FOMO has a new meaning. Fear of Monday Overwhelm.
Why? Because your new hybrid work schedule is about to make your work life more complicated, and that may impact your home life as well.
The variability in your work schedule, commute time, children’s (if you have them) sports and activities, and cocktails with clients that now populate your calendar all add up and can make it harder to manage your household.
However, your return to the office does not have to create chaos and stress at home. Use these three steps to help ease the transition into your hybrid work schedule.
Assess your household management tasks
As you emerge from your cocoon of pandemic life and the pace of life ramps back up, now is the time to assess your household management chores. Audit your current list of domestic management duties and pinpoint the essential chores that keep your home up and running. Use the three-part stop, start, continue process to guide you.
Stop: What can you stop doing? Identify and eliminate the nice-to-have, “I did it because I was bored” or “guilt made me do it” tasks from the chores that are critical to the health and well-being of your family, partner, significant other, or roommates. For example, during the pandemic, I would sweep our floors while I listened to conference calls—even when they were not dirty. I don’t need to sweep every day, and neither do you.
Start: What do you need to start doing to preserve your sanity and simplify your life? Look at your household maintenance list. Identify where you need to start asking for more support and help. Do you need to initiate a gymnastics carpool for your daughter? Do you need to begin a Sunday afternoon family meeting to review and prepare for the upcoming week? And you may find yourself going back to the stop step and decide that what is necessary is to stop doing this task.
Continue: What do you want to continue doing? The pandemic forced us to get creative and adapt. For example, many of us began ordering our groceries online and having them delivered. Established dinner theme nights—Taco Tuesday and Wacky Wednesday, breakfast for dinner or dessert first—were among my family’s favorites. How did you modify and simplify your household maintenance? What can you keep doing?
Decide how the tasks will be completed
Now that you know the chores you will stop, start, and continue, the next step is to decide how the tasks will be completed. You can automate, outsource, and/or “insource.”
Automate: Leverage technology tools that can eliminate repetitive tasks to save time and energy. For example, set up your vitamins to autorenew and ship, set up your bills on autopay, put recurring reminders on your calendar to have your HVAC, garage door, or any other regular household maintenance items completed, and use prepopulated online grocery-ordering lists. And don’t overlook an investment in a robot that can vacuum your floors, or an instant pot or slow cooker that can prepare your dinner.
Outsource: Have someone else complete the task for you. For example, do you need to cut your own grass, or can the teenager down the street do it for you? Can you subscribe to a home meal delivery service such as HelloFresh, Green Chef, or Blue Apron to provide a few meals each week? Or hire a dog walker to walk your dog on the days that you are at the office?
“Insource:” Gather all members of your household and divide up the tasks among them. Start the process by asking which responsibilities people want to do and/or have expertise in. For example, I prepare our family’s grocery list because I love to create lists, and I am a very proficient list maker.
After everyone has selected their favorite household chores, cleaning toilets and taking out the trash will probably still be on the list. Assign these duties or draw names out of a hat. You can also rotate who completes the chores each week. Everyone who lives with you can contribute to the smooth operation of the home.
Use time-saving solutions
When the demands on your time increase, saving 5 or 10 minutes throughout your day quickly adds up.
Prepare and use an “office bag.” It’s inefficient to pack and unpack a bag every other day to go into the office. And you will probably forget something you need while “hoteling” at your corporate office. Pull out the bag sitting amid the dust in the back of your closet and pack it with pens, highlighters, power cords for your phone and laptop, notepads, and anything else you may need to complete your work. Keep this bag packed and grab it each time you go to the office.
Use technology to track and manage all personal and family commitments. Create a centralized calendar so you can stop texting, emailing, or calling your partner or child to remind them you have a work dinner or that the soccer game was moved to 9 a.m. on Saturday. For example, you can use an app such as Cozi to keep all family appointments and activities in one place, or combine multiple Gmail calendars, or share your Outlook calendar. Streamline and simplify the coordination and communication of activities.
Challenge your family to compete in a pick-up sprint. Here’s how it works: Assign each person in the family a room or a section of a room in your house, with the task of picking up and putting away shoes, coats, book bags, mail, or any other items that have been left out. Set a timer or play one of your family’s favorite songs. The person who can clean up their area before the timer goes off or the song ends wins.
FOMO does not have to strike when you return to your office. Assess your household management responsibilities, develop your plan, and implement a time-saving sanity solution to save a few minutes throughout your day.
Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, a business consulting firm that partners with organizations, business leaders, and employees to enhance workplace productivity, foster employee engagement, and build personal and professional legacies. She is the author of Own It. Love It. Make It Work: How to Make Any Job Your Dream Job.