Hate chores? Me too. Sometimes it can be very satisfying to clean your house when you have the time; but there is the kicker – when do you have the time?
Chores are necessary, mundane tasks that keep you from doing the things that enrich your life. Personally, I would rather be hiking ridges, diving a ship wreck, having cocktails with friends, listen to live music, or write a story than do the laundry, wash (and dry) the dishes, sweep the floors, and scrub behind the toilet (yuck).
Over the years, I have learned specific ways to multi-task and break large chores into teeny tasks that do not interfere with my life. Initially, I focused on just a few specific items in order to master the skill. Over time, I incorporated more items, but was sure to focus on only a few at a time until they became second nature to me.
Now, I have an arsenal of super-mega-efficient ways of going about my day-to-day life while getting stuff done so that I never have to do chores. It is amazing! And I found that I resent chores much less because of my effort to get things done efficiently. I hope you discover the same.
Here is my list of 10 Time-Savers That Eliminate Chores:
1. Fill soap dispensers immediately when empty.
This tasks takes what, 2.5 minutes? Keep a large refill bottle of soap under the sink that you use the most. If you have kids, you may want to keep a bottle of refill soap under every sink and teach your kids how to refill the soap dispenser. This is one of those small tasks that will be so frustrating to do if you put it off for later. Just fill ‘er up!
2. Wash dirty dishes while cooking.
If you have pasta boiling on the stove or chicken baking in the oven, use that cooking time to clean up your mess. Always put away dry and clean dishes first, then begin washing the dirty ones. I like to put all my dry and clean dishes away in the early morning while my coffee is brewing. That way, I have an empty dish drainer I can pile washed dishes into later. If you are already in kitchen-mode, why not max-out on your focus by cleaning up your mess while your food is cooking? Washing dishes can take 10 minutes. That should be plenty of time to straighten up so that you do not have do waste more time after your meal.
3. Make your bed while talking on the phone or listening to the news.
Do you call your brother or sister every morning before work? Do you like to sit with your coffee and watch the news every morning? Why not combine those tasks with some bed-making. Making the bed is one of those things that seems unimportant and more for people with OCD or aspirations of headlining in Better Homes and Gardens. But honestly, making the bed really sets the tone for the day. So, grab your headset or blue tooth and chat up your mom, or turn on your favorite internet radio station, and start straightening the covers.
4. Sort clothes and do laundry while talking on the phone.
Just like making the bed, laundry is a task that does not take up much mental energy. Therefore, you can perform this task while holding and being very present in a phone conversation. Who is on your list of people you have not talked to for a while? An old buddy from college you want to keep in touch with? A coworker from a previous job? A cousin who lives in Colorado? First, you should always have a list of people to call. Relationships require regular maintenance, and that maintenance involves communication. Second, next time you plan on separating your lights and and darks, grab your list and start working your way down. It will make laundry less annoying, more enjoyable, and your friends will appreciate your proactivity in your relationship.
5. Make lunch boxes while making dinner.
Are your lunches usually left-overs from last night’s dinner? If so, why not distribute a portion of dinner into a storage container that you plan on bringing into work the next day? When you make large dishes, like lasagna or beef roast, you can easily divvy up portions for future lunches or dinners. If you are only feeding one or two people, be sure to freeze a portion of the meal in case you do not want to eat beef and potatoes five nights in a row.
6. Over-chop your vegetable supply.
Piggy-backing on number 5, be sure to chop extra vegetables whenever you are preparing a meal or snack. If you already have the knife and cutting board out, why not chop up extra carrots, celery, cucumber, beets, onion, etc., for future salads, sandwiches, rice dishes, and snacks? Grab a few storage containers to keep your over-choppings separate; or grab one container and pre-assemble a salad for the week. I like to do both: put random veggie choppings in a large container so I can quickly and easily add veggies to salads and rice dishes; and I like to separate some for specific uses or if I do not want all my veggies to turn beet red. (By the way, when I was a kid, my mom frequently used the phrase “beet red” to describe how my cheeks looked when I was embarrassed. I always thought she meant “beat red,” meaning that my cheeks were so red it looked like someone had repeatedly slapped me across the face and beaten me. I am just realizing her true intentions now…Funny.) But seriously, be efficient with your veggie chopping.
7. Place a recycling bin in the bathroom.
Okay, this might gross you out. We create so much bathroom waste every day and much of it can be recycled. Think of the toilet paper rolls, tampon wrappers and cardboard applicators, and bottles of lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. All of these items can be placed in a recycle bin, but are they? Do you really make the effort to interrupt your prep-and-pamper flow with a quick stop to the kitchen or garage where the recycling is discarded? Make life a little easier on yourself and keep the flow going by placing a recycle bin in your bathroom. Whenever your bin is full, drop a load off on your next trip over to the kitchen or garage. (Disclaimer: gross puns in this section are not intended but the result of my subconscious exercising its brilliance via my rapidly typing fingers.)
8. Clean the shower while you are in it.
The next time you take a shower, bring your favorite cleanser and rag with you. Maybe while your conditioner is doing its thing, you can spray down the walls and wipe any goop under shampoo bottles. While you rinse, you can share some splashes with the areas you cleaned. To make this safe for you and our water supply, use a plant-based, biodegradable, human-safe cleanser. Pay attention to the labels on the cleansers, and watch out for any false advertising. Use a washable rag or towel instead of a sponge so that you do not throw anything away. Doing this on a regular basis eliminates the need for intense scrubbing, harsh chemicals, and abrasive sponges. This is favorable because it reduces the effort you spend cleaning, the amount of toxic chemicals entering our water supply, and waste material.
9. Clean toilet mess as you see it.
In my article, Do Not Leave Streak Marks In The Toilet (And Other Practical New Year’s Resolutions To Make You Feel Accomplished), the first New Year’s Resolution I proposed was to not leave streak marks in the toilet. It sounds gross, but it is one of those small things that adds up over time. (I hear toilet mess is a big problem with adolescent boys. Dads, you are the primary example of how to handle such mess, so set a good example. Moms, you must be a strong enforcer if you want change to happen. Find a way to make them clean up after themselves.) Never use those toilet bowl tabs that sit in your tank or attach the the inside of the bowl. The chemicals in such tabs can deteriorate seals and other equipment than can lead to failure, which means water leaks and expensive repair costs. Instead, use a scrub brush as needed and wipe up any dribbles left behind. Keep a cleanser near the brush and add a few squirts if you need some extra oomph. Avoid cleansers with scents and colors, as such products are usually harmful to our water supply.
10. Put shoes, coats, and keys away immediately when you get home.
Do not throw your coat on the couch or place it on the back of a kitchen chair. Hang it up where it belongs. Do not throw your keys on the counter or put them in your pants pocket (you will forget they are there and waste time hunting for them later). Place keys on a hook or in a designated drawer. When you hang your coat, put your shoes away, and properly place your keys, quickly scan your mail and immediately remove any junk from the pile. Give junk a quick rip and set it aside. Open all other mail. Read cards from friends and families immediately, but set the envelope aside. For tax documents, pay stubs, and other important correspondence, scan the item, place the envelop aside, decide whether you need to keep the document or rip and discard it, then place all needed documents in a stack to be filed or dealt with during the time that you file or deal with documents. Take the junk mail, envelopes, and unneeded documents to the recycle bin immediately. Make sure you rip ’em good to help prevent identify theft. (The hubs helped me be efficient with mail, so I give him credit for that part. However, he still needs to work on putting his shoes away…)
Do you like this list? Pick one or two to focus on the next few weeks. Then, add another one or two. Become a master of efficiency so that you are never stuck doing chores that could have been prevented by breaking them up into smaller, more manageable tasks. Have any other ideas? Please share with us more ways to be efficient so that we can continue to live our lives more fully.