Welcome to the second in a six-part series on how to make the most efficient use of time and resources in completing tasks that would otherwise cost a lot of money to do. Click here to read the series from the beginning.
I forgot to mention one very important rule from yesterday, but that’s okay, because it requires a longer explanation than what fit on the list:
- The single best way to save time on a daily basis is to…. purge the house. Seriously. Get rid of things that aren’t being used and enjoyed. The extra space will make more places for useful things to be, and the result will be a restful, calming lack of clutter.
Some, okay most, chores are deadly dull to accomplish in and of themselves, but there are several ways to add interest or at least impetus to get a move on them.
The Counting Method
Resolve to do ten (or five or eight) “trips” before collapsing back on the couch. A full sweep around the room picking up dirty clothes to take to the laundry basket would be one. A second sweep for newspapers, two. An armload of toys, three. Another armload, four. A quick pass with the duster, five. Straightening, six. Vacuuming, seven. Ooops, the room is already done!
Of course, this isn’t just for housework. Force yourself to commit to reading two research articles for investing strategies a day. Or pay the top five bills.
The Finite Time Method
Set a timer for fifteen minutes (or five) and resolve to run around like a whirling dervish in that time, accomplishing as much as possible before the bell goes off. It’s amazing what can happen if one works with a will.
The Finite Space Method
This one is good for purging chores: Pull out two big trash bags and promise yourself that you can quit the chore just as soon as those bags are full. Just the like the timer approach, there’s a definite endpoint in sight.
The Race Method
There’s the thrill of adversity here: Can you load the dishwasher before the commercials end? Or wipe down the counters while the coffee pot fills? Or fold all the laundry in the span of a single song?
The Job Jar Method
Add the element of surprise to the otherwise mundane. Break up the To Do List into 15-minute tasks, write them down and mix them up in the jar. Every time an opportunity presents itself, take out a slip and do whatever it says.
The Interspersed Pleasure Method
We call it “battery reading” here at home. We pick a favorite book, which I’ll read to the kids in a most dramatic fashion. Even though now they’re old enough to read to themselves, they get a kick out of the many voices and other acting bits; even Hubby joins us to listen. Anyway, at some point, I “run dooooowwwwwwwn” and the only way to charge me back up is to pick up 30 things and put them away. Compliance is ensured as each kid will rat out the one not pulling his or her weight.
Sometimes, a kid and I will play a board game while doing chores – you work when it isn’t your turn. (Chess and Scrabble aren’t a good choice if one of the party contemplates his move much longer than the other.) Still, little “oases” of enjoyment sure break up the monotony.
The Reward Method
Some people will charge right through every item of the To Do List if there’s something good waiting for them at the end. With the Cooke kids, it’s often a bike ride, trip to the library, or a sweet treat. Grown-ups can certainly do the same. Read that escapist novel. Settle down to a favorite TV show. Take a nap. The reward should be sufficient to incentivize action, but try to avoid spending much money on it, or it could end up costing more than the “savings” of doing the task in the first place.
Naturally, some of these methods can be used in combination for greater incentive, like the Race Method followed by a reward. The practice is as individual as the person getting stuff done.
Tomorrow: Making accomplishment aerobic!
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