I am a big reader of business manuals and success books and I’d like to share one of the common threads that feature in the great majority, which I think can be safely summed up as follows:
It’s a simple idea; you focus on what you are good at, your natural talents and abilities, then you seek out ways to delegate the things that you struggle with or resent or do very, very badly.
Can you see where I’m going with this…?
Now, I’m guessing that anybody reading this blog would cheerfully delegate the vast majority of the housework schedule – if only that was an option. But I will also venture that many of us don’t delegate when we could or when – for the sake of home and family harmony – we really should find a way to do so.
Why is this? What’s true in the business world is often also true in the home and you wouldn’t dream of applying for a job doing something that you loathe or something you are really terrible at. When pursuing a career, usually the first question people ask themselves is, “What am I good at?”
Yet, in the home, we often just accept that since it needs doing, we ought to do it. But if the work is beyond your natural talents or empathies, it’s always going to feel like a struggle. There is much value in simply recognising this. Of course, it may be true that delegation is out of the question but strange things happen, once you become clear about what you do and don’t want to spend your life doing.
I have experienced this in both the professional realm and the home. In my work life, I recently reached a point where I needed to ‘learn PR’. I had discovered that my skills in this area were lacking, so, with the common belief that I have to do everything myself, I set off on the slow and bumpy road of learning it all from scratch.
Then, thanks to divine intervention, I stumbled across a website(Motivating Mums) where mums in business can be mentored by other mums in business – to fill in the gaps in their expertise. For a small fee (around £20) I could have a half-hour chat with a PR expert. Genius! So I signed up and tapped into my mentor’s wealth of PR experience – making more progress in that 30 minutes than I would have made in months, on my own.
So, I took this lesson from ‘the real world’ and applied it to my domestic stuff. How could I tap into and benefit from someone who has been there and done that?
Well, the obvious first resort was my bookshelf. I think books are an often overlooked form of mentoring. Yet the few hours it can take to read a great book can knock hours of your housework timetable.
For example, if you live in a hard water area (like I do), you could spend a fair amount of time battling stubborn limescale or watermarks. Or you could benefit from other’s experience and discover that vinegar is a secret weapon that could make your workmuch easier. (Thanks, Michael!)
This is just one example of how you can tap into a mentor’s expertise and also ‘outsource’ jobs that you would prefer to avoid.
This tactic is not only more pleasant than slogging your guts out doing work you despise, it’s also more efficient. You will tend to breeze through work you’re happy with much quicker and more successfully than stuff that puts you in a bad mood. So, why fight it? When possible either delegate or find someone who knows how to do it really well – and take advantage of their experience.
The internet has made it easier than ever to access this information. One shining example (pardon the pun) of a virtual housework mentor is the hugely popular FlyLady. On her website, you can opt in for varying degrees of coaching. These will both inspire and inform, encouraging you to go with your strengths and helping you to combat your weaknesses. Whatever gaps you have in your home-keeping talents, FlyLady has a wealth of information to help you. And much of it is free! So your only investment is your time – time that you will undoubtedly recoup in increased efficiency or reduced procrastination.
Alternatively, I’m a huge fan of my Virtual Declutter Mentor – Mimi Tanner. Her eBook and emails are full of little gems that make me wonder why I’ve been doing things the hard way. If clutter is one of your bugbears, Mimi has some great tips that can make busy family life so much easier to handle.
So, cast an enquiring eye over your schedule and look for any obvious areas where delegation is an option or where a mentor could short-cut your learning.
Housework is hard work. It makes sense to tap into anything that can lighten the load. Help truly is out there and it’s becoming more accessible than ever.
As they say in the business world: work smarter, not harder.
Or as my wonderful Motivating Mums mentor says, “Why do it the hard way when I can tell you all the short-cuts?”
As always, I’d love to hear what you think!