Has an area of your home or yard gotten out of control? Do you need a breath of relief?

Sometimes, it pays to pay. Pay someone to get you back on your feet, that is.

When a few loose ends become a lot of trouble

A friend once told me about a job he took over winter break in college. A professor asked him to help clean out his office. When my friend arrived, he found it worse than he ever expected: the professor accessed his desk at the rear of the room via a tiny path through a tunnel of clutter. Visitors actually had to pass under the junk balanced overhead.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar situation in your own life. Maybe it’s not the whole house, but just a closet or a room that gradually got away from you until cleaning it up felt too overwhelming. I know it has happened to me.

Looming, unfinished, unattended projects sap our mental energy. If you’re feeling stuck, you may need to close one of those open loops.

Taming the jungle — with some help from a pro

Several years ago, I got fed up with our garden. I’d let it get out of control following a springtime shoulder surgery. Finally, I decided enough was enough.

Rather than add it to the list of overwhelming problems I swore were ruining my life, I took decisive action. My boss had a neighbor who was looking for odd gardening jobs. We were getting a tax refund. While I didn’t want to hire a regular gardener, I had to admit I needed help.

For less than the value of our tax refund that year, we had a gardener take us from here:


To here:


That left us responsible for weeding and upkeep, which felt far more manageable than clearing the overgrown mess it had become.

Pay if you can

I realize hiring someone to give you a boost on household tasks may not be possible for everyone, but it’s worth considering. If money is tight, you may want to set aside an unexpected windfall, such as a tax refund. Or you could calculate how much you spend on one unnecessary thing and put the money in a jar for your project instead. Think cab rides instead of walking or taking the bus, lattes at Starbucks instead of making them at home, ordering Chinese instead of planning your meals and cooking during the week, paper towels instead of real ones, cigarettes when you keep saying you should quit. An exciting reward may even motivate you to create a good habit.

Also, just because you pay someone to redo your garden doesn’t mean they need to come every week to mow your lawn. Hiring a service to scan all your old photographs only needs to happen once if you’ve moved on to digital.  A cleaning service can provide a single-visit deep clean to make it more manageable for you to start a regular cleaning schedule of your own.

Even if you grew up in a household that valued doing work yourself whenever possible, there’s no shame in asking for a little help to reach your full potential. Remember, once a task becomes overwhelming (like a garden that hasn’t been tended for two years or a renovation project that’s left you without a kitchen for 10 months), breaking it into bite-size pieces and getting started again on your own will be tough. If a little money is all it takes to put you back on track, so be it.

Have you benefited from paying a professional to help you with a task that had become an insurmountable hurdle? If you have, please share!