Career

Doing It All: How To Keep Up With Your Job And Your Home By Yourself

By Melody Rose··  9 min read
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I often hear career-focused, single women asking, “How do I keep up with my job and my home all by myself?” Having been someone who lived her twenties exactly in this space, I can truthfully say this is actually the perfect time to be doing it all.

While you may think everything would be a lot easier if you had a husband to share the load, that would also mean you’re attending to two schedules. When you’re solely managing your own, you can be spontaneous with your calendar and squeeze in any extra free moments just for you.

To explain a little further, for my entire twenties I balanced 5+ jobs simultaneously. This meant no nights and not much of a weekend. It actually served me well in my twenties to work like this, as I got an excellent pulse on what I was passionate about and met many lifelong friends along the way. The experiences were enriching, and I do believe that was from allowing myself to be fully immersed in a variety of places.

With that said, not so surprisingly, I lived alone and was single. I had to learn quickly how to make the most of my time if I wanted to excel in my career and still keep my sanity. If you’re in a similar situation now, let me tell you, it’s possible! Here are some of my favorite tips for doing it all, all by yourself.

1. Chores

Ohhh chores. Yawn

We see chores as an unnecessary time waster and the most dreaded use of our precious calendar squares, don’t we? But let me reframe this for you to point of which you may actually crave chore time. When you’re living with a busy schedule, even chores can feel like self-care if you design them that way. Take laundry, for example. Laundry can easily take about three hours if you do a couple of cycles. Three hours is a good chunk of time that you may find yourself begging for when you’re as busy as you are. Instead of waiting around focusing solely on the task at hand, ask yourself what else you can do during that time. If you’re headed to a laundromat, bring a book to relax or your laptop if you have some work to get done. I personally used to bring my laundry to my parent’s house or a friend’s house (of course, I asked beforehand) so I could visit with the people I loved while also checking chores off my list. 

Blast your favorite tunes and treat yourself to a glass of wine while you clean your home.

Next, let’s talk about cleaning your home. This can actually be really fun if you blast your favorite tunes and treat yourself to a cappuccino or glass of wine, depending on the time of day. Same with dishes and meal prepping. How can you make these seemingly mundane tasks exude more flair? Get creative.

2. Meal Prep for Success

So you’re constantly at the office or on the road, leaving little room to cook meals daily. If you’re not prepared, this can make drive-thrus and caffeine temptations an easy resort. However, in order to keep up with your busy schedule optimally (and save your hard-earned money), it’s important to nourish your body, which means setting aside time for weekly meal prep. This can take a couple of hours (another good activity to do while you’re waiting for laundry). 

I recommend making a notes section on your phone with your weekly meals and your shopping list. As you write out your meals, transfer the ingredients to your shopping list so you don’t miss anything. This will keep you focused and effective at the grocery store. If you’re more of a pen and paper gal, here’s a handy template you can download.

Then, following your list, make your meals in bulk and store them in the freezer to grab-and-go for the week. I found that sticking to the same meal plan for each week was helpful in being able to bulk buy and prep. If eating the same meals every week doesn’t sound appealing, then try a monthly schedule instead.

I also found amazing recipes on Pinterest that consisted of simple ingredients and didn’t take a lot of time to make. Doing the research will take up the most time in this scenario as you find things that work best for you. 

Another hot tip is to buy some extra healthy snacks that can be easily stored in your purse or at your desk. These will come in handy if you get hit with a craving or aren’t able to get to the grocery store as planned but want to stick to nutritious options. 

3. Grocery Shopping Expediency

Once you have your meal plan and grocery list completed, groceries will be relatively quick and efficient. You can go shopping between shifts, late at night, or early in the morning. Store hours are generally longer than traditional office hours, leaving enough space to make it happen outside of work. 

If you find that you’re not able to get to the stores often, then a grocery delivery service may be a great option for you. Thanks to Covid, curbside pickup and front door delivery has become more accessible than ever. There’s a range of options, from Instacart (which has a pricier delivery fee and tip) to Target (which has free curbside pickup). You can place an order through an app and even schedule a delivery or pickup time. 

You can place a grocery order through an app and even schedule a delivery or pickup time. 

Again, the most time-consuming part of groceries is the looking and the decision making. Stick to your list and make note of your preferred items so you don’t find yourself wasting time browsing the aisles or scrolling through the selections.

4. Make the Most of Your Commutes

Back when I was working 5+ jobs simultaneously, I genuinely looked forward to my commutes. I know people roll their eyes at the thought of commuting because the traffic is simply that annoying. However, when you’re busy and have this anticipated chunk of time to yourself, it’s kind of soothing. In fact, during this phase of my life, I didn’t mind the traffic jams because it meant more time for me (and I created a time buffer to get to work so it wasn’t stressful). 

I would have my travel coffee in hand and play my favorite podcasts or songs. Oddly enough, commuting became an essential part of my routine – it helped me collect my thoughts, decompress, and even sparked some of my most creative ideas. Today, I’m blessed with a remote job, but I still find myself going for a “morning commute” (aka a walk) because I value that mental preparation time so much. 

5. Scheduling Appointments

Getting to your appointments can be a bit tricky if you have limited availability or flexibility during traditional office hours and weekends. It takes a fair amount of planning and organization to be sure you’re on top of your routine checkups, dentist appointments, and oil changes. 

At first, I found myself scheduling my work obligations to leave Sundays mostly free to see friends and family, do chores, catch up on life, etc. But I quickly realized just about everything is closed on Sundays, so being able to catch up on necessary appointments usually didn’t happen. I then looked into transferring my work obligations to earlier in the week so Saturdays would be relatively free which made a big difference. Most businesses have at least half-day hours on Saturdays which allowed time for me to schedule appointments.

My employers were always flexible with personal appointments if I gave them enough notice. 

My employers were always flexible with personal appointments if I gave them enough notice. I would make it my first choice to schedule on my already open time blocks, but if I couldn’t, my colleagues were always willing to pitch in and cover me if needed. Always give a respectful amount of notice, show up fully when you’re at work, and I’m sure you’ll find a similar response when requesting occasional time off.

6. Organize Your Weekly and Monthly To-Do’s

Schedules are only chaotic if we allow them to be. Mastering your schedule really comes down to being exceptionally organized and realistic. At the start of each month, I would utilize my free time to plan ahead. I got into the habit of creating two separate lists: “Monthly To-Do’s” and “Weekly To-Do’s.” 

My Monthly To-Do List would have everything I desired to get done that month personally and professionally – within reason (excess goals would go on the “Yearly To-Do List”). I would use the Monthly To-Do List to then guide each Weekly To-Do List. My suggestion is to keep your Weekly To-Do List to 3-5 tasks a day (anything beyond this I found wouldn’t get done and felt overwhelming). 

Giving yourself targets to hit will keep you on track to success and prevent running in place with no traction. Have your calendar clearly set with absolutely everything so you can see where you’ll be and when, and more importantly recognize where there are open pockets of precious time. Most feelings of overwhelm come from not being able to see things planned out and taken care of, so take the pressure off your mind by physically writing it down. I lived by my planner and always had it in my purse. Even when plans would change, it helped me ensure that I was being effective with that free time as opposed to sitting there thinking about what to do with it and ultimately wasting it. Having my Monthly and Weekly To-Do Lists guaranteed that I’d meet my desired goals and reduced the amount of stress involved.

The moral of the story? Write it out! Stick to your lists as much as you can and you’ll notice success accrue.

Closing Thoughts

You know, I always hear people talk about work-life balance, and sometimes I wonder what that even means? This is beyond the office too, because motherhood is very much a job (in fact, it has been said it’s the equivalent of two full-time jobs). I think in any scenario every woman is busy. It comes down to mindset and being self-aware in order to find satisfaction in that. 

If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, whether that's building a business or raising your babies (or both), then you’ll find the drive and the time because you’ll want to. These 6 tips for optimizing your schedule will allow you to stress less while respecting and honoring your downtime in the process. 

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