I saw this post recently by “Jonnie Hallman” @destroytoday and reply by “shine a light” @rknLA.
Household management is no easy feat, and it takes practice, but the good news – with a little consistency, and yes, a little pain, it can be done.
With respect to @rknLA, I do think we’re able to accomplish all of this, and more, with our week – but the answer comes with a little pain: you have to be regular, and do it consistently. Here is a breakdown of our daily routine, from the both of us.
Top 5 important tips to keep on top of your day
#1. Take more breaks – and then use them.
The work day can be long – for us, it’s anywhere from 10 to 12 hour days, and that’s just the day job. So contrary to intuitive sense, we suggest taking more frequent breaks – at least one an hour. They can vary in duration and frequency throughout the day.
Why? Because more breaks from work gives you both a mental and physical health boost – and allows you to take stock of the rest of your life. The physical benefits give you space and distance from what can otherwise be all encompassing and consuming – and once work becomes consuming, you definitely won’t be thinking about anything else.
It can be a good time to think to do that pesky chore you’ve been putting off, or a great time to get the dinner stock going – essentially, in short, it allows a lot more multi-tasking.
And employers today are realising this, even before the working from home trend due to the pandemic – that people need to tend to their personal lives, as well. Many large firms have been touting the importance of flexible working – that is, designing your day around your work – and with working from home being more prevalent than ever, it’s a great way to get more things done.
Even if before the pandemic, when working from home was far less available, and for workers who must work in an business environment, the same applies: take more frequent and shorter breaks and use that time to tend to other components of your life.
#2. Break apart tasks into smaller tasks done more frequently.
On a daily, weekly, montly basis – clearing chores can be seen as progress over a month, not necessarily over a week.
Some chores are daily, and some are weekly – but some can be broken up into micro-chores. So you’ve been needing to clean the kitchen – we recommend breaking it up into components like: surfaces, floors, organisation of cabinets, fridge, etc. – which you can do in separate, smaller sessions. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but break apart a larger chore into smaller chores done over time. And then do it consistently.
For example, spending 5 minutes after you’ve finished cooking to wipe down the counter and hob, rather than leaving them until the weekend will save you so much time – its always easiest to clean these things straight away before they dry!
#3. Think ahead.
Maybe goes without saying, but everyone should wake up each morning and by the time they’re showered and ready to get started for the day, they should have already recited the day’s list in their head. If you know what you need to achieve that day it is so much easier to just get it done – often we imagine things to be bigger and worse than they really are, but just add it to your list and tick it off.
So there’s daily lists, but there are weekly and monthly lists, too.
#4. Buy bulk, strategically.
It never ends, right? Well, why not get the jump on routines that you know will keep continuing? When you’re doing a shop, why not buy a few extra of the items you know you’ll keep using? We recommend doing this in particular when you spot an item on offer, so you can maximise your budget, as well.
#5. Be consistent.
Probably the most important piece of advice, which we save for last – and probably the most painful and difficult. It’s the most important because all of the above advice becomes worthless if you don’t keep the routine up. We think long term consistency will always be number one.
It’s also the hardest, and the reason why people seem to think a manageable household is unattainable – because, unfortunately, things pile up and start to become insurmountable.
Mountains out of molehills!
Consistency comes from valuing the development of good life habits. It comes from the boring, the mundane; it comes from going to bed regularly, and waking up early. If these are less of a priority for you, then it’s easier to slip and not be so consistent.
A example of our daily routine
0630-0730 – exercise
We are both early risers, which means using this time to get some exercise in is easy for us, but taking the time to get your body moving really does set you up for a day of success.
0800-1800 – work
Lunch in between – comprises ready cooked chicken and prepped groceries, soups, etc. quick cooks. We also sometimes try to cook a little extra of something at dinner which can be turned into the next day’s lunch: some extra protein to add to a salad for lunch, some leftover rice which can be turned into a quick egg fried rice, etc.
Part of our Sunday night ritual is to plan out the meals for the week. This means we don’t spent time each day asking ourselves “what are we going to eat tonight?”. Typically the menu is a mix of meals which are quick to cook – stir fry, pasta etc. and those which are more of a slow cook. The benefit of these slower cooked meals is that they can be spread throughout the day – marinade the protein in the morning, slow cook in the afternoon evening while on a work call or doing an after work yoga class.
1900-2000 – dinnertime
The highlight of the day – an hour spent eating good food and catching up with each other’s day on work, goals, or even just the day’s news.
2000-2130 – alternative work or projects
This is not something we do every day, sometimes its time spent watching TV or FaceTiming family, but if we have projects that we are working on this is when we usually do them. Even just an hour spent on something during the week can really be productive.
Our own views – hear it from us at Pair Shaped
But you’re a couple! It’s easier as a couple. That’s the whole point of the tweet.
Yes that’s true now, but we weren’t always together. We’ve had to figure this all out on our own, before we got together. And the tips we’ve provided aren’t rocket science – anyone can suss these out, it’s just the matter of applying the consistency part that’s difficult.
There were times in my life when my career took over my life – months on end doing 100, 120 hours a week, at the office – so I know what it’s like to have no extra time. And still, I managed to have clean clothes, and eat, and get chores done – barely.
What’s your advice for meals and groceries?
I’ll be honest, I had to cut a lot of corners – but I’d still get to the grocery store once a week, though I’d fill up on quick and ready meals that I could pop in the microwave, or grab frozen veg. There’s pre-diced herbs like frozen chopped garlic and veg these days – all really convenient for someone without time.
My biggest problem was being able to cook – so in addition to ready meals, I’d supplement with a rotation of a couple of steady, no frills meals (like tuna pasta, or “dirty” spag bol – which is cooked up ground beef chucked in with some ready sauce, and seasoned to taste somewhat fresher). My go to dish? Was a simple protein (like roasted rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked chicken breast, or mackerel fillets that just need heating) and rice and frozen broccoli. Quick meal in 20 minutes.
Something that we have set up since living together is a weekly recurring grocery delivery slot – quite a lot of the items have made it into our favourites, so we order the same each week. This saves time on going to the grocery store – I can easily spend an hour wandering around grocery stores deciding what to buy, but now we just do it all online – a 5 minute job.
Sleep early, and rise early?
I sleep less, and sleep lightly. My mind is always racing.
We have different wake up times. I usually get up earlier, anywhere between 0400 to 0600 am, depending on how active my mind is and what time of year it is. In the summer I usually get up around 4 or 5, and the latest is around 0620 am. This gives me an extra couple of hours in the morning, when I’m most productive and my mind is most free and nimble, and I always dive right into the laptop for a few hours to get a head start on projects.
When in the thick of my investment banking career, sleep was a variable – and this was not only sad, but really detrimental to my routine. But even when I was not getting sleep, I would always be up early
I’m definitely someone who needs sleep (who else is in the 8 hour club like me?!), so I cant function like Elliot on less sleep. But I am a naturally someone who wakes up early, so I try to make the most of this “extra” time in the day – I’m so much more productive first thing than I am at the end of the day.