THE  Blog

WHY I STOPPED CLEANING MY HOUSE



While sheltering-in-place and social distancing as the coronavirus wages war, I've missed many, many things. One of the things I miss most is our long-time cleaning lady Laura and the way she comes into the aftermath of our personal tornado created by two entrepreneurs, two kids, a dog and a usually full house.


I hate cleaning. And by hate I mean loathe, despise, abhor. I always have. Not because I don't love a clean and orderly environment (I do), or because I think I'm above the act of cleaning (I don't). It's because there have always been so many other things I've wanted to do, create and experience with my time.


So when I was a grown up woman with two little ones, a career, an equally hard-working husband and a house that seemed to be in a continual state of "lived in", I dreamed of handing over the bucket, rags and toilet brush to someone else.


But then my inner critic chimed in. How do I justify paying someone else to do something that I can do? We didn't have the suggested six-month cushion in savings. Our retirement accounts weren't getting much love, and the kids' college funds weren't even started. I should be able to clean the house.


Once I started to build a business of my own and added the title of entrepreneur to wife, mom, PR pro, and human trying to stay healthy and sane, I knew something had to give.

I had to learn how to value my time so I’d know where to spend it and where not to. I also knew that if I left choices about where to spend my time to an emotional decision, the people-pleaser/recovering control freak and perfectionist in me who tends to have unrealistic expectations for how much I should be able to do, wouldn’t always make the right choice.


So I came up with a way to figure out what my time was worth through a simple calculation that takes the emotion out of it. It was inspired by my two careers that were tied to the billable hour before I became an entrepreneur — law and PR — and requires you figure out what you ultimately want to be earning each year (the audacious goal stuff) and how many hours you want to be working.


When I first did this calculation, every hour of mine was worth $962 per hour. You better believe that impacted how I spent my time. I immediately handed over those cleaning supplies to someone I could hire for $25 an hour. The hours I used to spend scrubbing toilets and vacuuming gave me more time outside and more focused time on our kids. Which made me healthier, more present, and feeling less guilty. All of which made me more productive on the things that grew my income.


This life-changing calculation gave me unemotional, mathematical proof of what to delete and delegate. No guilt, no judgement. Over the years, I've constantly evaluated everything on my plate according to this number to figure out where it makes financial sense to hire someone else to do something to free me up to do the things only I can uniquely do. Everything from paying someone to handle all of our bookkeeping and accounting, to running errands, to meal delivery services instead of spending all that time shopping and cooking.


I also stopped wasting my precious time on things that were a waste of my time. I started seeing things like phone calls and meetings that didn’t move the needle or were just bitch sessions for what they really were—my flushing money down the toilet.

My hourly worth number has consistently grown—along with my happiness and fulfillment—precisely because I continued to evaluate what to keep on my task list, what to hand off and what to get rid of, no Shoulds allowed. It's a big reason why I've been able to juggle a thriving marriage, raising two humans, growing an enormously successful business, writing two books, accepting the speaking gigs I want to, working on causes I care about and taking care of my mental and physical health and practicing basic hygiene.


The number of hours in your day are fixed, so I really hope you'll get better at deciding how you're going to spend them. I hope you'll let me teach you how to figure out what your hourly worth is through my latest book, to give you more time for the things you really want to do and less time on the things you hate. I also want to make it a lot easier to have unemotional, fact-driven conversations with those in your business and personal lives who might need to be part of the discussion and decision-making.


Our beloved Laura will be back soon, but this time of donning the rubber gloves again has made me even more grateful that a decade ago I figured out how to stop spending time on something I hate. Tell me in the comments what you wish you could stop doing, and then get the mathematical proof why you must.

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Romi Neustadt © 2020