One measure of being good at homemaking is how quickly and efficiently you get stuff done. And, since
being efficient = being good, and
being good = enjoying, then
being efficient = enjoying
Thus, according to my sound transitive logic, enjoying homemaking means spending as little time as possible doing it.
According to Deniece Schofield, author of Confessions of an Organized Homemaker, one of the best ways to become more efficient in homemaking is through the principle of accrued benefits.
“Accrued benefits” is a financial term which describes some kind of income, such as vacation time or an investment, that accumulates gradually over time and is received all at once at a later date, such as the end of the year or at retirement.
Real-world accrued benefits include…
- Buy one get one free
- A double feature at the movies
- A double play in baseball
- Toofer from 30 Rock, who is both black and from Harvard
So how can accrued benefits be applied to homemaking? By recognizing how to manipulate the three distinct phases of any household job:
- Cleaning up
Accrued Benefit Application #1:
Use one preparation and one clean-up to take advantage of doing as much as possible.
In other words, get more doing done at one time.
I recommend One-Day Laundry for this reason. The preparing phase consists of gathering up dirty clothes around the house and sorting them. The doing is the washing and drying, which will take a few hours but only a few minutes of real hands-on time switching loads. The cleaning-up involves folding and hanging up the clothes, delivering them to appropriate rooms and putting them away in drawers and closets.
Washing one load of laundry every day for a week requires that you prepare and clean up seven times. But washing an entire week’s worth of laundry at one time requires that you prepare and clean up only once.
With one investment of preparation and clean-up, you’re getting seven times the doing done.
Other examples include:
Vacuuming or dusting the entire house
Making 8-10 servings of a meal to be reheated a couple of times and frozen for leftovers
Planning your day, weekly meals, or yearly cleaning in one session
Accrued Benefit Application #2
Combine the cleaning-up of one task with the preparing of another.
In other words, let one task extend into the next.
A great example of this is putting away dinner and packing lunches at the same time.
I used to wrap up and put away leftovers when dinner was over. Then I’d spend a few hours relaxing in the evening. Before I went to bed, I’d take all the leftovers out of the fridge and put a portion into lunch containers for the next day. Then I’d put everything back into the fridge again.
Now I bring my husband’s and kids’ lunch containers to the dinner table with me and pack the lunches as I’m finishing up eating. Then I put both dinner leftovers and packed lunches into the fridge simultaneously. Done!
Other examples include:
Keeping leftovers in mind when planning meals (i.e. Monday’s leftover mashed potatoes can be fried up with scrambled eggs for Tuesday’s breakfast-for-dinner)
Storing children’s random drawings in a designated box to be used for birthday cards/letters to friends
Hanging kids’ backpacks & jackets near the garage door for school in the morning while tidying up before bedtime
Emptying the dishwasher before bed and setting out breakfast dishes for tomorrow
There you go! Hope you can use the principles of accrued benefits to become more efficient at homemaking, and thereby better at it, and thereby happier doing it.