6 tasks you can easily outsource online

Sure, you found someone else to do it for you, but you did the finding yourself. That's still DIY.

There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and if that’s a feeling you experience often, you’ve got two options: Somehow warp space and time to extend each day beyond 24 hours, or delegate out some of your most time-consuming and energy-draining tasks.

We’re going to stay within the laws of physics, though, and focus on the second option.

These apps, sites, and services help you get some of your life back by hiring people to take care of a few of your chores, or streamline your day by letting you get certain tasks done via your phone or laptop that would otherwise require travel, time, and money.

Learning a language

Verbling screenshot showing various language tutors
Ricardo? Sergio? Camino? A tough choice. David Nield

Online language tutors fill that gap between actual classes you physically have to attend—not always convenient or practical—and language learning apps that are simple to use but don’t necessarily give you the personalized, detailed education you really need to master a language. One-on-one tuition isn’t cheap, but it is effective.

One interesting option is italki, because it lets you choose between more-expensive and thorough professional teachers, and less-expensive but somewhat informal community tutors. Prices range from $4-$80 per hour, but introductory rates are cheaper so you can ensure you’ve found the right match from the app’s roster of more than 10,000 instructors.

Verbling is another comprehensive option, with various in-browser tools (like a calendar and notepad) to help you along, and more than 7,500 teachers with hourly rates of $5-$75 after a free trial.

Both of these platforms give you video introductions and user reviews of each tutor, and your lessons will take place over video chat. It doesn’t matter where you are, either—you can work with your instructor via either the services’ dedicated phone apps or the web browser on your computer.

Putting together your furniture

This one requires a real-world, in-person visit. If you don’t have a friend, family member, or neighbor around to help you assemble your newest piece of furniture, you can find someone online to do it for you.

TaskRabbit covers a host of jobs and chores, including furniture assembly. In fact, that task is listed as one of the site’s most-requested jobs, with rates between $25-$135 per hour (extras like the use of a vehicle can push the price up). We also like Handy, which gives you less of a choice over who does the job but only uses vetted professionals. Rates here are around $45-$50 per hour, though prices vary by location and task.

Writing a speech

a screenshot of a Fiverr search for speech writers
Unless you’re naturally gifted, hiring a speechwriter might be your best bet for nailing that wedding toast. David Nield

This might be the perfect job to farm out to someone else over the internet, because most of us aren’t that good at it and only have to do it on occasion—like at a wedding, a friend’s birthday, or a work event. Don’t rely on your own sense of comic timing or motivational talents; get a professional for the job, or at least someone who’s done it many more times than you have. You can always tweak the end result to add your own personal touches.

One of the best options here is Fiverr. It covers all kinds of freelance services, but the platform has plenty of speechwriters on its books. You can see individual profiles, client testimonials, and rates for each freelancer before committing—prices range from $15-$50 per speech.

Upwork operates slightly differently, in that you post the job you need done, and then freelancers bid for the business (with their rates and customer reviews). It’s up to you which one you pick.

Transcribing audio

Admittedly this is a little more niche—not all of us need to quickly turn spoken audio into text during our day-to-day lives—but it’s a super-useful service for those who need it (such as journalists, podcasters, and secretaries). Basically, you ship your audio file off via email and someone else does the heavy lifting of transcribing, so you get back a typed and (hopefully) error-free transcript of your recording.

Quite a few online services will jump in and do this for you—you just need to weigh whether the cost is worth the time and effort you’ll save not doing the job yourself.

Over at Rev you can get audio transcribed for $1 per minute, with a 12-hour turnaround time and a 99 percent accuracy guarantee (they can do video captions and foreign subtitles too). Or there’s Trint, which will transcribe audio for $15 per hour using an artificial intelligence-powered system it says delivers results in less time than the file takes to listen to.

Picking up your food

an Uber Eats delivery person on a bike
Your order is on its way. Robert Anasch via Unsplash

You don’t necessarily need to leave the house to get your takeout any more, because it can come straight to you. Even restaurants and fast food joints that didn’t previously offer delivery services can now get your food straight to your door, thanks to teams of people working for various on-demand food services. Availability may vary by location, but you can at least fire up the apps and see what they’ve got to offer.

Uber Eats (Android, iOS) is one such app. It’s separate from Uber but uses your Uber account details.

Another option is Deliveroo (Android, iOS). In both cases, you can browse by restaurant type or food type, track your order straight your door, and check prices before ordering. It’s worth testing several of these apps to see which offer the cuisine and local restaurants you’re most interested in.

Organizing your life

Maybe what you really need is a full-on personal assistant, but you don’t have the budget or the office space to hire one. So get a virtual assistant—a dedicated helper on the other end of an internet connection who can make travel arrangements, answer phones, manage a calendar, take on administrative tasks, and do much more on your behalf. They won’t come cheap, but they can save you a huge amount of time.

You’ve got a few options to pick from here as well. OkayRelax aims to help you, well, relax, by matching you with someone who will take care of all your jobs, based on the tasks you need them to do and how long you need them for. Prices start at $30 per month for five tasks and go up to $300 per month for 100 tasks. Fancy Hands, meanwhile, can handle just about any request you’ve got, via laptop or phone. Here, you pay from $30 per month for five tasks to up to $150 a month for 30 tasks. You can pay for a dedicated assistant—the same helper every time—but that’s extra.