Optimize Your Time!

Many services are springing up that allow anybody to optimize their time. Some of them are seen as fanciful toys for the rich, although I believe everybody could optimize their time better if they think through the process well. I will explain this through two recent examples from my personal life. The apps that I traditionally think of as saving the most time and effort are, in no particular order:

  1. Ridesharing (Uber, Lyft, Gett)
  2. On-Demand Delivery (Postmates, GrubHub, DoorDash, eat24, OrderAhead, etc.)
  3. Grocery Delivery (Instacart, Amazon Fresh)
  4. Dry Cleaning (Rinse)
  5. Miscellaneous (TaskRabbit)

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Thanksgiving 2015 I had some friends come into town for a large college football game. By the time we had all settled in, there were eight people in town (four of which were crashing in my ~1,000 sqft apartment) (shoutout to AirBNB for other options). After getting all the standard touristy stuff out of the way, we decided to go to a bar that is a bit off the beaten path. One of my friends had a brilliant idea: we should play Spades. This is a tradition we had when we all lived in the same city, often playing late into the night and scheming ways to devise a glorious nil (if you are unaware of Spades, you're welcome). One problem: we didn't have any card. Also, we were without a car AND ~2.5 mi from the closest place that would have the cards.

After asking the bartender if they had any to no avail, we were ready to give up. Somebody had to draw straws to either walk or get on the slow public transportation to go fetch some cards or give up the idea. This would probably take an hour and a half of somebody's time as they run away from the group's short time together. Never fear: Postmates was here! I fetched out my phone and ordered up two packs of cards, total cost: $10 (~$2 cards + $8 delivery). It arrived by bike in about 40 minutes. At first, it seemsed like a bit of a useless expenditure, spending an extra $8 for the delivery of a pack of cards. When you do the math, however, it makes a lot more sense. Eight people, each not wanting to go out and back for an hour and a half. Instead, we could sit around and wait on the cards and then have it delivered.

Easy nil to complete the comeback

The next day, we wanted to go to brunch. Problem is, on Saturdays the brunch place we wanted to eat at usually had a 75-90 minute wait. I fired up TaskRabbit and ordered somebody to wait in line for a party of eight for 11:00. At first brush, this again seems like a fanciful toy for the wealthy to bid minions to do the tasks they don't want to do themselves (partly true). But, when I dig deeper, I feel more people could use this option to optimize their life. Let's take the above example. Eight people saved about an hour each. Total cost was about $25. For eight people to save an hour, they would each pay $3. This makes it seem a lot more reasonable, but even if it is only one person there are many ways to use the time. Let's say you work in a different area than you live (a long commute). If there is something you need, it often makes sense to time your departure from work with the item's availability. Use Postmates to deliver the item around the end of your workday. The second it arrives, you can leave, thus saving a lot of time and effort traveling to the store AND potentially beating traffic as it builds up around rush hour.

OrderAhead is another time-saving device I have been using. There is a timed element which allows you to place orders in the future (for either pickup or delivery). This is perfect for timing your lunch break. Gone are the days where you need to run outside, think about where to go, place the order and wait as it arrives. If you place an order at 9:00 AM for noon, you can simply walk into the store, pick it up and leave. This is the perfect opportunity to optimize your breaks. Another way I have used it is to think about my commute: where am I going to be in 20-25 minutes and time either a coffee or a meal. No more waiting in lines!

In short, be creative! Think about the various ways you can save time in your day so you can do what you want to do: go hiking, veg out and watch House of Cards, spend time with family, work more, etc. Many of the small tasks required to function in society can now be outsourced for relatively cheaply!

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