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The work that’s stressing me out isn’t all “work”

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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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3 comments so far...

  • I feel the same way. I don’t consider housework work. it’s crazy. I think when you feel this way it’s time to hire help. If you feel that your time is worth a lot more then folding laundry or cleaning then consider hiring someone to do it for you.

    For example, if you make $50 dollars an hour through your freelance projects and can hire someone for $15 dollars to clean, then I think it’s worth it.

    Vera Babayeva  |  November 20th, 2008 at 9:57 am

  • When I resolved that I would cut out cable before I would cut out the cleaning lady, I magically found a way to work it into the budget.

    SoftwareMom  |  November 20th, 2008 at 5:50 pm

  • I am trying with al my might to make housework into my daily routine. When I do my daily chores, the days go so much more smoothly, and I get so much more work work done. A couple of things that have helped are: never leaving the dishes overnight anymore, and doing a quick clean of the bathroom every morning (no more than 2 minutes), switching the laundry once a day, and spending 10 minutes straightening up the house first thing in the morning…Sometimes that’s all I do all week, and that doesn’t keep the house spotless, but it stays livable. I know exactly what you mean about not working so hard so that you can run around doing chores with your “free” time. Hope your stress level comes down!

    mamajama  |  November 21st, 2008 at 2:16 pm