NB: This post was originally authored by me and published on Bellanaija.com, a lifestyle blog.
I was talking to one of my mummy-friends recently, and she was saying what I hear a lot of domestic queens: “I am always tired.”
While being tired is legitimate, being consistently tired in a way that hinders you from investing time in activities that will help you grow is dangerous.
One mistake a lot of people make is to think that the average domestic queen, that is, stay-at-home mom, is jobless at home. It almost feels like, Wetin stay at home moms dey do sef? Like that my neighbour who accused me of staying at home doing nothing and sleeping, because I dropped my kid off at daycare.
I know that being at home, taking care of the kids, and doing domestic chores is a full time job. So, my sister, I feel you. It seems like time, this finite resource everyone tells us to manage, is never enough, no matter how well we try to manage it.
Well, somehow, I have managed to crack the time management code.
In addition to being a wife and a mom of two boys who don’t know what a chill pill means, I also run a successful home-based business, mentor a number of ladies in various structured programs, provide content for my various social media pages, write for three publications, run a successful Christian blog at Eziaha.com, have a ministry to stay-at-home moms, lead a couple of groups, serve in my local church, and manage the many vertical and horizontal relationships in my life.
Yes, I have a very full life. I am not just busy, I am fruitful and flourishing on all counts. At the end of most days, I sleep happy and fulfilled.
How did I crack this management code? Simple.
In addition to managing my time, I started to manage my energy.
In simple terms: I studied myself, found out the activities that drained my energy levels, and those that fuelled it. I found the optimal times for doing both activities in a way that allows me completely maximise my 24-hour day.
I am, at this time, teaching the stay-at-home moms I mentor this winning technique.
Now, I am aware that all of these can get pretty technical, so I am going to break it down in very practical ways.
First, I have discovered the best hours of my day, and that is when it is dark. This means that I am happy to start my day very early, or stay up almost all night, to get some things done. A lot of what I do is intellectual and involves creative work, so I need the dark and quiet hours to get them done.
Whether I am researching to create content, ways to parent better, or doing some professional course, I am the babe who can start her day at 1 AM, or start her sleep at 5 AM. This has been the case from my university days, as I find that night hours work for me. I have always had a full life, even as a student, and despite being active in school politics and serving extensively in church, I made a first class and best graduating student. From that age, I had cracked that my night hours best allowed me to unleash my super powers. Till today, what I would achieve in three uninterrupted dark hours, with every distraction completely eliminated, I may need six daylight hours to achieve.
I also realised that my energy levels are high in those dark hours, so it allows me do more. As a result, that is not the time I decide to clean the house, do laundry, batch cook, chat with friends on WhatsApp, or be on YouTube watching my favorite shows. Those hours are gold for me, so I invest them in those A-activities. And these activities typically energize me.
I get a legit energy rush from creating content, so it almost feels like as I expend energy, it comes back to me. Having ambient music, that is, music without lyrics, also helps me focus better sometimes. Other times, I work in absolute silence. If I used those hours to do domestic work, it tires me out instead, so I have just given my best energy hours to tasks that could have been done at a later time. One mistake most domestic queens make.
Now, because there is the house to run still, I tend to do better at laundry, arranging, cooking and the likes during the day hours, fuelled by loud music or listening to my favourite teacher/preacher. Somehow, my physical energy for these tasks are optimised in these hours, so I do them then.
If I did most of my writing during the day, I would not achieve much, and I even find that I feel sleepy. If I tried to do domestic work at night, I would literally sleep off at it. But flip this, and I am working at both like a machine.
Now you see, this is not rocket science. If you commit to being a good student of yourself and practice what my leadership mentor, Craig Groeschel, calls an audit of your day for a period of one to three weeks, you will soon discover, through trial, error, and experimenting, the best time to do what, and then you fully maximise the day.
The simple truth is that we are all wired differently, and some are better at some things at different times than others. The hours start to look like they are not enough when we are doing the right things at the wrong time, thereby not only wasting time but also wasting energy.
Time is a finite resource, but energy can be renewed and replenished if we invest it right. Some of us moms may need to wake up and do our job or school applications immediately, as opposed to reaching for your phone and going to Instagram, cleaning the house or bathing the baby. In fact, some of us may need to have a few days that are domestic work free, set up only for personal development. Waking up and not looking at your phone for the first three hours may just be the magic a few of us need to completely max out our day efficiently. I love how Michelle Obama, in her incredible memoir Becoming, said that once she realised that working out between 5 and 6 AM was the key to creating even more energy for her day, she moved heaven backwards to make that happen. A couple of us who eat too heavy at night may find that the key to having enough energy to wake up when our set alarm goes off may be exchanging eba and egusi soup at night for a fruit salad.
Another thing I realized during my self-audit season is the absolute importance of my Mondays, so I don’t fix any external meetings or visits, and I literally divorce my phone and social chats on that day, as the start of a new week comes with a rush of energy for me, and so I invest it all in setting the tone for rest of the week. If I spend my Mondays in endless meetings and conversations, I have lost the equivalent of possibly two days in the week, in both time and energy.
However, most weeks, I make Thursday a work free day and catch up on sleep and my social life, including my endless WhatsApp chats. Just thinking about Thursday is even enough to create more energy for me on Tuesday and Wednesday if it starts to deplete.
And may I start to end this by saying that even when it comes to house chores, when you audit your day, you will find those tasks that absolutely drain your energy no matter when you get them done. It could be laundry, dish washing, or whatever. Personally, I detest cleaning the house and ironing. When I didn’t have a live-in domestic help, I got someone who came in once or twice a week to get it done. There were times when I asked my single friends to come around and help me with it. So you can either pay someone, or beg/bully another.
However, if both options are off the table, create a system around it that allows you to do it at a certain time only, and when that time comes, close your eyes and kill it. If you hate washing plates for example, don’t wash plates three times a day. You are losing energy three times a day. Save it for once a day. You make your own rules, darling.
You see, dear stay-at-home mom, the running of your home is both an art and a science, and you must not be casual about it. Have a leadership mindset, because that is who you are – a leader at home. Read books, resources that help you lead better; first leading yourself and then leading the people in your home. All these I am tired every day excuses are so last century. Millenial moms are applying these things I shared above.
It is time to manage your energy so you lead better.
I love this definition of leadership I found online: Leadership is the art of harnessing human energy to create change, to make a difference, and to get results, and the first person you have to lead, is you.