Friday, 8 November 2019

Running our lives

Apparently the administration of our own lives is increasing: an article in the Guardian seemed to imply that it was becoming overwhelming (Jones, 7 September 2019). A lot has been written about how 'busy' we are, which is somewhat contested by Pearson (21 October 2015). There is interesting research using diaries, from the 1930s through to today, logging hours spent in a number of activities which provides a fascinating insight into how we really spend our time. It appears that we FEEL busy rather than actually being busy. It may be that it is the weight of tasks that we think we have to tackle which is inspiring paralysis; or it may be that being busy is an aspirational thing which becomes self-fulfilling (Pearson, 21 October 2015).

However, I personally feel that there is more in our lives today which we need to keep track of than was so for our grandparents. We now have insurances for everything we can think of; we have to schedule checks for diseases now that were barely discovered in our grandparent's time; we need to manage our retirement plans; we need to track our investments; we need to continue to upskill; we have longer commutes; we have more sedentary jobs but need to find time keep fit; we expect to eat better quality meals made from higher quality materials; we need to look after both our children and our parents at the same time, with fewer siblings to share the load; and we simply expect to be able to DO more: we think we can do three jobs at once - to work AND run a house AND be a parent. Our to do lists go on and on and on...

We live in a time of affluence and a time of many choices. I personally suspect that  we need to make some decisions about just how many things we want to pack into our lives, and to simplify or streamline where we can.

We also expect a high standard of living. We expect to live longer and be healthier for longer than our parents, and definitely longer and healthier than our grandparents. To do that, our lives require active management. So the Guardian article (Jones, 7 September 2019) has some valuable tips on getting our sh*t together, to which I have added my own flavour:
  1. When we have a task that needs doing, diarise the most important ones and set them up to repeat. Use Google calendar and invite everyone who has skin in the game to the event. If it is weekly cleaning, washing, car servicing, certifications or policy renewals, add them to the diary and invite all involved participants. First in does the paperwork and files it.
  2. Speaking of paperwork, file it all online in a shared Google drive. Teach everyone to file items logically and to name them logically so you can find the things you need when the world goes pear-shaped around you.
  3. Assign the whole task. If someone is the person who does a task automatically, create a reminder for it, and any associated stuff around it. For example, if one person puts out the bins, ensure they are the ones who know they have to add the bin liners to the household shopping list when stocks are getting low.
  4. Speaking of shopping lists, set up a family shopping list using an app like Bring (here). You can share one shopping list, and anyone can add to it. It is customisable. You simply tap on an item, then tap it off once purchased. It makes it easy to see who has got things covered when life is complicated.
  5. If you hate doing tasks, outsource them. Get cleaners in. Get window cleaners in. Get gardeners in. Pay the garage to pick up the car, service it and drop it off again afterwards. Pay to have your groceries dropped off. When you buy your new jeans, drop them off at the tailors to have them taken up on your way home. Buy a meal delivery service. Pay an accountant to do your income tax. Whatever it is that you loathe, pay someone to do it, and enjoy the time that you release by doing something more rewarding.
  6. if you want to work fewer days, see if your workplace will let you do four ten hour days. Set aside the extra day for recreation only. See if they will let you do a job-share (explain the advantages of the extra cover).
We could feel endlessly busy, but we don't need to. We can do more planning, and make some decisions about where we choose to spend the precious hours of our lives. We can deliberately streamline

I am trying it. Good luck to all of you!


Sam

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