No one has time for anything anymore, amid the increasing demands from work, family and friends. Yet unemployment remains high. No wonder an array of new services are offering to ease the pressure on overextended individuals - by connecting them with freelancers who can help.
Google Helpouts, for one, has just launched, although it's still invitation-only. The new service will allow users to connect on Google Hangout video chats, making tech support, tutoring and other services available remotely.
Another site, TaskRabbit at taskrabbit.com/directory, a service for outsourcing errands done in person (such as picking up dry cleaning or groceries), recently expanded to five new cities.
About 42 million people, or roughly one in three Americans, are now working independently in the U.S., according to the Freelancers Union.
At the same time, those working full-time are carrying a heavier load than ever, says Dan Schawbel, a career expert and author of the book, "Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success."
Of course, from classifieds to Craigslist, outsourcing and freelancing are nothing new. But recent online services - with built-in vetting - are entering a new frontier in the employment economy, some say, making it easier to outsource more tasks, more often.
Does the popularity of such services indicate a growing tide of laziness? Outsourcing is actually smart, Schawbel says. "People are working longer hours now - answering emails outside of work and working on vacation," he says. "With the amount of tasks people are getting, they can't complete all of them." As a result, more people are looking to "experts" to fulfill their responsibilities.
The hardest part of that arrangement is making the right match between employer and employee, says Joseph D'Agnese, co-author of "The Money Book For Freelancers, Part-Timers and the Self-Employed." There is a feast-and-famine cycle that affects many freelancers, where jobs come and go. Online task sites can provide additional stability, by connecting available, skilled freelancers to available jobs. D'Agnese calculates that on a service such as TaskRabbit, an individual could earn $100 to $200 per day, or between $2,000 and $4,000 per month.
Outsourced errands will likely appeal to those who are used to a freelance lifestyle, many of whom tend to be millennial workers, D'Agnese says. Schawbel agrees, saying the "millennial" generation is more likely to pick up side work and projects, even if they are working full-time.
Task services also could be an appealing employment option for those living in remote areas, or parts of the world where resources are more limited, Schawbel says.
Still, anyone looking to hire help should be careful, D'Agnese says. Not all those who promote themselves as experts can be effective: "Just because someone is an expert doesn't mean they're able to express themselves well enough to pass that information along."