I found out that trying to do too much without planning how best to accomplish it was like borrowing from a loan shark–it meant physical bankruptcy sooner or later. Nature may honor an overdraft for a time, but she extorts pay in the shape of wrecked health, discomfort to the family, and doctors’ bills. -Iowa Farm Woman, 1915
Does anyone in business (including the manager) enjoy working without a clear plan of work that needs to be done, where basic supplies are missing or in disarray, and every day’s schedule is hit or miss? Would you work for a company that managed the same way that you run your house?
Many of a housewife’s tasks don’t have clear deadlines so it’s easy to become casual about our work and not hold ourselves to schedules. It’s also the beauty of the job–there’s some flexibility and things aren’t run on a hard and fast schedule. After all, nothing tragic will happen if the curtains aren’t washed on Tuesday, However, if Junior’s bath keeps getting postponed and the cucumbers aren’t picked regularly, everyone will be sorry. There has to be a plan of sorts to keep things moving at a steady lope, so we’re not overwhelmed but also not living in oblivious denial of a disorganized life.
Modern-day research backs up Mrs. Iowa Farm Woman’s opinion that stress is responsible for a majority of cases of “wrecked health” and “doctor’s bills.” Even if the statistics are exaggerated, it’s still a staggering number. Stress manages to find us in plenty of ways and we don’t need our homes to be another source of it.
The Iowa Farm Woman continues:
I realized that rather than feel sorry for myself when the work pushed me, I should be ashamed of my bad management. Anyone can putter around all day with little to show for it, but it takes a smart woman so to manage her work by labor-saving methods that she can do all that is required and have leisure for the development of her better self and for acquaintance with her family.
Did it ever occur to you that an excessive workload is due to mismanagement?
Some days I have a clear plan and actually take the time to look at what I’ve written in my bullet journal. On those days I amaze myself. I get all my errands done, cook an extra meal for the freezer, return emails, and weed the herb garden.
On days when I don’t have a plan and approach the day willy-nilly, my list of accomplishments looks a lot different. It consists of making a dessert recipe that caught my eye on Pinterest (but don’t need), stalking a friend of a friend on Facebook, watching a tv show that really didn’t interest me but I couldn’t turn off, and sorting through half-done craft projects without working on any of them. I’m a champ at puttering with nothing to show for it. Even on days that I have plans, but can’t get them done because other things came up, I still feel successful because I didn’t waste my time.
The article mentioned that not every woman could afford “an electric iron, a power washing machine, or a vacuum sweeper.” We have infinitely more ways of saving time and effort than the women of 1915. But using them to our advantage so they truly save us time that doesn’t immediately get filled up by more work and responsibilities involves skill, planning, and of course, relentlessly refusing other time-absorbing options.
Housewifery done poorly is one of the most difficult, unfulfilling jobs there is. But a systematic plan that works for our own lifestyle will bring a measure of peace into our homes. More importantly, it will enable us to participate in one of the most sacred, well-known rituals in all housewife-dom, sitting around eating bon-bons. That’s what we’re known for, after all. It’s high time we found a way to live up to the stereotype.
I just read this as I sat for a minute after folding laundry, making two meals and clearing up both meals, doing four loads of clothes, cleaning a bathroom, helping a friend with a hemming project, caring for my animals, emptying trash…. and I’ll stop there…. and I still have eight hours left in my day to do what I wish! Meanwhile, a gal pal complains that she can’t get anything done, but she has no plan once she gets up, breakfasts, and dresses. She stays online, chats on the phone, and watches tv and then complains that she is a year in her new home and isn’t settled… I’m so tired at night, but so happy. My home is my kingdom and I am a happy queen!
I was nodding in agreement to your entire post. And might I add another big plus to sticking to a basic plan? The ability to skip an occasional day or even a week without chaos and guilt! When the house is taken care of faithfully- not perfectly, but faithfully- the occasional hiccup doesn’t cause a meltdown. For example, 3 yrs. ago, my husband and I both came down with a wicked flu and then pneumonia. While we lay around hacking and snuffling for a week, it was in a tidy home with clean clothes, frozen meals, and with my sick pantry well stocked! We took turns pushing the microwave buttons and pouring big glasses of water. When the breathing treatments and meds kicked in, I just eased back into the plan and did as best as able until I felt 100% again. No whining, no self anger, just the stupid old flu to deal with!!
On the fun side, if a friend calls to invite me somewhere, I can go without guilt knowing that everything is running smooth. Eating bon bons with a friend can be even more fun!
Very good point! I’d never thought of it like that, but you’re right. (Related to what you said, surprise company won’t cause utter panic!)
I love bon-bons and need more of them in my life!
Bon-bons need to be a regular habit for me!
I basically have a framework to build my day on–events that will take place at certain times (the Redneck gets up, leaves for work, comes home, church, etc). I know that I must have my tasks completed by the times set by these events. I do have days where I ‘putter’ (don’t you love that word?) or get distracted, but as long as the basics get done, I’m good with it.
Working around set times is helpful. I know I can get way more done when I know I have a deadline ahead; I struggle on days without deadlines. I also have a habit of overestimating what I can get done; it’s as if I think I will have superhuman efficiency if I plan a ridiculous number of tasks to do in a set amount of time. Someday I’ll learn. Maybe.
No honey, if you are like me–you probably won’t. 😉 The best thing about a set time schedule is that even when I am ill–like the past week–I can still get the basics done. I go on auto pilot, my body just sort of goes along with the muscle memory of feeding animals, preparing meals, laundry, etc. As long as those are done, I can collapse on the couch in between. I’m awake at 4 am now, because my set schedule says the Redneck will be home from work soon. After we visit a bot–I’m crashing until morning.
Are you bursting my happy little pipe dream of a perpetually smooth-running home?!?! (I know it won’t happen, either, in spite of my optimism.) It’s the auto-pilot part that I need to work on, but it’s an achievable idea! Thanks!