By Mark Parker
I used to hate the dishwasher. You have to empty it and put away the dishes. You have to rinse the dirties and load it. Next comes the sink and counters. You have to organize, wipe and scrub. What a pain.
I also used to hate doing laundry. It was not so much the sorting and prepping, since boys can wash almost everything together. It was the folding and putting away. Ugh!
Then there was the killer: paying bills. It felt like it took hours and was an emotional drain. My bills were such a cluttered mess and it seemed to take so much time just to get them organized.
And then one day, I decided to see how long it really took me to accomplish these tasks.
And everything changed.
I found that when I put my mind to it, I could empty the dishwasher and put everything away in 90 second. Filling the dishwasher took even less time.
I could organize, wipe and scrub the counters in four minutes and the sink took another two minutes. With focus, I could fold a full basket of laundry and have it put away in less than 10 minutes. Matching socks included!!!
So what changed? I found that I was wrapping very simple tasks in unnecessary layers of drama. It wasn’t the unloading of the dishwasher that was the problem; it was my inclination towards procrastination that made little jobs appear to build until they were huge and daunting. I found that if I attacked the little things immediately, no drama ensued and I gained the added bonus of the satisfaction that comes with a job completed. I no longer built up dread as the tasks kept piling up: because there weren’t any tasks to pile up!
From there, I became proactive.
Since I am a cook, I started in the kitchen. I found that keeping the kitchen clean affected my health. Keeping the kitchen in a ready to use state meant that I would be more likely to cook a healthy meal from scratch, instead of trying to get by with something out of the microwave. I also found that keeping a cutting board and knife out on the counter made me even more inclined to cook. The kitchen seemed inviting.
I learned to keep all my laundry baskets in the laundry room. This forced me to put clothes away instead of living out of the basket. Twice a week I gathered all the empty clothes hangers and staged them in the laundry room. That way all the clothes went straight from the dryer to hangers instead of onto all the other pieces of furniture that used to act as my closet in transit.
Bills became easy once I learned to simplify. I gathered all my bills, and then struck a match. No, just kidding. I now open my bills when they arrive and separate the statement page and the return envelope, and all the rest of the junk goes directly into the recycle bin. This simplifies things and keeps me focused. When I am ready to pay my bills, they are ready and waiting for me to pay them. An added bonus of opening my bills when they arrive is no Bill Pay Day surprises. I know in advance if a particular bill is bigger than normal.
The bottom line... in the end, I did not change my household tasks. I changed my thinking by eliminating the drama I commonly associated with even the most menial chore. I now find myself happier in a cleaner house. I can find all my clothes. My bills are paid and I have time for bigger and better things. Like mowing the lawn. Or, maybe I should wait till later… after the grass grows a little more… when it is not so warm...
By Melissa Tosetti
Last week I was in Canton, MI for a speaking engagement. During the presentation I talked about how your home environment affects your personal finances. When you're not comfortable in your own home, you don't want to be there. When you don't want to be there, you're likely out spending money - at the movies, dining out, at the mall, etc.
I shared with the audience a very personal story about my own experience...
For many years, I couldn't relax in my own home. It was so cluttered that I always felt on edge. Each room was a visual reminder of all the cleaning and organizing that I needed to do - cleaning and organizing that was never finished. I would get so frustrated that the only time I felt relaxed was while on vacation staying in a hotel. I kept thinking, “Shouldn't I be able to relax in my own home?”
In the back of my mind, I knew the clutter was also an indication that I didn't have my financial house in order. Yes, I was paying my bills on time and staying debt free, but I wasn't managing my money once it transitioned from cash to a possession. I would go shopping for clothes and what I would purchase would stay in the bags on the couch for a week. If I really wanted those items, they would have been taken out of the bags and hung on hangers as soon as I got home.
It sounds dramatic, but I would literally panic any time someone would knock on the door. Paul's mom was one of the most organized, neatest women I had ever met. Several times she caught me at home with my house in embarrassing order. I found myself constantly apologizing to my friends for the state of our house. After a while, I couldn't fake that it was a temporary situation.
When Paul and I would entertain, I would do marathon cleaning sessions prior to the party. By the time our guests arrived, I would be exhausted and a tiny bit grouchy. I knew there had to be a better way.
I finally hit a breaking point and decided to take a few days off from work to focus on the problem. The week before my grand makeover, I was psyched and excited about the clean up. I even cleared my schedule the evening before that first vacation day so I could jump right in. I likened my cleanup project to the makeover shows that were becoming so popular. I knew it was going to be hard work, but by the end of the weekend, my house was going to be magically transformed into a Zen-like retreat.
When I got home from work that day I changed clothes, pushed up my sleeves and immediately -- became overwhelmed and started crying. I didn't know where to begin. Within 30 minutes I made the excuse that I needed plastic bins to organize my stuff and left the house. I didn't come back until after 9:00 pm, because I couldn't face it. I ended up spending a silly amount of money bringing more stuff into my home - the plastic bins. Ultimately, I wasted my vacation days, accomplished nothing and my depression grew. The following Monday I found the Flylady
website and by following her habits and routines, I was able to get in control of my home.
Recently, a friend of mine sent an article to me from Good Housekeeping
titled, 10 Biggest Organizing Mistakes
. The article hit home for me. To this day, I still have to be careful about not having too many projects going on at once and putting things somewhere "for now". If this sounds familiar, check out the article and I also recommend visiting Fylady's
By Melissa Tosetti
When it comes to most products, less is more. In many cases, you don’t need to use as much as you may have been led to believe.
- Try cutting the amount of shampoo and conditioner you use in half, if not more.
- Instead of a full line of toothpaste like they show you in commercials, try just a small dot.
- Instead of a full scoop of laundry detergent, try just a tablespoon.
- Instead of filling the dishwasher receptacle with detergent, try just a tablespoon.
The Savvy Life Philosophy is to save money on the things that aren’t as important to you so you can focus your spending on the areas that are important to you. By making the products you purchase last 50 - 80% longer, you can save a hundred dollars or more a year.
I’m sure you can think of something much more fun to spend $100 on than cleaning supplies!
It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the tasks necessary for a smoothly-running household. There's laundry, bills, errands, cooking, parenting, and even home schooling for some. Top this off with making quality, laid-back family time a priority, and you've got yourself a full plate for any well-intentioned home manager.
Create a Home Management Notebook to curb your sanity.
A Home Management Notebook is exactly what it sounds like - a simple catch-all for those important reminders, papers, and documents that can easily get lost or scattered. It's a daily reference for your tasks, and once you start using it, you'll wonder how you ever managed without it.
Here are some ideas you might want to include in yours.
Keep your daily agenda at the very top of your Notebook, because you'll need to reference it quickly - you want to open your book and see exactly what's on your day's agenda. This should be an easy-to-read docket - keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it all on one page. Don't overwhelm yourself with a massive agenda that'll never happen in one day.
Write out a master checklist of what you need to accomplish in any normal week - this can include room cleaning, finances, and basic errands. If you store it in a clear sleeve, you can mark it with a dry-erase marker. At the end of the week, wipe it clean and start over - you won't have to print another list. This is perfect if you thrive on checking things off.
Collate a master list of typical things you buy at the grocery store, and turn it into a master printable list. When you run out of things, check off the item, so when you head to the store, you can simply grab your list and go. Leave plenty of blank space to add items not already listed, useful when you want to try a new recipe.
Next up is your money management paperwork - bank statements you need to reference, your monthly budget, and important documents about bills are all housed here. Include a zippered pencil case for keeping the current month's receipts, so that you can easily keep track of your spending. If you don't need the receipt, shred it at the end of the month, and start with an empty pencil case next month.
Master Project List
This space is for jotting down those longer-term ideas that flood your mind throughout the day. You'll forget them if you don't write them down, so leave plenty of room to jot ongoing ideas for your home - look into planting parsley next spring, or check out mutual funds at Vanguard, for example. These are plans that don't need to happen right away, but you don't want to forget about them when it's time.
It's helpful to have a quick reference for your babysitters. Keep this updated with your basic contact information, bedtime routines, food allergies, what to do in basic emergencies (like where your band-aids are located), what's off limits for your kids, and what are their current favorites - food, movies, games, and toys. You might even want to include instructions on how to turn on the TV and DVD player!
How often have you thought of a great craft idea to do with your kids, then when you sat down with them, all you could think of was drawing with crayons? Keep your ideas stored in your Home Management Notebook. Simply jot down your ideas, or print off directions for a craft you found online. Then, when your kids say "I'm bored," you know exactly where to turn for ideas.
It's so frustrating to forget that great idea for a Father's Day gift you had back in January. Allot an area in your Notebook for jotting down your ideas, and when it's time to purchase a gift, all your ideas are in one location.
Hopefully this list triggers some ideas for your own Home Management Notebook - tweak it and make it your own, so that you'll actually use it. It's an ongoing project - add or delete things as you need them, and it will soon become your sanity-saver at home.