One of the questions my team and I are constantly asking ourselves is, "what do YOU want to read?"

That’s right — YOU!

We wrack our brains, pour through old material, think about current events.

One of the best metrics we have for guessing at what you might be interested in is the feedback we’ve gotten from my Sketch Guy articles in The New York Times.

Every once in a while, we go back through the most engaging articles and use them as a starting point for new discussions.

That’s precisely what we’re going to do this week, and we’re going to do it by revisiting a story that created quite a stir.

Maybe You Shouldn’t Outsource Everything After All

Have you ever thought you’d be happier if you could just pay someone else to do your laundry?

Turns out, you’re right — at least, according to a recent study, which found that paying someone else to complete unenjoyable daily tasks could result in greater life satisfaction. Outsourcing housework you dislike could even save your marriage!

I found myself nodding my head as I read these articles. But then I shared this research with some friends, and I got an unexpected response: anger.

They were actually mad. My tax lawyer friend charges $300 an hour but still changes the oil in his car. He demanded to know when everything we did started having to fit into an economic model. Another friend earns $50 an hour but still bakes bread that he could easily buy with a $5 bill. His take on the study was that it was just another example of people with too much money not stopping to consider how much satisfaction can come from doing basic things well yourself.

On one hand, my wife and I spend a few hundred dollars per month to have someone help clean our house. We’re even considering hiring someone to help us with meals a few days a week. And while it may be a stretch to say that this has saved our marriage, there is something to the idea that paying for help can make you happier.

But at the same time, a surprising number of people I have talked to on this topic had the same response: It feels like the research is missing something very important.

Like most things, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Outsourcing the reading of bedtime stories will probably make you feel like a terrible parent. But not outsourcing anything, well, is that even possible? My bread-baking friend doesn’t sow, harvest and grind his own wheat.

In today’s world, you have to outsource some things. But what? And how much?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I’d really love to hear your responses.

Have you found greater satisfaction when you paid others to do your chores? Do you have unpleasant tasks that others outsource that you prefer to do yourself? And how do you find the balance?

Think about it. And then shoot me an email:

This clearly touched a nerve, and the way I know is both by the volume and the thoughtfulness of the responses. Even the people who totally disagreed with the premise of this message still had really thoughtful responses.

So, what do you think? There’s got to be a fine line somewhere between outsourcing too much, and not enough. Where is that line? How do you find it?

Next week, I’ll do my best to give you an answer.

Talk soon,


CARL RICHARDS is the creator of the Sketch Guy column in The New York Times.

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