I recently received this excellent question (just edited out the name of the person who sent in the question):
Hello Eva, I have been an avid follower of your blog in the last years (since I discovered it!). I am also a tenured researcher and mother, and your posts have always lots of interesting ideas that help me to better manage my time (a big problem for me, more to come) and my research. I particularly like your posts presenting your schedule each semester. However, there are densely packed and I always wonder when do you make space for other tasks commonly known as “life administration” (paperwork, decluttering home, groceries shopping, etc…). I am curious about how do you manage this kind of tasks. Do you leave them for the weekend? During the week, in some slot that you do not show in your schedule? In any case, many thanks for all the inspiration that you provide to young researchers juggling with parenthood! Best, XX
This is an excellent question! It depends on the task, so let me address the various examples separately:
- Paperwork: it depends on what needs to be done. If I have to go do to bank, I’m lucky enough to have a branch of my bank right on campus, so I can stop by quickly (well… quickly depends on the length of the line). If I need to make a call for something, I also do that during the day, to make sure to call during office hours. Finances and similar things I usually do on Monday evenings in my time block for addressing personal emails. Other quick emails of things I need to take care of, I usually just address them during the day.
- Decluttering home: Much less than I’d like… I think when my daughter is off to college, I’ll get to declutter in the way I want to. I do quick rounds of putting things in order (clearing surfaces etc) right when I come home from work, often while cooking (for example, while boiling water for the potatoes). I also have a full-time employee at home, who does all the cleaning, a good chunk of the laundry, some food prep, and some parts of putting things in place.
- Grocery shopping: I get a weekly delivery at home from an organic store, and often also buy the fruit and veg pack from the agricultural engineering pilot farm of my university. I also get bread delivered at home, and I only need to go to the grocery store for things like toilet tissue and beer. My husband has been our designated grocery-shopper during the pandemic, and I only recently started going. If I need to go, I will just not do my afternoon workout and serve bread for dinner. Other types of shopping that need to be done, we usually do that together on the weekend in one of the local malls.
So, I think my answer comes down to:
- I have low standards and do the minimum amount to keep my home functioning.
- I outsource as much as possible, and divide responsibilities with my husband.
- I do quick things during the workday if necessary.
- I do quick bursts of organizing around dinner cooking.
- I do larger things on the weekend.