29 October 2021

Organising your time and creating routines

My computer problems have been resolved so I'm back with you.  There'll be no Weekend Reading today because I haven't been reading but I hope this post on time management and routines will interest many of you, especially the new readers.

One thing we all deal with, and sometimes struggle with, is how to organise our time to do everything we need to do and want to do. Most weeks can be similar for those who have retired or are ill but when you’re raising a family, caring for loved ones, working outside the home or living on one income with outside work and work at home existing along side each other, organising time can be difficult. In all those situations, however, when you create routines and organise your time effectively, life is easier.

I get a few emails about this from readers who can’t create routines that work. I think the best way to organise home life is to do it in bits and pieces, never all at once. Each part of your life and every bit of housework you do requires focus so you have to be thorough and do it one step at a time. Slow is best.

I think the best way to start is to work out what you’re having problems with right now, and start with that. You have to be prepared to give time to the things you want to happen and for most things, each process will have many steps, not just one. For instance, if I want to feed my family nutritious food then I have to make time think about what I want to cook during the week, then more time to create a shopping list, go to the supermarket to buy food, go to the butcher, baker and fish market, or to the weekend markets. When I come home with the shopping, I need time to refrigerate or freeze the food, or store it correctly in a cupboard, before I cook it every day.  As you can see, there are many steps and it takes time but when you set up your routines, it will help you a lot.

There are a few processes that could be part of your kitchen routines - cleaning, organising, cooking, baking and preserving. Another process that will fit nicely into your kitchen routines is to batch cook. I want to eat food cooked from scratch every day. You could cook enough food for the week on the weekend but I prefer a two day method. When I cook, I make enough for two days so we eat home cooked food every day but I only cook 15 days, not 30 days a month. We eat the same food two days in a row but when you’ve done this for a few weeks, you can freeze the second batch and build a store of frozen meals - so you have the choice of what you eat on the second day. Make sure you label your meals well so you don’t leave food sitting in the freezer or waste it. This post, Three key ways to save time and money, is about stockpiling, green cleaning and batch cooking for beginners, I hope it helps you with motivation.

If I want to reduce the number of chemicals I have in my home, ONE of the things I do is to make sure I always have soap, borax and washing soda on standby in the laundry so I can make my homemade laundry liquid. This not only gives me a very effective way of cleaning our clothes with few chemicals, it also saves money and helps me cut down on the amount of plastic I bring home. But it’s not one step, it’s many and it takes time. If I have the ingredients here, making laundry liquid takes about 15 minutes, then it lasts a couple of months before I make it again. Shop-bought laundry liquid costs about $9 - $10 per litre, homemade laundry liquid is $2 a litre which is a huge ongoing saving. Click here for my recipe for laundry liquid as well as a number of other uses for it.

And as you can see, these two common household processes have multi-steps and take time. It’s never instant, you have to work for it.

The reason they need multi-steps and time is that when you go to the supermarket to buy your weekly groceries, if you buy already cooked food, premade cleaning products etc., you’re paying for convenience. If you buy ready made meals, you’re paying for someone else to buy the ingredients, prepare and cook the meal and when someone else does the work for you, you pay for the ingredients, plus the work they do.

However, buying convenience means you have to earn more to pay the higher price of convenience products - the laundry detergents, shampoos, snacks, fizzy drinks etc. By cutting back and going back to a more basic kitchen, you’ll reduce your use of plastic, you’ll know exactly what is in the food you eat, you’ll live with fewer chemical and you’ll have more money in the bank.

So how can we get back to that basic nourishing food and healthy life?  Routines will help you with the tasks you repeat over and over again.

Before you do get into routines you must organise your work areas - kitchen, laundry, bedrooms, sitting/lounge room, outside areas, but do one area at a time. Start with the kitchen, because you’ll be preparing food and cooking almost every day. Take a good look around and move things to suit how you work there. If you drink a lot of tea and coffee, make a tea and coffee station with your cups, teapot, kettle etc. near by. Make sure your glasses, plates, bowls and serving dishes are within easy reach for every one and are close to where they’ll be used. I have three big drawers under my induction stove. They contain all our plates, serving and mixing bowls so they’re close to where the food is made and when I finish cooking, all plates and serving bowls are right there. Clean and organise the fridge and freezer. Make sure you knives are sharp, it helps you a lot. Clean and organise your cutlery and gadget drawers - this will save you time when you don’t have to look for the things you need. Give away or donate everything you don’t use. Clean and organise all the drawers and cupboards you use every day, it will help you later when you're busy cooking, baking, making lunches or cleaning.

I know how much time paid work takes - I worked for a living until I was 56. I know how much time children take, especially when they’re very young. I’ve had my own children and looked after three grandchildren, so I get it, it’s time consuming. But once you’ve set yourself up with routines, a stockpile of groceries, green cleaning and delegating chores, simple life will help you to live well, consume less and hopefully be healthier. And you’ll have a feeling of self-reliance, freedom and satisfaction that will help you carry out your house work and build your own simple home.
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