Daily Productive Sharing 119 - How to Evaluate Outsourcing Tasks?

One helpful tip per day:)

(The English version follows)



  1. 我们应该以可支配收入来衡量,而不是税前时薪来计算;

  2. 外包任务有很多隐性成本,比如需要协调阿姨的打扫时间;

  3. 我们的时间有不同的价值,不能一概而论,比如一周工作之后,打扫卫生可能是不错的调剂;

  4. 很多技能可以在这些任务中得到锻炼,比如一直点外卖话就一直不会做饭,而自己掌勺的话,可能厨艺就会长进;




# Trading time for money

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Should I trade money for time? Many people would suggest using their hourly rate to evaluate whether the task should be outsourced. For example, if your hourly rate is one hundred dollars and hiring a cleaner to clean for two hours is one hundred dollars, we should definitely hire an aunt to clean if we calculate in the above way. In today's sharing the author, however, doesn't quite agree and gives the following reasons against it, using the example of Germany, where he lives:

  1. we should measure it in terms of disposable income, not in terms of pre-tax hourly wages;

  2. outsourcing tasks has many hidden costs, such as the need to coordinate the cleaner's cleaning time;

  3. our time has different values and cannot be generalized, e.g. cleaning may be a good tune up after a work week

  4. many skills can be exercised in these tasks, for example, if you keep ordering take-out you will never be able to cook, while if you cook, you may grow in your cooking skills.

So the authors suggest assessing whether you should take money for time based on your specific situation. How do you think?


# Trading time for money

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According to conventional wisdom, if you earn 31€/hour, and a task costs less than that to outsource, then you should always pay someone else to do it. For example, if your cleaning person charges 15€/hour, you save 16€ for every hour you spend at work instead of cleaning your house.

So again, if you earn the average 31€/hour, and work the average 1386 hours per year, you save about 4€ per hour - not 16€ - by hiring a cleaning person who charges half your rate.

In other words, you must sell 72 minutes of your life to buy 60 minutes of your cleaning person's life, even though you earn twice as much.

However, getting to the restaurant, ordering, waiting for your food, then waiting for the bill takes time too.

Personally, I find cooking every other day more convenient than eating out twice a day. Eating out only makes sense when I'm too tired to cook.

However, if you don't hire a cleaning person, and you don't spend your money, then you can buy some of your time back later, either as a gap year, or as an early retirement.

Put shortly, time is not a liquid asset. You can't easily sell more or less of it according to your needs.

Unless you really like your job, there comes a point where you'd rather do something else, even if has a lower market value than your profession.

Those skills stay with you, and over time, the benefits compound. You can tackle bigger and bigger projects, and the results look better and better.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, doesn't get better and cheaper. It either gets better and more expensive, or cheaper and worse.