How many times do you say: “I wish I had more time. I wish I could work more on my passions and projects. I seem to be handcuffed. I’m so busy with day-to-day stuff, maintenance work and trivial things that I don’t get to work on what I really want to do.”
The issue is that you know that these day-to-day things really need to be done, the sooner, the better. Otherwise, later:
- It will cost you more money
- It will all pile up and it will become one big mess
- It will take much more time to get things straight again
- You will be in trouble
Anyway, the main reason for doing this day-to-day and maintenance work is that if you don’t do it now, it will be worse afterwards. And what about your passions and other projects that you want to work on? You put them off to one lost hour on a Sunday afternoon. How sad!
Do you know what you’re doing?
How many hours per week do you spend on day-to-day work? Let’s do a small exercise. For one average week and one average weekend, you create a log of all your activities and write down everything you do and how long it takes.
Then after one week, when this is done, you group all your activities in different categories: Sleep, morning routine, lunch/dinner, sports, cleaning the house, washing clothes, garden, job, money administration, passion project #1, #2 etc. You get the idea.
The next step is to add up all the time spent per category. You will be surprised at what takes up your time.
Then, you split the categories into day-to-day work (maintenance) and passion projects and look at the totals. How much time per week do you spend on day-to-day and maintenance work? Now you probably understand why you get just one hour on a Sunday afternoon for your passion projects.
Are you shocked? I was, when I did this exercise. For myself, I found out that I have a minimum of 28 hours a week on top of eating, sleeping and morning routine. 28 hours a week that I have to spend on day-to-day stuff. That is 4 hours a day!
What can you do about it?
First of all, day-to-day and maintenance tasks are usually not the most interesting things to do but they are necessary.
You need to ‘maintain’ yourself: Sleep, shower, eat, drink, keep your body in good health. This is critical! Doing sports can be one of your hobbies but it is also part of this.
You need to keep your clothes and your house or apartment clean. You need to pay bills and do some personal administrative work to keep your finances healthy. These are high priority.
How much time do you spend weekly on all of this? Can you have the same result in less time? I bet you can. Be aware of how much time you spend on day-to-day things. Here are some ideas:
- What is the time you need to do something and from which moment on is it just ‘nice’ to spend more time on it?
E.g. Taking a 5 minute shower is usually enough, but staying longer feels very nice. Grabbing a cup of coffee and something to eat is enough to have a 15 minute breakfast but taking an hour of your time and having breakfast with your family is nice.
- Look at what the degree is in which a task is done.
E.g. Are you busy for hours, cleaning your car every week? Cleaning the outside, the rims, the inside, the dashboard, carpets etc.? Does your car really need to have an in-depth clean every week?
- Realise that everything you have, needs to be maintained.
Do you have another house or a cabin, in the mountains or at the seaside, for yourself or to rent out? It has to be maintained and it gives you more administrative work. A choice to make.
- Also clutter needs to be ‘maintained’ in a certain way.
Clutter takes up space and that space needs to be cleaned. And, it takes more time to clean a cluttered room than one where things are arranged and neat.
- Realise that the end result of any project needs to be maintained as well, even if you finished or closed that project.
E.g. Even if your project is completely virtual and the result is a folder with computer files, they need space on a hard drive, you need to back them up, keep them away from malware etc.
- How many hobbies do you have, sports, music, arts and crafts, etc.? Each of them creates day-to-day and a kind of ‘maintenance’ work.
E.g. If you play the piano, or another musical instrument, you need to practice every day. If you like painting, all your paintings need to be stored somewhere, and you need to dust them off regularly. And your sports gear? You need to keep it in good condition.
A few more tips
It’s easy to say: “Just limit your day-to-day work”. I guess you’re already doing that, in one way or another.
You can check out a blog post that I wrote previously on “How to optimise your day-to-day work”.
Spread the day-to-day and maintenance tasks that you need to do regularly, like daily, weekly or monthly, over more time. Do them every 2 days instead of daily, every 2 weeks instead of weekly. That way, at least every task gets it’s turn.
Be aware that when you close a project, that the end result, be it a product, a service or an activity, will be added to your day-to-day schedule and get into ‘maintenance’ mode. Something to think about!
And sometimes, you just need to give priority to a project over day-to-day work. It’s the only way to get to it.