The good news is that you can! You can experience freedom and reclaim joy at home simply by restructuring your schedule. Let me show you how!
The business world has this down to a science. They understand that in order to fit everything necessary into a standard work week, they’ve got to have systems and schedules in place. They’ve delegated company tasks to those who enjoy and excel in specific areas. When we apply the business model of work to the home model, life can change dramatically!
I want to take the next few minutes to share the concept of time blocking as it applies to your home life. Much like the business world, you’ll become more efficient when you group similar tasks together and spend dedicated time addressing each task.
For years, we’ve were told that it’s the bees’ knees to multitask. And it might be, but not ALL the time. Although women, in particular, are fantastic multi-taskers, we’re even better single-taskers!
Let me give you an example: meal planning. In total honesty, I HATE meal planning. Cooking isn’t a task I’m particularly excited about. Although I enjoy a good tasting meal, the prep work behind it just doesn’t get me excited. But, meal planning is a crucial part of running a home. If you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what to buy at the grocery store. If you don’t know what to buy at the grocery store, you’re just shopping for things that taste good. And if you’re just shopping for things that taste good, your dinner will consist of pie, hummus, and tortilla chips. Not gonna cut it if there is more than one person living under the same roof.
When meal planning for the week, we must get 100% focused on the task in order to knock it out quickly and completely. If we can sustain our attention, we might even be able to plan an entire month using this free printable. High-fives all around!
If we multitasked meal planning, we'd be busy checking social media (which may have some good meal ideas on it….and the latest gossip….and the latest political argument…..), folding laundry, feeding the kids, and trying to remember where we put the elusive cup of coffee. The simple task of planning meals would take 4x longer than it needed to. Because, when we multitask, we stretch our minds thin. Sure, multitasking helps us GET THINGS DONE, but are we getting them done in the MOST efficient manner that uses the LEAST amount of energy in order to prevent overwhelm? Probably not.
So how do we start single-tasking?
Step 2: Start by writing the first hour of the day when you TYPICALLY wake up. Time Maps are not exact. They are general reference points that help us better understand where our energies are going throughout a typical week. My map begins with 7am because that’s when I wake up.
Step 3: Write down the times every 30 minutes until the time you TYPICALLY go to bed (7:00am, 7:30am, 8:00am, etc). For me, bedtime looks like 12am. No, I’m not proud of that, it’s just life. Maybe one day bed time will look like 11pm on a regular basis. A girl can dream.
Step 4: Write in any long-standing and regular appointments or activities for each day. This includes your morning routine (Wake, Shower, etc), meals, school/work schedules, family time, and/or religious activities. (As a side note, if your “work” activities are occupying MOST of your week, you might consider time-blocking your individual work tasks to help you be more efficient in the workplace and spend less time in the office. This might look like only answering emails 4x a day or only working that specific proposal from 2-4pm.)
Step 5: In the spots you have left, pencil in the OTHER activities you need and would like to accomplish each week. These might include: laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, carpool, dusting, mopping, taking out the trash, lawncare, hobbies, exercise, and plain old rest and relaxation. Be realistic about how much time each activity takes so that you can give it an appropriate amount of time on your map. Also, consider dividing up your cleaning tasks into specific days rather than cleaning specific areas. This will prevent you from trying to dust different rooms each day. Instead, just dust on Tuesdays and vacuum on Wednesdays. If you miss Tuesday dusting, at least you know Tuesday will come around again in 6 more days. Additionally, instead of getting out the Swiffer duster day after day, you’ll only be getting it out and putting it back ONCE a week.
Step 6: If your map is overflowing, you NEED to delegate. Delegating is hard for people. We like control. We like things done our way. But other people are just as capable as us. The end result might not be EXACTLY the same, but the differences are worth the ENERGY you were able to conserve by handing off that job to someone else. Case in point: cleaning baseboards. I’m not a stickler about this, but I like to make sure there isn’t a ton of dust left in clumps. My kids like to clean baseboards too. Their standard of “clean” is very different. But if I let them do it 3 out of 4 weeks a month, three magical things happen:
- I save myself the energy.
- They have a good old time with my Norwex cloths.
- The baseboards get cleaned more often. I know I’m not alone in this. If I demand on doing the task all on my own, I might not actually get to it at all for several weeks on end because I’m busy. But if I let others help me, at least SOMETHING is getting done and some is better than none.
Let go of the pride, share the responsibility with others, and quit complaining about how much you have to do all by yourself. Sure there are things only you can do, but those are few and far between. LET GO and don’t look back. Simply enjoy the extra 15 minutes you found today because you released control of a task that really wasn’t life and death.
Some other tasks you can delegate are:
- Laundry (collecting, sorting, loading, running, swapping, folding, returning)
- Meals (meal planning, list prep, grocery shopping, putting groceries away, getting out ingredients, meal prep)
- Vacation Planning (identifying available dates, scouting hotels/restaurants/activities, packing, driving/flying schedules)
- Bill Paying (collecting the mail, sorting mail, identifying bills to pay, paying, filing/discarding)
If you've got preschool or school-age children in the house and are curious as to what tasks would be age-appropriate delegated activities, check out these lists by CleanMama.net. In order to hand off some of these chores to children, I recommend Norwex cleaning products that are safe for children.
As you delegate, be mindful of the systems in place. Your spouse, partner, roommate, or child may use a different system than you to accomplish the same task. That’s OK. If you want to curb overwhelm, you’re going to have to be teachable and gracious.
For more information on Time Blocking in the office, check out this short video and this blog post.