Tuesday, April 14, 2009

THE DOMESTIC GODDESS FILES...The 15 Minute Organizer

So, along the way on my quest of becoming Mommy Extraordinaire and Wanna Be Domestic Goddess; I have picked up a few tips from the experts. One of these tips that have worked really well for me is to live life in smaller intervals. I picked this up when I had my first baby, and it has just kinda stuck. Especially when the children are young, a Mom finds that her time is consumed with all sorts of little childcare and housekeeping chores and duties; and there is not much time for the rest of life to be lived.
In order to keep some semblance of sanity, and find the will to get everything done…I began chopping everything up into 15 minute sections of time. I found that while I may not have hours to spend doing things that I liked, or just needed to do; that I could get a whole lot done in smaller chunks of time.
An author really inspired me around this time; and helped me to see that really ANYTHING can be done if we just break it down. This already fit with what I had been discovering on my own, and helped me to find even more ways to manage my precious time better. It really is not a new concept…I just liked how she presented it.
The author is Emilie Barnes. She and her husband have a whole empire of Time Management books and courses, that they call, More Hours In My Day. I have a couple of her books that I absolutely adore. One is called The Creative Home Organizer, and the other is The 15v Minute Organizer. I have found both to be 2 of the most indispensable books in my home management library. I often go back and reread them for inspiration, and have loaned them out many, many times over the years.
So, the premise is, that no matter how large or undesirable the job, or task to be done; that if it can be broken down into smaller chunks, it can be accomplished much easier and without all of the pain and anguish. This really hit home with a Queen Procrastinator such as myself!
Emilie calls it the Salami Method. She says that, “You wouldn’t eat a salami whole; but, if you take it slice by slice it goes down much easier.” And it works, very well.
Take a job such as cleaning out the fridge. While I may not have a whole afternoon to clean the fridge, (assuming it would even take as long as I originally anticipate). Now, if I try to wait until I have a whole afternoon to do the job, it would probably not get done for a while. However, if I use the little bits of time that I have, and break the job up shelf by shelf, I will have it done in no time.
So, if I clean one shelf in the morning, while the kids eat breakfast, then another while I am on the phone waiting for someone on hold, and another while the laundry is going…well, you get the idea! Another great way to utilize this concept it with rewards; and multi tasking. Let’s say that I have to clean out a cabinet that I am dreading. If I find myself watching a TV show in order to avoid my work, I can watch 15 minutes of TV, clean a portion during the commercial, and then watch more TV, until the next commercial/work break. That way, the job gets done, I get to watch my show, AND time that would have been wasted watching commercials has been put to good use.
How about the time we spend waiting in line? If I have all of my bills or coupons in a folder in my purse, that bit of time can be used for that purpose, instead of me having to take more time later to do the bills. Or the 10 minutes that I would be waiting for my friend to arrive for us to go somewhere. Instead of twiddling my thumbs, getting upset that she is late…I could be loading the dishwasher, (if I had one!), or putting a load of laundry in. While the kids are in the bathtub, I spend 10 minutes wiping down the bathroom. 10 minutes before my own shower, I can scrub the tub, etc. When I clean the kid’s room, I watch my show in their room, instead of on the living room couch. Before I know it, my show is over, the job is done, and the hour that I normally would have wasted killed two birds with one stone! See the beauty of the system?
It is really fabulous for those jobs that you really-just-don’t-want-to-do! Instead of dreading it, and putting it off, (which by the way, I still do quite often!), I can combine it with a desirable activity. I can check out my favorite blogs for 15 minutes and then work on something I don’t want to do for 15. I know that I only have to do that undesirable job for 15 minutes, and then I can go back to my fun activity. This really cuts down on the “Mommy Guilt” too! I don’t have to feel so bad for doing the stuff that I like, if I am also tackling the important jobs too.
Part of the fun is timing yourself to see how long activities really take, and then seeing how many 5, 10, 15 and 30 minute activities you can accomplish without effort. One example of this is mopping the floor. I used to dread mopping the floor. I hated it. But, I hated walking on a dirty floor even more. It caused me untold stress and anguish every time I thought of having to do the job, how much I hated it, how bad I felt about myself for procrastinating, and the guilt every time I looked or walked on the dirty floor! I had estimated that it took somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes to mop my floor. When I timed it, I discovered that it could be done in 12 minutes! Wow! All of that guilt and negative self talk over 12 minutes worth of work! Now that just seems silly. When I think of it now, I just think of the fact that after 12 minutes or so, I will be done, AND have a clean floor. Sweet!
So to get you started, I thought I would write down a few of the things that can be done in 5, 10, 15 and 30 minute intervals, and you can take it from there. See how many of your own chores and activities you could break up into smaller, more workable pieces. Also, time yourself to see just how many of the tasks that you thought would take a long time, actually only take a matter of minutes. Try it yourself and see if this might be something that could be of use to you. Even if you do not have children, I am sure everyone could use more time, better spent! Not to mention all of the time that it frees up to spend doing the things that really matter to us.
This theory also works at your job. I am sure there are tasks and chores that you are not keen on doing, but that could be done with less stress and more efficiency, leaving you more time for projects that really need to be done. See if this method could help make your life any easier and more productive. *And remember ~Work smarter, not harder!*

5 Minute Tasks
~Going through the mail
~cutting up veges for a later meal
~loading the dishwasher
~sorting laundry
~putting in a load of laundry
~looking up directions for something on the internet
~Filling out a form
~Handling a phone call
~Ironing an article of clothing
~Wiping down the counters (Kitchen or Bathroom)
~Making a bed
~Signing a card and putting it in the mail
~Making a list for shopping or errands
~Writing a journal entry or blog post
10 Minute Tasks
~Writing checks to pay bills
~Folding a load of laundry
~Sweeping the floor
~Keeping up with a pile of things to file
~Picking up a room, putting away odds & ends
~Washing dishes by hand
~Writing a letter to a friend or family member
~Filing or painting your finger nails
~Making a list of goals
~Cleaning off a desk or table, (sometimes less)
~Mending a piece of clothing
~Cleaning out your purse
~Making a lunch for the next day (Yourself, Kids, Husband, etc.)
15 Minute Tasks
~Cleaning a shelf, or drawer
~Mopping the floor
~Cleaning out the car
~Making a party schedule plan and to do list
~Making a trip schedule or plan, and packing list
~Going thru the closet to get rid of outgrown or unwanted items
30 Minute Tasks
~Cleaning the entire Kitchen/ Bathroom/ Bedroom, etc.
~Pulling weeds in an area of the yard or garden (or even less time depending on the area)
~Planting or transplanting some flowers
~Washing the car
~Balancing a checkbook
~Organizing photos

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