Recently, Finn and I have been rather busier than we like. She's working toward her master's degree at 1.5 times the normal speed, all while working at sektor5. Meanwhile, my business has been taking off at a surprising speed, and, as always, I've got a couple of side projects I'm working on as well.
Sleep has been scarce, erratic and/or bad for both of us. We’re not home much but just enough to make a mess, and our flat is showing signs of neglect. While things are pretty much still at code black and will be for a while, I've since learned a couple of tricks that can help keep chaos at bay.
The Toilet Paper Alarm
For instance, I learned that you can measure time constraint in toilet paper rolls. “Now she’s really lost it,” you think, but roll with me for a moment. I postulate that you can tell how busy you are by the amount of toilet paper you have in reserve. It's a really bad sign if you have to get down to the very last roll before one of you manages to finally panic enough to go and buy a new pack.
My time is not dishwasher-safe
I’ve also learned that my desire to be economical can wreak havoc. Ideally, I'd wait until the dishwasher is absolutely full before running it. But in crunch times that means we'll end up with dirty dishes stacked high in the kitchen because the dishwasher was started late and is still running.
So, now I run the bloody dishwasher when I get around to it, even if I haven't yet found the perfect dish for that one oddly shaped free spot. My reward is coming home to a dishwasher full of clean dishes and a kitchen where I have room to make dinner.
Laundry at midnight is not a lifestyle
Until a while ago we didn't just do laundry. We did panicked laundry. You know, coming home in the evening, stripping off quickly, and doing a load of laundry so you have at least a chance at clean clothes the next day. Or: Throwing in a load on the 14-minute quick program at 10 past midnight, because you both forgot to do it earlier, and then waiting by the machine with your eyelids drooping.
We solved the problem by throwing money at it: We simply bought more bras.
I can only recommend to buy those one or two extra bras/t-shirts/socks/underpants that'll get you through the week. It's definitely worth it.
Grocery shopping with a plan? It’s just not going to happen.
I used to do our grocery shopping on days off, sometimes together with Finn. We’d take the car to the supermarket(s), buy stuff wherever we got the best deal, and get it all done in one go. No need to schlepp, thanks to the car. For a moment, when going full-time freelance, I entertained the crazy notion that I'd just schedule a day off and dedicate it to running errands and...yeah, not happening.
Instead we've started buying stuff here and there when we can. My backpack is gigantic (I’ve begun to suspect an Extension Charm has been put on it) and I always carry an extra tote around. We make sure to keep an up-to-date shared shopping list on Google Keep. So I just drop by the store on my way home and get as much as I can possibly carry.
It means I often come home exhausted because I just bought half a week’s shopping and schlepped it home. But it also means I don't have to figure out how to make time for shopping, specifically.
Your commute is your friend
I'm drafting this on my way to work. There's a lot to say for downtime and I'm using my commute in the evening to read or listen to music. But on my way in I like to make use of my time by getting some work done.
Thank you, Gmail. Thank you, Google Docs. Thank youuuuu, Evernooooote.
Quality time is wherever whenever
Similarly, Finn and I will sometimes use our way home to spend some chatty time together. We're lucky enough that I cowork where she works so we can see each other during the day when she is at the space, we can have lunch together, and then we can talk on the way home as well. Once home we're both busy again with household chores, dinner and work/studying. Quality time is what you make it and where you make it.
Sports when you can, not when you want
So, I like to work out in the afternoon. That's when my body performs best, and it's usually when I ache to move as well. But, let's be honest, when do I have time to go for a run in the afternoon? I'd never run. Ever. So I go in the morning. Yeah, my performance is shite, but at least I'm going and I'm giving myself a well-deserved mental break.
The lesson is that sometimes we have to sacrifice theoretical performance for actual movement.
Don't sweat the small stuff
I just missed my stop. Yes, I’m still on the bus. Actually I did get out at my stop, at first, but I was disoriented because I rarely take this bus. So I got back on and then went a stop too far.
I used to get all worked up about things like that, things that went wrong. Now my initial reaction is still that, but then I stop, think and evaluate how likely my mistake or someone else's fuck up is to bring about the end of the world. Not very. Almost always the answer is: Not very likely at all.
So, I chill. After all, on my way to work just now I managed to buy bread and get a blogpost draft written.
Did you enjoy reading this? Did it bring a smile to your face? Was it a fucking revelation? Anyhow, please share this with your friends and enemies ;)
And bring on your own tips for surviving a busy freelancer’s life. I’ll take all the help I can get!