Design

How to Outsource Your Life

These days, there’s an app for EVERYTHING. If money were no object, you wouldn’t actually have to leave your house. You can have someone come over to give you a manicure, ship a package, even bring you pot! It’s gotten a little nuts. Here’s a round-up of services you can get…

Shyp for sending packages. (No more post office lines!)

Instacart for groceries (Whole Foods, Costco, etc.)

Seamless for restaurant delivery.

Minibar for alcohol.

Eaze for pot.

Good Eggs for farmer’s market goods.

UrbanStems or BloomThat for flower delivery.

Kitchensurfing for personal chefs.

Homepolish for interior decorating.

Washio for laundry and dry cleaning.

Priv for manicures and beauty treatments at home.

Glamsquad for blow outs at home.

Zeel or Soothe for at-home massages.

Lyft for rides; Hailo for cabs; Bandwagon for airport rides.

Spike for motorcycle sharing.

Handy for handymen and home cleaning.

TaskRabbit for random tasks.

Postmates for delivery of pretty much anything.

UrbanSitter for babysitters.

GotIT! for tutoring.

Have you used any of these? Thumbs up or down? What did I miss? Most of these things I’m happy to do myself (I enjoy grocery shopping, etc.), but I am psyched to never have to wait with two babies in line at a NYC post office ever again.

(Illustration by Gemma Correll for Cup of Jo)

  1. Hi,
    This post is very useful….

  2. This is a great resource list. I’m working on compiling a guide to outsourcing the less-desirable aspects of our daily lives and sometimes you need a human touch to do things right. I’m glad to see that so many angles are being covered.

    At work I’ve just started utilizing Zapier for speeding up some of my billable tasks, so you might check that one out, too.

  3. Anonymous says...

    Strolby for shopping at small boutiques!

  4. I’m trying Blue Apron for the first time! The “blizzard” delayed it to next week so we’ll see how it goes!

    I also work for a company called Clean Cube. We put digital lockers in NYC lobbies. Basically a digital doorman that does your laundry/dry cleaning, receives packages, donates to goodwill and a ton of other services. http://www.thecleancube.com

    awesome roundup!

  5. Wanted to add TheBouqs.com (https://www.thebouqs.com) – can schedule flowers out for birthdays, etc. and everything I’ve had from them was drop-dead gorgeous. Come from a sustainable eco-friendly farm delivered for a flat $40. Simple + beautiful.

  6. IFTTT! It stands for “If This, Then That.” I just discovered it, and it’s amazing. There are so many possibilities with it, I can’t even begin to describe, but here’s an example.

    I created a “recipe” using my WordPress blog and Evernote (“channels”), so that every time I post to my blog, IFTTT creates a note in Evernote for me. This will help me immensely in quarterly blog audits, when I look for posts to tie together and deep-link.

  7. Ghostruck will match you with a professional mover on short notice to move your stuff, small and large. Visit http://www.ghostruck.com to request service in your area! (currently Seattle area only)

  8. We use MyClean for cleaning services in the NY area. And would ZipCar count? We outsource car ownership and having to deal with city parking. ;)

  9. Clutter.io for Storage. It’s only in SoCal right now, but I use it and it’s great. WAY cheaper than the storage unit I was paying for (by almost $50/month) and I love not actually having to run to the storage unit to get whatever I need. They take photos of it all when they pick it up, so you just go to your online inventory, click on the box you want back and they deliver it to you for free.

    I’m a Professional Organizer in LA and I recommend Clutter.io to clients all the time!

    -Tess
    http://tesscanfield.com

  10. Great post! Seeing as I just wrote a post about how to get organized, some of these apps might come I’m handy. And I wouldn’t mind getting a manicure and blowout in the comfort of my own home from time-to-time either!

    http://www.livinginsteil.com
    Vanessa

  11. Once you use Eaze (for pot), you kind of have to use all the other ones. Honestly once you have pot delivered to your house, you want to outsource EVERYTHING.

  12. You missed “Book Your Look” ! Website to book makeup or hair for your wedding – artists are synched up to the site by their schedule so you can browse the different ones and know they are available for you.

    Less of a “order this service off a menu and x artist comes” and more of a personalized “dillon does fashion week and he seems really nice and I want him to come and do my makeup”

    http://www.bookyourlooknyc.com

  13. This is a great list. I’ve used Uber and have friends who like Lyft as well. Also the CEO OF the company I work for swears by Instacart. I’d also like to suggest the company I work for, Uniquely Virtual. It’s a virtual executive assistant company that can help you get organized overall. They can help with things like research, email management, contact organization and any other tasks you need removed from your plate. http://www.uniquelyvirtual.com

  14. LeParcel.com sends you tampons every month. No more late night runs to the store! It also includes gifts and chocolates!

  15. I recently used Postable.com to help get my holiday thank you cards done. You just select a card design and, if you are new, load up addresses to your Address Book. Then, get to typing out your messages. They stamp, address, and ship out your cards for a super-reasonable price (they don’t charge you a premium over the standard USPS rate for stamps) and there are lots of fantastic cards.

    Note: I am not an employee, just a really satisfied customer :)

  16. What about professional organizers?

  17. Joanna,
    Phenomenal blog post. I have found that outsourcing parts of your life allow you to focus on the things that matter most and Ive been fortunate to have used a few of the services you mentioned in your post. I also wanted to mention to you Remoov (www.remoovit.com) – full disclosure, I am a member of the team – a company currently serving the San Francisco Bay Area market. Remoov makes it easy to declutter. Remoov picks up everything that a person wants to sell, donate and discard and handles it for them.

    Thanks again for the great info!

  18. And happily.io for wedding planning!

  19. For those not interested in Uber or ridesharing, there’s Curb for taxi rides! (www.gocurb.com)

  20. I used to think it was crazy that my neighbors used Amazon for EVERYTHING, but now with a toddler and another on the way, I totally get it.

    I’m excited about Glamsquad- I was trying to figure out how a non-celebrity might prepare for a special event without going to three different places. I have an on-camera interview coming up but I won’t have the whole day to run around to drybar and makeup artists!

  21. What a great list! I’ve used beglammed before, and am actually planning on doing that on my wedding day! :P

    I do have a lady that cleans my house, but she’s been with me before iphone days, if you can imagine! ;)

  22. Stylisted is my favorite for in-home hair & make-up services. You choose your own stylist based on price range, availability, & portfolio. So easy to use and the stylists are SO friendly.

    https://www.stylisted.com/

  23. I’ve hired a cleaning lady through Handy and it was, hands down, the best decision I’ve ever made. I was reticent at first to have a stranger in my house, but she is so friendly and super nice to my cat… so yes, I’m all for outsourcing these tasks and free up my time!

    Rita
    http://heyrita.co.uk

  24. Have you read The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs? He talks about outsourcing his life as a project and the pros and cons of it…and it was nearly all hilarious.

  25. Living in the city, these services are a must. I use Homejoy for cleaning regularly. I am looking into laundry services too. It just makes life manageable, especially because I travel a lot.

  26. I LOVE this post! Now if we could only get someone to make all the calls to Con-Ed that would be something!
    Happy New Year!
    Much love, Jamie Herzlinger

  27. I got so excited about the pot delivery but it’s only in San Fran. Tease!

  28. Miriam – I couldn’t agree with you more! I like getting out of my house and running errands. I see people I know, talk to people, and get exercise! Plus, doing my own errands is FREE.

    Alas, to each their own. I guess I’m just not as busy as everyone else.

  29. hahaha you wouldn’t need to actually use the babysitter apps if you truly never left the house…
    Great list though! I should probably start using some of these…
    ~ Samantha

  30. I love Urban Sitter. The reviews are generally spot-on and give you a good sense of the sitter, plus you can see if other people you know have used that sitter (i.e., other parents from our son’s preschool). Our sitters have ranged from college students to Congressional staffers (we live in DC). If the whole idea makes you nervous, you can maybe try a sitter out for a short afternoon and if you like them you can hire them for a longer evening stint.

  31. I’ve just started using PepperPlate to collect all my recipes so that I can meal plan, shop, and cook all from that app!

  32. I sit for Urban Sitter and it’s changed my life so positively :)

  33. Fancyhands! Have someone schedule your tweets, proofread, make calls you don’t want to, do research for you and so much more! It’s a really great company so check it out: http://fncy.it/1sao6Dy COPY

    (A team of educated virtual assistants to help make your life easier by completing tasks for you…vacation research, lowering your cable bill, literally whatever you need!)

  34. I love Washio, Postmates and DogVacay! I have been meaning to try Homepolish for a while. Sometimes you just need a new perspective on your space!

  35. I’ve never heard of most of these before! I think the tutoring one is a great idea. And seamless is absolutely vital living in nyc (do you know you can get ben & jerry’s and 16 handles delivered??)

    http://www.theicecreamscoop.com/

  36. I love the idea of Minibar (we’re behind the times with booze delivery here in Boston), but I agree that errands can be a nice time to center yourself & enjoy some alone time. Thanks for another lovely post, Joanna!

    http://www.LaurenMcDonough.com

  37. I’m in NYC, and I use maxdelivery.com for all of my grocery needs. It’s one hour so I order at work and by the time I’m home, i have the ingredients for dinner.

  38. Ghostruck for moving anything! Either to and from apartments/houses, or getting rid of it completely.

  39. Has anyone tried urban sitter?
    Not so much on an app level. but for those in small towns, often there are stores that will deliver groceries.

  40. @kr, you’re right. alex and i actually deleted our accounts months ago for a bunch of these reasons:https://stallman.org/uber.html

    but i figured this kind of roundup wasn’t complete without mentioning uber, which kind of kickstarted all of this.

    but you’re right, and i deleted them!

  41. The US has many more options for anything than in Canada. It’s quite sad, I wish we had better postage prices and more of the businesses listed above. I guess that also has to do with the fact we have a smaller population (30 million people). Still nice to see!

    Leslie
    http://www.alifewellconsumed.com

  42. Love it! I am a taskrabbit for cleaning, personal-“chef”fing and random (really random) chores, and it is so fun to help other people get things done and make their lives easier!

    I also use instacart to get my groceries delivered because it is cheap and lets me keep the downtime between tasks and law school for myself, and it feels like such a major treat after doing things for other people all day.

  43. Bandwagon is great. Not only for airport rides, but also to and from events. Ridesharing with other people going in the same direction, in existing cabs, helps you reduce your carbon footprint!

  44. I think it’s sad that technology has taken over normal day-to-day things. I know not everyone uses these apps, and that some people don’t have the time to do all these basic chores. It’s sad that people don’t have the time for these things anymore however tedious they may be. I personally love doing all these things, they always keep me occupied, and there is something so fulfilling about doing these things yourself.
    It’sMyLife

  45. I am so jealous of the bigger cities that have access to these type of services! i love my rural town, but man, I’m pregnant with a 15 month old & work full time – I would give my left arm to have groceries delivered!

  46. Beware Handybook, do not recommend. They sent a person to clean my apartment who could barely communicate in English or Spanish, had no cleaning supplies (they say they come with supplies, in uniform), and was very sketchy. She had no idea how to clean an apartment, she asked me how to mop the floor.

  47. I’ve used instacart two weeks in a row! I have an almost-2-year old and a newborn, so grocery shopping has been tough. Instacart to the rescue!!! Plies, I bet I actually save money since I’m not shopping hungry or buying too many pretty cleaning/ baby products at Whole Foods!

  48. My husband and I outsourced some of our most tedious tasks this past holiday season so that we could stay home and hang out with the kids more. We loved it. Although I will say I was more keen on Washio than he was.

    Also Spoonrocket is a Bay Area thing and they deliver meals hot and ready to go in about 5min. They aren’t AMAZING, but they’re pretty darn good.

  49. Love love this list! My only ‘errand’ these days is grocery shopping which I could outsource but I actually enjoy it (even with a toddler and baby in tow).

  50. Flycleaners for laundry in nyc!!

  51. Instacart
    Blue Apron
    Uber
    and money well spent is actually having Ikea deliver and assemble the products. Just did this for my closet and it was so worth it!

  52. Hi Jo! This is a great list! I’m the 28 year old dog walker turned app developer. I have a startup called HANDLR and we’re creating a one-stop-shop for every mobile service. It’s like having a tiny personal assistant that lives in your pocket! It’s coming out in February 2015. It’s going to blow all of these guys out of the water! ; )

    Thanks for being you!

    Britt
    itsadoggirlslife.com

  53. I swear by InstaCart. On days where it’s -15 here in Colorado, they’re still delivering! I love it. They have a fabulous interface and it’s so easy to use. Online or on the app. And best of all only $3.99 delivery!

    Can’t wait to try some of the others you listed!

  54. ALL of these are great. Thanks for posting a comprehensive round up.

  55. S says...

    Suzanna, the world would be a boring place if we were all the same! To pretend that pot isn’t a thing would be just that – pretending.

  56. Dolly is a good service if you’re buying something big and don’t have a truck to pick it up. They take care of the delivery.

  57. Don’t forget Parcel (www.fromparcel.com) – you can use it whenever you shop online to schedule delivery for when you’re actually home (like 7-11pm at night). They’ll even remember your preferences – so if you have a sleeping baby at home and prefer a text msg to the door bell ringing, they’ll honor it every time. Amazing.

  58. Kr,

    Do you live in a city that has Uber? I’ve found that taking an Uber makes me feel much safer than taking any taxi off the street. If you get weirded out by the driver you can report it immediately. I agree that more should be researched when it comes to fair pay for the drivers, but at the same time the service makes it much cheaper and safer to travel. I have no idea what taxi drivers get paid, but I know that many of my Uber drivers have said that they are pleased with Uber overall. As for other things you mentioned, there are definite bumps in the road and Uber is not perfect – but it’s so successful because it makes travel safer and easier. It’s ridiculously popular, so to leave it out of this list would be a mistake. Besides, who knows what these other apps pay? Uber is just in the news more often.

  59. I’m completely addicted to instacart. As a both my husband and I work full time it’s so nice to get our groceries delivered! No need to drag the kid along to the grocery store or find time on the weekend.

  60. Good Eggs is my favorite! As much as I love going to the farmers market, it’s just not that easy with two kids in the city. Especially when I had to haul it all home in a stroller on SF hills! Good Eggs gives me the same quality with more options and incredible customer service.

  61. I just got my mom a subscription to Plowz & Mowz for Christmas. It’s exactly like Uber but instead of ordering a cab, you order someone to plow your driveway or mow your lawn. It’s definitely a nice option to have in the Upper Midwest.

  62. Why are you promoting Uber when there are so many instances of the company disregarding basic labor safety for its drivers (and also vastly underpaying them); ignoring accounts of assault for female passengers (New Delhi has actually banned Uber in its city because of this); and during the recent terrorist hostage attack in Australia, Uber actually increased prices for people trying to flee the scene? We should be encouraging people to stop using Uber, and also stop using it as a verb which essentially just promotes it.

  63. …Unless you don’t live in a giant metropolitan area. In which case most of these services are completely unavailable. Boo. :(

  64. We like fancy hands! It’s kind of like task rabbit but for virtual tasks. We’ve had them check-in for southwest flights, find us cheap folding chairs, check on change of address with the post office etc.

  65. As someone who’s 20 weeks pregnant with twins and who’s finding it harder and harder to move around, this list is basically epic. Thanks so much for posting it!

  66. I recently used Postmates for the first time, and it was great! My postmate alerted me Momofuku couldn’t write on the ordered cake and had them write something on a postcard taped to the box. Delivered in under an hour. Can’t wait to keep using them.