About a year and a half ago, I closed my first company. There were a lot of reasons, but underlying it all was one undeniable truth.
I was completely burnt out.
What happened? That’s a story for another time.
It’s suffice to say though that when I decided to go back to work, I had to think more rationally about the situation. How could I create a successful company and avoid a burnout this time?
I was reminded of a trip I took a few months ago to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka one of those wonderful places where domestic help is both completely normal and affordable for anyone with a lower-middle class income or more. I was there visiting a college friend, who at this point had become quite successful. Also, the entirety of my friend’s household upkeep, from cleaning, to grocery shopping to car maintenance, were taken care of by hired help.
While my friend is an incredibly accomplished and truly driven individual, it became obvious to me after a few days that he was at a huge advantage with his domestic set up.
He had so much extra time than I did, not having to take care of a single household chore.
I started to think about how was I spending my time outside of work. I too wanted to be able to eliminate tasks that were taking away from time with family, friends or taking care of myself. Had I just discovered the key to enhanced productivity without a burnout?
The first question was to ask myself, what is my time worth? Per hour?
Then, I would off load any “work” that could be done by someone with a less expensive hourly rate, such as my never-ending domestic chores.
There is a strange stigma that there is something wrong with us if we don’t do our own domestic chores. That we’re snobby, stuck up or think we’re above cleaning our own toilets. Listen, I’ve cleaned my own toilet and mopped my own floor – but my earning capacity at this point is above that. If I was to accomplish more, I needed to delegate tasks and free up hours. Isn’t that the general principle of business?
Once your potential for earning becomes higher than a domestic helper’s hourly rate, you ought to be paying someone else to do your domestic chores. It’s simple economics.
With the three hours extra a day I used to spend cleaning and cooking, I can take on one to two new clients a month, easily covering the bill of my cleaner and having earnings left over. That’s good business.
This lesson came back to me twofold with the birth of my son. He is our first child, and it is true that nothing can prepare you for the immense joy of creation or the immense stress and fatigue of caring for an infant. As much as we saw that having family stay to help us out made a huge difference, my husband was reluctant to hire help once they had gone. He, like many people, held some farfetched belief that we were bad parents if we needed to hire domestic help.
The truth is, with nannies or cleaners supporting us we actually become more compassionate, present parents.
Quality time with your kids is not washing their vomit off the couch or cleaning up fallen peanut butter sandwiches. It’s not five am feedings when you haven’t slept in days and your house is a wreck. Quality time with your kids is the time you spend with them when you have time to give. When you can enjoy being in the moment instead of worrying about the giant pile of laundry to do or the bills you haven’t paid. I’m talking about real, free time to spend reading, playing outdoors or adventuring.
If instead you’re spending that time taking care of household chores, you’re actually missing out on quality time with your kids while they’re still kids.
Ask yourself, what is an hour of your time worth? Or a free hour with your child?
Then stop caring about what other people think and if it’s right for you, hire some help. It will make your life easier, more productive and ultimately happier.
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This post also appears on Thrive Global here