Laundry, taking out the trash, loading the dishwasher - what do these things have in common? They all have the tendency to drive us crazy! Taking care of chores around our homes can be one of those persistent stressors. They have to be done repeatedly and when we have a million other things to take care of at work and in our lives, it can be easy to put off cleaning the house for one day...or two or twenty. The longer we keep pushing off our household chores, the more difficult they become and we then have to spend an entire day buried in dirty clothes and dishes. It happens to all of us, which is why this week on the Stress Less Show, I brought on organizational expert, Sarah Grace of Embrace Your Space NYC, to talk all about household chores.
While Sarah Grace first started her career as a teacher, she always had a passion for organization. She notes, “I've always done organizing for myself and for friends. It's always something I've really enjoyed and found to be kind of cathartic and calming.” Her love of organizing spaces for herself and friends eventually blossomed from side hustle to full-fledged business. After a devastating break-up in her life, Sarah found the conviction to build her business into a success once she realized that organizing could be a powerful way to move past major life changes.
“People find ways through their pain with many different tools... For me, it was the simple act of reclaiming my space and learning to make decisions about what I wanted to surround myself with and how I wanted to design my life and that really helped me emerge from a really dark time with some clarity and confidence.”
Through her business, Sarah Grace has been able to help others reclaim their space as well through countless life changes such as losing a loved one or transitioning into a new career; and so, she has a few tips for how you can regain control of all those chores on your to-do list and prevent the stress of taking care of your home overwhelm you.
Tip #1: Let it Out
When we say the word chores to ourselves, a lot of times what happens is we set off a whirlwind of jumbled thoughts. We think about all the mail we have to sort through that is piled on our desks. We think about the massive piles of laundry in our closet. We think of the overflowing trash bag in the kitchen. We think about everything we have to do all at once, and frankly, that alone can be REALLY exhausting. That’s why Sarah’s first tip is to stop just going crazy thinking about everything that needs to be done and write it down instead.
“We are walking around with so much bottled in and juggling so much inside of us. So start by just getting out of your mind and onto paper… Do a basic brain dump and list out the answer to these three questions: What needs to be done? How often? And by whom?”
By writing out all of the chores we have to do, we clear the chaos and fog in our brains surrounding chores. We then allow ourselves space to actually start seeing the household chores in a more manageable light instead of building up more anxiety and stress around them.
Sarah notes that when it comes to chores, “it's often more complicated in our minds and when we get it down onto paper, it can be more simple.” This step alone has the power to release a substantial amount of the stress we carry when it comes to our chores.
Tip #2: Make a Plan
Once we have written out everything we have to do around the house, we will have taken a huge step in clearing our minds of chore-related stress. However, we still have to do all of those chores and that can feel pretty daunting. Sarah’s next tip for conquering all of those chores is to take that list of chores and to make a thoughtful plan on how to get them done.
“We're putting these things off not because they're hard but because they're not particularly urgent. So an antidote to that is to have a plan and to automate it.”
Sarah suggests looking at your list of chores and finding ways to batch them together in ways that you can fit into your normal life. You can designate specific days of the week for certain types of tasks, or make morning or evening chore routines you can do daily.
“The key is to be efficient with your time and energy by chunking together the similar tasks and then really making it an expectation and a routine so that you don't have to psych yourself up every time. Things need to get done, it just becomes habitual.”
Tip #3: Keep it Simple
Creating a plan for getting chores done seems straightforward enough, but sticking to our plan is where a lot of us struggle. As a result, Sarah’s final tip is key in making a successful plan for our household chores so that we can stay on top of them.
“Humans have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be. And what if instead, we let go of that need for things to be hard and simply allowed for the possibility that chores can be easy and fun.”
Sarah recommends finding ways to make your chores simple, easy and fun to implement in your life. For example, you try setting a timer for 15 minutes of chores or listening to 3 or 4 songs that you clean along to. You can also try making games or competitions out of your chores if you live with other people.
“One of the things I do is I will call a friend or one of my parents and just catch up with them while I'm putting clothes away. So I'm multitasking and accomplishing a lot.”
Another way to simplify your chores is to figure out which chores you can outsource or find help with. “We think that we often have to do everything and that's not always the case.”
Outsourcing can look like dividing tasks amongst the rest of your family or roommates. You can look into having your laundry done for you instead of doing it yourself or even hiring some extra help around the house if necessary.
Whatever you can do to simplify your chores and make yourself enjoy the process of doing taking care of your home will help you feel more motivated to keep your home organized and integrate those chores into your daily or weekly routines. While it may feel like taking care of our space has to be this huge overwhelming challenge, Sarah maintains that it is not impossible at all. “It doesn't have to be a chore. It doesn't have to be difficult and there are ways to lighten it up and make it feel fun”
This episode of The Stress Less Show was sponsored by The Stress Less Space, an intentional space for women to relax and recharge away from the chaos of everyday life. Learn more about The Stress Less Space by clicking this link!