Reader question: Doing it all

How do you do it all?

Recently, I got the sweetest email from a blog reader. Not only does Kristin sound like a fun person, she is so kind to look through and appreciate my various blog posts, home tour, and more.

Hi Suzannah! 
My name is Kristin, and I adore your blog. I am 26 and live in Austin, Texas, with my husband. I sew a little, crochet some more, but also eat Paleo and enjoy your food, DIY, and home decor posts very much. 

I wanted to write and request a blog post.... How on earth do you get everything done?! Are you ever tired or feel overworked? You have a beautiful blog, with tons of gorgeous photos of a neat, chic home, and everything seems tasteful and orderly, and you're working on a book, in addition to what seems like a full-time job? You are an inspiration! I just don't know how you do it all! I would love to read about how you schedule your projects, what your recommendations are for getting All The Things Done and so beautifully! 

 Thank you very much for your incredible blog!

I was so touched by Kristin's email. Hard to know where to start answering her question, actually. As I told her in my quick reply, yes, I do work hard on having a blog, job, house, life, etc. but I don't always feel like I succeed--so compliments like hers are all the more meaningful.

However, I don't necessarily recommend anyone "try it at home," because there is a cost to trying to do it all and I often wish I were doing less. I also told her, I appreciate her request, but I'm more likely to write a post about balancing life goals than about how to fit everything in!

Well, I guess, here's how


I did answer her question, though. Not because I think anyone else should do everything I do! But, the honest answer to the direct questions, I think. Well, Kristin...
  • Yes, I am often tired and feel overworked!! But, I find I feel that way most when I spend time on things I'm not passionate about or resent. I usually feel pretty good when I do the things I love.
  • I've been blogging for more than 5 years now--it's gotten much easier. That really helps with the regularity. I don't really schedule my projects out, I just share what I've made recently, although I do keep an editorial Google calendar so I remember when I'm posting what.
  • My book is almost to the printing stage now, and I wrote most of it more than a year ago. During most of the writing process I worked a less stressful job and had more energy at home!
  • I've been battling my to-do list for years, so now I generally just ignore it and do what I feel like doing most of the time. Sometimes I put things off a long time, although I have always felt comforted by structure so I usually do well sticking to my blog post routine as well as my pretty standard weekday evening routine.
  • I find that I can really only do ONE extra thing after work each weekday, especially on days when I work out. It takes me 1-2 hours to do the cooking and lunch-packing for the next day so afterwards I don't always feel like sitting down again to do tons of emails, etc. But, one extra thing is usually manageable. That might be a blogging thing, or it might be simply watching a few old 30 Rock episodes and foam roller time. That would be a successful evening for me! (Several nights/week my husband is at class or work so I'm home alone.)  My daily schedule? On weekdays, usually something like:
    • 6:00 AM: up
    • 7:00 AM - 4:30 PM: on the clock at work, eat meals at my desk while working (sit/stand work station)
    • 5:15ish PM: either work out in our garage gym and/or chop veggies, start dinner, etc.
    • 6:00ish PM: either shower and/or keep cooking
    • 6:30 or 7:00 PM: usually can have food ready by this point (sometimes husband is home, sometimes not)
    • 8:00ish PM: clean up from dinner, face the emails or watch Netflix and drink tea
    • 9:30 PM: goal for reading in bed, then sleep

I'd love to be able to say I do the bare minimum each day, because I believe life balance and keeping stress levels down are so important. I still sometimes get affected by the to-dos I keep moving forward on my calendar, but I've also learned to take deep breaths through the stress and forgive myself because I know I'm doing the best that I can. I've always been the kind of person likely to get over-committed (I think I learned it from my mom, who's always been on 4 or 5 committees at a time, I swear...), so my goals for the future are prioritizing and learning to step back from less important responsibilities.

The real answer!


So, what I really feel is, I just can't offer recommendations on how to pack your schedule and free time and make your life busy but seeming productive.

So really, rather than explaining how I do everything I do, I'd rather say:
  1. don't do it all, and 
  2. I no longer believe that "doing it all" is a healthy goal.
First, I don't do it all! I miss all kinds of things. I leave emails in my inbox for several days before reading them, sometimes. I meant to post this post yesterday. The other night I was up till bedtime cooking. Stuff happens.

Second, I think it's all about goals. A while back I read this article about "success," by Zosia Mamet in my Glamour. It was a pretty short, not too in-depth article, but it brought up a great point through this Merriam-Webster definition of "success": "the correct or desired result of an attempt." So, what do I want to be attempting to do? I've realized recently that my goals are for a happy, low-stress life that lets me grow in the activities I find fun or interesting. Blogging, working, working out, cooking, occasionally decorating, very occasionally shopping or making new clothes, petting the cat, traveling, and more (not in any particular order!)--those are the things I want to fit in to a happy, relaxed life. Not necessarily developing new recipes every day or Instagramming everything I do. I don't think I would be happier if I could "do it all"!

This is what I want my time to look like


A while back my friend Aubrie took these photos of me relaxing at home with the cat. These capture my favorite thing to do on weekend mornings, and sometimes afternoons!--we keep weekends pretty unscheduled. I love to read and drink my coffee slowly, and the cat usually joins in. Hence the cat hair all over my pants--impossible to avoid.
Image Source: Stocksy



I look forward to my weekends for recharging!

Recommended Reading

I love thinking about this stuff--finding happiness in daily life and lowering stress, questioning the things we do that do and don't work. I've blogged about it before, and read a few books (so far). Here are some you should check out if you're interested!

Thanks again to Kristin for the kind words and thought-provoking question!

14 comments

  1. That's how I always answer the same question: I don't do it all, at least, not all at once, especially with kids :) Beautiful photos!

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  2. I'm with you, doing it all is overrated. I must sip my coffee and have hubby and puppy daily, even if that means there are a few things that get overlooked.
    athisfeetdaily.blogspot. com

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  3. Love the Q&A posts thats a great idea!

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  4. I love the photos with your kitty, many people may not think kitty cuddle time is a to do on the daily list, but it's important! I agree that doing it all is how to stress yourself out and put unnecessary pressure when really, I need to think about doing what is important to me and let other things go. Or at least live with more faults - I probably should be cleaning the house more often but I'll settle for once a week or month depending on the chore...

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  5. i really really like this. i totally agree with you! NOT doing it all really feels far better to me than doing it all. and i usually make time for ONE thing after my cooking/cleaning/workday. lately that has been calligraphy side projects. sometimes it's the blog. sometimes it's a deep clean. and sometimes it's just cat time. :) actually much of my time is cat time.

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  6. Must agree that the stress and tiredness comes from things that we don't love. Personally, I like to check-in with myself at least three times a day. When I wake up, mid-day and right before heading to bed. I ask myself what is ahead, how am I am feeling both physically and emotionally, and what can be done to make the rest of the day better. It really seems to help me manage everything with a bit more grace while taking care of myself.

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  7. <--- cat lover, omg, so precious!!

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  8. You are amazing fitting it all in; I have to say so that getting super nice feedback from readers is always an inspiration and same here. In my book it's all great as as long as all the work brings joy and happiness Into ones life. It sounds like it works for you :)

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  9. I'm right there with you on chipping away at the to-do list by doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. :o)

    JJ
    www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

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  10. I think it comes down to priorities. There is no way that we can do everything so we need to decide what is most important to lead a fulfilled life. For me those things are health (both spiritually and physically), personal development, and family, not necessarily in that order. It looks like you have your priorities figured out and you live your life by them. That equals success for sure!

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  11. Weekends for recharging are so crucial to me too! Sometimes with my new gig I have to work some funny hours, so It's nice to take that time back during the week (sleeping in a bit, or relaxing with a cup of coffee before work). The biggest thing I have begun doing that actually has had me sleeping more soundly lately is reading a book I'm really interested in just before bed (like you!).
    Thoughtful email indeed--and Aubrie is amazing :)

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  12. As a newbie - how do you get the pattern? Every time I click the link it takes me to a 'congratulations we raised $20 000' page?

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  13. So right. None of us can do it all. And scheduling some "me" time to recharge, whether it's evenings or weekends, helps us accomplish the things we really love to do. I keep a daily "things to do" list in my smartphone and that helps me get things done. However, I rarely get it all done! Things get pushed forward one or two or six days. Learning to be OK with that is key. I still need reminding that "being" is more important than "doing."

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  14. Oh, yes, since the Parcel is over. It is the Staple Dress by April Rhodes and you can buy it from her directly. http://april-rhodes.com/products/the-staple-dress-pdf

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