Household Management is what we do to keep our homes running. It is everything that keeps our homes (and lives) functioning, useable, clean, orderly, and beautiful. From the top down it looks like this: Household Management – Systems – Routines or Projects – Tasks. (graphic here) Systems are like the machine that needs to be in place to get a job done, and they are always about effectiveness. In other words, the machine is in place so that you can accomplish important things. Those are things like laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, or financial management. Did you ever think of your laundry as a system? You should! If your laundry system is broken or inefficient, guess what? laundry doesn’t get done and you will have stress about laundry.
Systems are made up of routines and projects. Routines are the way you operate the “machine”: how much, how often, when, what order you do things, etc. Routines are always about things that must be done over and over. In other words, you are never “done” with laundry (I wish!), but you can be done with a particular routine called “do the laundry this week.” Routines are mostly about efficiency. You want to figure out the best way to run your “machine” and then do it the same way each time. This saves you from decision fatigue because you can just go through the steps without having to figure out how to do it each time.
You also get to build on what has worked well in the past, so over time, you can improve the routine. When you read about a new hack for laundry, you can quickly decide if it fits into your routine to make it more efficient—or not. The latest piece of advice may not apply to you and the way you do things. If so, then you won’t be constantly trying new things that don’t work.
Projects, on the other hand, are one-off things. You don’t do them again and again; you set it up once and it’s done. A project would be something like organizing your laundry room so that the space is more efficient, or decorating it so that you like the space better. You don’t need to reorganize it every week–and I’m not talking about tidying it up or cleaning it. Of course you need to do that on a regular basis. I’m talking about setting up your laundry room so that it will work for you or be more beautiful.
Both routines and projects are made up of tasks. Those are all the single-step things you actually do. In a routine, a task might be “gather the laundry baskets” or “sort the clothes.” In a project it might be something like “throw out old laundry products” or “buy contact paper for the shelves.” The tasks are all the little steps you do when you run the machine or do a project.
Household management is a lot like running a business. You have all the systems to run, personnel (that’s the people who live there), finances, projects, physical plant, etc. I’d like to propose that many of the things that work in business, can be adapted to running your home. If you want to be a pro, you need to think like one. Start taking a look at the systems in your house. Make a list of all the things that need to work in your home and we’ll start going through them in the next post.