Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just Get it Done: How Long Will It Take?

You have 30 minutes before you have to be somewhere/do something. Quick! What are you going to do with that time?

Okay, you could sit down and goof off. That would definitely be my first choice, too! Let me rephrase the question: What tasks can you do around the house, finishing the task yet not being late for your next commitment?

This is what I am trying to figure out. There is a list of stuff that needs to be done around here, and it is never completely finished. That is not the nature of taking care of a home, at least not for our family. Around here everything is in fluid motion, the kitchen is clean now, but it gets used extensively almost every night. I 'finish' the laundry only to turn around and find a new pile of clothes that need to be washed. I'll admit, I am a control freak, and it took a while for me to get used to the fact that nothing stays 'finished' when you have an active household.

Still, I can't say that I want to spend the majority of my time stomping on the top of the housekeeping To Do List. I want to complete  these necessary tasks effectively and efficiently so that I can focus on The Rest of my Life, which is far more interesting anyway. I want to know: How Long Will It Take? If I know it takes 15 minutes to clean my wood floors, then I can get that done when I have 15 minutes before I have to leave the house rather than waiting until a bigger block of time comes along. The bigger block of time can be used for something else, such as going to the park. Knowing that I have only 15 minutes will also motivate me to get it done quickly--maybe I'll set a new record for myself, or at least I'll do the task with a sense of purpose rather than dragging through it and taking longer time (aka Wasting Time that I could use doing something enjoyable!)

Here are some timing records I am working with right now:
  • Sweeping Main Level (with a broom; includes fast toy pickup and moving a few furniture pieces): 15 Minutes
  • Mopping Main Level (ideally after sweeping!): 15 minutes
  • Vacuuming both flights of stairs (I hate doing this.): A mere 12 minutes!
  • Cleaning The Bathroom (full cleaning): 35 minutes <--This time needs to improve. I'm experimenting with breaking it up into smaller segments to make it more doable.
These times include the complete task as well as set up and put away (vacuum, cleaning supplies, etc.) What these times do NOT include are Interruptions. You know, the phone ringing, the kids fighting or 'helping', etc. The shorter the amount of time a task takes, the less likely I am to be interrupted. The more I can fit productive tasks  into the little slivers of time between bigger events, the more 'free' time I will have. Or so I hope! I'll check in occasionally and report how this experiment is going.

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