Sources for stories: What have you outsourced?

In our attempts to use our time better, many of us figure out that we need to outsource some obvious things: house cleaning, perhaps. Lawn work. Administrative tasks for a small business. But what else can you delegate and get off your plate? I’m looking for examples of interesting things people have outsourced, saving themselves a reasonable amount of time in the process. Maybe it’s party planning. Errand running. Social media posting? Your random web surfing for story fodder? (or maybe that’s just me…)

This will be for Fast Company. Ideas appreciated! As always, you can email me at lvanderkam at yahoo.



15 Responses to Sources for stories: What have you outsourced?


  1. Carrie says:

    I outsource anything to do with graphics, web design, WordPress updates and plugins.

  2. I outsource any and everything I can :)

    Business – I have a virtual assistant who does anything I personally can’t do (coach, speak, write)

    Personal – cleaning, cooking prep, etc.

  3. sarah (SHU) says:

    you probably know about this already but a big trend in medicine is hiring ‘scribes’ to do all of the click-click-click charting and paperwork. that way physicians can see more patients, do more procedures, and actually DO what they want to be doing. and increase productivity (and therefore revenue) overall.

  4. ARC says:

    When I was working I looked into hiring a personal chef who would cook meals for us at our house and load them into our freezer, a month at a time. I have a few friends who do this and it ends up saving time (obvs) but also money because they don’t eat out and it’s healthier because the chefs cook exactly what they want (one family is vegetarian/mostly organic stuff, and the other is low carb/no sugar, etc.)

    • Laura says:

      @ARC – that sounds like a lovely idea. Maybe one I’ll look into!

      • ARC says:

        If I were still working I’d do it in a heartbeat. Meal planning and daily cooking is my least favorite chore. (I love to cook big elaborate fun meals, but daily dinner, ick.)

  5. ARC says:

    Another friend hired someone to research options for knife sharpening, and then had her take the knives in. That same “assistant” also helped her clean out the garage then managed selling off whatever could be sold on EBay, and took the rest to a charity.

  6. We’ve occasionally hired someone to take care of our chores list whenever it’s piled up too much. So taking in our cardboard recycling, looking stuff up on the internet, painting a dresser, getting rid of a plant, etc. We would do it more, but it’s hard to find good people so we generally only do it when someone offers babysitting and we’re like, are you interested in doing this other stuff too?

  7. Jammy says:

    I recently outsourced the overseeing of my 14 year old daughters home-school assignments and progress. Four years ago I took time off to get started with the home-school process. I gradually went back to work, first part-time and now full-time. At full-time I was struggling to ensure we were staying on top of assignments. Outsourcing this has given me peace of mind and brought new level of accountability to our home-school.

    • Laura says:

      @Jammy – I think this is a fascinating concept, and one I’ve written about a bit before. Many people chose homeschooling because they can’t find the right educational fit elsewhere, but what if you, personally, can’t do the teaching for some reason? In the old days, people hired governesses, and modern technology offers some interesting ways to approximate this.

  8. oilandgarlic says:

    We sort of “outsourced” recycling. We think it’s important but didn’t have time after having kids. Instead of dumping them, we asked if our nanny wanted them and she did, so she just took bags of bottles whenever it started piling up.

  9. J says:

    Addressing our Xmas cards.
    Wrapping all Xmas presents.
    Grocery shopping.
    Taking stuff to Goodwill.
    Organizing stuff in the house.
    Cleaning (of course)
    Laundry (gets sent out)
    Waiting home for repair guys
    Unboxing and assembling things
    Some cooking

    • Ana says:

      Whoa, those are awesome, I’d love to know more about the logistics/details of how to find people to do those things!

  10. Emily says:

    I outsourced the helping of my kindergartner doing his homework to my older daughter. At the beginning of the year, he couldn’t read yet and couldn’t sit down and do his homework by himself. I paid my daughter a couple dollars a week to do her “job”. For the most part, he can sit down and read the homework now, so I don’t really need to outsource it anymore, but it was great to have that help so that I could get dinner started as soon as I walked in the door.

    • Laura says:

      @Emily – I am a big fan of outsourcing things to kids.