This Digital Life: Apps take you to task, but get things done
Too busy, or indeed lazy, to take care of your life admin? There are a host of sites that will let you delegate your chores... all for a fee, of course. Katie Wright investigates.
Having a personal assistant take care of your life admin - all those annoying jobs like booking train tickets, taking parcels to the post office and defrosting the freezer - would be a dream come true, wouldn't it?
While a round-the-clock helper may not be financially feasible, there are now a string of apps that will let you palm off your chores on willing participants for a much more manageable fee.
TaskRabbit was founded in America in 2008, when a couple ran out of dog food and realised there was a gap in the market.
It launched in the UK last year (www.taskrabbit.co.uk), letting you hire, for example, a student on study break to queue for a ticket for a surprise Jay Z gig while you're chained to your desk, or a clean freak to sort out your overflowing wardrobe.
I sign up via Facebook and tell the site I want some pictures hung in my flat on Saturday. TaskRabbit informs me that Mohammad is available for £15 an hour, a tasker who has done 242 jobs through the site and has a 98% feedback rating with glowing reviews. And, although I didn't get Mohammad to hang my pictures, the site is slick and easy to use.
The latest errand-runner is Pickle (www.wearepickle.com), which promises to deliver on "absolutely anything that's legal".
Using the app, chore-avoiders can list an odd job that needs doing, then agree a price (the minimum is £5) with whoever signs up to get it done.
It was created by Daneh Westropp, a London-based mum who experienced that familiar "there aren't enough hours in the day" feeling all too often.
"I often found myself needing a hand with jobs I didn't know how to do, or didn't have the time to do," Daneh says.
Since launching in June, Pickle has helped time-poor people with jobs like bathroom tiling, picking up holiday currency and even delivering bacon and eggs for breakfast to a (presumably very hungover) punter.
Also new to the market is Awesome (www.textawesome.co.uk), which works via text message rather than an app, or website. Text the number with a description of what you need doing, negotiate a price and it'll be done.
"As long as it's lawful," they say, just like the other peer-to-peer sites. With good reason: a Chinese app was shut down earlier this year when thugs started offering some very violent services to those willing to pay. Definitely not awesome.