Monday, June 4, 2012

One-minute chores - training ourselves in efficiency

Here is a link to a list of chores that don't take a lot of time, but can really make a difference! This includes changing hand towels, wiping a bathroom mirror, etc. 

I thought it was a very neat, motivating and inspiring you to tasks you can complete in a short time. How many times have we looked around and experienced this sinking feeling that there is a million of things to be done, and no time to do them? Well, apparently the key to successful action is to break the million things into one-by-one, and just head in and do something, even if it is something little. The sense of accomplishment will motivate you to move on and continue working, and efficient planning will enable you to make good of those little pockets of time we sometimes have during the day.

I will add one caveat, though. A chore by itself may not take long, but it still might take a longer time to do it; for example, it really is only a minute to change your kitchen towels - if you keep them readily available. I really don't have much cupboard space in the kitchen, so my kitchen towels are kept in the closet in the children's room. So, I will usually change my kitchen towels at a fixed time - normally before Shabbat - and take them out of the closet together with the Shabbat things (special tablecloth, hot plate cover, and challah napkins). 

This problem is of course exacerbated if you have a staircase in your home. Just getting from spot to spot in your house might considerably lengthen the time you spend on each chore. So what is the solution? Living in a small house, some may say. This may sound like a joke, but I do believe that for some people, big houses are status symbols, and it's really better to have just as many rooms as you are comfortable with. Around here, I have several friends living in caravans (with one to four children), with only around 56 square meters of space. They always say cleaning such a small place is a breeze! This only works, of course, if people take up an unrelenting battle against clutter and do not permit unnecessary items to swamp their house. 

So basically I think the key here is - if you really only have a minute or two, work in the space where you already happen to be, or near it. For example, if I'm watching over the girls while they are playing in bath, I might use up that little slot of time to wipe down the bathroom mirror, sink and tap, and perhaps to scrub the toilet. If I'm watching over them while they are playing in the yard, I will clean the outside of the living room window (yes, the one with fingerprints and nose prints all over it :o)) 

Logical storage strategy is another important thing. I've already mentioned kitchen towels; by necessity, I keep them away from the kitchen, but I realize it would have been better to make room in one of the cupboards. The little sponge I use specifically for wiping sinks, I keep in the bathroom so it's within easy reach. I'm forced (again by necessity of space) to keep some of our clothes in the girls' closet, which is larger, but I make sure those are the clothes we use less often, in particular during the warm months (coats, jackets etc). 

Then it's important to assess whether a chore really takes up only a minute, or we are run away with our fanciful imagination. For example, I've been known to step out to fold the laundry, saying "it only takes a minute", forgetting that with two little ones in tow, it does not. In that case I must either make more time, or delay the task until later.

And of course, this doesn't mean every last little moment of spare time must be filled with housework! On the contrary, using up the spare moments during the day will enable you to free your time to do other things. 

Now it's really time for me to stop pounding away on the keyboard and go and do some of the work I've been so faithfully writing about! The day is going to be busy (as always), but since I didn't get very much sleep last night, I am sincere in hoping it will be slow, too, so that I can crawl along... doing a little thing here, a little thing there... and making a difference!


Suze said...

Yes some chores are quick to incorporate. However I remain a hopelessly messy person and i really do not want to be. I have been known to set a time for 5 mins or 15 and race to get things done.

Children do slow down but I think you may well be teaching them how to do things at the same time. Those little lessons taught day by day are worthwhile.

Katie B. of said...

Thank you very much for the link! I agree that some of the chores I've listed may take longer for some, but hopefully not so long that they can't be squeezed in while on the phone, waiting for the children to get dressed, etc.

Have a wonderful day!

Custom Mirrors Nassau County said...

I completely agree! Tidying up doesn't take more half to an hour, and it can give such a powerful vibe when you have all the walking space, towels on demand, and everything where it needs to be. Its like walking into someone elses home

-Irwin Zinkin

Joluise said...

If you start with a neat and tidy house, keeping it that way is easy and yes you are right you can do lots within a few minutes. I sometimes play a little game, how much can I do in 30 mins and to be honest, a lot can be done. Keeping a house in order should never take up much of the day.