Housework: Housewife :: Email: Middle Manager

Housework is my guilty secret. I find it deeply satisfying keeping my house in order. A clean house feels reassuring.

But I’ve been thinking about the balance between keeping my house clean and getting anything else done.

Housework is a lot like email was in my corporate jobs. Never ending. You could spend all your time on it. Never get to the strategic, high priority, hard stuff, and wonder what you did with your day. With your life.

For a while I sought external validation for the housework I was doing. I wanted to document where my day was going. I’d send my partner a series of emails when I was in a housecleaning frenzy:

  • 9:20 a.m. Living room picked up and vaccuumed
  • 10:02 a.m. Dining room picked up, floor swept
  • 11:06 a.m. Kitchen clean
  • 11:15 a.m. Hallway picked up and swept
  • 11:56 a.m. Laundry folded; load in washing machine

Etc.

But seeking validation for all that work is as futile as expecting to be rewarded in your performance review for keeping a well-managed inbox.

The house was clean (briefly!) but nothing else got done in those three hours. Just like if I’d spent three hours of high-productivity time just doing email.

I’m learning to balance the tactical and strategic in this new role at home, as I tried to do in my corporate roles. I’m learning that that dirty bathroom, as much as it bugs me, is not the top priority.

And as I figure out that balance, I’m still going to clean my house. Don’t tell anyone, though.