Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Time Saving Tips

By Heather Pohlabel

Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by housework, family, and a new baby? You can't very well do anything about the family or the baby, but you can minimize your housework by planning ahead, being organized, keeping clutter to a minimum, and multi-tasking throughout the day.

Plan ahead. You can cut down your workload by planning several things in advance. Meals can be planned on Sunday when the paper comes with advertisements and money saving coupons. This will not only help you save money on your food items, but it will help you plan your menu for the week as well, especially if you are on a budget! Always, always, always make a list before you go to the store and try not to stray from it. Remember, you're trying to save time by being prepared for the week.

When you get your groceries home and start to put them away, group items together that you will need for certain recipes. You should separate and freeze your meats at this time also. You can even cook up certain meats and refrigerate or freeze them if you will be using them soon. This will save a step during the week during meal preparation.

Pack lunches the night before if you have time. This helps cut stress in the morning!

Stay organized. Find a system of organization that works for you. What works for some people will be more confusing and time consuming for you. So find something that you can stick to. Even if you have to leave Post-it notes all over the place to remind you or to help you find things, you will be better off than leaving it all to chance.

A filing cabinet with marked folders is a wonderful way to keep papers filed away for easy retrieval later. Assigning certain drawers for specific purposes also works well - one drawer for bills, one for office supplies, one for pictures, etc.

Some people organize things alphabetically - no matter what it is - everything from bills to dishes. Others go by size or priority. Again, the choice is yours, but have some sort of organizational scheme, and if you can, cue your husband in on it in case you need to have him find something.

Keep it clean. Clutter is a killer. It is what will make your house look messy and make you feel stressed. Some Eastern philosophies preach " a cluttered home is indicative of a cluttered life". I don't know how true that is, but it certainly helps to make you feel better and makes your home appear nicer if you don't have clutter.

Throw away junk mail immediately. File all other mail. Don't let it pile up.

If you recycle, make sure you have a good clean system somewhere. Don't leave newspapers lying around. Store them as soon as they are read. Unread newspapers a week old should be in the recycle bin, not on your dining room table!

If you don't have a dishwasher and don't like to have dishes sitting around, but run low on time on certain days, use paper products. While this is not the most environmentally friendly advice, it will save your sanity if you like a clean kitchen. There won't be a huge pile of cups, plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons to clean!

Keep spare trash liners in trash cans, especially the small ones in the bathroom that get changed frequently. You won't have to walk around the house to get another liner or forget that you need one! It will be right there.

Multi-task. Mothers are excellent multi-taskers! You know that you can drive, serve dinner, clear up an issue, and entertain all at once! We've all done it!

At home, multi-tasking will ensure that everything gets done eventually and that you have some time to get it done! For example, you need to do both dishes and laundry. Soak the dishes and then start your laundry. You can come back and finish the presoaked dishes. While the next set is presoaking, run the sweeper. Come back to the dishes. Wash that set and presoak another. Take out the trash!

I like to do food prep in the kitchen in between dish cycles. Water is already handy, and there is a lot of hand washing to be done, so it is convenient.

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