Commit #4: Get ready

Ready, steady – Go! If you’re undertaking a challenge, practical preparation seems daft. But it really helps


Ready postcard

Ready, steady, go! Have readymeals: am ready to write © Laura Eades 2014 all rights reserved

What duties can you sack off or slack off on ?

House. Work. Family life. Make it easy. (But warn them).

Cheat! For a month. Or six weeks, or however long your challenge or trial period is set for.

Here are some ideas, fresh from my 1950s housewife-gets-a-vocation brain:

  • Cooking – cook and freeze. Or make a rota. Or stock up on alphabetti. My husband likes cooking, so he embraces stocking the freezer.
  • Overtime at work – desist at once! Get organised enough to do the minimum. This is not the month to go for promotion.
  • Washing – save it all for the end of the week and take it to the launderette for a service wash?
  • Workspace – Clearup in the corner you’re going to use for your new thing. Make the space ready.
  • House shit – like the blinds you’ve been saying you’d put up? Hide them so you don’t have to look at them. Chuck out some stuff so you feel better. Put stuff that needs attention in boxes/drawers to come back to later.
  • Cleaning – Just get a load of giant buckets or baskets. Instead of cleaning, just have 10 minutes of bucket time here and there, putting all the stuff destined for one room (like kids’ toys) into a bucket. I don’t know why, but I can stare at a bucket of organised rubble. I can see through it even. It’s practically invisible. Or pay a cleaner, if you have the means.
  • Hosting – cabaret nights, dinners… Things that cause stress, performance pressure etc. – Put them off. Cancel them. Invite yourself over to other people’s houses rather than having them over to yours.
  • Ask for help. Delegate – Explain that the next few weeks are important to you, and get lots of help from loved ones with this marathon.
  • Other commitments – like blogposts? Write them in advance. Invite guest bloggers to take the limelight for a month.
  • Favours –Demur. You’re flattered to be asked. But you can’t. Give a date when you can bountifully respond – after the challenge is over.

What extra time can you find in your diary?

Ditch anything that’s not helpful. Unecessary stress. For example, my friend wants to create new stand-up comedy material over the next six weeks, but she knows she has a date to perform mid-way. We agreed after some discussion that it would be best if she relied on old material so she wouldn’t have to devote much energy to it.

But hold tight onto…

  • Social events, build them into your challenge as breaks or routine punctuation. They help you keep a sense of humour.
  • Keeping in touch time. You need conversation. You need connection. You are not Robinson Crusoe on this mission.
  • Your outdoor time, your exercise routines, your relaxation or meditation (that last one’s a note to self). You need oxygen.
  • Meal breaks. Don’t start making every meal a ‘working breakfast’ etc.

Plan around obstacles

For example, I was doing a diet challenge last year, trying hard to eat a smaller lunch, and I had an end-of-term lunch party for my German language course. I had to really think through how I was going to approach it, it’s almost a joke how much extra thought I gave my approach. In the end, I decided to treat it as my main meal on that day, and to choose three things from the buffet that I really love rather than trying to sample the whole selection. It was worth the planning not to derail the challenge.

Be realistic

Nope! Your challenge is superhuman, obviously! Demanding the attention of a ninja. The powers of a superhero. Ruthless prioritising. Prepare to devote every ounce of extra thinking or doing time to it. It’s beyond realistic. That’s why you’re going to such lengths to make it happen. Why the hell else do you plan when you do your washing?

But. If the house and life are getting totally sacrificed, it’s time to stop and correct the course. 

I feel I should add something here. Which is that turning a blind eye to housework can come with a price.

During my novel challenge time, my husband went away for a few nights. When he came back, he was supposed to come and meet us somewhere but never turned up. When I finally caught up with him back at home, I was greeted by a hoovered hallway – and more: he’d washed the floors and tidied the whole flat.

I’d been focusing on the novel and our daughter and had become oblivious to the mess. He helped us out, but it made him feel that I hadn’t taken care of his homecoming. So I think I took it just that little bit too far…

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Housewives tips on how to cut corners in order to be productive? Bring them on. The 1950s meets the 2010s! Click on the pale grey dot with a plus sign below the blogpost to open the comment thread.

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