Where I am living right now in Guanajuato, Mexico we have a perfect bird’s eye view onto the roofs of the houses below us. Our building is situated on a steeply inclined callejón, looking out over the town below. The workout to get up there, ascending cobbled and pitted stairs, is quite a feat. My husband and I can feel the burn in our leg muscles and know we are getting in shape.
Yesterday morning, from our panoramic window we espied a young woman doing the laundry by hand. Some in this town do have washing machines, but it would appear that others do not. While this is not unheard of in a developing country, it led me to consider how we as women spend our time in more developed countries.
So let me ask, what chores or activities are you doing right now that you absolutely love or are good at? My mother, a teacher and working mother of two, used to spend Saturday morning hanging sheets on a clothesline. Even back then I asked her, “Mom, why are you doing this? You have a dryer right next to the washing machine. Why not use that?” My mother’s reply, “Honey, I love hanging sheets on the line. I love the smell when I go to bed at night of freshly cleaned sheets that have dried in the sun. It reminds me of my childhood.” Hanging sheets was a task my mother enjoyed and took great pleasure in. The day she had to sell her final home and stop hanging sheets on the line was one of the saddest for her.
Now that you have a list of all the tasks you do that you love or are good at, take a look at all those activities for which you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at. Many of you will be saying, “Yeah sure, those are just part and parcel of being a [fill in the blank].” Not so fast. The dirty little secret is that we as women get it into our heads, whether from our parents, partner, children, society, etc that it is our responsibility to shoulder these tasks. That is, flat out, not true, and it’s time to say NO to them!
We as women may not have as much choice about what the chores are, but in this day and age we certainly have a choice as to whether we do the task or not. So, if you’re willing, look over your list of activities that you either don’t want to do or are not good at, and complete the following steps:
- Identify those chores that absolutely MUST be done, and eliminate or significantly reduce the rest. There are a lot of chores we put on our plate, and the reality is that we don’t really need to do them. For instance, I don’t make my bed every morning. I know – horrors!! However, very early on I decided that it really wasn’t that important to me. Sometimes my husband does (Oh, sweet man!) but there are many times it just doesn’t get done, and the world doesn’t fall apart. And yes, of course we do make up the bed when guests will be seeing our bedroom, but that’s rather infrequently. Thus enabling us to almost eliminate this chore.
- Next, for those that MUST be done, determine which could be delegated. You don’t have to delegate them yet, just identify what they are.
- For this next step, use family, friends and others to come up with solutions for how to delegate. As an example, last year I was in the process of converting my office from semi-paper to electronic-only. There were stacks of paper that needed to be reviewed and scanned. While I didn’t love the task, I was very good at quickly diminishing the piles by reviewing them quickly. After discarding half of the pile, I was then faced with a stack needing to be scanned. Luckily, after sharing with my acupuncturist about the task ahead, she offered that she knew a few high school students who would be great for this task. She gave me their names, and within a week all the papers were scanned and ready. I also used them for several other chores around the house.
As you embark upon a transition or change in your life, there are going to be a myriad of tasks that need to be addressed. Realize this is not always work that you yourself must do. Figure out what is absolutely necessary, and then delegate as much as possible. Your time is too precious to be overburdened with useless chores that don’t feed your life.
ACTION: Write down your list of day-to-day activities, and determine which ones you love (or are good at), can eliminate, and can delegate.
Kathy Hart’s driving passion is human change and transformation. Her goal is to provide professional women in midlife (ages 40 – 65) with the support and resources needed to re-imagine and lead even more abundant, joy-filled and purpose-driven lives. If you are a woman wanting to reclaim your voice, realize a long-held dream, or just live your life to the fullest, take concrete action by contacting Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org. The choice is yours!
Services that Kathy offers:
- 1:1 coaching to support the next journey into your midlife transition
- Trusted advisor for leaders navigating work changes and requiring an expert guide
- Speaking and workshops on human change and transformation
- Small group work and team development to boost the group’s performance