I need eight days a week. Or more.
August 7, 2012 4:01 PM   Subscribe

I don't understand how people with homes, jobs, kids, families, hobbies, televisions and pets DO everything. What am I doing wrong? Help me make the most of every minute!

I live with my boyfriend. We have no kids, no pets, no mortgage and no television. We don't party or travel and we don't have much of a social circle. Still, there never seems to be enough time for everything! The following numbers are all in rough, average terms:

Because of work schedules, we only ever get 6-7 hours of sleep a night (often even less). I commute about an hour a day round trip. I rarely work more than 8.5 hours/day (including 30 minutes for lunch). His work schedule will vary widely, from four 8 hour shifts one week, to six 11 hour shifts the next. He does the cooking, I do the cleaning. We spend 1-2 hours a day on breakfast and dinner together. I spend 1-2 hours a day on chores (laundry, dishes, basic cleaning, bills/paperwork) and generally clean more (vacuum, scrub the kitchen/bath) only when we have company, which happens usually once a month. We walk for about an hour roughly 3 times a week. We probably average an hour of sex each day. We see friends/family once or twice a week, very occasionally go to concerts, very sporadically work together on an ongoing hobby/project we enjoy (if we get to it for a couple hours every other week it's a lot).

I always feel shortchanged on sleeping, exercise, sex, socializing and our project - those things are always jockeying with each other for our time and attention. So I'm always short on sleep, sex and exercise, only get a chance to see one or two friends/family members each week (and they and I BOTH feel shortchanged on that), and I often think forlornly about the project.

I don't spend any time at all writing in my journal, or practicing my drums, or reading books, or planning and shopping for healthy meals.... and I really need to and want to.

And then there's a long list of things, mostly small projects/chores that would make my life better that I've been meaning to get to... for NEARLY THREE YEARS. (buy new car stereo speakers and have them installed, fix the car antenna, get a few pieces of clothing custom-made, replace the flash tube in my camera's speedlight, learn and practice more skills for work...)

Is it normal to always feel like there aren't enough hours in the day and there's a million things you just can't get to? What are your best methods for managing your time the most effectively?

(now if you'll excuse me I'll be at a birthday dinner for the next three hours...)
posted by thrasher to Grab Bag (54 answers total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
If you think 7 hours of sex a week is lower than average, you're mistaken. Most couples, when surveyed, report spending way less time on sex than that.

Walking at lunch might help you feel like you're making more time for exercise?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:06 PM on August 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

What are your best methods for managing your time the most effectively?

I stopped giving a shit about things I thought I was supposed to give a shit about.

One to two hours a day on chores? Chores that are not "completely clean the bathroom plus vacuum the whole house plus wash some windows"?

We've got a pile of mail on the kitchen table. There are some cat food cans that will need rinsing when I get home. There's a bowl and a pan left over from dinner last night. All of that will take me maybe 20 minutes to deal with. I folded laundry when I got home from work yesterday - maybe 10 minutes?

Either your chore-doing needs to get way more efficient, or you need to lower your standards, is what I'm thinking.
posted by rtha at 4:07 PM on August 7, 2012 [53 favorites]

Best answer: Also, maybe audiobooks if your commute is by car or otherwise doesn't allow you to read?

Batch cooking for the freezer is another way many of my friends save time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:08 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Outsource. Get a cleaning lady, send your laundry out.
posted by stellaluna at 4:09 PM on August 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

Do you use a calendar, or follow a schedule for things other than work?

My partner and I use Google Calendar, which we share with each other, in order to schedule and keep track of things we want to do.
We do this even though we live together. We have busy lives and scheduling makes things happen. People are constantly amazed at all the "fun things" that we're out and about doing, but the only way they happen is through managing our free time.
posted by smitt at 4:10 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes! There is only so much that a person can do.

That's why it's very important to do calculations like: is it worth my time and money to have someone clean my house once every two weeks, or every week? That math is personal and you will decide if it's worth it to you; it may not be appropriate in your case. But if it gives you an evening a week of drum practice? Then, AWESOME.

Uh, if I spend more than 20 minutes doing chores in a single day, it's a real blue moon. Somedays I spend 0 minutes on that!

And to overshare... if I was having an hour of sex a day, I would basically have to quit one of my jobs.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:11 PM on August 7, 2012 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Your priorities are in the right order if you're having that much sex.

Get rid of some stuff and be less anal about its organization, chore time will shrink.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 4:12 PM on August 7, 2012 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Is it normal to always feel like there aren't enough hours in the day and there's a million things you just can't get to?

Yes. Oh, my, yes.

The thing you need to do is take a deep breath and prioritize. Do you need the car stereo speakers installed more than you need to replace the camera speedlight? Or do you need to do the laundry more than either of those? Which comes first? Which can you maybe....give up on doing?

Prioritize, pick and choose. And don't worry about having to abandon some things. Either they can be returned to later, or you weren't meant to do them anyway. Or -- okay, this is a metaphor someone told me once that made me feel SO much better about things; think of the started-but-then-abandoned projects as "seedling fodder". In a forest, when a tree falls, that opens up a space for a ton of little baby trees to start growing. But, only a couple of those baby trees will actually grow all the way up into adulthood; the rest will get crowded out.

So it may seem like a waste that so many other baby trees will just die. What good are they? ....Actually, they do a lot - their dying and decaying is what nourishes the soil that fuels the trees that DO grow.

Same too with all those little projects that you want to do but never get to, the half-baked ones that you start out all excited about but then only after a couple days you're all "meh...." those ideas were never meant to go all the way into fruit. Those seedlings were never meant to be trees. They were meant to die and nourish the soil.

Spend some time prioritizing what you really want to do, and if the rest of it was destined to just be forest-floor nourishing, so be it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:13 PM on August 7, 2012 [21 favorites]

Best answer: small projects/chores that would make my life better that I've been meaning to get to... for NEARLY THREE YEARS (buy new car stereo speakers and have them installed, fix the car antenna, get a few pieces of clothing custom-made, replace the flash tube in my camera's speedlight, learn and practice more skills for work)

I make a list of these and use a tightly-planned vacation day every so often to knock them out all at once. It feels pretty righteous.

(Also, your chore time seems b-a-n-a-n-a-s to me.)
posted by *s at 4:14 PM on August 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

I think time is like money; no matter how rich you are, your lifestyle accommodates. People who make 50,000 vs 250,000 all live at the edge of their budget. They just buy different things.

Your life simply absorbs priorities as they become important. We are infinitely (and strong, amazingly) adaptable.
posted by Kronur at 4:25 PM on August 7, 2012

Yes, I am always adding more to my to-do list than I can possibly cross off. Did you hear about the busy working mom who would heat food for 1:11 or 2:22 in the microwave, because it took less time than typing 1:00 or 2:00?

I buy time during breakfast, though -- bills and meal planning while I eat a hard boiled egg or breakfast burrito or yogurt or fruit smoothie. In theory, you could eat during your commute and use the morning time for something that gets you ahead, so that your whole evening is freer.

Batch cooking is good too, even if you just do it once a week -- at least two other nights won't need cooking or a lot of dishes-washing. Bonus points if you batch-cook the same night you do laundry.

Another good strategy is to have your bill cycles shifted so that you only need to sit down and pay them once per month.
posted by xo at 4:29 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

+1 on outsourcing, if your budget allows it. One of the best things we ever did for our quality of life was hire a housekeeper and gardener and start taking items that need to be ironed to the cleaners (launder, not dry clean!!!). All of those were more affordable than I'd expected. We both hate cleaning the house, maintaining the yards and ironing, and it frees up our time to do stuff we'd rather be doing. Obviously we still have to do some chores around the house, including day to day cleanup (our housekeepers only come once every two weeks), but it saves us from the really time consuming stuff.
posted by primethyme at 4:30 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's normal, but holy mackerel you are doing a lot more with your days/weeks than I am.

I try to organize my time away from my work about the same as I do with the time I spend there -- I prioritize and I block out time. I make a lot of lists. I multitask like a fiend. I still never feel like I have quite enough time but it helps a lot. I remember that every week every thing on my list will not get done, and I accept that.

Also, are you doing all the chores you listed solo? Maybe split some of the responsibility up a bit more.
posted by sm1tten at 4:36 PM on August 7, 2012

I think people might be able to help find your lost minutes if you can actually show us a sample hourly schedule for an average weekday or two. I agree that 1-2 hours of chores is a lot, but maybe re-organizing the time you set aside for things like that will open up some free blocks in your schedule.
posted by juliplease at 4:42 PM on August 7, 2012

Based on what you wrote, you are spending 3-4 hours of quality time A DAY with your partner at least 3 times a week (1-2 hours at meals; 1 hour of sex; 1 hour walking). That's incredible. Is it possible your priorities are already in the right place, and you just need confirmation on that?

If you do need to shuffle things around, what about spending less time at meals and more time tackling small tasks & projects (with your partner, if possible)? Two hours for meals sounds like a lot, unless you're also including cooking time and I'm misreading. What about taking an hour once a week to make a dozen homemade breakfast burritos, then freezing them? Or making quick dinners, eating more leftovers, or picking up takeout once or twice a week?
posted by pecanpies at 4:43 PM on August 7, 2012 [17 favorites]

(Also, I agree with others above that giving us a sample daily schedule, accounting for every minute, would be helpful.)
posted by pecanpies at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2012

Normal? Yes. Good for you? Hell no. Many people deal by eating takeout, not cleaning, not sleeping, and not spending time with their families (especially children). This is obviously not ideal.

Outsource whatever you can afford to. Laundry, cleaning, whatever. Personally, I can't afford a chef and don't compromise on food quality and price so I still do my own cooking rather than eat takeout.

Minimize viciously. Less clothing means less loads of laundry, albeit possibly more often. Less tchotchkes mean less dusting. More electronic means less filing. Do not own anything you don't absolutely need, extra stuff just means more maintenance.

Lower your standards. Prioritize some things and let others slip a bit. Some things will not happen at all, that's okay. Cut loose any projects that are time sucks and unnecessary.

A time diary could be extremely helpful for self-analysis. If you can keep one for a week, or at least a typical weekday and weekend, that would be very illuminating.
posted by epanalepsis at 4:45 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm sitting here with two kids and don't get nearly as much done as you do. You get a lot done! There is never enough time, you just have to prioritize.

Consider spending a couple of hours on the weekend doing massive meal prep and freezing stuff, so that mealtimes are more leisurely during the week?
posted by ambrosia at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: Maybe check out 7 Secrets of the Prolific. It's specifically for people trying to find the time to write, but I think parts of it might be useful for more general time management.
posted by scody at 4:49 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

We probably average an hour of sex each day.

I always feel shortchanged on…sex

Wow. I take it you haven't been together that long? For most busy couples, an hour a day is a distant, half-forgotten folk memory.

It sounds to me like you are doing a lot of things very right, if you are energetic enough to be getting an hour a day.
posted by tonylord at 4:52 PM on August 7, 2012 [13 favorites]

Based only on my own life, I'd say you are spending a surprising amount of time on chores, as others have said. You guys spend more time eating than we do, but that might double as hanging-out-and-chatting-time, so I'm not sure there are big savings there, and you might be including cooking time, too?

Just to give another sort of schedule, my commute is about 15 minutes each way; I work a regular American work day; I do the cooking and dishes; either of us does the laundry as needed (but this takes almost no time, just putting clothes into and out of the machines and then folding after); sex happens in the evening and takes hours and hours and hours twenty minutes or so most days.

In other words, we get off of work, relax and hang out a bit together, cook dinner and eat together, read or hang out or watch a movie in the evening either together or in separate rooms, go to bed. I don't feel terribly pressed for time, but also don't feel like I have endless hours of free time, either. Weekends are for projects, more elaborate sex, hanging out with friends, fancy cooking ideas, things like that. And adding to one thing means compressing something else -- a day where we go on a long walk means a quick dinner from leftovers, or no evening reading, for example.
posted by Forktine at 4:56 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Develop a smart system for your home that allows you to take care of stuff in the moment vs. piling on and being a visible mess that requires an hour or two to get taken care of.
Like different laundry baskets where you can sort laundry as you go instead of before/after washing, boxes / tubs / drawers around the house where you put stuff away instead of leaving in on the coffee table, buy a dishwasher and unpack/pack it in the morning while bf makes breakfast, get an online account and set as many payments as possible on automatic instead of writing checks, order a csa organic fruit&veg box, take your journal with you and write when you have time for it, consider podcasts/audio books or an e-book reader that you can use on the go and so on.

Things like going to the tailor or bringing the car to the shop always require some planning ahead but can sometimes be take care of during lunch breaks.

Also think about the division of labor - is it fair the way it is or should/could your bf take over some chores. Could some chores be outsourced (once a week/month cleaning service)?

For seeing friends/family - maybe try some group meetings like potlucks or game nights where many people come together at once.
Hope you’ll find some time to relax as well.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:57 PM on August 7, 2012

You're spending way too long on cleaning and on cooking. We cook no meals in this house that take longer than 20 minutes to prep or than require turning more than once. We eat only fresh foods and eat very well. Also, bulk cook. You want sauces and soups and some home-prepared meals in the freezer.

We have a nice lady who comes and does a very mediocre job of cleaning our house once a week. It takes her 2 hours. We spend between 0 and 8 minutes a day cleaning. If we didn't have a dishwasher, add another 10. On the days we do laundry, add another 10. If we didn't have a cleaning lady, we'd still spend less than 1/4th the time you do.

Have you guys just moved in together or something? Are you in the phase where he's cooking impressive meals ever night, you're keeping house like Donna Reed and you're fucking like rabbits? Because the bad news is: that won't last. The good news is: you soon get to leave the house and have friends again soon!
posted by DarlingBri at 5:10 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Let's see, you're spending 6 hours a day on sleep, 9.5 hours a day on work and commuting, 1 hour on meals and 2 hours on chores, and 1 hour on sex. Let's say it's a walk day and add an hour for a walk. Total, 19.5 hours.

You have 4.5 hours unaccounted for every day, or 2.5 hours unaccounted for if you sleep an extra hour and eat dinner for any extra hour.

That's the time you should be using to do the things you want to do, if you want to keep everything else the same. However, I wouldn't advocate for that.

Personally, I spend 5 minutes each day on breakfast, maybe 20-30 minutes on chores. Dinner, I either spend an hour or two cooking something nice or going out, or we forage a couple of nights a week. If you emulated this, on foraging days you might have an extra 3 hours to work with! This time plus the other unaccounted for time could be used for journaling or playing the drums, etc. Just set aside some time that you plan to do these things, like "before I go to sleep, if I have 15 minutes, I'll write in my journal". Most people save projects like the "ones you've been meaning to get to for years" for the weekends or for other days off at home.

You might partially need to adjust your expectations. You are having more sex than probably 99% of America, and you still feel shortchanged on sex. You're getting at least 1-2 hours of exercise a day walking and having sex, but you still feel shortchanged on exercise (most people can't manage the 30 minutes recommended by the American Heart Association daily!). You're seeing family members on a weekly basis, many people go without seeing family for months. Expectations.

Also, you spend a great deal of time on things that are WANTS, not NEEDS, and the things you are hoping to accomplish with more time are also all WANTS - it's all stuff you'd like to do just for fun. You don't have to do it. You're adjusting your expectations so that however many things you are doing, you think you'd like to be doing more. But that doesn't mean you need to be doing more.

If I were you I'd make my first priority appreciating what I have, not taking your awesome-sounding life for granted and wishing it were better.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:11 PM on August 7, 2012 [11 favorites]

- multi-tasking (bath with baby, pump milk while working or relaxing; stroller walk for baby's nap is combined with a walk with a friend and is my exercise for the day)
- outsourcing (daycare, cleaning lady, peapod)
- eliminate extraneous tasks (gym on hold until no longer pumping)
- ruthless prioritization (always always first care for baby'sneeds, then my own needs, then our wants or chores)
- way less fucking around on the internet/in front of the TV, or just relaxing/having down time
- preparing meals ahead of time on the weekend and eating leftovers for the week
- tons of organization and pre-planning
- going at warp speed
- lowered standards for things like chores
- going to bed early to have energy for all this
posted by semacd at 5:13 PM on August 7, 2012

5:15 wake up, check weather, shower
5:30 pack baby's bottles and snacks, find clothes for me and baby, double check for keys, transit pass, wallet, microwave oatmeal while doing this
5:33 eat oatmeal
5:45-5:50 wake up baby, get baby dressed, feed baby
5:55-6:00 brush teeth, last minute check for things
6:00- 6:06 get out of the house
6:26-6:30 arrive at train station
6:22 or 6:45 take train (usually the 6:22 train is late when I happen to catch it)
6:58 or 7:20 arrive into city
7:01 or 7:23 catch subway
7:17 or 7:27 or 7:37 catch bus to daycare
7:35 or 7:45 or 7:55 drop baby off at daycare
8:15 or 8:30 arrive to work
4:00 leave work

Repeat above home

As you can see from just my morning, every single minute of my time is taken up by something. I only do laundry on the weekends. We maybe get the dishwasher run every other day, which shames me to no end, and we have very little time to do much than just go through the day. We use weekends to catch up on housework, errands, and yes, somehow, see friends and family. But mostly we spend it together as a family unit.

We, for example, prioritize taking the kids to the beach to cleaning up the toys. We choose to let our son take the lead on weekends about where he would like to go (within reason) since the weekdays are about us making him where we need him to go.

I probably spend maybe half an hour/weekday on chores, and those are usually the essentials of washing the baby's bottle for the next day and getting the kids bathed before bed if they need it. I usually have from about 8 or 8:30 until 9:00 or 9:30 for me things. But mostly it's that I've got nearly every minute of my weekday timed to the minute. Which reminds me it's time to get the baby down if not the toddler....
posted by zizzle at 5:21 PM on August 7, 2012

Honestly? It just happens. I remember being 25 and having this same conversation with a senior colleague at work: "I have no kids and I feel like I have no time for anything; you have three kids, how do you get so much done?" And he told me: it just happens. Tasks expand to fill the time you have, and when you don't have time, the tasks somehow happen faster. And yeah, you lower your standards. Who do you think buys the pre-cut vegetables in the grocery store? People with kids who used to never think they'd stoop so low.

One good way to get a grasp on how this works is to think back to high school. Didn't you feel like you had no spare time? Most people did. But looking back, isn't it obvious that you actually had a lot of spare time? High school you wouldn't be able to understand how current you does as much as you do, just like current you can't understand how future you is going to be able to handle all the stuff you have now, + kids. But you'll handle it.

Coming back to current you, I don't have so much advice, because it seems to me like the things you're spending time on are pretty solid. Sure, someone to clean is great, but unless they come every day they're not washing dishes for you, and it sounds like you're already very seldom doing any housework more hardcore than that. Electronic bill pay is in general much faster than doing it on paper, so that might be a time saver. Your commute is pretty long -- that would be a good place to get some reading done (on audiobook if you're driving, obviously.) An hour a day is way more than most people get to read!
posted by escabeche at 5:28 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Yes. Normal, especially given that you have an hour long commute, which is not really normal. Are you driving? Taking transit? Either of those is amenable to audiobooks or podcasts. If transit, you can knit or read. If you are driving, may I humbly suggest carpool and searching for a job closer to home? (Trust me, I know! The economy. Your passion! But...that hour and a half commute is costing you. If it's driving, it's very expensive. Your car is being trashed and that time is valuable. So is the gas. and if not having a mortgage includes not having rent...you might be ok with a lower paying job and smaller gasoline bill...)

For the chores, check out unfuck your habitat for some perspective. In my life, 20 minutes gets the kitchen clean. Dishes washed, leftovers put away, stove and counters wiped, floor swept, spots on floor wiped up if there are any. Another 20 minutes takes care of the rest of the apartment. Bathroom tidying, bed making, Cat litter scooping. On heavy days there is vacuuming or laundry, or a bar of soap to grate to make laundry soap. But each of those things takes...a few minutes at a time.

You can use the 20/10 method (or pomodoro technique) on nearly any task. Learning to knit, sewing your own clothes. Drumming, journaling, and meal planning can all actually be significantly improved in just 5 minutes each. In fact, 2 minutes each day of journaling about a positive thing in the past 24 hours has been shown to increase happiness.

As was mentioned above, your addition leaves...something out of what is happening in your days. Is it television? If so, get rid of it or switch to netflix only or do something else that severely limits your television. My boyfriend and I watch about an hour to 1.5 hours of tv 3 of 4 evenings a week. We attend a group activity once a week. On weekends we find an event and make a day of that, whether it's going to a winery for a free tasting and concert or playing mini golf, or going to the Planetarium to see the laser music show. We eat a home made dinner 6 to 7 nights a week, with enough leftovers for him to pack for lunch. Often these home cooked dinners come out of the freezer because I cook ahead. Sometimes they are just a big salad with some chunks of chicken tossed in and fresh bread on the side. By fresh bread I mean, I buy frozen mini baguettes and bake them.

Moving on to your specific 3 year activity gap:
  • buy new car stereo speakers and have them installed
    Find a Best Buy or other place that sells and installs speakers. Choose speakers online. (you could use next week's question to help with this. outsourcing.) Drop the car off while you and boyfriend use his car to {choose one: go to the zoo/have a picnic/get groceries and then cook a huge batch of lasagne for the freezer}
  • fix the car antenna
    get recommendation for a shop near your work that will drop you off at work and pick you up after. Let them fix the antenna while you work.
  • get a few pieces of clothing custom-made
    Collect pictures of garments you like, or better yet, commercial patterns you want made for you. Get recommendations for a seamstress in your area. Call that person. Have her visit your home if possible to measure you and discuss patterns and fabric.
  • replace the flash tube in my camera's speedlight
    drop the camera off near work, on your lunch hour. Pick it back up the next day, or in a week. I have no idea how long it takes to replace this.
  • learn and practice more skills for work
    discuss this with your boss. Do you want to attend a workshop? Have them purchase an online course for you and allow you to use an hour of each work day to complete it? You can negotiate this! It will make you more valuable to them, and they will (er, should!) appreciate that you are being proactive about being an awesome employee.
I can hear you muttering at me that you can do these things and do not need to pay the mechanic/camera shop/etc to do them for you, or the premium for having someone come to your house to discuss your sewing (or as others have wisely suggested, clean). Well. You're not doing these things, and you value the time doing other things more than these things, up to now. Prioritize getting them done, and it will happen.
posted by bilabial at 5:37 PM on August 7, 2012 [10 favorites]

I got home from work a little while ago. I decided to skip after work drinks with my partner and a friend of hers (they were going to be mostly talking work stuff anyway), and had a 20ish minute conversation with our housemate. I'll probably skip sorting the mail because I hate that. Someone already washed the bowl from dinner last night, so I just have to wash the Pyrex dish. Right now I'm sitting in the backyard reading the Internet. Dinner will be leftovers from last night (raw kale salad and slow-roasted salmon), or, possibly, cheese.

Choices and priorities and not beating yourself up (too much) for making some choices and not others is a path to less stress. Also, cutting yourself a break and recognizing that you already do stuff at a rate above the norm! There is value in doing nothing.
posted by rtha at 5:44 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get realistic about your time. If it isn't one of your top priorities it gets dropped. My big priorities are husband, work, school, and marathon training. That stuff is getting done.

Other stuff gets punted out of the schedule:
cleaning (housekeeper),
laundry (done when I telecommute),
meal prep (DreamDinners once a month),
socializing with friends (we haven't hosted something in months),
volunteering (not these days).

It's a crush for me to simply balance my top 4 priorities. I'm willing to lower my standards on everything else. The house isn't as clean and we eat frozen veggie instead of making a trip to the farmers' market. It's okay.

Not every thing needs to be accomplished to perfection. Decide what's important and focus there.
posted by 26.2 at 5:46 PM on August 7, 2012

I have two kids and a demanding work schedule. My days look like this:

7:30: Groan in bed as my husband wakes the kids up. Tell kids to hurry up and get dressed. Wait for kids to get out of the bathroom.
8:00: Brush teeth and throw some clothes on. Get breakfast for kids. Get them off to camp or school.
8:30: Check email and social media. Depending on results, do email, some writing, mayyyyyybe go to gym, get more thoroughly/appropriately dressed, throw in some laundry, read the internet.
10:30: Maybe do something with the dishwasher. Then work some more.
1:30: Oh, I should probably eat some lunch. And maybe pick up some of last night's fast food wrappers and put it all in the trash. And keep working.
5:00: Family comes home. During the summer, continue to write or internet slack while breaking up arguments between the kids, ruling on acceptable snacks, and (sadly not so often) making dinner. During the school year, from 4pm on add in shuttling between extracurriculars and making sure everyone did their homework.
6:30: Husband fetches a meal, if I have not cooked. We eat and talk about our days. Everyone returns to their TV/reading/internets/games. It's not rare for me to get back to work.
8:30: Wrangle the kids into bed. This takes a while.
9:00: Fffff---- I never put the laundry in the dryer. Do that now.
9:30: Watch a movie with husband, or read more internets, or play a game, or (lately) do more work.
Midnight: Oh, right, sleepytime. Good night.

That's a pretty normal day for me. Sometimes I'll have a light deadline-free day and I'll slack off and play video games. Sometimes I'm traveling and all bets are off. On weekends we'll do family activities like going to a museum or going out to a movie sometimes; more often we'll go out to a restaurant, run the necessary errand du jour, go grocery shopping, pick up the worst of the mess, and just hang out.

Things that I do not do:
* Fold and put away laundry
* Visit with friends on weeknights
* Clean on a daily or even a weekly basis
* Exercise regularly
* Cook nutritionally superior food routinely
* Watch TV that I chose

My housekeeping standards are lax and it shows. Sometimes my personal hygiene suffers, too, to be completely honest. I'm a little overweight. My children enjoy a regime of benign neglect (they're both heavy readers, so I figure I'm doing something all right.) It took me over ten years to replace the ugly kitchen curtains my home had when I moved in.

Things that I make sure I absolutely do:
* Give the kids/husband extra snuggles and attention if they seem to need it
* Talk to everyone in the family about their days
* Make sure everyone has clean clothes and underwear
* Make sure everyone has food to eat
* Ask for help if I really need it
* Cut myself a break about all of the stuff I don't do, because none of it is the really, really important stuff.

So basically I work too hard, live like a slob, but I try to make sure that my family isn't getting short shrift. It's a little chaotic, but in all, I think it's a pretty good life.
posted by Andrhia at 6:24 PM on August 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

What made a big difference for me was scheduling my to-dos. Instead of having one big giant list of stuff with no deadline, I started dividing them into tasks that could be done in one day, and then scheduling one per day until they all got done. So, for instance, I won't empty the dishwasher AND do laundry on the same day. I'll do one, or the other. Most of the household chores fall to me because my partner has some physical disabilities. So he has learned that if he is going to ask me to do something, he has to give me time to fit it in. There is no 'I need you to do my laundry RIGHT NOW' or anything. Like this weekend, he is going out of town from Friday morning to Saturday evening, so he asked me yesterday if there was any way the shirts could be done by then. This gives me time to schedule it in when it best works for me.

Similarly, he contributes by doing the driving since I don't drive, and I have learned to not expect a million things in one day, and to be flexible about when things happen. If I tell him today that we have two days of fruit left and then we have to grocery shop, and he is too tired (because of his health issues) to schedule it in before the deadline, that's fine but then he has to be prepared to buy his lunch tomorrow. There is always a way to make it work.

Fwiw our schedule is something like this:

6:15 I wake up, do workout, he sleeps
6:45 I wake him when my workout is done. He usually asks for 15 more minutes
7:00 I am out of the shower, I wake him again, get dressed, pack bags
7:20 We leave together, he drops me at bus stop then goes to work, I go to work
7:45 I arrive at work, do my prep for the day
8:30 My workday starts (I am a teacher)
4:30-6 pm My workday ends at 4:30, unless I am doing aftercare that day. So between 5 and 6 I get home. On days I do aftercare, I come straight home and on days I am not, those are my days to phone my mother, go to the bank or drugstore, run personal errands
6:30-7:30 He gets home. He usually goes to the gym at this time. Sometimes I hitch a ride with him since the rec centre I use is right beside his parent's place, where he uses the gym. I'll go for a walk on the track and listen to podcasts while he does his workout, then meet him again for the ride home. Sometimes I stay home. This is often when I will do any cleaning that isn't just tidying up or running a sponge on the counter; he is sensitive to the smell of cleaning products, so I do it when he isn't home.
7:30-8:00 Often, he webcams with his son who lives in another city. I will sometimes webcam with my sister during this time, as she also lives elsewhere. Then we usually have dinner together (something simple like sandwiches, pasta or pita pizzas) when we are done.
8:00-9:30 Sometimes, we will watch a movie or TV show together. Sometimes, we hang out in the main room and chat occasionally, but spend the time on personal things (reading, video games, web surfing etc.) If he spends an hour on the games, I can usually persuade him to play one with me for a bit near the end there. I also try to pre-pack as much of tomorrow's lunches as I can (everything but the sandwiches) to make things go quicker in the morning. And any chores like emptying the dishwasher go in there.
9:30-11:00 Usually, we go to bed sometime in this interval. I always prioritize ending the day together and having that routine, and he has come to enjoy this ritual too. We don't go to sleep right away. We read for a bit, talk, cuddle and so on. A nice way to end the day.

As you can see, there is plenty of time for chores and stuff to get done, and also for personal time. I find that having set routines helps us. We both like to know there us time for solo stuff, but also time together and time for getting stuff done.
posted by JoannaC at 6:32 PM on August 7, 2012

You have no television, but do you watch tv online? How much time do you spend on your computer/iPod/phone every day? These are my major time-sinks. I periodically leave my laptop at work for a few weeks at a time and live an unplugged life. It is fabulous.
posted by lulu68 at 7:23 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need to work smarter, not harder, and you need to prioritize. You may also want to work on moving closer to work, since cutting your commute in half would be an extra hour a day for various things.

By "smarter, not harder," I mean...well, let's take cooking. Honestly, I think it's great that you spend that much time cooking and preparing meals for each other, but you say you want more time. What are you making for breakfast that takes that long? I have a protein shake and the wife has a bowl of cereal. We both eat while doing other things (and we get up at different times so we're not neglecting couple time). The time I spend perusing my email and sort of...booting up for my day while sipping my protein shake in the morning is time I value, but I'm also doing multiple things at once (eating breakfast and prioritizing my emails.

Likewise, it's great that you're putting that much thought, prep, and time into dinner, but if you want more time, you need to cut back. Maybe you take a day to spend a couple hours in the kitchen and make up a huge batch of prepared meals that you pop in the freezer, then reheat the next day. For example, when the wife is away or I'm on my own, Saturday becomes Cooking Day, so I make a couple big crockpot batches of various meals and pop them in the freezer and, hey presto, I have lunch and dinner for the whole week and I don't have to cook again unless I feel like it for the next week. Or for cleaning, maybe instead of doing it daily, you spend a couple hours and make Saturday the Cleaning Day When All The Cleaning Will Be Done and just focus on upkeep in the interim.

In terms of prioritization...well, yeah, you have to prioritize. For me, I decided I cared about: Paying work (gotta pay dem bills), going to the gym (gotta lose dat gut), and doing my creative projects. So my schedule is, roughly, 7-8am to 4-5pm is Paying Dem Bills, 4-5pm to 6-7pm is Losing Dat Gut, then I come home, eat, talk to the wife a little bit, and work on projects til bed. I don't get to do a lot of things I'd like to do. There's TV shows I'd like to watch, skills I'd like to learn, etc., but I don't have time for them. But I work on what's important to me and let other things fall where they may.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:06 PM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: I don't spend any time at all writing in my journal, or practicing my drums, or reading books, or planning and shopping for healthy meals.... and I really need to and want to.
We probably average an hour of sex each day.

I'd say you need to cut back on the fucking or admit that you'd rather fuck than practice your drums or write "fucked for another hour" in your journal.

And generalize on that systematically. List everything you do in order of what you have to do and what you really like to do (two sets of priorities, two columns). Sort by must-do, then like-to-do. Squeeze the must-do times to a minimum unless they also have a high like-to-do priority. Stop doing stuff that comes out near the bottom of both priorities.
posted by pracowity at 2:40 AM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

how people with homes, jobs, kids, families, hobbies, televisions and pets DO everything.

For starters they don't spend 7-14 hours a week on chores and 7 hours on sex! (you also seem to imply the 1-2 hours per day doesn't include vacuuming or cleaning the bath - wth are you doing then?!) In the schedule as you've explained it you still have plenty of unaccounted for time on a daily basis to fit in at least 1 other activity and there's also 20 extra hours every weekend to get lots of stuff done.

Washing dishes is the only chore that really needs to be done daily. Laundry as needed, general housework (dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing the bathroom) weekly, washing bedding/curtains etc monthly or as needed.
posted by missmagenta at 3:43 AM on August 8, 2012

You're over-achieving like mad.
You're spending far too much time on chores. Most people don't keep their homes looking like spotless showrooms. They might do a light cleaning once a week and only do major cleanings when the place really, really needs it, or when company is coming.

We probably average an hour of sex each day.
I wish.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 AM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ok, you don't have all the hours in the world, you know that, but you really can trim down some of the daily things you do if you need (want) to do other things. You need to decide who's standard you are trying to meet. I personally do laundry maybe twice a month, don't wash my hair very often, and very rarely spend more than 10-15 minutes a day doing "chores".Why? Because I have things I want to do and like you, we don't have kids, so I can.

I'd really examine WHY you are taking so long to do chores, so long to get off. You know it doesn't have to last an hour every time and you don't have to do it every day to still be deeply in love and have an awesome sex life, right? You know your place is still relatively clean from what you did yesterday, right? And the same will hold true tomorrow.
posted by stormygrey at 6:14 AM on August 8, 2012

Best answer: Is it normal to always feel like there aren't enough hours in the day and there's a million things you just can't get to?

Yes. It's normal.

I think there are two ingredients to dealing with this issue. You have to be utterly honest with yourself about what matters to you, and you have to be aware of how you are spending your time.

Step one is to decide what you really want to spend your time on. I suggest picking 3 things that mean a lot to you.

Then, you need to train yourself to stop every few minutes and ask yourself, "Do I value this activity?" For me, meditation has helped hugely with this part. You could also try setting an alarm every 15 minutes for a few days. It will probably drive you crazy but it'll be an interesting experiment.

Anyway, if you do this, you will find that there are several possible answers to that internal question:
1. Yes, I value this
2. No, I don't value this (or don't value this as much as other things), but I'm having fun and I don't want to stop
3. No, I don't value this, but it would be too hard/I'm too tired to get up and do the thing I value

Then comes the hard part. Unfortunately, doing the things that you value inevitably requires renunciation of other things, and accepting that is key. I think that often, we don't quite realize what it is we're getting from things we don't really value. Figure out what you are doing that you don't value, figure out what you're getting from those activities, and make a conscious choice to either continue or discontinue them.

For example, I have to give up a lot of my totally unstructured time in the early morning and evening in order to meet my goals of meditating, exercising and practicing my instrument every day. When I spend unstructured time, for example, reading Failblog or watching prank videos on YouTube, I would say that 90% of the time I don't value it (I don't remember it fondly later, it doesn't make me happier, it doesn't make others happier, it's not intellectually stimulating, I feel I've wasted my time, etc.) and 10% of the time I do (it makes me laugh after a bad day and then I feel better, for example). Based on these numbers, it seems like it should be a total no-brainer not to spend my time on that particular activity. Especially compared to other activities, which I look back on and value nearly 100% of the time. Why is this not the case? Why don't we all just spend time only on things we value? It's been really important for me to recognize what I was getting from my time reading Failblog or whatever. I was getting comfort - didn't have to do anything challenging, didn't have to move, didn't have to risk failing. Once recognized, it's a lot easier to give up that kind of comfort in order to do something you personally feel is more important. It's not necessarily easy and requires small renunciations every day. But it's worth it.

(On a more practical level, I will join the chorus wondering how you manage to spend 1-2 hours a day on chores. I am actually pretty fond of a clean and tidy apartment and I probably spend 20 minutes a day, max.)
posted by Cygnet at 6:35 AM on August 8, 2012 [7 favorites]

I think it's normal. I feel like I do a lot less with my days now than I did when I was not married. I feel like there's never enough time for everything. True, now I have a wife, and pets, and the associated chores/activities that go with both of those. But those have largely replaced other things in my life like volunteer work and community band. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I felt like I used to be able to manage my time much better than I do now. I cannot imagine how I will do things if and when we have children other than I will have even less time and even less money.

I do most of the household chores -- dishes, laundry, mowing the lawn, walking the dogs, and so on and so forth. When I lived alone I did ALL of the chores (obviously), so that reduction from "all" to "most" SHOULD have given me some extra time. It doesn't seem to have done so. I don't usually do the cleaning, vacuuming, or dusting.

I spend maybe a half hour a day on chores, give or take, depending on that day's chore load. I would say you can either lower your standards and/or be more efficient.

I have an epic commute (2h 30m and 100 miles R/T) -- I strongly recommend audiobooks during your commute if you like to read! They keep me sane on the drive. If you get a subscription to Audible, you can also get the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal on weekdays. Typically I listen to the Times on my way to work and a book on my way home.

I am constantly tired and I know it's because I don't get enough sleep! On a typical weekday I am awake by 5:30a and I often don't get to bed until 10:30p or later. On Friday nights I tend to make all kinds of grandiose weekend plans to help my wife clean house and tackle the "honey-do" list and maybe go out and enjoy some time/activities with her, but I'm often so tired that I sleep until noon or 1. :(

I look at what I did in my college years and my 20s and I marvel at how I survived without collapsing. I think I've lost some time management skills. Certainly I've gotten older, but I still feel the same as I did when I was 23 or 24.

I'm favoriting your question to see what other people say, and to refer to it when I get depressed about my perceived decline in time management skills. I could use some help with it too.
posted by tckma at 6:38 AM on August 8, 2012

This question I asked many many moons ago has really proven interesting and useful in the long run. Wash and Fold, a cleaner every other week, and a roomba, are things that will probably cost about a grand per year, but damn, if that is not a grand well spent. Time is money and all that.
posted by stormygrey at 6:43 AM on August 8, 2012

A lot of people are suggesting you prioritize your activities, and have suggested some vague-ish ways to do that.

Here's a tool, called the Covey Square that allows you to write in your activities/scheduled items. Many websites describe the system. One square is for things that are important and urgent. Another is for things that are urgent but not important. The third square is for tasks that are important but not urgent and the final is for things that are neither important nor urgent.

Examples of some activities:
  • Watching a particular tv show when you don't have DVR: urgent but not important.
  • Watching a tv show online: not urgent and not important
  • Car speakers: important and not urgent camera light: important and not urgent
  • Improving your work skills important (and urgency could be debatable, I would say it's urgent, because of the economy and potential to need to find a new job on short notice, but it doesn't feel urgent, because you have a job.)
  • Leaving the house at 7pm tonight to get to __activity__ on time: If it's 630 now and you haven't eaten dinner, this might be important and urgent.
  • Mopping the floor: important, not urgent
  • reading junk mail: urgent(because it's in your hand!), not important

posted by bilabial at 6:57 AM on August 8, 2012

Another plug for looking at your commute. Could you put some recreational content into it? Could you shift things around to use transit, say, so that you could write in your journal during that time? (one of the things you wish you had more time for)

When people are juggling more things, every tiny crack gets used -- I read a book *every* time I visit the bathroom. I listen to NPR for news while brushing my teeth. I wash dishes, tidy up, and pack lunches while Spouse is giving Child a bath and putting her to bed. I make (or eat) breakfast while keeping up a game of Uno with Child in the morning (while Spouse takes a shower). I write checks and process photos while watching TV in the evening. I live with an ever-growing To Do list, and a much shorter list of hobbies and sustainable outside activities.

I recommend getting enough sleep, at least on weekends, as it helps your perspective on everything else. But you probably have more time than you think...
posted by acm at 6:58 AM on August 8, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all for the input, lots of great things to re-read today.

For those that have asked, the relationship is not that new, we've been together just over 2 years. I know we have a lot more sex than average. Sure, I *could* take less time to get off, but why? The journey is as much (if not more) fun than the destination and it's something we both absolutely love to do. We don't always have weekends together because of his work schedule, so making the kind of time we like for more creative, involved, focused sex (3-4 hour sessions) is rare. If it happens during the week, it accounts for some lack of sleep. If it happens on a weekend it's awesome because we'll spend 12 solid hours alternating between sleeping and fucking - when we finally roll out of bed we actually feel like we got enough of both... for a day or two! Sometimes if he works on Sat/Sun I get in a nap, sometimes I hang out with a parent, usually I try to catch up on paperwork or chores.

I realize these are all choices/priorities I've made. I apologize if it seems like I want it all and I'm not happy even though my life is awesome - that's not the case. I have never wanted kids, the best thing I ever did was give up television... (I do miss having pets sometimes.) I am fully aware of the fact that the long term choices I've made are what allow me to do all the things I'm doing now, and that I have it pretty damn good. I do appreciate the stuff I do now, like crazy. That said, I don't think it's all that unusual to want to squeeze as much good as you can out of every available minute.

A log of my time today (some predicted for later this afternoon):

5:15 to 7:17 am: wake up, he has to be at work at 6. He makes smoothies while I get out the cereal, bowls, milk, vitamins/supplements. Eat breakfast together. I do the dishes while he showers and gets dressed. (Dishes MUST be done at every meal otherwise there will be lots of ants.) He leaves for work. I respond to three emails, shower, dry my hair, put in contacts, put on sunscreen, do makeup, get dressed, swipe a paper towel around the sink/tub/toilet to grab all the errant hairs (we both have long hair, this is essentially a daily necessity), gather up the various items that need to go to the recycle bin outside. Hop in my car at 7:17, clock in at work at 7:40.

(Audio books for the commute are a great idea. Need car speakers for that. Thanks for the idea, that definitely moves car speakers further up on the priority list. I should have some time to look into it this weekend.)

7:17am to 1pm: the busiest part of my work day, but still a little time for things like composing this response. Took four hours.

1pm to 2pm: I started walking at lunch with a coworker a few months ago, but it's highly dependent on what's happening at work on any given day. Walking means extending the length of the work day, as eating lunch, changing clothes, walking, and changing back into work clothes takes in excess of an hour - sometimes I eat lunch at my desk and skip the walk altogether.

2pm to 4:45pm: Depending on how much is going on at work, I'll sometimes have time to lurk on Facebook, catch up on news, buy things like razor blades and makeup and other stuff at Amazon so I don't have to go to an actual store, etc. Today there will probably be very little of that.

4:45pm to 5:30pm: seeing my therapist, a once weekly occurrence at the moment. If I wasn't seeing the therapist I'd be doing laundry and ironing when I get home from work instead.

5:30pm to 6:15pm: drive home (traffic is heavier at this time than when I drive to work)

We'll get home roughly the same time tonight. The plan is to walk (an hour round trip) to our favorite taco shop for dinner. Dinner itself will probably take about 30 minutes. When we get home he'll probably make fried bananas for dessert. I'll do the dishes. This takes us to 9ish. There will probably be about an hour, maybe two, of sex, then we'll crash out. Tomorrow morning we'll be up at 6, so it'll be 7 hours of sleep (unless sex goes longer).

Is it all that unusual to want to be able to do even more, better? I only make the bed anymore if people are coming over. I wish I had time in the mornings to actually work out, curl my hair and spend more time on my makeup. I haven't worn jewelry or painted my toenails in months. I desperately need to buy clothes.

It's all about choices, I know that. After I started this thread yesterday we went to a birthday dinner for a parent. Then, even though we had to wake up so early this morning, went to see a friend's band play - we hadn't seen him/them in about 6 months. It meant no sex and a short night of sleep, but that was the choice for the evening, and we do that kind of juggling a lot. I should amend that - he's not even really a friend, he's an acquaintance, and most of our friends seem like acquaintances because we see them so infrequently and for short periods of time. I would like to be able to think of them all as friends.

In looking at it all critically, I think the lack of sleep is my culprit. W hen I have free time, it's not enough to actually get good sleep, but I use it as "down time." I just want to sit quietly and play with my music in iTunes rather than do something that feels like a "have to." Years ago when I had a few jobless months I found that my "natural" pattern is to sleep 8.5 hours. Only getting 6-7 hours a night for a couple years now is probably keeping me from being as productive as I'd like.

It's a great life, and I am thankful for it. And for your responses!
posted by thrasher at 10:44 AM on August 8, 2012

Only getting 6-7 hours a night for a couple years now is probably keeping me from being as productive as I'd like.

I guess? But when you are asleep, you cannot multitask, so I'm not sure - based on your schedule today - when you are supposed to get the journaling/hobby/other fun things done if you increase your sleep alone. This is why so many of us are talking about priorities and choices; you can't just jam more than 24 hours into a day.

I get up at 5:30 am and am out the door mostly by 7:15ish, and most of that time is taken up with drinking coffee, reading the internet, and becoming human enough to interact with my co-workers. My sweetheart sleeps later and I bring her coffee when I'm leaving. I could use the time to do something else, I guess, but what I'm doing now works well for me, so I've got no reason to change it.

Honestly, it sounds like your priorities have settled, in an unplanned way, on what your subconscious considers the most important things: sex and time with your partner. If you want time for your project, then don't walk an hour to dinner and back. If you want time to curl your hair in the morning, then eat breakfast faster/later/not at all (it won't kill you to have a yogurt and a handful of almonds for breakfast at your desk on some days).
posted by rtha at 11:34 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

You get home at 6ish so you have about 5 hours to eat dinner and do whatever you like, that's pretty typical. How other people get stuff done like shopping and reading etc is they don't take nearly 3 hours for dinner and follow up with 2 hours of sex.

It does sound like you want it all - you want to get as much done as other people but you also want to do all the other things that you do that other people don't. You can't, its basic maths, if you want to get in an extra hour or working on your project or listening to music you need to give up an hour of something you're currently doing.

It sounds like you have a very leisurely and relaxed lifestyle and you don't want to give it up (who could blame you, your typical evening sounds like valentines day or a birthday treat to me!) but you either need to change that or accept that you're not going to have enough time to do all the things you'd like.
posted by missmagenta at 12:01 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

You spend an hour or two on chores every day, how much does he spend? If he doesn't the cooking and you do the cleaning, is that really a fair division of labor if you are spending way more time on household chores than he is? Do you both feel overwhelmed like there isn't enough hours in the day, or is it just you? You probably need to discuss this with him.

I don't know how well those counter top dishwashers work, but you could get one.

Paying bills? Set everything you can to automatic bill pay.

Do you have a washer and dryer or are you going to a laundromat or paying for laundry in your building? Look into drop off service for laundry. They even fold it for you, it's like magic.

I don't own an iron. This probably depends on what you have to wear to work, but look for wrinkle-free fabrics. Bring your clothes in the bathroom when you take a hot shower, it will get wrinkles out.

Is walking quality time or exercise? Because you could swap out walking for something that would be better exercise to get more work out time.

Sleep to me is precious, and I am not a morning person. If i were you, I would sleep until I needed to start getting ready for work, skip breakfast with the bf, and grab something I can eat in the car on the way to work (bonus: no dishes).

Go out to dinner with friends during the week or invite them over to dinner. And sometimes, it's okay to not spend time with your partner because you want to work on your own project, exercise, see your friends, sleep later, whatever.
posted by inertia at 12:06 PM on August 8, 2012

Best answer: At an hour a day, sex *is* your hobby. I'm not sure I know anyone at all who's naked-with-friends that much.

Also, two hours a day on chores? You may want to look for Metafilter threads on saving time, or buy a dishwasher or something. I can't imagine two hours a day on chores unless I was hand-washing all of my clothes.
posted by talldean at 12:34 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Given that you typically eat dinner together with your SO and have a very active sex life, you could perhaps forgo a teeny bit of togetherness and do your morning routines separately. Get up, get ready, and eat breakfast on your own timetable, which should buy you a solid hour.

The answer really, is that you need to want the other stuff badly enough (or consider it enough of an obligation) to make time for it. Why does lunch need to be either walking vigorously enough to require a change of clothes or eating? Just change your shoes, take a shorter walk, then eat your lunch within the hour. In the evenings when you don't have therapy, I can't imagine how chores like laundry/ironing would take nearly an hour -- especially laundry, the multitaskingest chore ever.
posted by desuetude at 12:42 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I work days - I leave the house at 7:40 and take the kids to school, work 8.5 (with lunch), commute home, and usually get home around 6:15. That's every weekday.

My wife works nights - she leaves at 6:30 and gets back around 8:00 a.m. on 12.5-hour nursing shifts. She works three to four days each week, mostly on the weekends. She sleeps during the day on weekends, so I basically don't see her from 6:30 p.m. Friday until 8:00 a.m. Monday as I leave to take the bigger kids to school. (This means that it's just me and the kids all weekend.)

And yes, we have five kids. That's meals for seven people, dishes for seven, laundry for seven, cleaning the bathroom from heavy use, etc.

We make it work. Pure and simple. Laundry might sit and build for a week, then one of us buckles down and does it in-between errands and watching the kids. My wife bakes a ton of cakes and cupcakes as a hobby, so dishes get done just about every day. We vacuum only when necessary and there are frequently toys all over the floor, but it's too much extra work to deal with so we just don't worry about it.

My wife and I get to hang out for a few hours in the evening Tues. through Thurs. That's our only alone time, currently, and it is frequently interrupted by children.

Your life - and schedule - sound like a vacation to me. :-)
posted by tacodave at 3:12 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all. I am blessed.
posted by thrasher at 3:49 PM on August 8, 2012

Looked at your daily log and it looks like you're spending two hours per day getting ready in the morning. That's a LONG time for most people. This is where I would look to cut first. Figure out where you're spending all that time and think about whether that time spent is worth it.

Also, stop handwashing dishes. We used to spend 45 minutes per day doing this, and it's a big waste of time. Get a portable dishwasher and rinse your dishes (quickly) to avoid the ants. If you can't fit a full-sized dishwasher, get a skinny one. We have a Danby and it is absolutely amazing. We cook almost all of our meals and it saves us at least 30 minutes per day, every day. Best thing we've purchased, and we got it for $50 on Craigslist.
posted by cnc at 11:07 AM on August 9, 2012

Can you switch to working part-time?
posted by windykites at 6:59 PM on August 13, 2012

I'm going to come at this from a different angle. It may be totally off base, in which case ignore me completely.

Your question resonated with me in some ways because I spend most of my free time with my boyfriend one way or the other and it makes the rest of my life feel pinched sometimes. You have a ton of free time-- 6-7 hours a day, way more than most working adults I know. But you spend all of it with your partner. And it sounds great. But, on the other hand, of course that's not going to leave you with time for anything individual, like buying clothes or playing drums or painting your nails or writing. It kind of sounds like you just need to carve an hour or so out for yourself each day-- maybe right after work? This will still give you tons of time with your partner but also give you time to do all that stuff you're neglecting to do in favor of hanging out with that one other person.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:28 PM on May 21, 2013

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