As a single person living alone in a moderately sized two-bedroom apartment, I frequently feel like I don’t have enough time for everything I need and want to do. Back when I was working from home, I could do a lot of small household chores and personal management labor in the breaks I now fill with walking around my office, browsing the internet, writing, and various minor entertainments. I think that was the only time in my life I managed to keep up with laundry, apartment cleaning, work, and hobbies. I had fewer demands on my time, sure, since I wasn’t blogging, writing, and trying to maintain three dungeons and dragons campaigns, but I felt like I was actually on top of things for once.
Now, I constantly fight the feeling that I’m falling behind or failing, but also feel more satisfied with my life, generally speaking. Sure, I don’t always do my dishes every day, sometimes the last load of laundry sits in the dryer until the next week’s laundry starts, and I haven’t dusted my entire apartment in longer than I care to explicitly admit in a public place, but I definitely feel better about my life. I just wish I had the time, you know? It was so much easier to manage when I had roommates, even if that brought it’s own emotional labor and struggles.
To be honest, the real limiting factor isn’t time. I have the time to do everything on my various to-do lists, if in a sometimes piecemeal manner, but I generally don’t have the energy. Even if leaving work and enjoying my moment of transition from work to the rest of my life helps refresh me, I still don’t have as much energy as I’d need to push myself to do the important but stressful tasks like filing my taxes and scrubbing my floors. Even on the weekends, the reason I do laundry on saturday is that it’s a low-effort chore I can do when I need a full day to rest and recover so I can actually accomplish things on Sundays, and that doesn’t always work out since sometimes saturdays can be taxing as well, if I wind up doing other stuff. Sure, I don’t always need rest to the same extent every week, but it usually doesn’t go in my favor. Usually, I need more than a single day of rest to recover rather than less than one.
There’s a lot of (largely apocryphal) statements out there about the “good ol’ days” division of labor being the only way to fully maintain what is depicted as the “standard” lifestyle in the US. It lends a lot of credence that most of the people I know who are able to maintain a life like that without burning themselves out have either a part-time working partner, a stay-at-home partner, or are one of those two themselves. I think that people who are, perhaps, less stressed than me, who maybe have no concept of spoons and forks infringing on their day-to-day life, can probably accomplish a well-maintained life, but I’m reasonably confident that I’m never going to be able to. I mean, the only way I’m going to be even approximate it is by planning to take one or more days off in an upcoming week so I can take a day to rest and then clean my apartment, file my taxes, take care of a host of stressful and annoying tasks I’ve been putting off for way too long, and then recover from that effort before having to go back to work again.
I’ve stared at a blank paragraph for ten minutes, trying to figure out where to go from the above, but I think that’s it. I don’t have more to add. That’s just sort of how life is right now. I’ve got so much going on, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I use to-do lists for everything not because I can’t track it, but because I have to prioritize it somehow and carefully plan how I spend the limited energy I have. So now I’m gonna go get takeout because I can’t stand the idea of producing dishes I’d have to eventually clean and do something quiet with what remains of this incredibly long, busy day (of writing this). I hope you’re all at least managing, somehow. Sometimes, as I’ve learned repeatedly this past three years, that’s the best you can hope for and a mighty fine goal to accomplish.