Best online or local services for an easier life.
August 30, 2014 7:39 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I live in Houston, TX and both work long hours. In addition, I'm 9 months into a 2.5 year MBA program. Can you recommend your favorite online or local services to increase our quality of life?

Long hours at the office and school means we don't have time anymore for the little things: getting my hair done, grocery shopping, cleaning, planning flights, you name it. We are willing to pay for online or local services that will make our lives easier and give us more quality time together. Please be creative (i.e., we've already looked into house cleaning)!

More Background:
We live in an apartment in the heart of downtown Houston, TX. We are in our early 30's, and do not have children. I enjoy working out, cooking, and just being with my husband when I have time. Help me make time for the things I love!
posted by Shaitan to Work & Money (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: - House cleaning, as you mentioned.
- TaskRabbit or a similar service for small errands or jobs
- Drop off laundry service (wash, dry, fold; in by 10am, done by 3pm, etc.)
- Healthy Habits Kitchen or similar - they give you everything for the meal, already portioned, and you just do the final cooking
- Have the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, so you don't have to think about what you're going to have

It also helps to just regiment and schedule as much as you can. You want to eliminate the time and mental energy spent figuring out what to do next, when to do XYZ, etc.

Lastly, get rid of games and other time waters on your phone, or you'll find yourself using them without thinking, and losing that time when you could otherwise be productive.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:54 AM on August 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

Grocery delivery.
posted by amro at 8:01 AM on August 30, 2014

Amazon Prime now offers a pantry service. Groceries right to your door. I also use my Target Red Card to get free shipping on basics like laundry detergent and pantyhose.
posted by myselfasme at 8:01 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

House cleaning and wash/dry/fold were mine, when I was in a similar situation with my masters' program.

I also signed up to work with a personal trainer at the gym, which seems backwards in terms of time savings, but 2 hours a week with a trainer was a better workout than 3 or 4 hours by myself, and it kept me from turning into a blimp with all the delivery food.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:23 AM on August 30, 2014

Honestly, having a personal assistant who could work 10 hours a week would take a shit-ton of stuff off your To Do list. (I'm a former personal assistant.) It can be a challenge to find that person and get him/her up to speed, but the benefit can be huge. One being (as opposed to Task Rabbit-type people) you will develop a relationship with this person, will be able to trust them with your apartment key, your credit card numbers, etc.

One place to start: ask around your circle to see if anyone knows an early 20something who might want to work in this manner. A recent college grad, someone who is an artist/writer/actor/whatever that means they're not working a regular 9-5 schedule. Someone who's going to grad school now, or next year so they're killing time.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:18 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you have a relationship with a stylist many will make house calls. Can do your hair and your husbands, often for about the same as you'd spend in a salon. You can also get a personal trainer to come to you.

I love the idea of hiring someone for 10 hours a week to do your grocery shopping, get your laundry to and from fluff and fold, and to do all the little things that need doing that you don't want to hassle with.

As for cooking vs take-out, food delivery, etc. I'd rather have simple meals that I prepare myself than delivered crap. (I like delivered crap every so often, but not steadily.)

So perhaps you streamline your meals. Soup and sandwiches, salads, roasted meat and baked potatoes. Get a slow cooker and a rice cooker to help have more time intensive stuff cooking before you get home.

I cook at home most nights and it's never super-complicated. My favorite cooking tool is a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. Throw a couple of chicken breasts on there, shake your favorite seasoning on them. You can do oven fries, or roasted mini potatoes and even roast veggies at the same time. 5 minutes of prep, 30 or so minutes in the oven, Dinner is served.

You can mix and match homemade stuff with deli counter salads. Ham, potato salad and a bag of salad is a meal.

You can make your own pizzas at home now that every supermarket is selling fresh pizza dough.

You get the satisfaction of assembling your meals, without devoting a ton of time to prep and hassle.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:28 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Personal assistant. Look for a college student or recent grad with a car. Decide on the number of hours a week and give the PA a task list. Let her/him work things on their own schedule unless you need something accomplished at a specific time, i.e. meet the plumber at 10 AM. It ends up being a really good on both sides. (Talk to your accountant about how to compensate this person correctly and make sure your umbrella insurance policy is up to date.)

Blue Apron or similar since you like to cook. Most meals are ready in 30-40 minutes and everything is fresh.

posted by 26.2 at 12:44 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another good one is automatic bill pay through your bank's online banking website (assuming it has one).
posted by amro at 12:54 PM on August 30, 2014

Crock pot! So many recipes that involve only 10-15 minutes of work in the morning, then it's ready for you when you come home.
posted by dondiego87 at 8:58 PM on August 30, 2014

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