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On-Demand Apps That May Increase Happiness

Research says more free time means more satisfaction, and services are here to help

On demand help apps

Photo Illustration: Gallery Stock, Istock

Free up for personal time, for a fee: These apps help you hire people to take everyday tasks and odd jobs off your plate.

En español | A recent study found that — despite the adage to the contrary — money can, in fact, buy happiness. But only if you spend it in a certain way.

The study, conducted at the Harvard Business School and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that out of more than 6,000 adults surveyed, only about a third had spent money in ways that would free up their personal time. They also reported higher life satisfaction rates. Among the Americans surveyed, paying for more free time resulted in an increase in overall happiness of 0.77 points on a 10-point scale. That might not sound like much, but it's statistically significant, Harvard researcher Ashley Whillans told the New York Times.

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The good news? There are apps for that. With the success of Uber, on-demand apps are everywhere — and more and more of them can help free up your time by finding people to help out with everyday tasks and chores. For job seekers or those seeking supplemental income and with the flexibility to perform various jobs, these are good avenues to pursue, as well. Either way, here are six apps that are worth a moment of your, um, time. 

1. Task Rabbit

The granddaddy of the on-demand help apps has been around since 2009, and connects users with local "taskers"— handypeople, cleaners, movers, personal assistants and more. You enter your location, the time you need help and the details of your job, and Task Rabbit spits out a price. If you accept, you can have help in mere hours, or later, if that's when it's needed. The most popular jobs requested include house painting, moving and waiting in line (at the DMV or for popular restaurants). Others are truly odd: One tasker was asked to impersonate the job requester at a birthday party; another was tasked with steam-cleaning "Weird" Al Yankovic's costume before the singer performed a San Francisco Bay area concert.

2. Takl

The new kid on the block is taking dead aim at Task Rabbit, which isn't a bad tactic given that the latter reported it quadrupled its business volume in 2016. Takl, launched out of Nashville last summer, is still in a start-up mode, though it has expanded to more than 15 other cities in its first year. It offers services across a dozen categories and hundreds of chores, including gardening and TV mounting. Like Task Rabbit and most other on-demand help apps, all providers are vetted with full background checks before arriving at your home or place of service.

3. Wag!?

The perfect service for that pooch in your life who just can't seem to get everything done. Actually, no. This on-demand personal dog walking service is more for you, not Fido, as busy days leave less time to give your pet the exercise it needs. That's where Wag!? comes in. Currently in several major cities and quickly expanding, the app provides a screened dog walker at your door within a half hour to take your four-legged friend out for a stroll. To make sure you and your dog are comfortable, you can interview your walker beforehand, and if you hit it off you can book recurring walks so your dog always sees the same face on a walk. Price varies by location — in New York City, a 30-minute walk runs $20. An hour is $30.

4. Plowz & Mowz

You know your lawn is an overgrown mess, but you just can't free up the time to mow it yourself. And edging? Forget it. Plowz and Mowz provides lawn service and care — just book an appointment through the app, and your lawn will be transformed into a manicured marvel by the end of the day. In the fall (or anytime you need it), there's a leaf removal service. And in the winter, the app provides on-demand snow shoveling and removal services, too. It's currently in 30 U.S. markets and expanding.

5. HelloTech

Ok, we're cheating a bit with this one, as it's a website, not an app. But what it does — provide on-demand tech and computer assistance — is too helpful to leave off the list. HelloTech can send someone to you within a day to help with everything from software installation to new device setup to malware removal. The service carries a monthly subscription fee and offers various plans, all of which include remote service.

6. Rinse

The laundry is piling up again. Now what if you could make it disappear, and then reappear the next day washed and folded right at your front door? That's the service offered by Rinse, an on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service currently offered only in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — with plans to expand soon to more markets. There's a premium for the convenience, such as $2.50 in dry cleaning for a shirt or $12 for a casual dress. Washing and folding is $1.75 per pound. But if you curse the hours of free time spent washing clothes (not to mention folding), it's probably worth it.

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