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Opinion

Reclaim your life: 'Offchore' your work to a Bangalore butler

Want more time for what matters most? Here's how.

By Timothy Ferriss / April 4, 2008



London

Taking off a pathetic two weeks per year, the average American spends more time in the bathroom than on vacation. Repeat: in the bathroom.

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To ease the burden of work, you'd love to hire a personal assistant, but you don't have Brad Pitt's bank account. No problem. Enter the world of "offchoring" and meet your new best friend: the Bangalore Butler.

Can you outsource 100 percent of your e-mail or even your online dating? I did. Can you outsource your worrying? A.J. Jacobs, editor at large of Esquire, did.

In a flat world, you don't have to be a celebrity to start eliminating menial tasks and enjoying the finer things in life – or just reclaiming it from the clutches of your BlackBerry. I've spent the last three years using a small global army of MBAs and assistants to effectively run my life for me, all for $4 to $10 an hour.

Want a digital concierge 24/7? For $30 a month, you can get your next vacation planned while you sleep. Just sign up at AskSunday.com and reach a friendly Indian named "Philip" or "John." No time to catch up on that stack of business reading or find this year's Tickle-Me-Elmo for your kid? Relax. Someone 10 time zones away is on it.

This isn't just about being pampered. It's about putting first things first. Work on that innovative project instead of responding to e-mails. Take that long walk on the beach with your girlfriend, cute puppy, or long-ignored 8-year-old.

Here are four reasons why a Bangalore Butler is likely to be – and should be – a part of your daily life soon:

Costs of the 60-hour workweek

The 40-hour workweek is a joke. Sixty hours is becoming the new norm. At the turn of the millennium, 26 percent of Americans reported being on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and 70 percent of working parents said they didn't have enough time for their kids.

Let's face it: Today, free time matters more than swollen bank accounts. The schedule-cramming, do-it-all approach to time management is neither sustainable nor scalable, so the prospect of delegation isn't a matter of if but when.

Test small, think big

The return-on-investment (ROI) is hard to ignore. Estimate your hourly income by cutting the last three zeros off of your annual income and halving the remaining number. If you make $50,000 per year, for example, you make about $25 per hour.

If you outsource a time-consuming task, business or personal, for $5 an hour, that is a minimum of 400 percent ROI. Reallocate a small amount of your investment money – say $30 to $100 – to a "quality-of-life" offchoring fund on a trial basis.

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