Priorities: Housework or Art (aka How I Do All I DO)

Priorities: Housework or Art (aka How I Do All I DO)

Priorities: art or housework

Recently, blog reader Mary Beth posted this following quote:

“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectability) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Mary Beth asked me to comment on this, since she struggles to find time to do the writing she wants to do.

The “How do you do all you do” question is one I get a lot.

Here is a blog about it from 2012

Here is another pertinent one about getting enough creative time from 2009

This topic has also been touched on in this blog in these ways:

Systematic and Streamlining resolution for 2009

A Spiritual To-Do List Instead

When discussing my full-time job here I bring up “how I do all I do”

FlyLady and our housework schedule

How We Economize and How We Don’t

Overcoming Resistance

Marie Kondo Our Style

Quotes from the book Getting Things Done by David Allen

Martha Graham quote about not blocking your unique expression

Wisdom in Four Words or Less (most of which apply to this)

Improve Your Time (quote by Mary Baker Eddy)

Well, if you just read all those links, you are brimming with answers!

I just want to say that you are needed and worth it. You were created to express what is uniquely you. Don’t let anything get in the way of that. Remember that nothing is more important.

Streamline your life in the ways that are right for you. Over here, I never go to the beauty salon, we don’t have pets, we don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, don’t watch TV. Time and money people spend on those things we put into our creative pursuits or time for walking, reading, blogging, or prayer. Don’t do stuff just because other people do, or by unthinking default. Get clear about your version of what contributes to and what detracts from your best experience, and then include or exclude activities correspondingly.

I do a lot, but I don’t do everything. I haven’t done laundry, for example, in 29 years. Thank God for husbands, but if you don’t have one, there are other ways to delegate. Take a hard look at your priorities, and find the places where you are not using your skill sets in ways that serve you best. Run with your strengths and manage your weaknesses.

Get some routines down to get your housework into manageable chunks each day/week, so when you’ve done that piece, it is all you need to do for that day. Consider doing the “worst first.” Getting your chores and what you least want to do done early in the day, leaves you with a free, open, expansive feeling. You know you are done, the slate is clear, and now you can do what makes your heart sing. Contrariwise, if you are afraid you will not get in your creative time, get up and do it first. Then you’ll not resent your other responsibilities later in the day, and can do them with a refreshed, recharged, satisfied thought.

Find creative ways to do the chores you need to do. I consciously started choosing to see cooking as an exciting creative act with ingredients as a palette of possibilities, instead of letting it become a burdensome responsibility that took me away from what I love to do. Reframe for yourself how to do what you need to in ways that serve you better and contribute to your artistic process. Maybe listening to an audio book or podcasts would uplift and inspire your chore time and keep it from dragging you down.

Take responsibility for your life, and refuse to make or find excuses. Decide what you want to do. Chunk it down, and then schedule it in. My husband has always wanted to write a book. Every year “life got in the way” (what a stupid phrase!!) Finally we figured out approximately how many words such a book would have, divided that number by how many he needed to write each week to be done in a year. He figured out that if he defended Monday and Tuesday mornings each week, and routinely showed up and pecked away at the manuscript, that would be enough. He did that and it happened! Now he is in the editing stage. You too, can apply this to anything you really want to do.

There is a time for everything, and the key is to focus in the now. When James is writing his book, he is not thinking he should be mowing the lawn. When he is framing my paintings, he his not irritated that he should be writing his book, because there is already sanctified time for that. Just like in housework, there should “be a place for everything and everything in its place;” look at your schedule that way too. Don’t waste time thinking about what you are not doing, reassured that those needs have already been guaranteed time and space.

And frankly, stolen moments is how I revived my art practice, so don’t discount that. (See the second link above.) I started small by painting one 3.5 inch square each day. Type in “Box-a-Day” in the search bar on this blog and you’ll see 84 weekly blog posts of me doing just that tiny, little bit, while I was still homeschooling and working.  With the colossal homeschooling responsibilities off my plate, I’m now working my same job, while doing a lot of art when I used to do the homeschooling. I was effortlessly able to make this shift. Just start with what you have, without chafing at it and being frustrated by it. If some creative pursuit brings you life and helps you thrive, keep doing it, and it can’t help but grow and blossom, incrementally finding more room in your days.

My best advice is to get yourself out of the way. Be a transparency for God, and do God’s will instead of your own. If God is telling you to wash the kitchen floor, then do it. If God is telling you to go out and paint in the glorious day, don’t talk back, go be obedient! Have a schedule, but be open to God over-riding it on occasion. Enjoy letting that happen. Don’t miss those opportunities to get out of bed at four in the morning to write down that poem that came to you full force while you were sleeping. Routines allow you to be free enough to blow them every once in a while without major consequences. Trust God’s plan for you (which is way more AWESOME than you can imagine) and move forward with confidence, giving yourself wholeheartedly into each present moment.

Remember, the whole world literally hinges on you not being entrenched. You were created able to get done what you are meant to do, and no avoidance tactic is as strong as that. Give up your fear of success. Own your deep authenticity and get on with all your dazzle!


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Lilian 5 years ago

    Love this! Thank you Polly Put The Kettle On

  2. Mary Beth Williams 5 years ago

    Oh my goodness bless your precious heart Polly! I’m going to read each and every single one of your suggested references. The biggest help for me is just to see that I can only be a transparency and follow that as closely as I possibly can You have really tackled this down to a real art which is what it is. Because I haven’t had the time to write and it’s been frustrating I am comforted by the site that is a quote somewhere that loving is an art – And it to make everything around us beautiful is also an art. My favorite thing is to ponder how we can bring love and comfort to everyone that we meet just by our consciousness being aligned with the Christ. I am going to deeply cherish and ponder all that you say here Before I was married and before I had a daughter and before I had a bustling dog walking and dog boarding business I actually did some writing a few things were published But that was a long time ago I am enchanted with children’s books and I collected them for 25 years starting at age 25 I am now 63 and still pick up a few now and then I would like to try my hand at that at some point I can tell you that when I walk into Barnes & Noble I feel the most incredible sense of comfort and peace it’s like a whole room full of friends ! Bless you for your beautiful soul and your beautiful and generous heart dear Polly. Come to think of it I also did some writing some years back when my daughter was four and she spent part of her time with her dad I created and taught a course for the women at the Iowa correctional facility. The best time for me to crate each class lesson plan and presentation was at four am The morning before It did work out well Absolutely loved it Right now with my booming dog business I can’t be up at those hours but I do know a number of authors who say their best work is done in the middle of the night about three or 4 AM and so far that seems to be the case for me but for now I’m just going to know that I can be a transparency and that will lead me to my right activity but I do have a prayer to write more and you are such an incredibly generous friend to share all of this with me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart sweetie !
    Love, gratitude and hugs! ❤️❤️❤️☺️☺️ Mary Beth

    • Author
      Polly Castor 5 years ago

      You got it, girl! It will work out. You always have been wonderful at being a transparency, as for as I can see! Be patient, and you’ll find a way, one step at a time. The world needs your positive perspective, and warmth of care. All that Mary Baker Eddy did was by “getting Mary out of the way.”

  3. Mary Beth Williams 5 years ago

    Polly, I’ve been so busy with my furry angels ????? I haven’t had the time to look back to see if you commented on what I said – Bless your precious heart ❤️?❤️ Polly, thank you for your generous, reassuring, and kind words! What an incredible blessing and inspiration you are ????? Thank you so much for your beautiful heart ??❤️??❤️??
    With much love,
    Mary Beth

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