"Damn it," thought Cora staring at her To-Do list. "I need a housekeeper," then her more logical voice quickly chimed in, "that's stupid. I have no kids, no significant other messing stuff up." She pauses her inside voices to better analyze what she should be completing today. "It's just you and me, Obi. This shouldn't be a big deal, right? We got this. Well, I got this," she tells Obi as she bends down to give him a belly/neck rub combo before starting the laundry. "I'll first throw in a load, then, dare I say, give you a baaath!" she says singing the latter portion knowing well that Obi will not make this easy for her. Here's to Saturdays!
We all complain about not having enough time in our days or week to complete all we want to accomplish. We look back in hindsight and wonder where the years have gone, realizing how much older we are now. I will not pretend to know how to create more hours out of our 24-hour days; if I did, I would be sitting on a private island, sipping on a strawberry daiquiri under the sun, financially set for life.
What I do know, is how to make the most of each day to avoid more time consuming tasks down the road. I have a friend that tells me that she's always surprised at how much I do, at how much I'm able to juggle. Yes, I understand that this is contrary to one of my earlier posts about doing NOTHING, but as I mentioned in that article, even doing nothing can sometimes lead to the best kind of something.
Here are a few of my best practices to make sure I don't feel like the day escaped me without accomplishing a thing. Plus, it helps free up more of my weekend for the things I WANT to do instead of the things I have to do.
1. Wake up early.
Sleeping in should only be used as an occasional treat for the soul, like a rare piece of cake or an occasional trip to a fast-food joint. Waking up early morning sets you up for the day, and obviously, you just gifted yourself a couple more hours to get things done, whether its to catch up on emails, or meditate, workout, or just do whatever your heart desires.
2. Fix your bed.
This one I learned from my mother. "Fix your bed, and you're ready for any unexpected guests," she'd say during my childhood. Set that reason aside, albeit true, research has shown that taking less than two minutes to tidy up your bed will make you feel accomplished and sets you up for a productive day. Hey, if the military makes this their first chore of the day, it must be right.
3. Keep Cleansing Wipes in your bathroom cabinet.
During a gathering with a few ladies at my place some years back, a friend of a friend, after using my bathroom, asked me how I kept my bathroom so clean. She mentioned how her hair always litters the bathroom floor at her place. I chuckled because this is by far a common problem all long-haired individuals share. We shed! "I keep cleaning wipes in my cabinet, and it only takes about 10 seconds to wipe up the hair from the floor and my sink," I tell her. Ten seconds before leaving the bathroom and it saves me from feeling like my place is a disaster come the weekend. (note, I also keep glass cleaner and paper towels in my bathroom cabinet for those toothpaste mirror mishaps). Keeping the respective cleaning supplies stored in each room makes it feel less of a cumbersome household chore.
4. Keep your hamper only half full.
I am fully aware that this only works if you have an in-unit washer and dryer. But if you do, do not take it for granted. Laundry is one of those chores that comes relatively close to human torture, so why let it pile up, spill out and take over your entire weekend? Just toss it in. It will literally take you less than 5 minutes, and the machines do the rest.
5. Put your clean laundry away immediately.
Okay, I may have made washing and drying clothes look like the enemy, when in fact, it's the folding and putting away that's the real torture. Imagine if you had five loads worth of laundry to put away? This is why half a hamper is worth a huge consideration. Also, do not allow the laundry to sit in the dryer for too long, nor should you chaotically empty the machine and dump it into a bin. This will allow the wrinkles to set in, only giving you ONE more chore to do when you need that item of clothing (my oldest son always piles his clean laundry into a ball and lets it sit, and sit, and sit). Instead, once it is dry, pull out each item at a time and either lay flat in the bin or hang/fold immediately. This may sound cumbersome, but trust me, this is the best of the two evils. Tried and proven.
6. Less stuff means more time.
This one came with experience. Growing up, my mother collected so many tchotchkes throughout the years. The '80s were mainly responsible for 95% of the wedding porcelain favors lining our bookshelf and every other countertop; doves, swans, and hearts everywhere. Add to that the number of tiny frames on every table with pictures of every family member. Not only were they the keepers of many good memories for her, but they also kept a lot of dust. Dust that was not easy to wipe off. As a teen, I begged relentlessly to purge them all, but I always lost that battle. I had to wipe them down each week, remove them from the shelves to dust the surface properly, to then return each safely back to its assigned spot. Guess how many tchotchkes litter the shelves in my very own home now that I'm an adult? First, I don't own any wedding favors. Secondly, in my 20's I lived in what some folks would consider a commune (a conversation for another day). But they did instill that any surface you wanted to decorate should have three objects or less to facilitate cleaning and minimize dust collection. Once I left the commune, this was the only piece of information I found valuable for everyday living. I've been able to apply this to keep decorative items to a minimum, plus it works with other household items like towels, only 2-3 towels per individual—fewer objects to clean means MORE time for you.
7. Use your outlook calendar/technology to schedule everything.
This one I'm learning slowly from my husband. He uses his outlook calendar to remind him of everything, from deadlines, to events to even the smallest, most trivial task. As I get older, I find myself forgetting more, which upsets me when I remember something after the fact, which then throws off my mood, which will likely ruin my day. Take back your day by using technology for the greater good. What better personal assistant than your calendar or Alexa or Google to remind you to make that appointment to the dentist, to send that E-gift for your friend's birthday, or get junior those supplies for his school project due in 2 days? Every time we're running low on an item, we instantly ask Alexa to put it on the shopping list; this way, there's no need to go through our cabinets and fridge trying to decide what we're needing. Trust me; use technology to make your life simpler, giving you back both your sanity and some extra time.
What are your best practices to getting a chore done more efficiently or to help you regain time in your week? What has been the best advise you've received to gaining time in your day or week?