Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Housework Part Two

Identifying the PROBLEM AREAS . . .
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Simplifying and Organizing does require some thoughtful planning. Keeping a home is a particular challenge because we aren't paid a bonus if we perform well, we don't get a review at the end of each quarter, and let's face it most of us don't attack the job of keeping a home in the same way we would a job outside of the home.
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As I've mentioned before, I grew up in an entrepreneurial manufacturing family. We literally started our business in our home -- making handbags. Before this, my father worked for various companies through the years overseeing their domestic manufacturing. So growing up my father was always doing things around the house with efficiency in mind. If we were raking leaves, painting the house, cutting firewood, carrying firewood ... you had Dad over your shoulder examining if you'd chosen an efficient technique, and of course he'd give you his input and suggestions. Years later, when it became difficult for us to compete domestically my brother decided we needed to change our manufacturing approach to LEAN Manufacturing developed by Toyota. The basic idea is that folks work in teams and are paid bonuses when they work together to come up with more efficient, higher quality ways of doing things -- and succeed. They should be constantly analysing where their problem areas are and trying to figure out what a good solution is. These same analytical techniques can work at home.
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First: Analyse what is working and what is not around your home. Where are your problem areas? Where and about what do you get frustrated? Some categories might be: laundry (I can never keep up!), meals (we are eating too late, and evenings are chaos!), keys (I can never find them!), shelves (getting a pan out of my cupboard is like wrestling barbells!), mail (I have stacks of mail everywhere!) scheduling (I keep missing appointments or remembering at the last minute) Are you getting the basic idea?
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Second: Make sure you write all of this down! Write down your problem areas and start to think of possible solutions. Hang your list up! Talk it over with your spouse and/or friends. This holds you accountable to actually do something about the problem.
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Third: Create a plan of attack. Re-write your list (after you munched on it awhile) in order of priority. Put the thing that frustrates you the most at the top ... the least, at the bottom. You can't get reorganized and simplified in one night. Attack one or two things at a time, and cross them off the list when you feel you've made some progress. This is important because it gives you a sense of accomplishment and hopefulness.
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I will probably talk more about the issue of meal planning and food shopping later, but here is an example of attacking a problem and finding a solution that my sister-in-law Tanya commented about.
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"I have a new meal planning system that has been really helping me to simplify. I love to cook, but I am a creative type and tend to be indecisive and rather prone to last minute inspirations. Considering I have a 4, a 2, and a 3 month old I needed to do something different!!! I was overwhelmed at the grocery store and could barely function while managing the little ones. My daughter was over sleeping for preschool because we were eating dinner so late. Sandy sat down with me and helped me come up with an emergency plan designed for my current situation, but as I have been doing it I think it would be great for anyone trying to simplify. The basic idea is that I have a category of meal that I make for respective nights of the week. For example Monday is soup night, Tuesday is "out" night, weds is pasta night, Thursday is meat night, and Friday is sandwich night (paninis make it a bit more interesting). Weekends are more spontaneous. It makes planning and going to the grocery store so much easier. Out night is supposed to be either take-out, or eat-out but has ended up being left-over night. Thursday is my usual shopping day so I can get fresh meat or fish. For now I am limiting myself to some very simple recipes in each category. I have not found it at all boring. In fact by limiting myself I have been more enthusiastic about cooking."
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Next time I will get more specific about certain problem areas! Good Luck!

2 comments:

Katie said...

Hi Sandy, I love to read your blogs every so often - I'm always inspired, have gotten some wonderful recipes (I'm addicted to the granola) and many laughs. I know how Tonya feels ~ as you know I work several days a week and have 2 young gals at home. My friends tease me, but what honestly works for me is that I plan our dinner menu for the week and actually write what we're having on the calendar (I'm sure you've seen this in my kitchen). Anyways, it helps me with grocery shopping and getting my family's meals ready as quickly as I can. There are always those occasions when we deviate from what was planned, but I try to stick to it as much as possible, if even for my own sanity during the evening hours. On the days that I work I always plan simple meals that I can pull together quickly like pancakes, sausage, fruit; pizza and caesar salad; grilled cheese and tomato soup; or burgers on the grill with raw veggies, like cucumbers and carrot sticks. I love to cook and try new recipes and tend to do that on weekends and on my days home from work when I have a little bit more time. If, for example, I know I'm cooking chicken then I'll cook extra 'just with a little olive oil' and use it for soup or enchiladas the next night. When I make meatballs or spaghetti sauce I always make enough to freeze for another night. And when I make homeade banana, cranberry, or pumpkin breads, I always make two and freeze one. As a kid I didn't like leftovers; as a working mom - LOVE them! I cooked a chicken Monday night with all the fixins like stuffing, homeade mashed potatoes, and butternut squash. Of course there were extras and so I buttered a small casserole dish and layered the stuffing, potatoes, chicken, and gravy. My hubby was home yesterday so he just popped it in the oven and presto dinner was done and actually tasted better the next night. Hope some of my ideas are helpful! Yours certainly have been for me!!! Katie

Sandy said...

Thanks for those suggestions Katie. I think I'm going to do an entire post on meal planning, food shopping and how that's all tied into waste and $$ savings. xo -Sandy