns up close to 20 entries. There are more than 40 entries for a life coach.
“People who hire me come in two basic flavors: the situationally disorganized and the chronically disorganized,” said professional organizer Noreen Cooper Heavlin of Sorting Things Out in Half Moon Bay. “People with situation disorganization usually call me because their mess bothers them to the point of despair, but they have gotten so far behind that they need a helping hand and a motivational coach to get started. The chronically disorganized need someone to come in and show them how to organize their world in a way that makes sense to them — and often that has nothing to do with traditional filing systems.”
The Family Chef, Amy Fothergill, in Half Moon Bay also helps people with organizing, but in the kitchen with cooking and recipes. She finds that people are so busy now they don’t have the time to hone new skills in an area that they may feel incompetent in, like cooking and identifying easy recipes that are healthy and taste good, she said.
“If someone is an expert at something like decorating or organizing, why not outsource?” said Fothergill, whose cooking classes focus on easy healthy recipes for busy families. She also teaches basic cooking skills and provides organizational tips for the kitchen, like what kitchen utensils to have on hand or what to stock up on in your pantry.
Still, with so many available personal services and more people outsourcing basic errands and tasks, it's hard not to wonder: Is outsourcing so much of our lives the answer to our busy schedules? Are we detaching ourselves from the small and potentially meaningful aspects of experience or are we becoming more efficient and perfect? Does our amateur version of life seem all the poorer by comparison if not outsourced to a professional?
Or is this the face of the future? What are professionals to do other than offer new and different personal services if it appears there's a market for them? Why not outsource more of your private life, so you can do other things and live more the way you want?
Tell us what you think, and how much or how little you outsource your private life in the comments section below.
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