Saturday, October 6, 2012

Five Ways to Steal Back Time

So back to the question of, "How do you do it all??"  For me, it's not actually so much a matter of getting everything done.  Thanks to years of childhood trauma wisdom and experience, I'm both extremely OCD organized and have an intense fear of failure very goal-oriented.

The question is really how to do it all and not lose my mind.  Oh, it will all get done but will there be any survivors?

That's why I spend so much energy focusing on how important it is to take time to take care of ourselves, have fun, move, play, laugh. We must nurture our spirit, mind and body.

All that said, last I looked there are only 24 hours in a day.  Reality check. Something has got to give. 

With that in mind, I thought I'd share just a few adjustments I've made in order to steal back a few extra minutes here and there.

1. I've lowered my standards of "clean."  Instead of needing my house to be spotless at all times, I've decided that not embarrassing will work.  This paradigm shift is easier than you think.  Just pretend you're a man.

     1a. Scrubbing the floor now involves a spray bottle of Windex and a dishcloth under my bare feet as I shuffle around picking up toys and other items which magically appear on the floor with no (admitted) human intervention.

2. I'm a big fan of exercising all day long instead of trying to fit in a "workout" in one big chunk of time. For example:
       * See #1a.  It counts!
       * Running in place while waiting for the microwave, coffee maker or dear hubby to get out of the bathroom (which could actually be a long run.)
       * Playing "personal trainer" with my kids where they take turns giving everyone else exercises to do. Think "Simon Says" with more muscle confusion. 
       *  Doing commuter crunches.  Specifically, tiny abdominal muscle contractions while driving.  Glute squeezes too.  Nope, not kidding.   My office used to be 55 miles from my house.  One can't drive that much and not get creative.  If you don't commute, make them "Facebook crunches."

3. Spiderman (who will be eight in January) loves the "laundry game." He knows how to gather the clothes from around the house, sort by colors, measure detergent and start the washing machine.  He thinks it's fun and wants to learn how to use the dryer now.  I'm a genius, I know.  

4. Twelve-year old Miss M. has just been hired as the official lunchbox lady for herself and Spidey.  This has double time savings since not only don't I have to make the kids' school lunches, I also don't have to waste time arguing with them about what they want.  Miss M. now has freedom of choice (with parameters), pride in being more independent and a passive aggressive way to get at her brother.  She's also the official Dish Queen.  It can be quite dramatic when the sink is full of yucky dishes but it's a good way to teach her that sometimes life includes suffering.

 5. Sunday is now food prep day.  I take the time to make a few big batches of stuff for the week and/or get items prepped. For example, this weekend I'll make a big bowl of my citrus chickpea quinoa salad. Yum!  I'll also get all my veggies for the week washed and prepped into resealable bags or containers.  If they ever have a "Top Sous Chef" reality show, I'm so in.

There you go.  I would love to hear your fun time-saving tips so please do share!  (Even if you don't, I still love lots and lots of comments!!)


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Sarah said...

great ideas! i used to do commuter crunches. it's a great way to get toned. love your idea of scrubbing the floor.

i heard of a lady who had 3 sons. one was the laundry man, one was the cleaning man, and one was the cook. she was, and still is, my hero.

Charlene said...

Sounds like my kind of gal!!

La Mere Joie said...

I am hoping the fact that I just brought a puppy into my home will calm my cleaning OCD down. So far, it's not working much. I do like the idea of lunchbox duty. But I would have to supervise. They would take only snacks. And not the healthy ones. Going to give that a test run though! Maybe then I can have coffee before 11. Thanks!

missykimmy said...

Aw I really like this post! But I don't have any fun time-saving tips at the moment. I'll be sure to follow these 'five ways of stealing back time' when I have a family of my own. Thank you for sharing!

Visit my blog some time. (:

Clarence said...

Great post. I personally don't have a lot of time saving tips other than this; I'm a firm believer that "Anything worth doing, is worth doing RIGHT the FIRST time. No need to go over and behind yourself again. If for any reason that falls apart, I agree with Sarah"s comments, I just delegate..ummm!

Heather said...

I do "outsourcing" of some of my duties. Things that are repetitive, or that I know I'm not going to get to.

I am a single parent, and so tend to get a friend to help with things like lawn mowing, or outdoor stuff.

I've had my son doing his lunch for a few years now, and that does save big on time.

Great Post, Charlene :)

Brittany at Mommy Words said...

Brilliant these tips combined with my insomnia and need to move would give me like 36 hours in a day! Great post!

Charlene said...


Brittany - I have to admit that my recent habit of waking up at 4am does add to my productivity!

Elizabeth a.k.a. Type A Mommy said...

Those are some great ideas! Personally, waking up early helps a lot - I try to wake up at least an hour or two before my munchkin wakes up, so that I can get stuff taken care of that he doesn't enjoy, like blogs and laundry and things. Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest to you, and thanks for the tips!

Charlene said...

Thanks so much for suggesting that Elizabeth - I agree 100%! Usually people throw things at me when I suggest it though. (LOL!) But yes, I do try to wake up at least an hour earlier than everyone else. I just love that time (which I'm enjoying now actually!!) Thanks SITStah!

Christine said...

Oh boy...I love that you've lowered your standards of "clean" :) Glad to know I'm not the only one.
We used to make lists specific to the room we were cleaning. LONG lists that had every chore from dusting & sweeping to organizing & mopping. Talk about overkill! Now I just keep up w/the basics and save the "behind the closet door" stuff for special occasions. LOL.
Getting up early is my greatest tip. THAT'S how you get "me" time. Nobody to interrupt your coffee and thoughts:)
I'm blog-hopping through the SITS rollcall and wishing you a Happy Saturday!!

parentingBYdummies said...

#1 is my sanity! Now that I don't sweep five times a day (partly, b/c #2 has fallen in love with vacuuming and does the whole house at least once per day) or insist that the kitchen be dishes free constantly I'm more able to focus on important things, like blogging, I mean taking the dudes to the park!

Visiting from SITS!

plainolebob said...

Charlene, I save time, by not having to go to the store all week to buy my beer, I bought this really big beer cooler, and it works really good.
Plus I use, you man method of cleaning while Bess is gone, works for me.

Charlene said...

LOL Bob - My husband has the same technique. That's exactly why I told them to just "pretend you're a man!" And I like the cooler tip - Nice!

Tony Anders said...

It seems we might live in parallel universes! lol
I too have a "Spiderman" (5 year old son who also enjoys the charachter), and 11 year old princess who I creatively try to get to help hold down the fort, and am a bit of an OCD (attentive to detail) type of person too whose family must always get lost as they often leave a trail of stuff to find their way back to somewhere! Thanks for sharing!

Charlene said...

Thanks Tony! Too funny! I'm following you as well. :-) Cheers!

Matty said...


All of your tips are great ways of saving time. I especially like the "not embarrassing" approach to cleaning. But, ahem.....'pretend you're a man'?

Yes, I get the humor. I'm laughing here, especially when I'm the one in this house who tries to keep things clean. My wife is not a housekeeper to say the least. Let's just say that when she's done vacuuming, it still looks like it needs to be vacuumed. Enough said.

The biggest time saver is to have the kids do things. Here, they're older than yours so it's easy for me to say that, but having them do stuff saves quite a bit of time and effort. And no, we're not child slave traders here. We have them empty or load the dishwasher, take trash out, vacuum, a load of laundry. The simple things they do adds up to a lot of time for us.

I found you from your comment at Coach Your Mind.

Nice to meet you......Matty.

Charlene said...

Nice to meet you as well Matty! I was kinda waiting for a male comment on the "pretend..." and I'm so glad you are a good sport!

My husband will say that he's more detailed oriented when it comes to cleaning as well. The TRUTH is he may (on very rare occasions) start the meticulous vaccuuming job, but then stop in the middle to take the vaccuum apart so it "will work better." And then when the floor is half done and there are pieces of vaccuum everywhere, the football game comes on and well, that's that. But I know he has good intentions and I do love him for that much! :-)

Thanks for stopping by and the comment!

Sarah Nicole said...

I love your list. I already do the "not embarrassing" approach. And I giggled at your creativity. Thanks for sharing and for stopping by my blog.

Juliann Decker said...

I love you blog and always find myself doing two things after reading your entries 1) laughing my butt off (does that count as exercise)??? 2)finding very practical tips to implement in my life.

In the essence of sharing here goes....

Tip from The Unobstructed View:

I now keep a transfer box at the top/bottom of my staircase(I bought some sturdy and attractive wicker boxes to play the role of the "transfer box") When I'm casually straightening up the downstairs, anything that belongs upstairs get put in the transfer box. At the end of the clean sweep, I bring the transfer box upstairs and put the items away in their respected space. I do the same when I'm cleaning the upstairs.

Why it works for me?

Trust me...I need minimal distractions in order to stay focused on the task at hand. This has saved me hours of time. In the past,I would find myself running up/down the stairs or better yet standing upstairs wondering how I got there and why. Just doing my part to keep it simple!

Christine aka Mistress of Cakes said...

We work so hard to not become a product of our parents! I am so glad I am not the only one!

Elizabeth said...

I find the 15 minute clean up works wonders. I take 15 minutes at the end of the day to put away clutter, make sure everything is wiped down, dishwasher loaded, etc.
I also keep a basket at the bottom of the stairs to the 2nd floor. Anything that needs to go up goes into the bucket for when someone is going up, so we're not running up and down all day.

Charlene said...

Luckily our main living space is all on one floor so no upstairs/downstairs to worry about.

But I do have a basket which is labled "TOY JAIL" and anything I find laying around may go into that basket until I decide to release it at my own discretion!

nothingprofound said...

I have nothing but time on my hands, so saving it isn't a problem. In fact every day I try to break the previous day's record for getting the least done.

Amber Page Writes said...

Yes, not embarrassing is a good standard to strive for. Hadn't thought about working out in the car, thanks for the tip!

webb said...

Charlene, Congrats on teaching your Spidey to do laundry. My mother was similarly smart. One day in college my roommate and I were killing time at the laundromat when a blur swept by and started grabbing shirts out of a nearby drier and hanging them carefully on hangers. Imagine my delight to realize that it was my brother - who was earning money by doing laundry for the guys in his dorm. Spidey may go far.

I'm gonna try the crunches - great idea.

Cathy said...

This was a great post! #1 was my favorite...I have had to lower my standards, as well! Happy SITS Sharefest!

Hear Mum Roar said...

All fantastic ideas! I agree about needing to lower your standards sometimes. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

You are funny.

Charlene said...

Yeah, I crack myself up! :-)

Fruitful Vine2 said...

My boys do a variety of things around the house that frees up my time and I've definitely relaxed my standards of 'clean'.

I've been procrastinating though on the laundry and the food prep. I need to get cracking on those.

I use the time it takes to walk my boys to their sports activity on Thursday to exercise on that day. On Friday instead of asking the Senior Pastor's wife to pick them up on her way to Awana Bible Club I walk them down the hill instead(10 mins), I need to figure out how to work exercise into the rest of the days of the week.

Thanks for sharing what you do, it's helped me think through things that I can do.

MilesPerHour said...

I like the way you think!

Lesley said...

Excellent tips! Limiting my time on the Internet would also free up hours and hours. But I'm too addicted to even try it. Maybe at some point I will just implant a wi-fi device in my brain so I could at least go out for a walk or something. player said...

Helpful ideas, thanks! I remember in my childhood, I wanted to help with the laundry. Instead, they reprimanded me and said I would just be wasting water and all of that (washing machine was not that popular in our place). They blamed me for being irresponsible with my dirty clothes and refused to take care of them. Well, I guess it begins in childhood. While they enjoy it, let them experience it.

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