Friday, January 18, 2013

Organize Your Time for Housework

The skeleton of this post is in thanks to one of Jairica Stepford's posts from a while back. Her paraphrased idea is that if you see a chore or task that needs done and it takes less than five minutes to do, just do it now rather than waiting.

I have been a chronic procrastinator with everything in life: knowing what to wear for an important event, mailing Christmas presents a few days before (one time after) Christmas, and inviting people to my house for a party/holiday the day before.

Same thing with household chores: I will wait beyond when something needs to be done. My favorite quote "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow!".

In the last month or so, I have been really trying to not let my house work accumulate. With three cats, two dogs, and step-children in the home at least part of the time, there are many factors to clutter and "clean" just beyond my own actions. 

One of my New Year's resolutions was to have my house visitor ready with little or no notice. Of course, that does not mean perfect...I would expect my house to be much cleaner with a planned visitor. This is sort of like wanting to lose weight and get healthier-it takes gradual changes that become routine for it to work.

I determined the absolute best way to accomplish getting my house clean and in order was to progressively add additional chores to my daily routine. By this, I mean I might spend 60 minutes cleaning the floor well on a day I'm not working, then maintain that every single day by sweeping and dry mopping as necessary. If you do this every day, it takes less time to keep clean.

Once I got my floors in shape, I then added keeping my furniture vacuumed. I had NO idea what a difference it would make time-wise to get the pet hair off my chairs and sofas on a daily basis. Instead of doing this once a week and taking a long time to get a large amount of hair off, I do it each day and it comes off much faster because it hasn't had time to get stuck on the fabric.

The kitchen is another time consuming area-especially using my old method of only cleaning the kitchen two or so times a week. I would have a full dishwasher to unload, both sides of the sink (and counters) piled with dirty dishes to be loaded in the dishwasher or hand washed. Then after the dishes and pans were taken care of the counters and sink were still dirty and there was still clutter from the counter tops to deal with.

After spending a good 50 minutes one weekend cleaning my kitchen, I set my mind to cleaning up as I went. Sometimes yes, that means washing out a pan or skillet as the family is sitting down at the table to eat. The reward is excellent though: no accumulation of dishes and it always stays clean. The two minutes to wash the pan now saves me 4 minutes figuring out where to begin in a messy kitchen and soaking the pan to remove caked on food that sat for a day or so.

After I worked on maintaining the floors, kitchen, and vacuuming the furniture, it became a sense of pride and happiness that I had a clean home. The sacrifice I am making for a clean home is about 45 minutes spread out across an entire day, or one hours worth of DVRed television. I can assure you I had a good 45 minutes worth of re-run shows or junk that only filled time.

The other added bonus: I am actually more in need of rest at the end of the day so I sleep better and feel like I accomplished something.

As I am becoming more efficient at these chores, I can add additional items to my to-do list and accomplish them in the same original time frame I started with. Also, since I am doing this daily cleaning, that allows me the large time chunk I would have needed on the weekend to tackle a more demanding project such as a closet, basement, or garage.

So how can you do this? I will share my secret: routine! Having a little routine has certainly helped me out with getting things around the house done.

Breakfast Time Saver: While my typical egg breakfast is cooking on the stove, I unload the dishwasher if it was run the night before. I still usually have time to flip the eggs and go clean out my cat box. That is two chores done while cooking a necessary meal.

Dinner Time Saver: I used to cook dinner in between my watching t.v. I made a pledge to myself now to make my dinner cooking time a time that I am productive with myself. Sometimes this means cleaning out the refrigerator of old food in between flipping meat in the oven. This is also a great time to work on a grocery list and meal plan for the next day since you are already in your kitchen and can see what you have or need.

Another Dinner-time saver: When putting food from dinner away into the refrigerator, I pack a lunch portion out of the food so that it is already packaged for traveling. I used to waste so much time (and clean utensils) opening large food containers from the fridge and re-packaging part for my lunch.

I have one last tip to share about organizing time for your housework: make a list and add an anticipated time frame. Lists are my favorite! I have been known to make a list then later go back and add something that wasn't on it just so I can cross it off. My theory with making a list is that you have something tangible to remind you of your intentions (and someone else can hold you to it too). I like to designate how long I think each chore will take also. I always feel really good about getting something done quicker than anticipated. On the flip side, I hate it when something takes far longer than I thought. Being off schedule makes it much more tempting to ditch the last items on the list.

No matter how you tackle trying to organize your time for your housework don't procrastinate!!

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