Organisation, routines and convenience

5 March 2013
I will start writing my next book in July. It will continue the simple life theme but look at it from a different angle. So one of the things I'm doing again is to forensically examine the importance of organisation and routines in the home and what impact convenience has on our lives when we have to pay for it.  I'm not against convenience or progress but I know first hand how much you have to pay if you buy it and when you're trying to live a more modest and frugal life, for me the price of convenience when I can make it, wash it or mend it myself, is just too high. It also makes sense in other ways too. I want to maintain my homemaking, cooking and traditional skills, and what I make here is healthier and fresher than anything I can buy. It's really a no brainer - as long as I can organise the time.

Almost all of us have bought a pizza for dinner instead of making a meal from scratch when we're tired and short of time. I've bought seedlings instead of seeds for the sake of convenience too. Just recently when I was short of time and I had visitors coming, I bought a date loaf from the local baker. But I would never buy sliced apples in a bag, washed salad, or shredded cheese. That's going too far for me. I'm sure you have your own particular items you just won't compromise on and those that don't seem such a big deal. Just to illustrate the price of convenience when it's applied to food: ready to use, washed Asian greens are $5 for 350 grams. However, a bunch of baby pak choi (3) is $1.96, baby wombok is $2.98 = $4.94 and you'd have enough for at least two meals. So in that instance, it's double the price. Or 1 kg of coleslaw already made is $10 - but a ½ cabbage is $2.49, two carrots about 40 cents, an onion 30 cents and some homemade dressing about 50 cents = $3.69, a saving of $6.31 on one item. These are Woolworth's prices.

Ernie, during one of work sessions last week.

I know that if I was better organised than I am now, I would have been able to make my own date loaf and sown seeds to grow into seedlings here. It really does come down to organising the time you have to fit in what you have to do and what you want to do. I'm having a really busy time here at the moment. I'm getting ready for the writing and blogging workshops, writing material for simple living workshops coming up in July, trying to finish off the cheese and dairy book (it's nearly there), make up an ebook version of Down to Earth for the north American market, write my blog and visit the forum as much as I can. I do that as well as my house work, which is an important part of my life, I hope to get into the garden more as the season progresses and, last but never least, my family - I want to spend time with them or at least talk on the phone whether they're close or far away.

I'm getting back into my heavy work routine again now and I hope it helps me do all the things I want and need to do. I also have Hanno's help. He volunteers to do a lot of things when he knows they need to be done. He's happy to do the washing, vacuum the floor, shop for groceries and (occasionally) wash up. He's my main support and back up because I know if I ask him to do anything, he'll do it.  I'm still getting up early and it's then I do my blog and read emails. By 9am I have to have breakfast finished, the kitchen tidy, bread on and the bed made. Then I write. When I need a break I generally have a tea break around 10am, then I check the bread and get dinner organised. If it's something that requires long slow cooking I start it, if not, I'll get the supplies out if they're frozen, if it's all fresh I'll leave it till the afternoon. Lunch around 12 ish, when I have a real break - lunch and knitting. After lunch I write again and when I have my afternoon break it will be to do something like gardening, baking or cleaning. I'll do whatever I can fit into 30 minutes, no more. It's important to not go over my self-imposed time limits.

If I stick to that routine, I'll be able to do my housework, writing and make all the things I currently make. I never want to get to the stage of paying someone to wash my lettuce or make my soap and biscuits and I know that if I am organised, have clear goals and stick to my routine, I'll be fine. But it's not easy. I also know that nothing is perfect and if there are days when I don't do what I'd planned, that the world won't end and I'll probably do it the following day, or the next. My routine rules are: have set time frames, don't go over them, write down what I have to do each morning, take breaks and look after me as well.

Routines and organisation are such an important part of any homemaker's day, including those who work in the home full-time, those who do paid work part-time at home and those who go out to work and house keep before and after work and on weekends. How do you organise your days?