I live with chronic fatigue, pain, weakness, and generally not having any idea if I will be able to get out of bed in the morning. Yet, I still have shit to get done including housekeeping, errands, cooking, entertainment, and self-care. Over the years, I have come up with some clever ways to make it more manageable so that can maintain a clean home, healthy (ish) eating habits, and not destroy myself doing everything on my “good days”. I call it being “lazy” because it seems effortless to the uninitiated and because I have a sense of humor. As a bonus, all of these tips are budget friendly– of course it would be simple to be lazy if you could just throw money at people to do everything for you– and some of these tips can really help those with compromised immune systems by reducing how many people, handles, etc we’re exposed to.
Home Delivery/Home Pick-up
No, I don’t mean dinner, though there is that. I mean regular household essentials, especially the heavy or awkwardly large ones, like cat litter, water softener salt, or laundry detergent. Check to see if your local grocery stores, dry cleaners, pharmacy, or library offers home delivery. A local midwestern grocery chain, Hy-Vee, offers home delivery for a small fee (it’s free over a certain amount) but are as yet unable to accept EBT cards.
If you are disabled, be sure to mention this when inquiring about home delivery as some places, like the local library, may have home delivery programs exclusively for disabled individuals. In the United States, disabled individuals without mailboxes at their doors can apply for “hardship delivery” to get their mail delivered to their door. Other businesses offer home pick-up service, for example, dry cleaners and parcel shippers, and if you have large amounts to donate, places like Goodwill or consignment stores may send a truck to your home.
In certain areas, there are third-party companies like PostMates that, for a fee, will go to a store that doesn’t offer home delivery, order what you want and then bring it to your location. Some are only for fast food, others include any kind of store and some only work on contract with certain businesses.
Shop Online/ Pick-up In Store
If you don’t want to wait/pay for delivery but you also don’t want to schlep around a store, I feel you. Not only will all that schlepping tempt you into buying stuff you don’t really need, it will exhaust you. Check to see if your favorite stores offer a shop online-pick up in store option. Large retailers, like Lowes, Target, and Old Navy (for example) all offer free order pick up. You buy online and just walk to the customer service area (usually right inside the entrance) and grab your order. Easy Peasy. (It’s even available at Starbucks, Panera, and Chipotle). Consider looking for the option to buy tickets for events online too– it can help you avoid having to stand in long lines.
We’re all aware of “drive-thrus” at fast food places, some pharmacies, and in some states liquor stores. Okay, so maybe we aren’t all aware of drive-up liquor stores (free gun with purchase, no doubt). But for those days when you’d rather stay in your PJ’s but neeeed [insert dire need, say, pistachio oreos] from the store, look for a drive-up service at your favorite store. How it works: you shop online then, drive to a designated spot in their parking lot and get your items loaded into your car for you. Big box retailers like Target, offer this for their non-food items while Wal-mart offers this service for groceries. It’s even available for fast-food businesses like McDonald’s (if that’s how you roll) so that instead of waiting in a long drive-thru line, they just run your order out to your car. The catch is that a mobile app is often required for these services so they know when you are arriving and when your order has been picked up (and then they make extra $ harvesting your phone usage). I personally use the Target app (not spons, but please? Target? Call me!) for drive-up service.
Alrighty, so you got what you needed from store pick-up or drive-up services but now you need to get it to your house. For me, walking with a cane, I only have one arm free for carrying items and opening doors. No one, but no one, wants to admit defeat in having to make two trips to the car, and for those without a car, you have no option but to carry your loot or leave it. My solution: a folding cart. a granny wagon. shopping trolley. whatever you want to call it. It folds up neatly in my coat closet or behind my driver seat when not in use and I can easily wheel 2-3 armfuls in one go. Some models even have stair climbing options.
It’s surprising how often businesses or organizations expect people to pick up or drop off paperwork in person as though the internet hasn’t happened. Always ask if it would be possible to email PDFs of documents, or (very old school) fax them. If you don’t own a scanner or printers, there are apps for scanning documents with your phone into PDF’s which can then be edited, emailed or shared online. There are websites for sending faxes from PDF’s and receiving faxes as pdf’s in your email. As a bonus, you can retain copies of sent paperwork and receipt of when they were sent and received– digitally.
Clean More Often
This seems a little counter-intuitive for the goal of laziness, but hear me out. Having a messy, cluttered home uses way more energy than a clean home. Everything you try to do takes longer because the room is dirty or the item needed is lost. Consider the basic daily chores that must be done to prevent total chaos and then break them down into manageable chunks that can be done even on a bad day. An example for me is doing the dishes after dinner and then putting them away in the morning as I wait for my tea to be ready. By clearing out the clean, dry dishes in the morning, washing the dishes later is a shorter task with less sustained effort. If you have a dishwasher (lucky) the process is the same, run the washer (once full) at night and put everything away in the morning then put dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher as you’re done with them (no need to prewash if your dishwasher was made in this century). This keeps the sink and counters cleared, which makes food prep and/or cooking easier.
Get a Shower Seat
If this seems random to you then you don’t know true exhaustion. Taking a shower can feel like the most mammoth task and the avoidance of it can cause me to avoid doing the things I want to do. It’s not that I let myself get to the point where I smell bad– it’s just feeling icky. A shower seat can really help. Sitting on an elevated shower seat is easier than getting down into and back out of the tub (if you even have one). You will also want to invest in a shower head with a hose attachment so you can direct the water, for renters there are models that attach to the faucet, however, I suggest asking your landlord about proper installation for accessibility sake (they’re unlikely to argue what you drop that word). Just make sure that you keep a bottle of shower spray (I like Method’s Ylang Ylang) and give everything a quick spray when you’re done because nothing is more labor intensive than scrubbing out a neglected shower.
Remote Car Starter
If you own a car, I highly recommend getting a remote starter, like this one by Avital. Yes, it is not as environmentally friendly to let a car idle nor is it necessary for the vehicle itself to “warm up” before driving— it can make a huge difference for those of us with heat or cold intolerance. Especially those who have to park outside in snowy weather. When I was working as a nanny there was one morning I felt terrible but wasn’t going to cancel– until I collapsed into the snow, arms trembling, fingers and toes painfully numb halfway through trying to clear ice from my windshield. If I had had a remote starter my car would have been warm enough that my windshield wipers could have shifted the snow while I sat in a pre-heated car. I would have made into work that morning and not fell into a horrible guilt-spiral.
The major thing about being lazy is prioritizing what actually needs to be done and putting it into the calendar, like, actually scheduling it. For example, “8:30-8:45 a.m. after breakfast clean up”. By doing this you are able to see how much you are expecting of yourself in a day and make better-informed choices about adding to that day. Consider it spoon-budgeting. And it is important that you use a digital, online calendar for this. Those adorable paper bullet journals are not going to help you be lazy. Those are a labor of love. A craft. Not functional. You need to be able to move things around, be able to see and interact with your family members’ schedules while sharing yours. I personally use Google Calendar. For a fairly in-depth tutorial on calendar blocking, I recommend this video.
I use calendar blocking for all aspects of my day, including meal planning (menu). this way I can see what meals I have planned no matter where I am. It also helps me not to splurge on dining out– I know what I have planned for dinner (and if you follow next suggestion, it’s already prepared) so I am less tempted to grab a pizza or other terrible life choice.
So you made a menu, hand your groceries delivered, now you take an afternoon to prep those meals. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days (or more). If you use the oven it’s saving time and energy by using the residual heat. If you are going to prepare rice that goes into more than one dish, you save time and energy by making one giant batch that gets divided. In one or two hours (depending on cooking times) you have a week’s worth of meals ready, with no more thought or time put into it. For some inspiration, I recommend Mind Over Munch (click for link to her meal prep playlist) she also has some great e-books on the subject. On Sunday afternoons, I like to whip up a huge batch of smoothies to store in mason jars in the fridge, a big batch of “breakfast” cookies, and a double entree (one gets frozen, one for the week). If you find a good rotation of weekly meal preps, it will streamline your grocery list and budget too.
For the days when I am not having a meal prepped dinner, say on the weekends or for special date night in, I will act as my own sous chef earlier in the day so that I have all my veggies chopped, spices measured, etc. When it comes to crunch time, it’s like I am reenacting one of those smarmy cooking shows, and am not too exhausted to enjoy the meal by the time dinner is ready.
Use Timers & Alarms
If it weren’t for timers my pets and plants would be in a sorry state. I set up automatic waterer, feeder, and lights so that day-to-day everything gets taken care of and I only need to be bothered about it once every week or so (which is put into my calendar with repeat option + notification). And if it weren’t for alarms, I would be in a sorry state– I set an alarm for taking my medications and my calendar’s notification acts as an alarm for various tasks and appointments that need to be done (another reason that calendar blocking, putting your “to-do’s” directly into calendar, is so helpful). Using a virtual assistant makes setting up alarms as easy as, “Hey Google…”
“Hey Google, add bananas to my grocery list.” Or using Google Keep (my preferred list-making app, I set up a location reminder so that when I am in the area (or in the store) any list that has the location set will pop up to remind me to get the items. But it goes beyond list making, depending on the age of your device and your settings, your virtual assistant can open apps for you (including streaming video or music, podcasts), read and write emails and texts for you, read you the news, as well as help with many of the other suggestions on this list, like finding retailers that offer delivery or drive up options, ordering items online, including tickets for events so you don’t have to wait in line. And for those of us with varying degrees of brain fog– tell your assistant to remind you where you are putting easily lost items, like, say, your car. “Hey Google, remember where I parked.”
I love reading but there are times when I cannot hold a paper book comfortably for very long. This is where e-readers are wonderful. I have a Kindle Paperwhite which I put into an Otterbox case that doubles as stand so I can read comfortably for as long as I want, turning pages with the tap of a finger. Using an e-reader also allows for changing font size, some offer backlights for reading in any lighting condition. It’s easier to pack too– if you have to travel with multiple books or pdf’s, an e-reader is a great way to lighten your load. But there are times when you’re too tired to keep your eyes open but you aren’t ready/ able to fall asleep, this is where audio books shine (and you can ask your virtual assistant to start and stop them for you). Another bonus with e-books and audiobooks is that most libraries have them to check out digitally so there is no waiting for delivery or going to the library for a physical object (and it’s free!)
What have I left out? What are some of the ways you work smarter, not harder?