Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Combining Tasks

I know I've posted before on some ways that I've found to work smarter, not harder, but because I'm always finding new ways to combine household tasks, and because it really works for me, I want to share in a bit more detail. And I'm always on the lookout for other areas where I can combine tasks, so I'd love to hear what everyone else does in this area! (And hey, writing a post about a post I've already written counts as combining tasks, doesn't it?)

  • When folding the laundry, I always pull out the kids pajamas and set them on the desk in my bedroom so that I can grab them easily at bedtime. This is much easier than having to pull them out of their drawers every night when it is bedtime.
  • When I unload the dishwasher, I leave out whatever I can use immediately, or what will be used before the end of the day. This may include Gracie's bottle (which I'll fill with milk and put in the refrigerator), plastic cups for kids' milk at dinnertime, plates and silverware for dinner (fortunately, there is a pocket of unusable space next to my microwave where I can keep all this stuff easily accesible without it getting in the way), and dessert bowls for the kids.
  • Since I prepare my meals early in the day and have dinner made by 1 pm most days, I am able to combine the majority of my dishwashing duties. I'll do the breakfast dishes right away, but then while I cook, I fill the sink with dishes. If I have time, I'll wash the dishes before lunch (which is also usually when I empty the dishwasher), or I'll do the lunch dishes at the same time.
  • Along the same lines, if the dinner I have made for the night is one that just has to be reheated, I will plate everyone's food and just put the plates in the fridge. That way, a few minutes before dinner, I can start just pulling out dishes and warming them in the microwave. Actually, I don't do this as often as I could because I try to avoid using the microwave when possible, but on days that I know will be particularly busy, it is a lifesaver.
  • We do not have any laundry hampers in our house. Instead, all of the dirty clothes get tossed directly into the washing machine. Once it is full, I add soap and start it. The kids are even learning which clothes can not just get tossed into the machine because they need to be washed seperately. With the younger ones, I will occasionally have them leave their clothes in front of the laundry room door where I can quickly sort either directly into the machine or into the basket in front of the machine that holds clothes that need to be washed seperately.
  • When I am in the planning stages of a monthly grocery trip, I clean out the fridge, freezer, and pantry. I toss anything that is expired, no longer good, or just plain moldy beyond the point of recognition (that's the nice thing about reusing plastic dairy containers. If the stuff inside is really nasty, I can just toss the whole container without feeling too much guilt over it). I wipe down shelves, and I wash any storage containers that need to be washed. This makes my planning that much easier because I actually have a clear view of what we truly have. It also makes unloading the groceries much easier because I have now cleared up plenty of space. Now, if only I could find a way to KEEP these things clean for the remainder of the month I'd be a happy girl.
  • I try to always sweep the kitchen floor right before I vaccum. That way, I can just sweep all the dirt onto the carpet and then vacuum it up.
  • My favorite new task-combining tool is the Blogging Mom's Planner download over at Happy To Be At Home. I love that I can jot down menu plans and daily to-do's, as well as keep track of blog-related stuff and ideas all in one place.
I know there has to be lots of other areas where I could combine tasks. I love how much easier this little thing has made my life. I want to make all of my daily must-do's as streamlined as possible so that I can really enjoy just spending time with my family (and my blog). Like I mentioned earlier, if you have any other task-combining tips, please share them with me.

For more WFMW tips and tricks, don't forget to stop in at Shannon's blog.


Debbie 12:25 AM  

I do the same thing with laundry, although we do have 2 hampers that get a bit of use. I find it so much easier to just toss them in the washer as we use them.
Your other ideas are great!

Marcia 4:41 AM  

Your ideas are FABULOUS. I also just toss the container if the contents are gross and my husband thinks I'm mad but now, I will point you out and say "there's another person like me" :)

I think you'd really enjoy some of my free stuff at my website, http://takechargesolutions.org - downloadable checklists and planners :)

Alisa 1:03 PM  

Those are some great ideas.

Abbi 4:53 PM  

I enjoyed your post. I like to combine jobs and make life simpler as much as possible as well.
Some of the jobs I can think of at the moment are:
~Washing my plants while I shower.
~Cooking or baking a lot at one time.
~Cleaning the bathroom while I watch kids in the tub.
~Fold laundry while giving my daughter her spelling words.
~Setting the table while putting stuff away from the dishwasher.

Elle 10:56 PM  

These are very helpful ideas. I actually discovered your blog through WFMW and have enjoyed what I've read.

One homeschooling task that I combine with running errands is drilling my boys on spelling or math or history. They can also take turns reading aloud to one another.

A combined home task is having the many hands of our family team work to clean the kitchen together. One loads the dishwasher, one puts away leftovers, and one sweeps the floor and washes the table. This has greatly helped this Mom leave the kitchen more quickly.

Audra Marie 11:02 PM  

Great ideas! I'll have to try some of these. :)

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