waiting around…

Yesterday I had a fun day out at a Legal Aid Seminar for costs lawyers over the hill in Manchester at the Hilton Hotel.  I doubt if the ins and outs of Legal Aid and its future is everyone’s cup of tea but I did actually enjoy it and we had a delicious lunch provided.  We also had a plentiful supply of Danish pastries, macaroons and the famous Hilton chocolate chip cookies served just out of the oven.  I am definitely going to make some.

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Just click on the picture to link through to Amandeline who has the recipe for them on her blog or Google Double Tree Cookie and you will find plenty of references for their ‘not so secret’, secret recipe!

On the train going the uncommunicative commuters had their heads buried in their phones, tablets and notepads with headphones on – so I sat back and enjoyed some precious thinking time.

In my quest to simplify my life one of my goals is to simplify the housework.  I do enjoy keeping house, there is nothing better for me than a good spring clean you can’t beat the distinctive smell of towels blown dry by the wind outside or a freshly washed floor or polished wood –  but I do want to streamline the process to speed up the time it takes me to make the house presentable and of course a place of joy to live in.

As I have written about here Lean is a concept I am following to simplify my life and I the seven wastes in particular provide me with plenty of food for thought – the waste of waiting being one of them.

For instance – I often have a time lag between washing and ironing the clothes and the putting away – so our house constantly resembles a Chinese laundry (am I allowed to say that these days?).  When I can get them outside on the line to dry it is great but then I end up with a huge pile waiting for ironing.  If I don’t get them outside to dry I end up with a huge pile of wet washing drying on the clothes horse and the end process of getting them put away ready to use again is delayed.

Another unproductive area of waiting is our bad habit of sometimes leaving the dirty dishes after we have eaten our evening meal – so the dishes are waiting far too long to be washed and put away and we are doing them when we are tired and should be relaxing.

And the worst of the waiting – we constantly buy things and then do not get to use them so they end up waiting somewhere – instances of this are all over the house from those little flossing brushes I bought to try ages ago to the Ikea wardrobe parts still packed in boxes and now waiting in the living room to be moved upstairs and assembled.

I can identify very strongly with the waiting time in this household and the time lag between production steps – I only ever seem to be able to do half a job and then don’t get to finish it until my next day off.

So I am on a mission to get some of the stuff off the waiting list and reduce the waiting time during production.

So for starters I am going to tackle the washing and put in a load every other day and iron it before bedtime so there is no pile building up over the week waiting to be tackled at the weekend, then the dishes and then make a start on the ‘stuff‘ – the unfinished projects –   there is one good thing it will still be there waiting for me if I don’t find the time to deal with it!

How do you tackle your unproductive waiting times?

a new word for a new year…

My Focus Word for 2017

After much thought and deliberation I have decided on my focus word for the year and it is

economise

Taken from the Greek oikos meaning house and nemein meaning manage –  economise is the careful management of resources, careful use of something

I like the sound of carefully managing resources as I feel our throw away society is something I prefer not to be part of and I want to see just how resourceful I can be this year.

As well, due to impending changes in our household income  I need to cut down on unnecessary spending.  Becoming resourceful with our resources in order to ‘minimalise’ our purchases will also feed my desire to simplify and ‘minimalise’ our possessions.  Now we have the caravan whilst waiting for the cottage to be sorted we only have room for what is absolutely necessary and I love living with such a drastic reduction of ‘things’.  At the moment we only have 2 cups – so we have to keep on washing them up to reuse – it is quite challenging to see what we can get by with but also quite liberating.

The plan

Already this year I have been writing a Menu plan for the week – this seems to be the most effective way to save money,  reduce food waste and eat healthily.

At present I am shopping in my cupboards and only buying fresh vegetables and other necessities to add to what I already have to be able to make 7 healthier home-made meals each week.

I find it hard to admit that I am not sure what my food bill was each week over the last year – it was so manic that just getting through the week was a challenge on its own.  I ended up in Sainsbury’s with no plan and often duplicating items I already had in my cupboards.  We have probably eaten far more ready-made meals than ever before – pizza, vegetable samosas and quiche are the pre-prepared foods we normally fall back on together with those pots of chilled sauces for pasta.

I believe almost all of my lunches at work last year will have been bought and I dread to think the number of baked potatoes with cheese and coleslaw I got through but it will be quite a few – luckily it is my favourite lunchtime meal.

When I run my end of year spending report on my computer program all will be revealed and I don’t think it will be a pretty sight.  I know I will be upset at the amount of money I will have spent and wasted.

I find that at this time of year it is so easy to start off on the right foot but then as life takes over our good intentions fall away.  I have yet to resolve this recurring situation and I am thinking hard of a way to keep on track even through busy periods.

Below are some of my ideas to get me into Economy mode and at the same time increasing the number of nutritional  meals we have to improve our health.  I buy as much organic produce as possible – I like to think my food is free from any contaminants or artificial flavourings etc. –  this already makes my shopping dearer than the average, however, on the plus side we are both vegetarian so no expensive fish or meat in my trolley.  Having said that some vegetables can be quite expensive bought at the wrong time.

  • Having a menu plan is the number one priority – it only takes 20 minutes to write a simple plan for the week.  For me it is best done on a Sunday so that my new plan begins on a Monday – on a busy week even this amount of time can be difficult to find so my plan is to have some pre-written menus for these weeks to tide me over.
  • Keeping up with what is in the store cupboards, fridge and freezer is the second priority and including these foods in the menu plan helps to keep everything rotating and avoid food going past it’s sell by date.
  • Only buying store cupboard items with long dates on them when they are on offer such as cereal, packets of Passata, tea bags rice etc.  Some foods that I buy are rarely on offer but others come round fairly frequently.  Having a quick look as I go along the aisles to check the offers is worthwhile and saves money on those staple items.
  • Trying out new recipes to add variety to the weekly meal plan.  Test these on a weekend and time how long they take.  Having lots of very quick meals can become quite boring to the point where we often go off a certain meal.
  • Planning the menus around seasonal produce – this saves money as fruit and veg in season is usually cheaper.
  • Look out for coupons and vouchers.  As I shop at Sainsbury’s I automatically get Nectar points but I also get coupons at the till with either money off or additional Nectar points.  Make a point of buying the item on the coupon if it is something I would use or normally buy.
  • Remember to freeze left over bits of foods that have been opened but only a small amount used – such as tomato paste, coconut milk etc.  Also grate and freeze cheese and breadcrumbs and mix up and freeze crumble topping.

 

In addition to the planned meals I have a one or two quick standby meals in the freezer just in case.  Last week it was a ready-made pasta sauce to add to whole wheat pasta and this week a pizza. If I don’t need to use them then I will save money by not having to replace them.

My lunch at work is the area I need to get to grips with – I am more likely to eat a sandwich at home and prefer baked potatoes at work rather than too much bread. My current idea is to buy a ready done baked potato but take my own fillings and salad. This should cut the cost down and I can also organise myself to make soup for the week and freeze in smaller portions.

 

So far this year we have really enjoyed getting back to proper home cooked meals and saved money at the same time.  I actually prefer the winter salads I make of shredded cabbage, carrot and beetroot and raw cauliflower florets – I like the crunchy texture.  I find the bagged lettuce quite limp and wasteful.  Any remaining salad items have made delicious sandwiches served with home-made soup for lunch at the weekend. The meal plan for this week was a little different as we were on holiday from work and stayed at the caravan for 4 days and had to rely more on easy to make meals.  On Saturday night we are hosting a Burns Night Supper with some friends – we brought the haggis back from Scotland (vegetarian for us) together with some mini steak pies and macaroni pies, not sure of the nutritional quality of these!

 

I will put the menus in the tabs above – here is the quick link

Weekly Menu Plan January 2017

 

Just to update on the caravan we now have running water and central heating and a fully operational shower.  The Swift engineer who was coming to replace the fridge socket however did not arrive – or rather he did come but thought we were on the caravan site next door – as this is all closed up for the winter he went away again.  So fridge socket still not sorted…watch this space!

waste not want not…

 

Continuing with the waste of Overproduction…

Since writing the previous post on using the ‘lean’ principles in everyday and domestic life to add value by avoiding waste I am very conscious of buying too much and creating future waste – I just have to look around my house to see the result of this. I wonder why I do buy things sometimes, as more often than not they are not on my shopping list – rather I see something and decide impulsively that I would quite like it, or even worse that I believe I cannot live without it!

As well, I buy because I can; my income, though fairly modest, is such that I do not even have to think about the cost of a small purchase. I often wonder what fortune I might have amassed over the years if I had not squandered my money on all these low-cost hasty purchases.

All this buying has generated a lot of waste and the constant necessity to declutter. I am not alone in this as there seems to be some kind of decluttering fever in blogland at the moment – maybe it isn’t just me that is feeling the need to gain back some space and feel free from the responsibility of storing and looking after stuff.

Are we desiring less but actually buying more?

At the beginning of last year I decided to document everything I bought that wasn’t food. (You can see this here on my rerouted blog). I thought this exercise was going to be a doddle after all I was trying to seriously cut down on what I bought anyway so I wouldn’t be spending a lot of time photographing my purchases – how wrong I was!

By the time March came round I realised this was getting to be quite a time-consuming project because I actually bought more items than I thought I would and as soon as Easter arrived with the better weather my attentions had to be prioritised towards the garden. It was a useful exercise though because I can visually see items in the photos that I bought and haven’t used or I found not to be useful after all.

Simplicity of living and avoidance of waste

Whilst thinking about waste and unnecessary buying I keep going back to one of my favourite discoveries – Innermost House – for those following along with my journey you might remember Innermost House if not click here to discover for yourself. The simplicity of living and freedom from buying that this video promotes is something that I aspire to achieve.

You would perhaps think that Simplistic living is quite an easy goal to accomplish but I think it is a constant struggle. The world wants me to spend. I watch the TV and I am subjected to advertising, I go to the shops and I am attracted by the displays and the most recent fashion must haves, I hand over my money at the checkout and they hand me back vouchers so I will return and spend more.

Worse still I don’t even need to have cash anymore I just hand over a piece of plastic and I don’t feel the loss of my hard-earned money. And just when I think I can’t spend anymore because all the shops are closed I log on to the internet and all my movements are being tracked so that I am bombarded with adverts of products I might like to buy from the sites I visit.

Not buying more must surely begin with being content with what I already have and not being tempted into buying things unnecessarily. I can look back at the world my grandparents knew and see that they were far more content with their lot. Their world was definitely simpler, their choice was limited and their income also limited their choice.

Going back to my task of Simplifying my house, one of my main goals  in the decluttering battle is to be much more careful when shopping to avoid being wasteful. I really do not want to be throwing out items that I only bought a few months before, whether that is clothes, household contents or food and I do not want to get rid of loads of stuff only to find that a month or two down the line the house has filled up once again.

Limiting my spending

To stop this happening I have thought of a number of things I have decided to do

  • I am looking to put some kind of limit onto the amount of items I have in any one category.  For instance I could limit myself to one magazine a month, 6 pairs of shoes, 6 sets of underwear, a capsule wardrobe, 1 bookcase of books etc this way items can only be replaced rather than be added to.
  • I will repair and maintain the items we already have where possible rather than replace them with new
  • I will avoid the need to keep any ‘just in case’ items
  • I will decline taking other people’s bags of decluttered items that are passed on
  • I will suggest tokens for my birthdays that I can use for a massage, facial or a meal, something that I do not have to keep or suggest a donation to my favourite charity.
  • l will borrow books from the library
  • I will limit my store cupboard supplies
  • I will try harder to plan weekly menus to cut down on food waste
  • I will make a concentrated effort to make my own cards from my craft cupboard materials.
  • I will only keep what I really use unless it is for sentimental reasons

I am sure there are more ways than this to minimise the ‘stuff’ from creeping back in.  I may be wrong, and do tell me if I am, but Kondo never says exactly how she deals with any accumulted stuff after the initial declutter, it is as though she expects it will never be a problem again.  Her message is always to apply the test of does it ‘give joy’ but quite often that urge to buy and spend and therefore accumulate is the very ‘Joy’ bit – albeit quite short lived in most cases.  In this world of plenty having that bit more does not register with us until the bit more has become a bit of a mountain!

I have no doubt I could keep on forever buying and decluttering but I prefer not to –  it seems such a waste of effort and time and resources not to mention space so I need to take a stand now.

Perhaps I will even get back to photographing and logging all my purchases again as a way of avoiding future waste.

 

learning to live a little leaner…

My final day at work yesterday for a whole week – yay! – I am winding down today but as soon as I can pack a few things and jump in the car on Saturday we are headed for Scotland.  Of course we will have to stay in a rented cottage as our own is still not ready (or even close) but we will be able to go in the garden which has probably reached jungle proportions by now.

After my initial decluttering of the toiletries, my underwear drawer and the cleaning products I have ground to a bit of a halt and nothing much is getting done in the house at the moment due to my continuing heavy work commitments.

You may remember my post in February about work and how I had decided to leave but I was asked to stay if they could make things better; well rather than winding down towards retirement it seems my ‘career’ is having a sudden late onset revival and after agreeing to stay on I have been promoted this week!  It is actually the same job in essence with a new title.  Although I think much more will be expected of me  – earning my keep as it were,  and I keep wondering if I really want this right now but I won’t make that decision until I have tried it out.  I have been given full authority to sort out our department (I can’t say too much about this here as it is a touch political) and make it more efficient and organised.  A bit like decluttering I think!

With all this organising, decluttering and efficiency required both at home and work I have been reading a lot about the Lean methods used by the Japanese and I must say it makes sense to me.  Although the principles of Lean refer more to the manufacturing process and giving customer value you can use these same principles to apply to your life or other situations.  Lean concentrates on adding value – if your activities do not add value then they are wasteful in Lean terms.

Below in bold are the main ‘wastes’ associated with Lean and are taken from Lean for Dummies Cheat Sheet.

Consider the questions of each type of waste which have been translated by me into the more domestic situation of Household Management – are you able to identify with any of my wastes or perhaps you have different issues.

Apologies here to any truly Lean followers if my interpretations are a little loose. 

  • Overproduction

    – do you provide more information than is necessary or spend unnecessary amount of time on paperwork? Do you overproduce generally creating future waste?

Whenever you produce more than you need, you are creating waste.

Buying too much, making too much, storing too much can all be examples of waste in the home.  When we waste we end up throwing the waste away.  A lot of effort can be put into buying, making and storing and this is needless if you end up with waste.

I thought about this question with regards to my emails and paperwork.  My emails can be wordy – perhaps my posts are too – don’t answer that one!

In respect of the paperwork – it takes a long time – I have a lot of it – files and files in fact – do I need to hang on to it?

I also thought about the overproduction involved in managing the grocery shopping and cooking.  There is no doubt good meal planning prevents waste but can the act of meal planning be simplified by doing one menu for the month for each season – then that is it – no more planning.

Could I simplify our accounting in some way – I love my money program but is it really necessary to know where every penny was spent?  I am working on this one.

  • Waiting

    – do you spend too much time waiting for information from others or is there a time lag between production steps?

I can identify here with the time lag – I have time lag between washing and ironing the clothes and the putting away – so our house constantly resembles a Chinese laundry (am I allowed to say that these days?)

We do not wash up immediately after eating in the evenings (bad habit)

We constantly buy things and then do not get to use them – instances of this are all over the house from those little flossing brushes to a whole bathroom suite.

  • Inventory

    – work in progress – Do you have large stocks of materials and is your work in process inventory too high?

Obviously after seeing all my cleaning products together I can only say yes to this and a lot of the other ‘stuff’ in my life.  The garage is testimony to this along with the craft items, an oversupply of food in the cupboards and freezer.  I also have half-finished craft projects and maintenance projects on the go.

  • Transportation

    – Do things flow efficiently.  Could you combine deliveries or deliver things more quickly?

This can cover a number of household issues from the flow of a room – how you might organise the kitchen for instance – to the flow of doing tasks and combining errands and tasks.

Decluttering I find actually helps the flow.  Far too often I find that I am keeping things in the wrong place because something else is resident in the right place.

  • Overprocessing

    Do you needlessly work on something more than once?

Almost certainly – the constant decluttering for instance!  I might also begin something that I cannot finish and then have to come back to it later and start over.

  • Motion

    – how is work passed along the team – do people understand what is required at each step?  Do people and equipment move between tasks efficiently?

We are a team of two normally and will be once again when team daughter and partner move out LOL.  I do not think the housework is split 50:50 in our team of two.  Hubby works longer hours than me so it would seem unfair.   Hubby is generally on waste management and fix and repair, whilst I am on meal planning and production, laundry production and household maintenance and cleanliness.  It is hard to ‘pass along’ on a team of two – although I can think of a good example of this where I generate the waste and hubby moves it!  I think co-ordination could work better and I believe a bit more effort to take note of what is required at each step  – the finishing off process – would not go amiss.

  • Defects

    – how often do you find mistakes – do you make the same mistakes on a regular basis?

Oh I definitely think we do in this household – even something as simple as the washing up inspection when dishes are rejected as not properly clean and need to be done again, or items of clothing not put out in time for washing and are not included in the wash.  Receipts not being presented on time when I am trying to balance our accounts, shopping put away in the wrong place and has to be swapped around, out of stock items not being put on the shopping list ready for the weekly shop and toilet rolls not being replaced by the last user – need I go on!

  • Workforce

    – do you use time wisely?  Do you spend most of your time on activities that add value and are a high priority?

Obviously not as I am writing this post now when I should be maintaining the house and packing!

 

Reading both Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering, the Zero Waste Home and the Minimalists book I can see how Lean fits into all these concepts quite well.  Tightening up on all the above areas of waste could make life simpler and my stuff more manageable.  I am certainly going to give this a lot more thought over the Easter break and look at how I can apply a no waste policy to our household.

 

 

Have a good Easter x

 

 

 

 

simplifying the house – declutter day 3…

It is a while since my last post on decluttering (usual work and home commitments taking over) however, I had in mind all week to have a good sort through my cleaning products when I could spare a bit of time with a view to taking stock, using up and creating some space in my cupboards.

Over the last few years I inherited first my mum’s unwanted cleaning products when she moved and down sized, and then my mum-in-laws when we cleared her house.  I gave all the products a home as I cannot bear to throw out perfectly good items even though a lot of the products I don’t usually buy or use.  And of course when we emptied the kitchen at the cottage I had to bring the cleaners back home and absorb them into my cupboards here.

I generally use Bi-carb, white vinegar and elbow grease alongside Ecover all purpose cleaner for my worktops and Stardrops for floors and general cleaning jobs.   I keep Dettol to give door handles etc a good wipe over and I use washing powder to clean my sink as well as my clothes.

For those jobs that need a more specific cleaner I use Lakeland Oven cleaner (which is a gel as I do not like sprays), metal polish for my silver, Flash for paintwork and Ecover cream cleaner for the bathroom pottery and tiles.  In addition I have Ecover toilet cleaner and I keep a bottle of thick bleach which I use a teaspoon at a time to add to the water when I soak my dishcloth overnight in a little non bio washing powder.

In the garage I keep an assortment of car shampoos and waxes (not that I use these very often!), alongside a few specialised cleaners such as sugar soap when we decorate.

I have also a bit of a collection of products I have bought at sometime for a purpose  – aluminium cleaner is one of them – although now I cannot even remember what I actually needed it for and Upholstery shampoo another – I never did get to do that patch test!

So  working in true Kondo style I emptied all my cupboards of any cleaners and cloths and laid it all out on the kitchen worktop.  I must say I was quite shocked at the amount I have accumulated especially those that I haven’t used in the last 3 years.  I even found I had multiples of some products I would never think to use such as methylated Spirits – I am still wondering what I can use this for as I particularly hate the smell.

Cleaners 2

This is just some of the cleaners – there is more outside of this snapshot!  After sorting and separating the items I normally use from those that I just want to use up I put the useful cleaners back into my trusty Muji containers.  In this one below I have oven cleaner, Stainless cookware cleaner, some mould cleaner, silver and brass wear cleaner and the aluminium cleaner (although I am still not sure what I am going to use this for)…oh and not forgetting the iron cleaner.

 Cleaners organised

I keep my rubber glove supplies in this one with some non-stick pan scrubs.Containers

And my Eco – cleaning cloths in another container.

Cleaning Cloths

I do like to look after my clothes and therefore I am very careful washing and ironing them to keep them looking good for as long as possible so I do tend to keep a variety of different washing powders and liquids.

I generally use Persil non-bio powder unless I have really grubby clothes from the garden and then I tend to add a little bio to the mix.  I use non bio liquid for the 40 degree knitwear and underwear and it is also useful to prevent those white powder marks appearing on all our black garments.  For hand wash wool and those delicate delicates I have a bottle of Ecover liquid for woollens and I also keep a container of pure soap flakes for those items that need a gentle non-detergent wash.

Yes I know I could start a regular little laundry service – it looks worse written down than seeing all the products in the cupboard LOL!  Someone tell me they have such a collection too.

Cleaners stock

I removed everything that needed using up and I am working my way through this box in the picture below.  It consists of a few almost empty items some of which I inherited and would not purchase again but do not want to waste and one or two duplicates.

Use Up Cleaners

Whilst the cleaners were out I began straight away to use up some of the almost finished bottles and in doing this I created a bit more shelf space too.   I now have some very shiny pans after using the Shine Brite and the tiles in my shower are gleaming after using some old Jif cream cleaner.

Shine Brite

 

I also got to work with the remains of the Sticky Stuff remover and cleaned the ‘sticky’ patches off a number of items.  Next I will clean up my silverware and the car might even get a wash and polish, I may even get around to cleaning that upholstery.

There are still a lot of cleaners to wade through but my cupboards feel a bit lighter – I just hope no one else is thinking of moving and giving me their unwanted stuff!  Even though these products may not exactly ‘bring me joy’ I cannot throw them out as Kondo would mainly because I have the environment on my conscience  – but at least now spring is on the way I can make an effort to get cleaning.

A new journey…

I know I am a little late in saying this but…

Happy New Year 2015

 

After a long and sometimes difficult year I was quite glad to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome the new year – a fresh start and a new journey – below is a quick photo reminder from some of my posts last year which include one or two of the more memorable moments.

2014 in pictures

 

However, only a few days into 2015 we received a phone call from the care home where my mum in law lived to say mum was in A&E after being resuscitated from a choking incident.  Sadly she never regained any consciousness and died a few days later only days away from her 91st birthday.  Such a sad end – but her quality of life had not been good for the past 6 months with the worsening of her dementia and the Parkinson’s so in a way it was a blessing for her that she slipped away peacefully to a long earned rest.

Just before this drama occurred I had begun writing this post and thinking about what I might do this year as I pictured a whole new year stretching out in front of me – quite unblemished, as it was then, like a fresh fall of snow before any footprints appear.

I began by thinking about my focus word for the year – last year it was Focus and for the early part of the year this kept me on track, but as the year went by my Focus changed not surprisingly when we experienced the flood.  The impact that has had on our lives together with my colleague being off work ill has been tremendous.  Now I feel I need to get back on track, sort myself out and turn my dream of a simple and healthier life into reality.

After much deliberation over words I have finally chosen Wellbeing – I believe this encompasses all I want to achieve this year.

I wasn’t too sure exactly what came under the umbrella of wellbeing so I started with the dictionary definition

well-being or wellbeing
noun
a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous

Of course I had to go and choose a word that had alternative spellings and after checking up on the difference I have chosen to go without the hyphen – this is the more modern interpretation as wellbeing is becoming a recognised term in its own right and I am told the hyphen will eventually be dropped just as similar ‘brought together’ words have in the past – I am just helping to accelerate that transition – so I apologise to any traditionalists that may be reading this!

My choice of Wellbeing is not because I feel really unhappy, unhealthy or lacking but the state of good health is not just the absence of disease – well not in my mind anyway.  If anything this last year has been quite a roller coaster from start to finish even the most positive of events – becoming 60 and a grandma within a couple of weeks was equally as stressful and emotionally challenging as becoming homeless due to the flood!

I have read that by taking care of what is important in one area can make life easier in another. Likewise, neglecting one area can negatively affect another. It is all about keeping life in balance – so I will be putting this to the test.

The areas that I will be looking to bring into balance are probably the same for most people who work and run a home

  • Personal & Leisure & Family – taking care of myself and allowing time for myself to enjoy my day-to-day life as well as spending time with friends and my family – it will take into account my hobbies and things I like doing recreationally – maybe starting new ones who knows!
  • Home – this is how I will deal with all the management of the house – housekeeping – decorating – gardening – general upkeep
  • Health – the goal here is to become healthier both physically and mentally and will include exercising – meal planning and putting to right any niggling health issues
  • Work – I think this speaks for itself – I definitely need to find an answer to reduce the long hours I have been forced into doing
  • Finances – this area had plenty of focus last January but is ready for another minor overhaul

In addition I want to take steps to slow down, where possible the pace of my life, and make it simpler so that I am able to live the moment and enjoy the day and not feel quite so guilty when I find I am doing one thing instead of dealing with another.

So there we are Project Wellbeing – all I have to do now is work out a plan of action and I feel my first task is to establish some routines to provide some stability to my life.

Hope you all have a good weekend – I have a bit of catching up to do in blog world but I know from my quick scans of my favourite blogs that many of you are well into any new challenges you have set for yourselves  I hope I will have time to leave the odd comment again soon but this might be after the funeral when life has calmed down a bit over here. x

 

It’s the little things…

How the chaos and clutter sneaks in and builds up

I surveyed my house this morning and took a quick snap of some of the many bits and pieces left lying around to be put away. Thursday is my last day at work and the start of the weekend for me and the day I feel absolutely drained by the frenzy of the working week.  So this is usually the evening when very little gets done as by this time I have run completely out of steam and have neither the intent nor the inclination to do anything but rustle up something quick to eat and then flop.

Although my house may have been tidy on the Sunday evening after the long slog of a weekend’s housekeeping there is always a slow build up of items on most surfaces by Thursday.   My survey this morning highlights the problems I have as you can see from the list of items below…

  • A large unopened letter from Tuesday left on the office desk – it was actually post for my mother in law because we deal with her finances and both hubby and I knew from the size and weight it was one of those dreaded annual report books from the shares company that we never read as we would need to employ an accountant to translate. It unfortunately goes straight into recycle and one day we will write and ask to get this info online. Note: task for task list!
  • The inner peel off lid from the Yeo Valley Yoghurt again on office desk – saying ‘Is this your lucky Lid’?  – well it might just be  – it has a lucky number to enter on the computer to win a Camper van – I cannot pass this over even though I know it is highly unlikely that I would win and almost not worth the effort of doing it but somehow I cannot just bin it! Note: another task for task list.
  • An Ikea leaflet with £15 off promotion – office desk? – correct! – I do keep these just in case there is anything we have in mind to buy and I would put it away in my coupons envelope but I have to figure out how do I remember the offer? For the time being it has just been left lying  around on the office desk.

Coathanger

  • A coat hanger and heating timer left on the back of the settee – the former left by hubby who was up and off to get the London train at 5am this morning. I expect he left it here not wanting to wake me up rummaging in the wardrobe – so we can excuse this…
  • The timer (in the red box) arrived in our house on Tuesday it is to replace the useless one at the cottage and is on our Easter job list but at the moment is waiting for hubby to read the instructions to know if it is definitely compatable with the boiler timer. Note: task for hubby’s task list!

Rotten apple

  • The rotting apple left on the kitchen counter – I discovered this in my fruit bowl on Monday morning as I grabbed an apple to take to work. I put this one aside thinking that I would cut off the rotten bit and possibly cook or eat the rest when I got home… mmmm never got back to it so it is even more rotted now and may just have turned into compost.  Of course I should have sent it over to Sue at 365 Days – £365 she would have it peeled and sliced and turned into an Apple Pie and twenty other dishes in the blink of an eye LOL!  Note task for task list…only joking Sue!!

Spotlights

  • Spotlights left on the landing bookcase – I bought these from Sainsbury’s well over a week ago and left them in the office hoping hubby would replace the spotlights that have gone – I am still hoping!!
  • Tradepoint leaflet left on (you guessed it) the office desk – I have put this where we can see it to remind us to go and pick up a new catalogue at B&Q when passing – problem is I am not sure when we will be passing as we don’t actually ever pass B&Q as it is at the other side of town!

Necklace

  • Necklace left on dressing table (ooops Beauty Station!)– I wore this at work with my black and white outfit yesterday (unusually co-ordinated for me as I hardly ever get as far as adding jewellery) and removed it before bed but it didn’t quite make it to my jewellery box only 5 feet away instead it has spent the night on my dressing table, Beauty Station.   But the reason for this is probably because the jewellery box sits on top of my chest of drawers and the top was covered in a pile of magazines for reading, clean tights to put away, clothes that I had taken off (and should have gone to the laundry basket in my daughters old room as we are limited for space in ours) and didn’t quite make it.

Easter card

  • Opened Easter card left on living room units – I picked this up off the mat when I walked in last night and was so excited to receive a hand written envelope that I just had to open it there and then. It was a homemade Easter card from a friend which reminded me that I must return her recent email as well as send her a card.  Note: task for task list.   I then put it on one side to go and take my coat off and make a drink before starting the tea.

I won’t bore you with the rest but you get the gist and even though I have places to put some of the above and systems to deal with them it is often the shortage of time on a workday evening that keeps me from attending to such things. So I am beginning to wonder if I have the right systems in place.

With this in mind for May I have chosen Developing my Systems to be my Focus for the month and I cannot believe given my track record that I am already planning this.

Putting systems in place

We all have systems don’t we whether they work for us or not. Some we deliberately set up but a large part of our routine is done through habit, both good and bad, and if we don’t develop a habit consciously then we develop one by default and that is often the start of a bad habit in my experience.

So I wondered how good are my systems – do they help or hinder me and could they be done better and most of all could they free up some much-needed self time and stop the feeling of Thursday night burn-out.

If I considered the running of my home and life as a business and the success or failure of my business was in direct relation to how efficiently I manage the day-to-day running then I ask myself ‘am I a good manager or should I sack myself’?

To know the answer to this I reasoned that I have to look at what my systems are now and if they can be improved. I am very much a systems person but not so much a routine person if that makes sense – that is I like things to be done in a certain way or order but I don’t necessarily do the task or maintaining when I should be doing it. For instance I might find myself blogging rather than using that time to cook a homemade meal and one which we are eating earlier rather than later.

In my job I deal with figures all day, adding them subtracting them, percentagising (is that a word?) them and checking them. I tackle each part of my workload like batch baking for the freezer. I am able to keep on track at work because most of my work has a deadline. I am sure my boss would not approve if he found I was planning my menus or blogging instead of billing the Legal Aid files! I stick to doing what I should be because I know I have to.   However, it is different at home as I am my own boss but this is where I fall down because I do go off and work on the wrong thing at the wrong time – now why is that?

To be clear on what my ‘Job Description’ is and of the systems involved I have tried to group the things I do into areas I have responsibility for and this has been my first stumbling block – how to categorise them in a meaningful way.

This is what I have come up with so far

Household and garden management

  • Cleaning
  • Laundry and clothes care
  • Sorting
  • Organising
  • Decorating
  • Gardening – lawn care and plant care
  • Stock control

Financial and Paper management

  • Earning
  • Budgeting
  • Bill paying
  • Saving
  • Document management
  • Purposeful Filing
  • Library stock control

Personal management

  • Wellbeing
  • Healthcare
  • Personal care
  • Socialising
  • Blogging

Meal and food management

  • Menu planning
  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Stock control

Wow – you can see why being a working housewife and mother is a full time occupation and I don’t have to include childcare on my list like some of you might!

Have I missed anything and how would you categorise all the things you do in your home and life?  Oh and let me know if you have got some good systems going…

I did wonder if meal planning should be part of household or a separate category and decided it is quite a large category to manage in itself so have kept it separate.

Recently I have been reading about Flow and Lean – some of you may have heard of these concepts.

5s’ has developed from lean manufacturing concepts in warehousing and they are…

Sorting, setting order, systemic cleaning, standardizing, and sustaining

this discipline ensures that money is not wasted to poor organsination or process.   Disorganisation costs money. Each process, from housekeeping to inventory transactions needs a formal, standardised process to ensure consistently outstanding results.

Sounds good to me so I wondered if I could adapt this lean process in some way to meet my requirements.

So in May I am going to get to grips with my systems. Each will get an in depth review and then a possible makeover. For the rest of this month in preparation I will be undertaking a time and motion study really looking at three areas

  • the way I do things,
  • why I put off doing things and
  • could I do them better?

a possible fourth would be could I put off doing them altogether!!

Now please excuse me while I go and put away a few items and get the place relatively ship shape again as well as look at making some Easter goodies and cards.

 

This weekend we (that is me, hubby, daughter No1 and her partner) are all going up to my expectant daughter No 2 to help her decorate and declutter her little cottage ready for baby’s arrival.

 

Have a good weekend x