I think the heart of the issue is that I've accumulated too many 'have tos'. I have too many regular activities, meaning that there's no space for anything else. An easy mistake to make when you only have four hours a day to get everything done, but a highly problematic one!
What should I do about this?
In the first instance, I've come up with a fairly simple plan. I've listed out all the things I do regularly and had a think about what I can stop doing. My idea at this stage is to cut out as much as I can, with the expectation that I'll later add back in anything I'm really missing. I've come up with an 'a list' of things that will be fairly easy to cut out and a 'b list' of things I could probably cut out if I had to. The 'a list' basically consists of things that don't really need to be done, whereas the 'b list' has on it things that do need doing but could be done by someone else. My hope is that I can fix my problem without increasing anyone else's workload, so for the moment I'm simply stopping my 'a list' things. That should save me just over 15 minutes per day.
I started trialling this a week ago, with the expectation that I'll try it for 6 weeks and see how it goes. One week in I'm hopeful :-) It's hard to tell as it was a week in which I was uncommonly ill, but I really appreciated being free of the mental work of trying to fit everything in. That was probably worth at least as much as the actual time saving.
In case you're interested, I've listed below my A and B lists of activities I could give up, as well as the full activity list.
A list: activities I can easily give up
- Stop making kefir. Every day I either take off or put on a batch, which takes about 5 minutes. A batch makes two glassses. I drink a glass of kefir every morning with one of my medications. For the next six weeks, I'll drink a glass of cordial then instead. This should save 3-5 minutes per day.
- Stop making bread for Martin. Every 7-8 days I make Martin two loaves of no knead bread, slicing and freezing one of those loaves the next day. Instead, for the next six weeks Martin will buy cheap high GI bread from the petrol station. This should save about 20 minutes per week.
- Leave out snack containers from beside the bed for Martin to refill. This should save about 10 minutes per week.
- Don't make salad. Normally I make a batch of salad about once per week which I eat with my afternoon tea. I'll eat a piece of fruit or a carrot at this time instead. I also generally sprout seeds to go in my salad, so I'll save time both on the actual salad and on growing the sprouts. This should save about 20-25 minutes per week.
- Don't make soy milk or pudding. I usually make soy milk once per week and, in the winter, turn in into a pudding. I developed this as a way to get the calcium and protein I need to snack on during the day whilst reducing our carbon footprint. Previously I'd been eating yoghurt or custard, and the change to soy milk or tofu-fa pudding saved us nearly 100kg CO2e per year. I'm disappointed to make this change, but there's no cheap and practical way for us to get soy milk other than me making it, so I'll be stopping for now and simply drinking a glass of milk a day instead. This should save me 25 minutes per week.
B list: activities that would be more complicated to give up
- Put away the plastic storage containers (3-5 min per day) - complicated as I'm the one with the right kind of mind to easily fit them all in!
- Soak and cook beans/chickpeas etc. for dinner (5 min. 2-3 times per week)
- Chop vegie sticks for eating as snacks with hummus (10 min, twice per week)
- Write shopping list for fruit and vegie market (3-5 min per week)
- Figure out meal plan and put away market produce (20 min, excluding 'mulling' time)
- Water indoor plants (10 min, once per week)
- Refill dry goods containers (3-25 min per fortnight)
- Make hummus (25 min every 5-6 weeks)
- Freeze meat (2+ sessions, each 5 min, done every 5-6 weeks)
- kefir off or on (3-5 min)
- sun (35 min)
- hair/teeth/dressed (10 min)
- pray through intercession list (40 min) - not done in an 'up time'. NB this is generally the second thing to 'go' if I'm not managing to keep up with things, so is probably only done about half the time.
- 'NT in 6 months reading' + pray (10 min) - not done in an 'up time'
- containers away (3-5 min)
Three times per week:
- exercise (25 min). NB this is generally the first thing to 'go' if I'm not managing to keep up with things, so is probably only done less than half the time.
- shower (10 min)
- water glasshouse (~8 months of the year) (5-10 min)
Two times per week:
- soak and cook beans (5 min active time but need to be in kitchen 3 times, once for ~20 min)
- refill snacks (5 min)
Every 4-5 days:
- chop vegie sticks (10 min)
- put on washing (5 min)
Every 5-6 days:
- put on sprouts for salad (3 min)
- make salad (20 min)
Once per week:
- wash hair (4 min)
- make soy milk (and turn it to pudding in winter) (20 min. summer, 25 min winter)
- market list (3-5 min)
- meal plan and put away market produce (20 min, excluding 'mulling' time)
- money stuff (our weekly accounts plus some checks for church) (20-25 min)
- put meat to thaw (2 min)
- request missionary prayer letter for church and/or edit one and send it off (20 min)
- talk to aid worker friend (45 min) - not done in an 'up time'
- water indoor plants (10 min)
4 times per month:
- blog post (hugely variable time-wise)
Every 7-8 days:
- make M bread (3 times, each 3-5 min, need to be around for 60 min at one of them)
- slice/freeze M bread (2 sessions, one 5-7 min, one 2-3 min)
Every two weeks:
- refill dry goods containers (3-25 min)
- put away 'awkward' groceries (5-10 min)
- lunch with parents (60 min)
- talk to cleaner (10-15 min)
- clear stuff for cleaner/put things away after (10 min + 5 min)
- talk with a friend (60 min)
- another two phone conversations (30-45 min each)
Once per month:
- monthly accounts (15 min)
Every 5-6 weeks:
- make hummus (25 min)
- freeze meat (2+ sessions, each 5 min)
Very occasionally (less than 2-monthly):
- make H bread (2 times, each 3-5 min, need to be around for 90 min at one of them)
- slice/freeze H bread (2 sessions, one 10 min, one 2-3 min)
- filing (25 min) - maybe 3 times per year
- GP (quarterly, 1 hour)
- dentist (twice-yearly checkups, 80 min inc. travel, + follow up appointments)
- wet wipes (3-monthly-ish, 10 min)
- face scrub (4-monthly-ish, 20 min)
- deodorant (6-monthly-ish, 10 min)