I was up late the other night, working, and when I finally rolled up to bed, I was upset that I hadn’t gotten enough work done. But I was wiped out, battling yet another cold, and really needed to sleep.
The next morning, I reassessed my to-do list.
What was crossed off: Edit articles, write blog post, update journalism blog, unload dishwasher, make pumpkin bread, reload dishwasher, fold laundry, put away laundry.
What wasn’t: Prep interview questions, test product, write review, clean downstairs bathroom, clean upstairs bathroom, clear off dining room table, take books to library, clean kitchen.
On paper, it looked pretty good: eight down, eight to go. But I still, somehow, felt like I had wasted time the night before when I should have been working.
And then I realized… for some reason, there were certain things I’d had crossed off that I wasn’t counting as work. Things like “make pumpkin bread” and “fold laundry.”
Interestingly enough, when someone else is doing all of that stuff I totally consider it work. But when I’m doing it? It’s something else. Not work. Not life, either. How am I supposed to find work-life balance when there’s this other category in the way?
Maybe what I really need to be seeking is work-work-life balance. Because the laundry, the cleaning, the paying of bills? I know that’s part of life, but I feel cheated to think that I’m slogging through work in order to make more time to savor doing all of that.
The galling thing about the work that I wasn’t thinking of as work is that it never gets done. I mean it’s never over and done with, it’s just done for now. There’s always more laundry, more cleaning, more bills… those things never move off the to-do list permanently, whereas my “work” work does. Once that article is written, it’s written. Once the laundry is done, it’s just a matter of days — sometimes hours — before it has to be done again (hey, I have small kids).
So when you’re thinking about work-life balance, where does the housework fall?
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