Chores and hobbies, a fine balance. Do you have what it takes to keep it and not lose your sanity?

In order to manage your time you need it to know where your worst of it goes. That time that you do not want to be spending the way you need to be spending it. That time that you dread and you wish to avoid. The time of chores.

The basic difference between chores and hobbies is your enjoyment. For some people cleaning house is therapy and for others, a nightmare. Work, which is for many a chore, is, for equally many, a pleasure. So to categorize anything in any of the two buckets, think of where things fall – for you!

Chores are often the easiest to identify. Some people take a lifetime to define their hobbies. That’s why so many switch and give their time to their hobbies late in life.

With chores, I find, there is tremendous value in moving ahead by doing one thing at the time and not too much ever day.

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Chores have that immense power to squash your reality. They fill time with tasks in need to be done over and over again with no avail; you set up a room perfectly only to have it snap right back into disarray minutes, hours, or days after. Like a nightmarish dream where you repeatedly escape from one room only to find yourself back in it.

Take the concept of workaholism – work addiction – for instance. It is defined as the compulsive want to work beyond the regular hours and independent of the financial need to do so but, it also has lack of enjoyment as a qualifier. That means that those that work for pleasure, are not workaholics. That makes perfect sense because that’s what makes work transition into a hobby. Think of a writer, a painter – do they paint for a paycheque? I think not. The act of pursuing their craft is what gives them pleasure. The paycheque is the bonus that comes with it.

The chores that you do,
are the ones that you have to do again
and again, a little while later

And then again and again,
As if you’ve never done them,

Yet you’re out time,
You’re out energy,
And you’re definitely out patience!

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One of the first prominent minds to bring public attention to the reality of chores was a woman chemist by the name of Ellen Swallow Richards. She was born in mid XIXth century, received her early education mostly at home and then, after attending the famous Vassar college, be the first woman to be admitted in the even more famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1873.

Along with (and not in conflict with) her pioneering work of encouraging women to enter the sciences, she was the founder of a new field at the time that she named Home Economics. It dealt with all things related to managing a home. In her era homes, and I’m referring to those of the high society, required a fairly intricate web of tasks in order to maintain not only them, but also the social status of the occupants.  Later, middle class started to evolve to a point where, with all the good things that it built up, it also grabbed some bad strays along the way. As a result, middle class homes suffer the most from the burden of chores: there are not enough funds to secure help, yet the status-homes are too big to properly and easily be taken care of without a substantial amount of time assigned to the tasks required.

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As I stare at a pretty 50’s add I nod with disbelief.  “Somebody who’s this happy doing laundry is just wrong. Just wrong.”

When did these chores appear in one’s life and is it the same for men and for women? I think not. As a norm, the balance is shifting, but it’s still far from where it should be. And part of that is our fault.

Because we, women, we just do them. Unquestioning. We’re, in fact, so accustomed to the beautiful, clean house, the spotless kitchen, the folded laundry that we come to believe that we actually need that, that we want that more than anything, and that is worth pursuing at any cost. Often giving up the dream, giving up hobbies, giving up our prime daytime energy for the sole purpose of experiencing the pure bliss of a perfect home.. for the few seconds that we will have it, before it all becomes a mess again.

We are almost culturally programmed to believe that we cannot achieve our own bliss unless we slave away at it, that we cannot function, unless everything is perfect. Well, I’ve got news for you. It is not further from the truth. One can definitely function as well in a messy house as in a clean one.

The more you chore yourself away, the less you bloom. The more you give yourself to others, the less you have left for yourself.

It’s only a matter of resetting your perception and prioritizing and you can turn things around. Is your home conducive in minimizing your weekly chores and how can you make it more so. Resetting your perception is somewhat harder, so for now, let’s focus on the latter: once you organize your time, your’e halfway there.

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For what is time management really other than placing your time in what you want to place it.

So with that let’s look at how to divide chores not in terms of what the household needs but in terms of what you need

Grant yourself daily the “Me” time, and feel free to substitute things true to your heart:

1st priority

2 to 5 hours for … writing or whatever is that you love doing
1 hour for grooming
3 hours to get ready and go out with friends, spend time with family, or exercise and get active (since these don’t need to be dailies, they can be a bit interchangeable)
5 hours for work – yes, … 8 do not really fit..on average.. (so it really helps if you love your work!)
1  to 2 hours to.. read… or some other activity that makes you learn new things or stimulates your brain (more on this one later, can’t emphasize enough how important this is to a healthy mind)
7 to sleep


2nd priority

Chores / Daily .15 minutes to one hour, depending on the day, week, month, you do the math.
Emergencies  – well these are curve balls, hopefully not too many…
Seasonal – as little as possible, yet why would we shuffle seasonal clothes or dishes, if not for the pleasure and surprise of feeling the novelty of what we’ve owned for a while? Let’s not let that become our imprisonment.


This article first appeared in My 2 cents on design
how to curate a better lifestyle through design
part of  ATTENTION \\ a DOCHIA FOCUS monthly lifestyle series

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