A Commentary On Time Management, Productivity and Work/Life Balance
Let’s Talk About Dishes
How do you load the dishwasher? No really? Are you a “let it pile up and I’ll tackle it all at once” kinda human or a “that dish just landed and I’m coming in hot” kinda person? Or maybe you’re the “Just what I need, when I need it” weirdo. I’m sort of obsessed with ways to get more out of myself, my day and (of course) my work. I think it’s a healthy reverence. My friends and family use “obsession” (whatevs).
If you hang around SOCO long enough, you’ll inevitably see me hovering over the dishwasher rearranging mugs and glasses and bowls in the eternal search for the “optimized wash”
ps: In case you were wondering, there’s a scientifically-backed approach to doing it well – thank you American Cleaning Institute. 😎
pss: Yes. Hannah Lee and I are working on a team member handbook on how to optimize dishwashing as one of our core values. 🙌🏾
What The Hell Are You Talking About, Greg?
Well friend. Washing dishes is a corollary for your work (or your life or both):
- It’s a daily routine (for most of us)
- It can feel never ending (you run it and 10 minutes later they’re baaaaack!)
- If you don’t tend to them, they pile up and can create a lot of stress and not just for you (don’t believe me? Read this).
- They suck! Like, who raises their hand for dishes??? But, you just have to do it (kind of like work for most of us).
- And finally…there are a like hundred different ways to getting them done!
So, Why Are You Creating Dishwasher Distress?
Here goes. The actual dishes are ALL THE THINGS IN YOUR LIFE. 💥
Your work commitments. Your social relationships. Your family needs. Your personal time. Your mom (that you haven’t called back in weeks). If you need to spend time on it, then it’s a “dish”. And you need to take care of each one (eventually). But every bloody week, the dishes pile up and you can never seem to get around to all of them.
What needs to go in right now? What can wait? Are the plates more important than the mugs? Do some need to be washed by hand because they are delicate or breakable? How many minutes should I spend standing over this sink before I go postal (I can’t be the only one)?
My point is this. It’s all gotta get done. So, the real question is what’s important to you and how do you handle things when when the “shit” piles up?
6 Things We Can Learn About “Balance” From Dishes
- There’s Always Dirty Work: We all want to do the high value work that’s strategic and high value. But, you’re fooling yourself if you think you can avoid the dirty work all the time. In fact, sometimes leadership is more about showing than telling. So, lead by example and get your hands dirty. 🧼
- Take Pleasure In Small Wins/Steps/Efforts: Struggling with an overwhelming task? Start small. Wash a dish. And then another. And then another. Small wins can have a profound impact on your well-being. Take baby steps towards your goal and before you know it…”the dishes are done man…”. 😂
- Find Purpose In All Things: Washing dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning out your inbox, decluttering your workspace, reviewing your spending…whatever the mundane task…it does serve a purpose. Assign value to the outcome and transcend the monotony of the task. For me (at home), washing the dishes is one way that I say “I love you” to my partner. I wash the dishes (at night mostly) so that when she wakes up, she’ll come into a clean(er) kitchen. That reduces her stress and that’s a good thing. 💪🏽
- Know Your Priorities: Know When Something Is A Priority (And When It Isn’t). We can’t get it all done. Stop trying. Really. So, life is really about choosing where to invest your time and in what. Take a hard look at where you spend your time and what efforts will help you create the most momentum. Those small tasks can consume your day, but ask yourself if they’re moving the needle or not. If they aren’t, maybe the dishes can wait another day. 🎯
- Reward Yourself: Listen. Carrots always work better than sticks. So, if you have to get through some hard stuff (or a hard day/week), know it’s going to suck and set aside some time to reward yourself with something related to emotional, mental or physical wellness. Hard = A Reward. Listen…there’s a reason people plan their vacations in advance. 🏖️
- Ask For Help: Sometimes, life can get overwhelming. Being entrepreneurial sometimes feels like you’re the “capitan”, the first mate and everyone else on the deck of the ship. Know when to ask for help and Surround yourself with people who can offer emotional support, practical help, and guidance when needed. 🆘
Looking for a little more?
Check out this great episode on the Communal podcast where Greg and Gene answer listener questions on work/life balance, leadership and remaining your authentic self. It’s a good one.
About The Author:
Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller.
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