I keep seeing all of these articles about reducing stress.
- Take time for self care!
- Talk to a licensed mental health counselor!
- Journal your thoughts and feelings.
And while they mean well… I keep thinking about the people that write articles like this.
Because they clearly wouldn’t relate at all to what my life was like in my hot mess days.
All of those things assume you have the time and money to focus on them.
Those articles are written to solve the symptoms but not the cause of the stress.
So let’s address this.
Do you know what will ACTUALLY help you reduce your stress? Like right now? Even if you don’t have time to do all of those things?
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It teaches you step by step how to work with your personality to not only set up home routines that will work (no matter how many times you’ve failed in the past), but that you’ll stick to…
We’ve taught hundreds of thousands of people how to use bare minimum consistent effort to completely transform their home (and life!). You’re up next.
In short, it’s the amount of time leftover in a 24 hour day, after you factor in all the things you have to do on that day.
The leftover amount is what we call your time margins.
There’s a direct correlation between how large your time margins are and your stress level.
You are typically way less stressed when you have larger time margins.
And time margins are similar to budget margins, which a lot of people don’t think about. Budget margins are when you take the amount of money that you make, let’s say that’s $5,000 a month. Now, you remove the bare minimum you need for groceries, your bills, and the things you have to purchase (the things you have to have- you don’t have an option to skip), and whatever amount is left over is your budget margin.
More budget margin equals less stress. More time margin equals less stress.
And that also gives you more control.
You get to choose how to spend the margins and that may be different each week or each month.
So, how do we create larger margins and therefore reduce our stress? (And possibly even create time for that self care)?
You start with a time audit, and next, you move to money, we do this with cheaper substitutions that you like just as much or more than what you’re buying now. I made you a list of the substitutions we used here.
Do A Time Audit For The Next Week
Doing a time audit for a week will give you a more accurate picture of how you spend time, and take into account the weekends when you likely spend your time differently.
Grab a notebook or your planner and every hour or so, write down what you do during each hour. It’s best to make notes each hour (rather than trying to remember what you did after several hours). Just jot down everything you did during that hour.
- Drop/off pick up from school
- Clean the kitchen
- Walk the dog
- Post Office run
- Birthday party
- Grocery shopping
- Games on your phone
Be as specific as possible during the time audit, so you have an accurate picture of how you spend your time. You might be surprised by what you find. Just make a note each hour of what you did over the last 60 minutes, and at the end of the day analyze what you’ve written down.
- What did you learn?
- Were you surprised by anything you found?
- What was a good use of your time?
- What are the areas you feel are time wasters?
- Where are the areas you feel you could do better?
Incentivize Your Time
If you do everything else that we teach you, but you don’t incentivize your time by doing the things you love to do after your work is done, you’ll never get the results you’re looking for.
One of the problems people run into though is that they have no idea what they love to do. It’s been so long since they had time to do something for them, they have no idea what they love anymore.
I want you to make a list of ways that you would like to spend your time… It’s important that you don’t fill this time with obligations for other people.
If you LOVE taking your kids to the park and want to do more of it… then go for it. But if it mostly feels like a chore, then that’s not a proper reward. (Does that mean you never take your kids to the park? Of course not, but it means that you also need to do something that day that rewards you). This is going to be highly personalized to each of you.
How much time do I spend doing what I want?
Unlike dishes and laundry, I don’t set a limit on how much free time you can have in a day.
If you’re a single mother with 5 kids, your expectations will be wildly different from a 20-year-old part time college student.
I think at minimum you should be spending at least 30 minutes a day on yourself.
In practice, this can look different for different people, but usually, people have control over about 5 hours of their day if they’re working.
Does that mean that if you have kids, you’re sitting them in front of screens to take hours long luxurious baths and read in hammocks while your poor children get no attention?
Of course not.
What we’re really doing here is replacing the hours you used to waste running errands, procrastinating, and scrolling your phone with the things that matter.
If you have kids you’ll likely find out that by taking time for yourself every day, you have MORE time spent with your kids because you just have more time and less stress in general.
But also keep in mind that while you spend time with your family, you still get to have a say in what you do for those hours… which is also a reward.
There’s things I LOVE doing with my kids or as a family (soccer games, the beach, game nights, playing Peggle on the Xbox, movie nights with fresh popcorn, reading pile time (where we all grab blankies and lay on top of each other on the couch while we read in a giant reading pile) and if I love it…then it’s time well rewarded.
And like always, if you want extra help putting this stuff into practice, it’s because it’s really difficult to master these things unless you methodically tackle them in a step-by-step order starting with the smallest simple skill and working your way up to the most complex skill.
We teach this step by step in Hot Mess to Home Success, and we walk you through how to tackle your margins, your dishes, laundry, schedule book, meal planning, budgeting, and home organization… all while working with your unique personality and using bare minimum effort on a consistent basis. (Because you need less stuff to do… not more).