May 25, 2023
Life gets chaotic. But living out all of the Ands in your life doesn’t need to add more chaos. Chaos is not sustainable. Putting the right systems in place for everyday areas of your personal life can make all the difference between a good week and a bad week.
In this episode, Tiffany shows how you can apply some of the same approaches used in business to streamline your personal life in order to create more capacity in your week. She helps you to identify your Basic 5, create your minimums and set up an environment of systems to make your Life of And sustainable, and to keep the easy things easy.
I'm a small town kid, born with a big city spirit. I choose to play a lot of awesome roles in life, mom, wife, entrepreneur, CEO, board member, investor, and mentor. 17 years ago I founded a marketing consultancy, and ever since my husband JR and I have been building our careers and our family on the exact same timeline. Yep, that means four kids, three businesses, two careers, all building towards one life we love. When I discovered I could purposefully embrace all of these ands in my life, it unlocked my world, and I want that for you too. I'm Tiffany Sauder and this is Scared Confident.
What is a life of and? If you've been listening to the podcast for a while, you've no doubt heard me say that phrase, and we've had quite a few listeners join so I thought it made sense revisit the concept. What is a life of and? A passionate, sustainable pursuit of all of the dreams in our hearts. If we're going to do that in a way that does not create a life where it's in chaos and that you're constantly reacting to what's happening, you cannot add a bunch of stuff into your life if it's chaotic and you're reacting all the time. I have lived like that before and it is not a life that is sustainable at all.
I pick that word very, very intentionally because when we are pursuing a lot of dreams, we cannot live in these periods of gluttony and starvation, like extreme energy outpouring and then, "Oh my word, I have to retreat. I'm dying. I have to rest." Extreme energy outpouring, "I have to retreat, I'm dying. I have to rest." It doesn't work. When you have people that depend on you day in and day out, when you have projects that depend on you day in and day out, when you have board commitments that depend on you day in and day out, you have to get to a place where your life is sustainable. And too often what we do is we then find the lowest common denominator of our goals, and that's all we do. Instead of figuring out how do I create more capacity in my time, more capacity in my ability to execute well, how do I create more capacity?
If you look at how we do that in our businesses, we streamline things, we create systems, we create checklists, we create responsibility, we refine things. I have taken that lesson and put it into my personal life, and that we have systems that run a lot of areas of our life. If you listened to my conversation with JR, we do an annual anniversary check-in, I asked him, what percentage of time do you feel like we're reacting to our week versus proactively planning it? That to me is a really important temperature gauge because if he feels like we are reacting all the time, I'm not getting the best out of him either. We're just reacting to our calendars and we're victims to it, and I hate that posture. I want to be proactively driving my time as much as possible.
So you may have heard me talk about this, you may not, but I have identified what I call the basic five. Five areas of our lives that happen every single week no matter what, and we kind of act like they happen on accident. We're surprised. And I'm saying if we take these five areas, I'm going to tell them to you here in a minute, and we proactively have a minimum, I'll explain that, a system and an owner, somebody who's responsible for it, then you can create more capacity in your home so that the simple things are simple, the easy things are easy and there's more space for the things that are actually hard in your life. Laundry should not be hard. That is not a hard thing. It is not a new thing. You've probably been doing it for 30 some odd years. And yet we allow really normal things to take an enormous amount of capacity. When I say capacity, I mean time capacity. I also mean brain capacity, relationship capacity. Those things can be huge drags if there's not an agreement across the family about how does this work, what are we doing and who keeps the system moving.
So I'm going to tell you the basic five, I'm going to give you some examples in my own life, and then there is a resource linked in show notes if you want to click and download it, to help you organize and think through this on your own. I think it is absolutely critical to living a life of and. Absolutely have to have solved for these areas.
Number one is the house. I'll say the five and then I'll come back through, give a little bit of a definition and then I'll pick a couple and give examples in my world. Let's do it like that. So number one is the house. You live somewhere, so house. Number two is laundry, everybody makes laundry. Number three is food. Number four is family. And number five is yourself.
So number one house. Everybody lives in a dwelling. Doesn't have to be a house, can be apartment, can be a condo, can be an RV. I don't care. Maybe you're living the van life, I don't know. But you have some space that you live in. It has to be maintained. So that's the first one.
The second one is laundry. We all make laundry. We all wear something on our personhood. We all make laundry and a lot of us have people in our homes that make laundry as well, so we've got to make sure that we have a system for laundry.
The third one is food. We all eat. We eat a lot of meals a day. I have a family of eaters. I am an eater. We all eat. And yet oftentimes we act surprised that dinner comes around, we're like, "Oh my word, it's dinnertime. What are we going to have to eat?" And it's like everybody was hungry 20 minutes ago. That takes an enormous amount of energy capacity from a family when there isn't a plan for food. So that's number three.
Fourth one, family. For me, this is kids, could be an aging parent, could be pets, but something that is not you that needs cared for, that needs transported, that has an energy commitment. Sometimes when my kid is sick, that is units of energy that I wasn't planning on. But in a normal week, I know what that looks like. I know what practices we have. I know who's got a project. I know who's got a field trip. I know who needs to take something special to school. That is a fixed output of energy. And when you don't plan well for that and have systems in place to make sure people are getting where they need to go at that certain time and place, that can really cause a lot of stress.
Number five is yourself. I put this one last, I maybe should put it first because in my experience when I put myself first, the rest of this actually falls into place much easier. That stupid analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first on a plane, it just happens to be very true. When I feel centered, when I feel strong, when I have eaten good food, when I've taken the time to work out, when I've had some quiet time of reflection and a little bit of time in the morning without my kids up, I'm just better, go to bed early. I'm just better. So what are your commitments to yourself?
So those are the five categories. We've gone through them a couple of times. Now I want to talk about this idea of defining your minimums in each one of those areas. If you are a high achiever, you probably oftentimes sit down and you say, what are my goals in these areas? Minimums are different than goals. Minimums are those things that will happen no matter what. On your very worst week, what can you get done? Nothing goes below your minimum. You have an opportunity to plus it if you want to, you can hit your goal number if you want to, but what's your minimum? What will you not let slip? Silly example, but brushing your teeth. I mean for most adults that's a minimum. It doesn't matter how late you are to the airport, it doesn't matter where you need to go, it doesn't matter if you're staying home. I find that 20 seconds to a minute and 10 depending on how slow the morning, to brush my teeth, it's just a behavioral minimum as an adult.
So let's talk about concepts of minimums across these five areas. So a minimum with your house. The kitchen island area in our house is literally grand central station for us. My brain is so much clearer when that surface is clean. So figuring out with your family, what's our minimum? Every night before we go to bed, is that surface going to be clean, put away, polished and straightened up? Is it going to be before we leave for school in the morning, that surface is going to be clean so that when we come home we know that that space is clean and ready for us, continue to live our lives and pile on it? That's an example of a place in your house.
Let's talk about beds. Is that going to be a minimum that your kids need to make their beds every single morning or just on weekdays or twice a week? I don't know. For me, making my bed is a minimum. I do that every day. I don't hold my kids to that standard honestly because I don't want to manage it. Just being clear. But for me, it's like hygiene. It's important. I like to get into a made bed. It makes me not want to crawl in it when I walk into my bed in the middle of the day.
So what are the minimums inside of your house? Write them down and figure out who is responsible for it. One of the minimums in our house is that the dishwasher is unloaded every single morning. Before everybody leaves the house, before everybody leaves for school, the dishwasher is unloaded and I always run it before bed. Those are minimums that happen in our house. They keep things moving.
Example of minimums on laundry. This is an area of our lives that I outsource. It has not always been the case for us, but I outsource laundry. So the person who is responsible is not me, it's our house manager. Her name is Vanessa. We use a service called My Sherry, and she comes here three days a week and that is one of her responsibilities. Now, if she's sick or if something happens where that doesn't happen, then it falls on me. So it's my task, laundry, that I have outsourced to Vanessa and My Sherry. And on weeks when it collapses back into me, it's my job either to do it or I organize around the girls' practices schedule to have them help me, but I don't delegate. I may have them help me, but it's my responsibility. Hopefully that makes sense. Our minimum is that all of the laundry is done once a week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are generally laundry days. The girls know that and they know when to bring their laundry down or when to make sure things are in the hamper. So that's how we manage laundry.
I have friends and their kids do their own laundry. That's the way they solve for it. That's how they're accountable for it. It doesn't matter. It's just everybody needs to know what is happening and what's the minimum expectation.
Food. I've recently discovered this. I grew up in a house of cooks. My mom is an amazing cook and baker. My grandma is an amazing cook and baker. So the smell of onion and garlic simmering and homemade soup and yeast bread and holidays with just oceans of homemade food, that was my upbringing. So when I think about creating home for my kids and for my family, a big piece of that is homemade food. So we do eat out, but very rarely during the week. It's more nutritious. I enjoy cooking. And to me, it's me exercising, creating home for my kids and family even though I work outside of the home. So food is something I solve very intentionally and very hard for.
My formula for this is there's a homemade meal Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. Thursday is leftovers and Friday we go out for dinner. The weekends are kind of a crapshoot. We could have tournaments somewhere, we could have a swim meet somewhere, we could be on vacation, we could be at my parents. I don't meal plan for the weekends. We either usually have more flexibility and I can go to the grocery and get something to grill or we grab sandwiches quick or we meet JR's parents out somewhere. It's like flex. I don't plan for that. It's more ad hoc. But during the week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday night, homemade meals, Thursday leftovers, Friday out to dinner, every single week. And generally I'm doing that with one protein. So I'll make one big filet of salmon, I'll make one huge [inaudible 00:12:24] steak.
This week on Instagram, I'm actually dropping an example of what I mean by this. If you want to go check it out, Tiffany Sauder, it'll be on mine and also Scared Confident.
What do I mean by making one protein turning into three different meals, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then Thursdays leftovers? I may need to flex in some deli meat or something like that, or a rotisserie chicken, an easy protein like that to be able to get enough to stretch through four whole days. Again, my people are eaters, we all eat a lot of food, and a lot of times I'm taking leftovers for lunch. So that's how that looks.
Again, what are your minimums? What's your food plan? What works for your family? What works for what you enjoy to do? I know some people use HelloFresh, and that has been a system that they use to solve for food for their family. But what is it? Commit to it. Who's responsible for it? Plan for it. So that's an example of food.
And then the last one is self. I'll use a real quick example here. My minimum on working out is two days a week I lift for 45 minutes. That's my minimum. I ideally like to work out four to six times a week. I don't track it, so I don't know how often that actually hits, but I know 100% of the time I lift 45 minutes two days a week. I pay a trainer, a small group training environment for those two days a week, and that is my trap that I set for myself to make sure that I'm maintaining that minimum.
There's been a couple of times I've talked myself out of like, "Do I really need that? Accountability, I've been doing it for a couple of years now, surely that's ingrained in my habits," but I don't trust myself. When you have a baby at 40 years old, you start thinking really hard about how you live to be a hundred, and that's my goal. I want to be 102 years old when I die or older. So if I'm going to do that, I know combating aging, increasing muscle mass, keeping my body strong, not getting hurt, that's a really important part of that goal. So one of my minimums is that. It doesn't matter if JR is traveling, it doesn't matter if we're on vacation, it does not matter, I always do that. I can do more and that's bonusing it, but those are my minimums.
So think about these five areas of your family, of your life and how do you set systems up so that you don't have to micro solve all day long? Too often people get up and they're like, "Oh, the kitchen's a mess. I'm going to clean it up real quick. Oh my word, I forgot to start the dishwasher last night, so I've got dishes in the sink and the dishwasher's full of dirty dishes." And then everybody leaves for the day. You get home and everybody be like, "Oh my word, what are we going to eat? I don't know. I guess we'll order pizza." Meanwhile, unloading the dishwasher, somebody's standing to eat, somebody's unloading the dishwasher, somebody's sitting to eat, there's not a shared experience at all. And then somebody comes ripping around the corner crying because they can't find their uniform or shorts or socks that they need for practice the next day or that night and so you quick throw in a load of laundry and you're trying to figure out how to get that done. And then you didn't get the time that you needed because you didn't know what time you needed to get up to be able to get your workout in and you're just reacting all day long to all of these things that you know are going to happen.
Even silly things like I always fill my gas tank on Sunday because I know it is the day where I have the most amount of margin. We go to church, we might go to dinner, go to my parents' house, meet JR's family out, I have 10 minutes on Sunday always. It is not a heavily programmed day, and I know I always need a tank of gas full for the week. I don't have time between practices. I don't have time on my way to work. I don't have time on the way to go get Quincy from daycare. I don't have time to fill my gas tank up on those days. I always fill it on Sunday. Those things create systems where it's what you do so that your today self can bless your tomorrow self and you can stay on top of what needs to happen.
Now, are there times when things go off the rails? Yes, but not very often if I'm honest. Before I lived in this environment of having systems that kept the things going that I know I'm going to have to do every single week, I was living in a constant state of reacting. And now I plan for it. I started to see what are the patterns? Where do I get thrown off? What starts to happen? If you want to live a life of and you have to have margin in your life to think, to do things, to dream, to explore, to meet people, to get uncomfortable, to sometimes be gone. And if you're going to do that, you have got to figure out how you keep the most normal things of your life going almost effortlessly. And when I looked around the planet and started to see like, "Well, how do we keep things going almost effortlessly that happen all the time?" We rely on systems, we rely on processes, we rely on checklists, we rely on a key owner, we rely on accountability, we rely on an expectation of what a job done looks like.
I do not want to manage my kids every single day through the things that they need to do. I set very clear expectations. They understand what happens if they don't get those things done. And all I have to do is manage the system. I don't have to manage them. It teaches responsibility. They take a sense of ownership. I don't know. If you have another way, let me know. But this is the way that we have created an enormous amount of margin in our lives so that we can have relationship in our family. And we're not just shuttling frustration back and forth because I didn't do what needed to be done, which is what starts to happen when everybody gets grumpy and they don't have what they need and everybody's hungry and things are a mess.
So sit down, take a look at the worksheet that's in the show notes. We'll help you think through it. What are your areas? What are your minimums? And how do you show up for yourself for the normal things really, really crisply so that the hard things have the space they need to actually be hard? Let's go do it. Let's go do this life of and. Keep the easy things easy.
Thank you for joining me on another episode of Scared Confident. Until next time, keep telling fear you will not decide what happens in my life, I will. If you want to get the inside scoop, sign up for my newsletter. We decided to make content for you instead of social media algorithms. The link is waiting for you in show notes or you can head over to tiffanysauder.com. Thanks for listening.
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