The following is an interview conducted with Dr. Rebecca Schimley, "licensed efficiencyologist" and mother of four. Dr. Schimley's new book 13 Easy Hacks To Help Moms Do More is coming out next month ("Just in time for back to school season," she told me excitedly in her email). Have you guys ever read Heart of Darkness? This interview is kind of like that.
I met Schimley in a quiet coffee shop in Larchmont, New York where she has lived for the past 16 years after moving from Manhattan. Schimley is a tall, stately woman with blonde hair worn in a coiffed ponytail and intense blue eyes. When I asked her what inspired her to study efficiency, she replied "Lazy people." She then looked at me in a really pointed way that made me want to pull my cardigan closer and, frankly, felt unwarranted since we'd literally just met.
"So what does one actually study to become an efficient expert?" I asked when our drinks arrived.
"Um, efficientness," she replied, sipping nervously at her latte.
"Uh-huh. And where did you earn your doctorate?"
"The College of... St. Morgans...appletonby...shire," she replied, carefully considering each syllable as though struggling to come up with something on the fly. "Yeah. The College of St. Morgansappletonbyshire, in England. It's a small college with a world's leading program in efficientness. Don't look it up, though."
(I looked it up. It doesn't exist. Neither does the field of "efficientness." Neither does the word "efficientness." Neither does this actual person, not that it matters. After all, this is the internet, so you know everything is true.)
"So!" she continued brightly, slamming her hand on the table, spilling a little of each our drinks and drawing the attention of everyone in the shop. "I suppose you want to hear how busy moms can beat the clock and do more with the time they're given?"
At this point I kind of didn't. I regretted coming. But I was here, so I said,
Sleep Less Or, Better Yet, Not At All
"Whenever I meet with new clients," says Schimley, "The first question I ask is how much sleep they get on average a night. You wouldn't believe what I'm hearing. We're not just talking minutes or even thirty minutes. We're talking hours. Most women were clocking three, maybe even four hours a night! 'Well there's your first problem!' I say to them. 'You're literally sleeping away hours of productivity."
When, confused, I suggested that sleep is necessary and that even four hours is well below what doctors and sleep experts recommend, her eyes went black and she didn't say a word for about a minute and a half, which is a really long time if you're as uncomfortable as I was (I've literally never seen anyone look so menacing). After that she smiled warmly, laughed her trademark tinkling laugh, and continued. "My point is you can't complain about not getting it all done if you're not even trying. So just make a commitment to keep yourself up. We actually put an addition on our house last year (a 24-hour Starbucks) so I can run in for a large deca-shot latte anytime." She folded her hands on her lap. "People should try that."
Invest In Robot Children
"Some people are turned off by the idea of robot children for fear of an eventual insurrection of all artificial intelligence on our planet," she explains. "You know, like in Terminator? But I would argue that the benefits well outweigh the risks. Unlike traditional children, robot children can be switched off at will; think of it like a nap that lasts as long as you need it. Better still, most models have temper tantrums and teenage rebellion safeguards in place so you don't have to worry about them making a scene in the grocery store or embarrassing you at Thanksgiving by showing up with a new piercing."
When I asked whether robots could ever really be considered children, Schimley narrowed her eyes and hissed, "How dare you speak ill of my family." I apologized and we moved on.
Buy A Private Island
"I believe it was Oprah who said 'Hell is other people,'" Schimley began. I corrected her, saying that the quote is from Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit. She smiled what I took to be a condescending smile and said, "I'm pretty sure it was Oprah. Anyway, other people are often the reason why we can't stick to the tasks we have at hand. They're distracting and, what's more, they can often wind up giving you more to do before you can finish your pre-existing tasks."
Oprah misattributions aside, this was probably the most reasonable thing she said since the interview began. I was hopeful. "So I thought to myself 'WWOD?' What would Orpah do? Then it came to me: buy an island! No phones, no access except by private boat or helicopter, and it helps if the island does not appear on any maps. I bought the island from Lost. Removed from civilization, you'll be able to really focus on what you need to do."
"Isn't that prohibitively expensive for, well, pretty much everyone?" I asked. Schimley smiled sweetly.
"This is part of the problem," she assured me, "If you're too lazy to work for enough money to buy a private island that's all the more incentive to do more with these hacks I've come up with."
Hire Don Draper To Rebrand You As Someone To Be Unquestioningly Obeyed
"Part of people's problem when it comes to being truly efficient is the brand they've already created for themselves as 'The Careless, Haphazard Person Who Can't Get Anything Done,'" explained Schimley. "It takes a long time to overcome that image and get people to take you seriously. So I recommend hiring Sterling-Cooper's very own Don Draper to help you re-craft your image."
I asked if she meant a Don Draper-type or lifestyle coach or something, hoping, praying, I wasn't having this conversation. "Don. Draper," She replied unsmilingly.
"Don Draper definitely isn't real." I was pretty insistent about this point. "He's played by Jon Hamm, an actor. You know that, right? You have to know that."
Schimley smiled again and touched my knee.
"Don has a saying for situations like this: if you don't like what's being said about you, change the conversation. Now, shall we continue?"
Apply Breast Milk And Coconut Oil
"It seems to be the answer for everything else when it comes to being a mom," she shrugged. "So I figured, meh. Sure."
I honestly couldn't argue with her.
Find A Genie
"Genies, once popular throughout the Arabian peninsula, are an underutilized resource today," claims Schimley. "And for a busy mom on the go, they're a must have. I try to give a genie as a shower gift whenever a friend has a new baby."
Schimley then went on to say that through the power of wishes, genies can not only help you accomplish your tasks but enable you to imbue those tasks with a touch of magic. The one problem, she continued, is that most people are "effing idiots" who don't use their third wish to wish for "infinity wishes."
"With infinity wishes, I mean, you're set for life. Who doesn't wish for infinity wishes? Seriously. Idiots."
Employ A Cadre Of Trained Mice And Birds
"This idea came to me while I was watching a Disney movie with my daughter, Principessa," she began.
"Let me guess," I ventured. "Cinderella?"
Her side-eye lingered for longer than was comfortable before she finally continued.
"Think about it. Say you need to make a dress on a day's notice because your non-robot child forgot to tell you she was in a school play. Sure, you can rush through all your chores and then rush through your seamstress work, but you're probably not going to do as well as you could under fewer time constraints. However, if you can train a mouse and bird army to do this for you? Well, you're going to be able to use that time to give yourself a killer manicure!"
Make A Pact With Lord Voldemort
"A lot has been said about Lord Voldemort, not all of it good," admits Schimley. "But the man is a Slytherin, and say what you will but Slytherins get it done."
She snapped her fingers in a zig-zag pattern as she spoke the last three words, which was off-putting and obviously not natural for her.
"And, fun fact, he's actually great with kids, except for Harry Potter, because obviously. The down-side to this, of course, is that you need to be tattooed with the mark of the Death Eaters, and tattoos aren't everyone's thing but my next book is going to be all about ways to cover it. There's a whole chapter on fun scarves."
Belittle Yourself In Front Of A Mirror Every Morning
"Screaming hateful things about your own worthlessness into a mirror is a great way to motivate yourself to be better," Schimley says.
At this point, I emphatically expressed my disapproval and concern that she would give literally anyone this advice, asserting that it was really disturbing and terribly unhealthy. As I was talking, Schimley held up a mirror. I sighed, strongly considered packing up and leaving, but decided that I really wanted to see where this was ultimately going.
Build A Death Star
"People respect you when you have a Death Star," Schimley told me. "Which, in turn really helps you take care of your business. Bonus points if that business is blowing up Alderaan, but it's great for getting a good parking spot so you can get the best seat at a PTA meeting, too!"
I asked her if she actually had a Death Star, at which point she flipped her hair and mumbled something incoherent.
Sabotage Your Loved Ones
"For those who really can't get an island to escape other people," she said with no small amount of disdain, "Sabotaging your family is an excellent way to buy yourself some time to do the things you need to do."
When pressed about what she meant by sabotage, she gave me a look that was half gleeful and half maniacal.
"Oh, you know. Like, if you find your partner demands a lot of your time when they get home from work, send a computer virus to their company so that they have to stay late every night for a month to undo the damage. If your kids are constantly going in and out of the house, asking you for things, lock all the doors once they're outside and pretend not to hear them when they bang on the windows. That sort of thing."
She either ignored or didn't notice my horrified, slack-jawed stare.
Start And Immediately Discard A Bullet Journal
"Nobody has time for that nonsense," she said, quickly and deadpan.
I had to agree.
Really Ask Yourself If Your Children "Spark Joy"
"I've been reading a lot lately about this idea lately that I love: if something doesn't spark joy in your life you should just get rid of it."
Schimley was excited as she talked about this, wildly gesturing with her hands and making a series of almost overly expressive faces.
"Wait," I interrupted around the time she started mentioning one of her sons by name. "That's good advice for, like, sweaters and knick-knacks and stuff, but I don't think it's meant to apply to children."
"Because they're children."
Schimley shrugged, "We wouldn't be in this mess if everyone just listened and got robot children. Really, what's more important: children or getting it all done?"
I sputtered. She held up a hand. "None of these are things anyone has to do. But I'm just saying, as a licensed efficiencyologist, that these are some hacks any mom could incorporate into her life to get more done."
At this point in the interview she smiled, shook my hand a little too firmly, thanked me for my time, and excused herself.
"I've got to get going: I'm scheduled for my weekly 12 minutes of sleep."
Note: Dr. Dr. Rebecca Schimley is not a real person and an effeciencyologist is not a real thing and please, for the benefit of everyone involved (including your children) get some sleep. Don't try to "be it all" or "do it all" or be a "superhero." You're a human being.