Liberate Yourself From Drudgery

Are you ready to liberate yourself from drudgery and have more time for the stuff you really want to do? I was.

As a working mother of three I struggle to fit the things I really want to do into my life. You know, those little things like hanging out with family and friends, selfish things like exercising, surfing, reading, and those crazy things like writing a book.

When I analyzed why, I saw there were four things eating up my time and keeping me from doing what I really wanted to do.

The 4 villains in my life are:

  1. Grocery Shopping
  2. Cooking
  3. Laundry
  4. Cleaning

After years of booing and hissing at these evil villains, I decided to banish them from my life once and for all. Well, not totally but they no longer play a starring role in my life. They’ve been side-tracked to a minor role and that’s where they’re going to stay.

Here’s how I did it

I made a little pie chart of how I spend my time over a 24 hour period and saw that much of my days were taken up with these mundane activities. Then I worked out ways to reduce their impact on me and slowly chipped away at it until I had them cornered.

How to liberate yourself from drudgery

First prioritize the things you really want to do. Vow to make them the most important part of your life and fit everything else around that, not the other way round.

Picture yourself writing that book, at the easel painting, out in the garden cultivating your roses, surfing in perfect conditions. Whatever it is you want to do you can. All you need is a bit more time.

Here are my tips for reducing the time you spend doing chores:

Shopping and Cooking

This takes a bit of time to set up but will save you a lot of time in the end. As an added bonus this will probably reduce your grocery bills too and eliminate wasted food.

Not only does it free up my time but also my thoughts. No need to ponder what to feed the family in the evening, I just look at my master menu list, add the items to my shopping list for the weekly shop and that’s it. Now when I have thinking time I can think about creative things instead of what I’m going to feed the family today.

First make a list of meals you can rotate over a two week period. It’s a bit dull but probably not that different from what you do now without realising it. For example, our fortnightly menu is something like this:

  1. Lasagne
  2. Sushi
  3. Omelets
  4. Roast chicken
  5. Spaghetti
  6. Tacos
  7. Pizza
  8. Fish
  9. Stir fry
  10. Curry
  11. Jacket potatoes
  12. Pasta puttanesca
  13. Soup
  14. Prawns

Each dish is quick to make, popular with the family and adaptable so the menu isn’t too samey. For example, the lasagne can be served with salad and a different dressing each time or with steamed seasonal veggies and the fish can be cooked any number of different ways.

First sort out a 14 day menu for yourself.

Now create a shopping list on your computer with all your basic items like laundry powder, kitchen roll, cereal, bread etc and the ingredients for the meals you’ve planned. Organize it according to the aisles where the products are stocked in your supermarket with a box by each item that you can tick if you need to buy it or write in the amount needed.

When this is done you can just print out a copy of the list, keep it on the fridge and check the boxes as you run out of things.

It will take you a while to get in the swing of it, and you’ll have to keep adding things that you forgot to put on the master list for the first month or so, but once you’ve done that it’s priceless.

Need Recipe Ideas and Cooking Inspiration?

Finally if you ever feel like being creative in the kitchen or getting some new recipe ideas then visit Connie Rice’s blog, for all things food and cooking related. Connie’s recipe ideas are quick, practical, fun, inventive, crowd-pleasers. If I hadn’t read her articles I wouldn’t have thought it possible.


This is easy. It cuts our time spent sorting, folding and putting away clean laundry.

Get a big plastic box with a lid for each member of the family and keep it in the laundry. Sort clean, dry laundry straight into the boxes, inside out and unfolded. Each person can then fold it and tidy it away at their convenience.

For many people in my family this is never and the laundry has become a walk in wardrobe and dressing room. Fine by me, as long as I don’t have to spend half an hour a day extra on sorting out clean laundry.


Are you house proud? I used to be. If people were coming round I’d kill myself getting the house spic and span for them. When they left I’d be near suicidal because of the state they left it in. Either that or I’d be anxiously watching each crumb dropped, each muddy footstep left behind.

Thank heavens I’ve loosened up. Now I clean when it’s absolutely necessary. I also delegate. Kids have to clean their own room, hubby does the bathrooms. Everyone pitches in when it gets really bad.

I like to justify my slovenliness by a favourite childhood memory of family friends who had the messiest house ever. It was a treasure trove packed with stuffed owls, family heirlooms and moody paintings all gathering dust and cobwebs. We kids could explore it all day and trek mud through with gay abandon, no one cared, no one even noticed.

Is my house an extension of me? No.

Do a few mug ring marks on the kitchen counters and toothpaste splatters on the bathroom mirror indicate a cluttered, incoherent mind and lifestyle? Absolutely not.

They just show that I have better things to do than clean. I hope you do too.

Goodbye Drudgery, Hello Life

These simple things have given me about two extra hours a day to do the stuff I want to do. Walking, writing, playing with the kids and reading. Sometimes surfing or daydreaming. What are you going to do with your free time?

P.S. I’m On Holiday

Right now I’m in New Zealand without my husband or kids. We’ll miss each other, but a week without any of these chores outlined above is in order. Stand by for more information on how being totally selfish can keep you sane and make you and your family happier than ever.

And join me in marveling at the wonders of computers that will pop this up online at the right time while I do something else.

Thanks for reading

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  1. Gordie Rogers October 5, 2009 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    The second option would be to delegate all those tasks to your husband and children. Lol!

  2. stafford October 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabelle. Go girl! As a suddenly single (male) mum/dad of two teenagers with full time work , I just had to cover all the bases without killing myself. So, to add to your list, all of which (minus a few details) we time short and activity long people must do, I am inspired to write a blog with my little tricks. Your attitude is so much better than the guilt ridden life many women and some men lead these days!

    As adults they now thank me that they can budget, cook, wash and clean and still find time for time for fun. Thanks for reminding me!

  3. Connie October 5, 2009 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    I love this article and I’m so happy to be associated with it. My life is taken up by exactly the same things. I love these suggestions. The only thing you left out is how you got your husband to clean the bathrooms ;-)

  4. Nancy Burcham October 6, 2009 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Leaving the house a mess creates so much extra mind clutter for me, it is better for me to stay on top of it and feel peaceful and happy in my space, so I CAN be more creative. Yet I have attacked this “drudgery” from a different direction – instead of trying to eliminate that which will always be in front of me, I have decided to focus on “enjoying being me” as I do the task. (In the past I focused on the not liking to do it, feeling the heaviness of the chore in my body, and always being the martyr). “Enjoying being me” as I do even things I’m not fond of, gets all that negative energy out of my body. I may sing a song out loud while I sweep, watch the birds and the view while doing dishes, and always compliment myself for a job so well done as I’m washing my hands of the task for the final time! This practice brings me present, and helps me see — if I can create positive conditions in the drudgery, WOW, what can I do with the things I love?! I don’t gain any extra time by it, but I sure am happier. (and actually sometimes it feels like time does expand) I’ll have to try some of the other suggestions for the rest. Great job, Annabel! I think for women, these daily chores are things we can master/control, so we get too perfectionistic about them. This article is all about letting go of the perfectionism and moving on to more freedom and fun!

  5. Sherry Smith-Noble October 8, 2009 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    I went through this same thing when I went to graduate school a few years ago. I used to kill myself to keep the house clean. Now I clean when the mood strikes. I figure when I’m on my death bed I’ll care that I had fun with family and friends, and won’t give a damn that my house was always clean!

  6. teresa October 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    haha i was just talking about my life of drudgery and then remembered your email so i looked at it again :) you’re right…time to get with the ‘liberation of life’ programme! That’s it, I’m going to the spa…. love ya xxx

  7. Carol November 8, 2009 at 2:19 am - Reply

    LOVE these ideas! Even at my advanced age 59+ I can learn new ways to avoid drudgery! Thanks and I am sending you to all my friends here and elsewhere!

  8. marina December 8, 2009 at 9:26 am - Reply

    I know what you mean…
    The FLYlady website is a great help to me :)

  9. bobby jones December 19, 2009 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Hi. I treasured to drop you a quick note to verbalize my thanks. I’ve been observing your blog for a month or so and have plucked up a heap of fabulous information as well as enjoyed the way you’ve structured your site. I am seeking to run my own blog however I think its too general and I would like to focus more on smaller topics.

  10. […] primary school kids and running the household. Fortunately, I’ve spent years working out how to eliminate drudgery from my life and perfecting that. What I need to practice now is eliminating […]

  11. Kathryn Lang February 5, 2011 at 12:56 am - Reply

    I instituted laundry days and that made a HUGE difference. Monday we wash towels and sheets and Thursday we wash clothes. The kids sort their own clothes into piles and then they have to pick them up through out the day and return them to their closets and drawers.

  12. barbara February 5, 2011 at 2:30 am - Reply

    Great post Annabel! You are so right about prioritizing the things that need to be done around the life you should be living. As a young housewife I wanted to be perfect. Talk about naive! It didn’t take me long to snap out of it, though.

    When my husband told me he wasn’t crazy about my way of doing laundry I told him, “Congratulations! You’ve just won the job.” And he’s been doing it now for almost 40 years. As a result of that my sons learned how to do laundry, because hubby’s rule was: If the dirty clothes are in the laundry room on Sat. they’ll get washed. If not, you’re on your own. Since they rarely ‘remembered’ to take the clothes down, they learned how to do it themselves.

    As for bathrooms… I believe men should always have that job for obvious reasons. ;)
    Hope you’re at a great spa relaxing while you’re away!

  13. Trish Radge February 5, 2011 at 6:09 am - Reply

    Brilliant blog post, Annabel. Thank you! I will definitely take up your shopping list idea. I would like to add one more idea that has saved me so much time in the mornings. I make up 24 bread rolls or sandwiches for school lunches with fillings that can freeze (I have 3 kids including 2 teenagers so this will only last one week). I boil a chicken (can be left on the stove without me doing anything for a couple of hours), pull the meat off the bone to use on sandwiches, keep the stock for soup or cooking. Place individual serves into zip lock bags and freeze. In the morning, chuch (or gently place) one or 2 in a lunchbox along with fruit etc. It takes me about 20 mins to make up all lunches instead of 20 mins a day!

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