You have big dreams about your career and lofty goals to chase to make those dreams come true. So, you must be wondering, when you are most happy pursuing these goals and working to achieve something big, why do you need to spend time on this post which as the name suggests is about Home Management skills.
You will soon see why.
Most of us begin adult life thinking that there is a Career journey and then there is Home Life. We also on occasions believe that these are two disparate lives that we need to navigate. As adult life unfolds you are faced with all its demands, priorities and associated stress, followed by the first adulting eye opener: How can you achieve anything big if you are getting overwhelmed by the day-to-day workings of life?
The answer is simple! Career & Home Life don’t work in silos. They are actually a continuum. Both have to work in perfect tandem for you to have a decent shot at success of any sort.
Before we go any further with this let us sort out some of the fundamentals and put this concept of ‘Home Management’ in context.
What is home management and why is it important?
Outside of your career there are a myriad of things (like cooking, cleaning, paying bills, laundry, managing your finances, selfcare, taking care of your kids, garden etc etc) that need to get done to help you focus on the uplifting priorities.
All these things are not just integral to the day-to-day working of life but also make life enjoyable. If you aspire for a life that is fulfilling it is important to understand that along with figuring out how to have a great career you also need to have a framework in place to manage the rest of your life smoothly. This post endeavours to lay out the framework to do exactly that.
- How to make sure your home is always well managed, tidy and efficiently organised. Breaking that down further:
- Organising & Decluttering
- Home Improvement
- How to organise key aspects of your life to avoid overwhelm. Breaking that down further:
- Festive occasions & celebrations
- Big projects
- How to make sure you are eating well, and meal prep is not chaos. Breaking that down further:
- Meal Planning
- Easy Recipes
- Healthy cooking
- Freezer cooking
- How to take care of yourself. Breaking that down further:
- Well being
- Exercise & Wellbeing
- How to better manage your time so that you are actually able to do it all. Breaking that down further:
- Create effective daily routines
- Develop habits that will support the rest of your life
- Life planning
I know, I know! That list is a long one and does seem overwhelming!! But long is good as that also means it is a comprehensive list and we haven’t left anything out that will come back and haunt us later.
How to set up a Home Management system?
So let’s get started with addressing the HOW part of this. My approach to doing it is very simple. It is the same approach that I take to solving any problems in the workplace:
- Firstly, design a system. Ensure that the system is as simple as possible and easy to implement
- Then automate all the things that can be automated
- Next delegate whatever can be delegated
- Lastly, address the things that can neither be automated or delegated with routines that can be put in implement-rinse-repeat mode.
Step 1: Design a System
In making out our list above of things that you need to know how to do, we have already done the first part of designing a workable system, which is to prepare a comprehensive list of everything that needs to be done.
The next step would involve two options. If you are a pen and paper, planner kind of person get yourself a good life planner or a home management binder and get everything organised in it. There are several excellent options available in the market:
- First on the list would be this beauty. Amy Knapp’s Family Organizer covers most of the things we need and comes beautifully designed.
- MPP Notebooks has a massive collection of pretty planners to suit every section of your Home Management System. You can pick and choose the planners you need to make a bundle for yourself.
- Paper & Oats has some of the best household planners in the market. Their range covers everything you will ever need, can be printed at home and is just so easy on the eye as well as pocket.
- Purple Trail is the only one on this list that gives you the option of getting a custom planner for yourself. Isn’t it exciting that you can have a customised planner built just for you with whatever pages you want.
- The Living Well Planner from the Living Well Shop has been designed with Home Management in Mind. It takes a simple approach and is effective in meeting your objective.
Remember that a planner or a binder while more thorough, is a more involved and elaborate way of doing this and is therefore likely to take more time.
The second option is something simpler and quicker. If the idea of a big planner causes overwhelm (yes that too can happen!) I have put together a simple a ready to use Trello based Home Management System that will get you organised super quick. You can hit the ground running with this. It’s something that I use regularly. It works perfectly for me as I can access it on my phone or any other device while on the move and it is so simple to follow.
OUR HOME MANAGEMENT TRELLO BOARD WILL HAVE YOU ORGANISED IN NO TIME
Step 2: Automate
The objective of this exercise was to ensure that you have time and the bandwidth to pursue your big goals. So, this step is critical. We will go about identifying all the jobs (big and small) that can be automated to save you loads of time and /or run your life more efficiently. Take a highlighter of any colour of your choice (mine is blue), run through your Home Management Kit and highlight all the jobs that can be automated. Be imaginative, think outside the box and you will find a lot of jobs that can be automated, partially or fully. To give you some pointers, here are a few things that I have automated:
- I use a robotic vacuum cleaner to clean my house. Really good robotic vacuum cleaners are available for a couple of hundred dollars. I feel like my ROI on this is very high for the time and energy it saves me.
- A dishwasher, if you have one installed, is extremely handy and time saving. Use it to free up precious minutes every day.
- Automatic garden watering systems are also a huge time saver if you have a garden (even something in your balcony). You could set them to water your plants when needed and even respond automatically to weather conditions so that you are not watering the plants on a rainy days.
- Mail Chimes that tell you when there is new mail in your post box
- Smart home gadgets as simple as a plug, that can brew coffee for you in time for breakfast, start up the instapot in time for your arrival home and so on.
- Gadgets are not the only way to automate the running of your life. In today’s digital age there are several other tools that you could use to make things easier for yourself. Simple things like:
- Setting auto debits and standing instructions for the payments (like monthly bills, rent etc) you make with specified periodicity.
- You could even look at automating your investments etc. The following book is an excellent resource on this subject I Will Teach you to be Rich
- Using online shopping options for things you buy regularly, like groceries, medicines etc. You can further reduce the time spent by using the shopping list tool that most online retailers provide.
These are just a few of the ideas that are possible to help you get started. Once you get started in this direction there are a lot of other such measures that you can eventually implement to make life smoother for yourself.
Step 3: Delegate
Once you have automated everything that can be automated the next step is so to see if you can delegate. The idea that we could delegate some of our daily chores is a little shocking to most of us. But look around you and observe the most successful women in your workplace, the ones who seem to have got it all together. You will find that they have figured out the concept of buying back their time. They have figured out how to free up their time and energy to focus on the goals that really matter to them the most.
According to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, using money to buy time can protect people from the detrimental effects of time pressure on life satisfaction.
There were several aspects to this study, but what stood out was this particular example.
As part of the study, the researchers recruited 60 people and gave them cash on two weekends and instructed them to spend it in two different ways.
On the first weekend the participants were given 40$ and told to spend it on anything that would give them free time. Subjects chose several different services that helped their lives be more convenient, ranging from cleaning services to meal deliveries.
On the second weekend the participants we given another 40$ and asked to spend it on material purchases. Participants purchased things like polo shirts, fancy wine and so on.
After these weekends, the subjects were asked how much “positive emotion” they experienced on both weekends and which weekend they would rate higher on this parameter. Participants ended up reporting better experiences when they bought back their time!
This part of the study highlights very clearly how when you get back time, you can spend it on things that really matter to you and in turn feel more fulfilled and happier. The lack of worry on the small little time wasters adding up accounts for a lot of that feeling of happiness.
Plus, you can use that time to invest in other income generating activities like a freelance side hustle or your own business and make even MORE money.
There is however a blocker to this logically perfect scenario. As said by Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and a co-author of the above study put it “Contemplating paying somebody else to do something you’re perfectly capable of doing yourself may provoke feelings of guilt,”
We live in a culture where most of us would not hesitate to upgrade our phone to the latest model or buy the latest TV. But when it comes to spending money on time saving services we are hesitant and hounded by guilt.
Don’t be one of those people. If you can afford it and find that you will get a good ROI from spending money and buying back time, go for it!
Some of the most obvious things that you can look at delegating based on your individual situation are:
- Home cleaning services
- Food delivery of freezer meals
- Meal kit services
- Gardening like lawn mowing etc
- There are services (Amazon Home Services, Task Rabbit) available to do mundane one-off activities like wrapping Christmas presents and so on. Use them.
- If you want to go one step further hire a Virtual Assistant aka VA to do some jobs for you. If you are wondering how a VA can help you, here are some examples:
- research for party bookings
- shortlist birthday gifts
- send thank you cards
- the list of things a VA can do is endless and limited by your imagination
Step 4: Routines
Now that we have finished with our decisions on automating and delegating you will find that you are left with a handful of activities that need doing and that you need to address yourself. Ideally this list of activities should consist of things like:
- Medical related activities
- Exercise & Wellbeing
Those are just a few things that you will most likely end up not automating or delegating. But you get the drift on the kind of activities that are left with you. You will find that a large part of the activities under each of these heads are repetitive in nature.
My experience has been that when something is repetitive in nature, I am most likely to do it regularly if I make it a part of my routine. A good example would be exercising. I love to get exercise into my routine at least 3-4 days in the week. Each exercise session typically lasts for an hour. When I first started exercising (not so regularly), I started out by thinking that I would squeeze in this one hour as and when I could. Can you guess what was the outcome? At the end of month one I had managed to squeeze in 5 sessions against a plan of 12-16. Goes without saying that was an absolutely lousy start to getting fit.
When I looked back over the month it occurred to me that I had never really slotted out time to exercise. On the days that I had budgeted time, inertia had set in and I had come up with excuses to not exercise by saying that other activities needed my attention more.
This situation I am sure is very common and happens to most of us. The best way I found to get around it is to make exercise a part of my routine. Routines by their very nature don’t require you to think much about them and because of that provide structure to your day. As a result of this they help you to work at a much higher level of efficiency and prevent you from feeling that you have struggled through a poorly planned day.
Routines on some of these essential life activities will turn them into habits and help you take one step at a time towards your goal. So, for month two, I decided that I would exercise every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday at lunch time. Lunch time was already a part of my routine. Tagging exercise to my lunch break therefore had a double advantage. This automatically meant more efficiency. I didn’t have to spend time thinking when I would exercise. On the designated day my gym kit or running kit would be kept ready as part of laying out my clothes daily night. I just had to get into them and go on a run or to the gym (depending on what I was feeling like doing).
The second month went much better. I still didn’t make 16 sessions. But I did get to 12. The funny thing is that after a couple of more months, while I had added one more activity into my day, I somehow felt that I had set myself free. I had slowly but surely taken steps towards one of my goals.
Here is my most important insight on the subject of routines. PICK ONE ROUTINE TO START AT A TIME. THEN ADD ONE MORE. SLOWLY YOU WILL BE DOING MORE THAN YOU IMAGINED YOU COULD.
That’s a lot of information in one. If you are feeling overwhelmed by it all, let me leave you with a few thoughts that will put this in perspective:
- GET STARTED: It really is the case that once begun is half done
- AUTOMATE & DELEGATE is COST VS BENEFIT: How much you choose to automate, and delegate should be a function of cost (both money & stress) vs benefit (benefit here being time which you will use for other things). Weigh that up before deciding
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL: Yes, the list does seem long. Remember no one does it all. So, start with the most essential and then work towards as much as you can.
- IT GETS EASIER: Remember to start a step at a time as it really does get easier with time. Routines will come to your aid.
DON’T FORGET TO DOWNLOAD THE EASY-TO-USE HOME MANAGEMENT TRELLO BOARD BY USING THE SIGN-UP FORM ABOVE. IT REALLY WILL MAKE GETTING ORGANISED A LOT EASIER & QUICKER!
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