How to save time at home!

Save time at home – get organized 

As busy professionals, it is always a struggle to find time to accomplish all that we need to do. Work obviously occupies a lot of our waking hours and once we get home there are so many things to get done that we hardly find time to spare for the things that really matter – our relationships with family and friends and time for ourselves too.

What can make a big difference is forming some good organizing habits that will help make your life much simpler, so you will have more time and energy to do the things you really want to do. Here are some to get you started:

1. Don’t put it down, put it away
When you use an item, don’t put it down with the intention of dealing with it later. Put it where it belongs the minute you've finished with it. After using the scissors or a pen, take those few extra seconds to put it away instead of putting it down on the table. When cooking put away ingredients or utensils as you go. When you sort out your letters, put the junk mail in the bin straightaway. After drinking a glass of water don’t leave it on the table but put it in the sink or the dishwasher.

2. 'A place for everything and everything in its place'

We tend to waste a lot of time hunting for things we need like scissors, tape, gum and so on, not to mention keys, umbrellas, even mobile phones! Just imagine how much time you would save if you could immediately lay your hands on what you need. Make sure that you store items close to where they are likely to be used – keys or umbrellas near the door, scissors and stapler in the family room or study and so on. If necessary, have multiples of frequently used items stored in different rooms.  And of course make sure all your important documents are filed safely away.

3. Night and morning cleanup
After working a full day, coming home to a messy house just isn't exciting. There is a simple way to avoid this. Get in the habit of spending 15 minutes before bed each night cleaning up. It will make a huge difference in the morning when you don't have a mess staring you in the face. And in the morning, make sure you do a quick tidying up – make your bed, put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket, clear the dining table. When you enter the house in the evening it will seem a lot more welcoming. An extra bonus is that you won’t have a huge amount of housework to deal with on the weekend.

4. Involve the family
To maintain an organized home, every member of the family has to play a part. Divide up the tasks as appropriate for each person and make them responsible. The work gets done much faster and it is actually good for kids too. (see our article on Kids and household chores)

5. One in one out
Most of us have too much stuff in our homes, and so spend too much time trying to maintain it. The easiest way to keep down the amount of things you have is to make sure that for every one thing you bring into your home, one thing goes out - either donate it to charity, give it to your household help, recycle or just throw it away. By getting into this habit, and faithfully following through on it, you are much less likely to be overwhelmed by the level of stuff in the future.

6. Prepare the night before
For most people, getting out of the house on time is an issue. Take a few minutes at night to plan what to wear, what to eat for breakfast or pack for lunch for yourself or the family. You could even get a head start by keeping out your clothes or getting the breakfast ready. If you have children, get them in the habit of packing school bags, checking if uniforms are ironed, homework diaries signed and so on.

7. Use a shopping list
Lots of time can go on running to the corner shop for bread and coffee powder only to remember when you get home that you forgot to buy the shampoo you needed. Get into the habit of making a shopping list of all that you require and then following it strictly. This will save you time at the shop and also cut down on multiple trips to the shops. Get the family into the habit of writing down what they need. You could keep the list in a handy place, perhaps on the fridge and keep adding to it as you remember.

8. Have an emergency plan

Does your family have a plan that everyone knows in case of an emergency? What should they do in case there is a fire, a sudden illness or injury, someone is locked out of the house or any other eventuality? Discuss what should be done and keep phone numbers handy. Have back up plans as well and make sure household help is aware of these too.

Experts say it takes 21 days to form a habit. So if you make an effort to keep this up for a few weeks before long it will be part of your regular routine and you will find things at home running much more smoothly and efficiently. Now enjoy the extra free time – you’ve earned it!