There are 168 hours in the week.
You, me, the Prime Minister and Beyonce – we all have 168 hours, and we can get a lot done in that time.
But how often do you feel like those 168 hours are nowhere near enough?
There are too many tasks, too many appointments and too much housework. You’re pulled in all directions, and while trying to get everything done, you end the day feeling as though you got nothing done instead.
So you try to set up a strict routine, carving out specific blocks of time for specific tasks. It works for a while, but then life intervenes. Someone gets sick, the vacuum cleaner breaks, you have to work late or get called for jury duty.
Your life isn’t made for strict routine.
Rhythm Over Routine
I’m a huge advocate of living a rhythmic life, as opposed to a strictly routine one. The notion of rhythm is a much friendlier, more flexible option, and it fits comfortably in our life.
Over the years, I have adopted a rhythm to my mornings and to my days. And last year, when I reached a point of massive overwhelm, I decided to adopt the idea of rhythm into my weeks too.
For the last 12 months, I’ve had a crumpled piece of paper stuck to the fridge. It’s a simple list, written in my own shorthand. But it also plays a massive part in creating (and maintaining) our Slow Home. It’s my weekly rhythm.
What my Weekly Rhythm Looks Like
The list is divided into three sections.
At the top I have a list of Dailies (thanks to Patty from Homemaker’s Daily for the term), which is simply every task that needs to happen on an-almost daily basis. Things like ‘get dressed’ or ‘feed dog’ don’t appear here, because, really, that stuff just has to happen.
For me this section includes:
- sweeping (kitchen and dining areas)
- make beds
- load of laundry or two
- wipe over kitchen benches
- wipe over bathroom vanities
The aim of doing these little jobs every day is that it cuts down on the amount of deep cleaning I need to do. If I sweep, do a load of laundry and keep the bathroom vanities clean most days, I’m allowed flexibility. I can skip a day at home to go to the beach or watch my daughter’s ballet concert, and the house won’t be tragically messy when I get home.
It’s all about doing a little bit of work each day (15-30 minutes, maximum) to help minimise the workload later and keep your home running well. Which means you’re less likely to feel stressed, frantic and overwhelmed.
2 & 3. Weeklies
Below the Dailies is a row for each day of the week. Each day has two columns next to it.
The left column shows the household work for the day, while the right shows what activities we have outside the home.
I try to limit the number of items in either column to a maximum of three. Some days have only one task, and some days have no organised activities. Again, this builds wiggle room and flexibility into our days. If we want to go for a bushwalk, we can. If the kids are sick and need a quiet day, we can do that too.
For me, for our kids, for our stage in life, this idea of rhythm fits really comfortably within our days.
How to Create Your Weekly Rhythm
1. The first worksheet asks you to write down all the jobs that you need to get done in any given week. Include things like cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, ironing, vacuuming, mopping floors etc. Break the bigger jobs down into smaller ones if you need to (for example, I clean toilets on a separate day to the rest of the bathroom).
2. Include all the tasks you like to get done on any given day. Things like making the beds, cleaning the kitchen benches, wiping down the vanities, doing a load of laundry, etc. Don’t forget you may not get every one of these done every day, but if you get the majority done the majority of the time, you’ll be golden.
3. List all the extra activities or regular appointments you have during the week. Include your work hours, school or preschool times, dance classes, sporting matches and training, regular catchups with friends, play group, church, etc.
4. Take some time to look over the list you’ve just created and give some thought to how you like to structure your week. For example, do you feel better if you can clean the bathrooms and floors just before the weekend? Then think about scheduling those tasks for Thursday or Friday. Are the kids at preschool on a Monday? Use that time to do the grocery shopping or do the ironing.
5. Using the second worksheet, list your Dailies and then plot out every day, listing 1-3 tasks for both housework and activities.
Stick the list on your fridge and refer to it every morning. Even if you know what’s on for the day, having a point of reference and a short list of tasks makes your day seem much more manageable. Plus, I find it helpful to be able to explain to the kids that I have to clean the bathroom, then I can play with them.
This stuff isn’t sexy.
I feel weird writing about it in such depth, to be honest.
But you know what? Thinking through this stuff in depth, right now, will set you up for a much smoother, easier, more flexible rhythm at home. One that will last you for months or years, and free you up to do the fun things like playing with your kids, or going for a coffee with a friend, writing a blog or reading a book.
Putting in the work now could reap benefits for years to come.
(Looking for more ideas on rhythms and rituals? Grab a copy of Destination: Simple – Rituals and Rhythms to Simplify Your Daily Life.)