Maintenance – Align your priorities for creative output, part 9

7. Maintenance

What I classify as “maintenance” are all the little obligations you have as part of living: cleaning the house, taking out the trash, fixing faucets, fixing cares, mowing the lawn, etc.

I also include feeding yourself and performing basic hygiene.

I think this is one area where there is an intense amount of focus for things like “life hacks” – little things that either save time or improve your effectiveness in this area of your life in the long run. I saw an add for a device called the “Y Toothbrush” that claimed it could clean your teeth in ten seconds. I just watched a two minute video on it, which is how much time I could have spent just brushing my teeth. But it’s tempting to consider it, since over the course of a year I would save 24 hours of time. WoW!

The thing is, I think most of these things are of only marginal usefulness as far as saving time goes. 24 hours sounds like a lot, but when it is in two-minute intervals you could easily lose all of that time looking at twitter and not gain anything for your investment.

Meal prepping is a great example. Lots of people swear by it – you spend part of Sunday prepping all of your meals for the week, then you just pop them in the oven (or microwave) during the week. You aren’t saving time – you are shifting time from a day where you feel busy to one where you don’t feel busy.

Some people who meal prep like to say they get to make meals for the week that would normally take more time – so they get to eat better than if they made a meal from scratch on that day. That’s great if that is what you want, but you are probably losing even more time justifying it that way.

What you might really be saving is head space – the energy you would spend thinking about dinner and making it is freed up on a busy day. That could be a definite gain.

That’s not what I do, though. I eat roughly the same three meals a day, every day. No headspace taken up, easy to manage the diet, and the meals I can make in 5 minutes anyway. Diet variety is something I don’t care about.

You have to find your own efficiency and be honest with yourself.

Paper Plates, plastic spoons, and Styrofoam cups.

Let me share an anecdote with you. Some of you will hate me for this.

When I lived in Las Vegas, my roommate (who would eventually become my brother-in-law) and had a problem. We hated doing dishes, and we also kept plugging up the dishwasher with whey protein. It was getting annoying, and we came up with a solution.

We spent the next two years eating on nothing but paper plates and drinking from nothing besides Styrofoam cups (or Rockstar cans). We cooked almost all of our meals on a twenty dollar George Foreman electric grill.

We figured out we could buy the plates, cups, and spoons (which we used exclusively for protein shakes) cheaply from Costco (we bought Styrofoam because it was cheaper than paper), we no longer had to spend any time on dishes (which was something we hated doing anyway), we no longer had to buy soap, and there was no conflict whatsoever in managing domestic maintenance as a result, as the kitchen was 50% of the shared space, with the other half being the washer and dryer.

It cost us about 15 extra dollars a month, split two ways. We could take a drink to the gym (or anywhere else) and just toss it. We had to empty the trash more often, which was not a big deal.

This was legitimately the only life hack that ever worked for me, and it was one that just happened to fit my situation.

Maintenance as a priority.

Where you put household maintenance is largely a part of what you need as a person. If you need to have a very cleanly house, you have to find ways to do that as efficiently and effectively as possible.

For me, a perfect house is not a need. Dusty shelves don’t bug me except every so often; same with dirty mirrors. Eventually they do bother me, but cleaning the mirrors once every other month is less time and effort than cleaning them every week. That’s just reality.

Whatever your needs, you do have to accept the fact that having a perfect house will take time (and head space) away from other activities.

Personal maintenance

I think if there is one sub-area to not try to cut corners, it is personal hygiene and beauty. This is especially the case if you are a woman – speaking completely honestly women are judged much more harshly for their looks, including by other women. For a woman skipping make-up is usually not an option, and dress is both more complicated and more important.

You also want to look your best if you are a performer, or anyone who shows his or her face on social media. Looks matter. Having your beard trimmed or face shaved will make you look better and people will like you better for it.

I’ve learned this through experience. Last year I hacked my beard down and suddenly everyone thought I had lost a bunch of weight.

My hair has always looked good, and I frequently get comments about it. That’s not something I can help you with, though. It’s just a gift.

Want to grab a free book of mine? Check out Prophet of the Godseed, a star-trek style space novel where faster-than-light travel isn’t possible.

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