Outsourcing Life

BPO or Business Process Outsourcing is the buzz word of this decade, pioneered by the Indians who through their insatiable desire for education and knowledge have raised a generation of English-speaking graduates in their millions waiting to serve the world.

But whilst the Indians may have specialised in outsourcing business processes, we in the western world seem to be outsourcing our personal lives.

I’ve spent the last ten years researching work-life balance and have come to the conclusion that the fundamental paradigm is flawed.

To truly live fulfilled lives we must seek to outsource work and not life. I am often saddened by people who talk about quality time with their kids and spouses. I strongly believe and often advise the opposite.

Quality time at work and quantity time at home is the only answer to true work life balance.

Unfortunately we are doing the opposite. Today we live in a world where we outsource one of our most fundamental responsibilities as parents – education of our children. I am not suggesting home-schooling for all – this is an extreme (albeit a great one) that may only suit some families. However, the abdication with abandon of this duty to our schooling system which in most cities is clearly flawed is a travesty.

In today’s society we’ve gone even further. We’re puting our kids into pre-schools at very early ages. We put them in day care or learning centres before school and leave them in after-school care picking them up just before dinner.

We spend our weekends finishing work that has overflowed from the week or at social events that exclude kids.

In the end we’ve outsourced those key building block relationships in their formative years.

Our kids don’t want quality time for a couple of hours a week – they want quantity time. They want us be with them doing nothing, doing the mundane, listening to them read, tell us what their day was like – however boring that may seem to our fast-paced adult lives.

Healthy childhoods are those filled with numerous memories of boring things. Daughters and sons are craving for one-on-one time with their parents. Only after 30 or 40 minutes of doing child-centred activities will they truly open up and talk about what they believe to be important.

They are not going to do this over a mobile phone we’ve bought them to keep up with their peers. That if at all appropriate only gives them another avenue to spend more time with their friends.

They want to go for walks, ride bikes, kick the footy, shoot hoops, or just hang-out.

They may like watching TV or a DVD but that is a poor baby-sitter. It’s artificial entertainment – pre-produced sensory fulfilment that will never replace the real experience of casting a rod in the water, or having a picnic in the park.

We’ve outsourced life…and the all the wrong areas of it.