Outsourcing your life

Not enough time in your day? There's someone to help you with that.

Finding there are not enough hours in the day to feed and clothe yourself, let alone fit in some exercise and spend time with your nearest and dearest?

You're not alone. An increasing number of Australians are outsourcing everything - from cleaning, to buying an iPad and even proposing marriage.

About one-third of all household activities are now outsourced, according to Phil Ruthven, chairman of business information analyst firm IBISWorld.

“We think about $300 billion will be spent this year by households,” he says. “That's what we now spend on outsourcing services that we used to do ourselves, everything from house cleaning to laundry, child-minding, eating out, paying for holidays instead of staying with friends.”

Outsourcing tasks is hardly new – most of us don't build our own houses or grow our dinner – but technology is helping to build trust among networks that didn't previously exist.

Here are five areas where the professionals are more than happy to step in - for a fee, of course.

Don't have time to cook? Piece of cake

If you've barely got time for two-minute noodles, let alone to whip up a healthy mid-week meal, don't cry into your old onions.

There are plenty of kitchen whizzes ready to help you part with your cash.

Need a homemade cake? Post a job on online service Occasional Butler – the asking price for a Batman cake was $100 at the time of writing, while another user was offering $60 for someone to bake and deliver 24 scones.

Want some fresh veggies from the market? Hire a shopper for $29 an hour on Sidekicker.

Look thoughtful

Sydney bloke Roman Cortes was on to a good thing recently when he hired three people to help execute a marriage proposal with a difference. The "runners" contracted via the Airtasker website wore t-shirts saying “will”, “you” and “marry” (the would-be groom completed the sentence). Fortunately the answer was yes, says Airtasker co-founder Tim Fung, whose website has spawned $1 million in jobs since it launched in March last year.

The options for cheap, thoughtful and sometimes whacky thrills are endless on website Fiverr, which dubs itself “the world's largest marketplace for small services”. Order anything, from a custom-made wine bottle label to a caricature or a prank call for $5.

For more discerning types, a virtual assistant at Blake Daniel can look after your personal life (or, at least, devote 10 hours to it) from $199 a month.

Odd jobs

Packing, cleaning, moving, chores and grocery delivery – not to mention assembling Ikea furniture – are favourites among Aussies looking to lighten the load, says collaborative consumption expert Rachel Botsman.

But she doesn't believe the popularity of outsourcing is a result of people working longer hours.

“I think there's a growing awareness that these things exist and the idea doesn't seem so kooky,” she says.

Once people advertise basic tasks, they often start thinking more laterally, says Botsman. A man in the US, for example, advertised for someone to jump on his mattress for two hours to break it in.

On Airtasker, an Australian company advertised for someone to camp outside an Apple Store in Sydney to buy the first iPhone 5.

“He ended up waiting nine days outside the store and we had 36 other people copy this task,” Airtasker's Fung says.

For a free, grassroots-style load-share, try The Sharehood. Good form dictates that you'll have to do a favour for your neighbours in return.

House and pooch minding

If travel looms large in your work diary – or you work long hours – let someone else lead for a while.

Countless businesses will take your 'best mate' around the block. Directory ozdoggy.com.au lists walkers, while Dogtree, a sort of furry Facebook, also links to walkers, sitters and mates for your mutt.

If you're likely to be spending more than a few weeks away and are a trusting type, plenty of people will mind your house, pets and garden for free. Try aussiehousesitters.com.au or mindahome.com.au.

Ditch your dirty work

Tim Fung says busy executives who earn good money are big users of Airtasker.

While a not-so-unassuming user posted the job 'wash my Ferrari', many professionals want their apartments cleaned, late-night food delivered to their office or help with general tradie tasks.

Laundry and cleaning services are always popular – or why not outsource your clothes shopping altogether by hiring a stylist?

IBISWorld's Phil Ruthven says younger generations have little reservation about outsourcing tasks they find painful or time-consuming.

In the past “if a bloke got, say Jim's Mowing to do their lawn, they'd feel a bit guilty about it”, he says.

Ruthven says there is another $600 billion of household tasks that could potentially be outsourced in Australia.

However he says a more realistic figure is about half that. Some can't afford the luxury, while others find tasks such as cooking or ironing therapeutic.