good wine, good food, good company and a good clean up…

As you may have noticed there has been a short break in transmission recently – for no other reason than I have been a little busy.  We had friends round for supper the weekend before last and of course that generated a bit of a mad tidy up downstairs. Actually it was more than a tidy up and I was quite shocked at the number of cobwebs I found hiding in corners, it must have been longer than I thought since I last had a good clean.

We managed to get the boxes of Ikea wardrobes out of the living room (they had been there since earlier in the year) and up to the new bedroom and at last they have been assembled and put in place – but more on that in a future post when the ‘new’ room will be revealed.

Whilst giving the living room a thorough clean I not only vacuumed all the books but decluttered all the cupboards, shelves and knick-knacks.

We don’t have a lot of DVD’s as we have little time for watching them but we did have one or two that we once bought for £1 or so and won’t watch again so into the charity bag along with one or two CD’s that have over stayed their welcome.  I am aiming to keep only those items that I feel earn their keep – or in Kondo terms the ones that spark joy.

Our DVD collection is probably less than 20 films and the ones that remain are all those that I will watch again and again from time to time.  Amongst the keepers are the feel good films – Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice, the funny films – Mr Hulots Holiday and Playtime by Jaques Tatti – and the thriller ones (well as thrilled as I am prepared to be) – Premonition and Before I go to Sleep and not forgetting my favourite box sets – The Good Life and Darling Buds of May.

Whilst sorting through the pile I came across this DVD with Doris Day and have put it to one side to watch one evening as I really cannot remember if I have seen it or not but it looks like a bit of light entertainment for a cosy Friday evening.

 

Anyway back to the cleaning – I have a lot of glassware in the living room – I am not sure why I am attracted to glassware but it is always useful for holding things such as shells…

 

 

and pebbles from the beach…

 

and ‘arty’ creations made by one of my daughters at Art College …this is a small square of glass with interesting textures and colours and I have slotted it into this vase as a means of displaying it…

 

and the latest addition to my collection (a gift for my birthday) are these two vases, also bookends and perfect for displaying my favourite books.  I just love them – the books and the vases – one side has my tiny shell collection from Lady Bay near our cottage and the other I will fill with a stem or two of flowers from the garden.

I wash the glassware in hot soapy water and then dry and polish until gleaming – it instantly makes a room look cleaner.

By the time I had finished the whole room looked and felt so much fresher and neater and I was quite pleased at the transformation.

At the end of the first day I had managed to fill a bag with bits and pieces for the charity shop.

The next day I was up early and started on the kitchen and dining room – not as thorough a clean this time but passable.  I left just enough time to make myself presentable, lay the table and start on the supper before my friends arrived at a quarter to eight.

We were not eating until 8.30 and I had decided to keep the buffet supper fairly simple due to a shortage of time –  the choice was between a homemade feast in a dirty house or a simple ready-made affair in a clean one!

I baked some small new potatoes in the oven which I simply served topped with butter and heated through a selection of buffet style food of pulled pork pasties, greek filo spinach and ricotta parcels and Higgedy veggie rolls  – added a mixed side salad, a few tomatoes and a dish of beetroot.

For afters we had a selection of cheeses and chutney with crackers and finished off with profiteroles and cream.

After all this food on the Saturday evening I had a light breakfast on Sunday morning just yoghurt and fruit – not that I ever have a cooked breakfast anyway but I did skip my usual bowl of Muesli.

 

It was so nice to get up to a tidy house – it is well worth asking friends round to get things done!

 

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simply reading and planning and doing…

What a shock to the system being back at work this week and how tired I have been each night  – far too tired to blog.  The good news though is that my working Thursday is now a thing of the past – I will be doing Monday to Wednesday at work and Thursday to Sunday at home – a much better balance in my opinion. I couldn’t wait to get started.

It was quite a long holiday break that we had this year well over 2 weeks and it is surprising how difficult it has been to pick up my routine now we are home – I say that like I have one – I do for the most part!

Now I need to develop a new routine to take me forwards so I have been thinking that Thursday will be my official cleaning day.  That does sound like I don’t ever clean on the other days of the week and sometimes this might be correct on a busy week but I usually manage bits and pieces of tidying rather than cleaning as well as the basic chores of washing up and making beds.  After a few days sitting in the office at the computer I find it is quite nice to do something active and domestic so cleaning will fit in well.

Over our holidays I have been doing a lot of reading – you know the kind of book that is titled –  ‘help I need to get my life and home sorted out and in balance’.  I have a stack of books on the subject by my bed – some from the library and others from my book shelf for a reread or on my Audio books to listen to while I dust.  I am especially into a little book I discovered in the library called ‘L’art de la Simplicite – How to live more with less by Dominique Loreau,  it can seem a bit repetitive in places but I am liking the approach to ‘simplism’.

I apologise in advance for the poor photo quality I was dog tired when taking these pics last night.  I think Thursday may be the designated cleaning day but Friday is going to be the designated recovery day.

The areas I am looking to improve are housekeeping or house management (if you want to encompass the whole of running a house and its upkeep), health, finances and fitness.  I am looking for ways to make each category simple and less time-consuming to deal with.

From my reading there is a common thread running through the advise and that is to have less stuff to deal with – back to the decluttering then.  The other common thread is routine and habit – even in the area of fitness choosing just 2 exercises to do daily is better than nothing and gets a routine and discipline going.  I decided this is just the approach I need together with my leaning towards the Lean and 5S  that I have spoken about here before.

 

To get stuck in on my first designated cleaning day I decided that I would perhaps fall in line with the fly lady zone but when I went on her website it was the living room this week and I felt our main bedroom needed a good going over more urgently and decided on this instead.

I emptied each of the drawers and the wardrobe – cleaned everything down and had a bit of a declutter and I found a few items that I hadn’t used since the last clear out so decided they were for the charity pile.

Everything looks neater and fresher and a bit of a sparkle now.

I have been using Neal’s Yard frankincense Intense face cream and serum since Christmas (a bit pricey but worth it and goes a long way) – this was part of my Secret Santa gift and I am well impressed – I can feel the serum working straight away and it glides over my skin easily.  I think the texture has improved all though the blemishes and freckles I accept will never go away.  The sun damage to my fair skin was probably done much earlier in my childhood when the effects of the sun were not as well understood.  Anyway back to the story – I picked out everything I am using each day in creams and lotions and potions and any leftovers of stuff I will not be repurchasing are to go in the use up box.  If unused and unopened they will go to charity.

So in my drawers now I only have what I like and use.  It is very liberating to do this and I aim to do the same throughout the house – no more hanging on to things just in case – not even the free sachets.

Sorting the current selection of clothes in the wardrobe was harder as I confess I found 3 items I have bought recently and not yet worn and shock horror still have tags on – I think too late to return though.  It isn’t that I don’t like them but I am thinking if I haven’t managed a day to wear them yet after 6 weeks perhaps they are not exactly my favourites.

One of the tops in particular was a bit of a mad buy as it reminded me of my Art college days – a summer weekend at Reading Festival sleeping out under the stars listening to Genesis dressed in flowing embroidered cheesecloth with my long tousled ginger hair and probably no suncream in sight but not a care in the world other than how to get through the mud to the washroom!  The top I bought in Sainsbury’s 25% off week is a fine cheesecloth like cotton, gypsy style with embroidered panel and probably represented this memory – I have put it on 3 times now to go out in it and then changed at the last moment – I am no longer this free-flowing gypsy person!  I think it is going to be a charity gift.

Of course I have only been able to do my own clothes and so I just arranged OH’s ties neatly on the rack fixed to the inside of the wardrobe door knowing that a lot of them will not be worn again but at least they look ‘organised’ until I can get OH to look through them.

I will have to revisit the wardrobe again but I have given those ‘I’m a bit unsure’ items a final chance to be worn – if not they will go out at the end of the summer.  I sometimes find that there is a reason for not wearing something apart from it feeling tighter and if something does not feel quite right then I am not happy wearing it.

By the time I had done all the sorting I only managed to vacuum the walls, the carpet and the surfaces and didn’t get to move the furniture out – that will have to be another time.

Of course because I will not be working Thursday the figure on my monthly pay slip will be much reduced from now on and I shall have to economise further to take into account this drop in income.  Our fridge at the moment is virtually empty – this is good as it means we have manage to eat up everything we bought for the week.  I am sure I could scrape a couple of meals together from the store cupboard and freezer but there would be little fresh veg – home-grown courgettes, carrots and frozen peas are left over and I have a tin of sweetcorn and maybe an egg or two – perhaps Fritters!

Just off to plan my other days off now – have a good weekend.

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 2…

Back again for day 2

Today with Kondo book in hand I intended tackling my clothes – maybe not all the clothes – we will see how it goes.

To get this over with I will say it now – I am starting not with my Tops but with my underwear, tights etc.

Arghhh – Did I hear another gasp – what is this woman thinking – is she mad –  it says clearly in the book Start With Tops.

And yes I know I read that bit too but I do like to begin as I would get dressed – it makes perfect sense to me.  I must say I was rather disappointed that there are no further details for dealing with underwear in the book, only the so called ‘potato socks’.   I think it leaves a novice tidier a bit at sea here – they are not easy shaped garments to fold, display or contain.  Maybe this is why we have to begin with tops for the practice so that when we are eventually challenge by a pair of knickers we will instantly know how to toss them into shape.

For this reason I prefer some of the methods in a book by Elika Gibbs –  Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe – Declutter and re-jig your wardrobe to transform your life.  Yet another author claiming to change my life for the better.  I  just fell in love with the beautiful photography in this book – page after page of organised, colour co-ordinated clothes in out of this world closets and a lingerie drawer to die for.  I find this book quite inspirational. 

Now I know French women take great care with their lingerie – unlike most English women I’m told they only ever wear matching sets even if just popping to the Co-op for a pint of milk.  They dress as if they are going to be seen in their underwear – well you never know – always be prepared.

So with this in mind I am going through my smalls with the intention of ditching the mis-matched, throwing out the tatty and flinging the faded.  But to begin with everything out on the bed (I cannot do the floor as I do not have enough of it).

Underwear socks tights

 

 

These are my favourite matching sets and they are reasonably new and definite keepers.

Keepers underwear sets

 

 

These are a bit past their sell by dates and will need replacing as I always need some paler unpatterned sets for under pale coloured tops.

To be replaced

 

 

This is the going out pile -items that do not fit well or too old.

Throw out pile

 

 

So putting it all back together I decided to do away with the Ikea compartments and try organising the drawer in a different way.

This is my underwear drawer before…

Underwear before

and after -with Bras on the left  and…

Bras

matching briefs on the right

Panties

I much prefer this  – I can see everything at a glance and most importantly it avoids endless knicker folding!

I will let you know if it works for me.

Underwear drawer

I then used the Ikea compartments in the bottom drawer for my tights, socks and leggings. It makes more sense to keep these together as before they span over 3 drawers, mainly because I kept jeans and leggings together.  I am going to hang my jeans creating more drawer space. I wear a lot of black tights for work so these are just in a pile rather than on edge and I always buy the same black socks so there is never a problem with pairing.  The white socks – out of picture – are also all the same and I only use these after a pedicure to give the foot cream chance to soak in overnight.

Tights socks and leggings

Another job done and surprisingly after the rearranging and tossing I am left with 2 completely empty drawers although I cannot believe I have just put these pictures of my undies all over the internet!!  At least they are all clean and neat!

Now I will add the required replacements to my shopping list for another day and next time maybe I will tackle my tops.

 

simplifying the house – declutter day 1…

Spurred on by finding and reading the Kondo book that has seemingly gripped the nation I woke this morning on a mission.  However, going against all the ‘Kondopinions’ in her book I am starting not with my clothes but my toiletries.

Aha you say this is probably your downfall of ‘keeping’ Tidy and well it might be!

To begin

I do agree the best way to sort is to get everything out of the cupboards, drawers, shelves and hidey holes so you can see at a glance the full ‘amount’ of stuff to deal with.  So I emptied my main storage areas – dressing table, shower room cupboards and travel and makeup bags.  This clean out I really intend to deal with those items that were maybe put back last time ‘just in case’  in fact I think the ‘just in case’ is one of my sticking points.  Looking at everything laid out all together my first question is do I really need all this stuff?  Can I simplify and reduce it to only the bare necessities?

Step 1 Empty Cupbaords

For instance I have kept some hotel goodies ‘in case’ a guest arrives without shampoo or body cream – given that my mum comes with the whole of Superdrug in her luggage and she is our main guest I hardly think I will be needing these any time soon!  In fact I have never had a guest come unequipped as far as I can remember.

No I realise that I am keeping them as I am loath to throw things away because of the waste and of course they look rather cute.  I have a picture in my mind of preparing one of those wonderful guest baskets full of tempting creams and shower gels and sachets of lavender you know like the ones you see in magazines articles but then I said to myself if ever I have such a guest requiring this I will go and buy something purposefully until then they are out and empty space is in.  And the waste – well look below I have put the shampoo samples to good use washing out my makeup and hair brushes.

Wash and Dry

I have been quite ruthless this time and in a way Kondo has given me the permission to throw away some of the items I know I have kept because I hate to waste – but I can see the point that the shelf life is limited on toiletries.

This is the end result of the clear out – in this pile are items to use up or throw out, a few unused items to go to charity and empty packaging for recycle.  I even surprised myself that there was so much.

Toiletries to throw out

I did come across one or two items that I know I want to use but somehow between one clear out and another it just sits on the shelf.  One of these items is the Weleda Birch Cellulite oil – I do need to use this everyday though to see any effect.  I also have a body brush and I did use this every morning at one time and would like, as part of my wellbeing project this year, to start doing this again.  So I am giving myself 3 months to use or lose it.

One of the hardest decisions was my small collection of aromertherapy oils – I have the book and quite a few oils but somehow I have never really got into mixing the oils so I decided to slim down the number and keep only my absolute favourites plus one or two of those like Juniper that add the low notes (or maybe it’s the high notes!)

Now for the after pictures -Firstly my dressing table drawers

Top drawer – Cleansing and skin care – everything in this drawer is used either daily or periodically.

Cleansing and skincare

Middle drawer – ailment potions on the left – makeup and nailcare on the right.  Not everything in here is used daily but frequently.

Aiments drawer

Lower drawer – Haircare – I think this is about the bare bones – unfortunately the can of mousse is too large for the drawer.

Haircare

The medicine cabinet –

Containing potions and lotions and my essential oils.  Hopefully I won’t need the items in here everyday but I might need them occasionally for cuts, bites, stings, bruises etc.  I keep my shaver in here for convenience as it is near the shaver point.

Medicine Cupboard

 

Shower room cupboard –

This large cupboard houses all the stocks of shower gels, deodorants, face creams, suntan lotions

Shower room cupboard

and my pedicure kit, mini travel and spare supplies for the toothbrush.

Shower room cupboard 2

Below here I keep toilet rolls and cleaning products but that is another clearing session.

I have made a shopping list of those items I do need to replace because they are about to run out so when I feel I need a bit of retail therapy which for me is not often I can purposefully shop rather that buy something I might not use.

So end of day 1 simplifying and decluttering and I feel quite pleased with myself.  I have let go of a few items I had been holding onto since last time but had not used in a whole year.  Of course I do not use the thermometer very often not even in the last year but I suppose you do have to keep some items ‘just in case’.

Have a good weekend x

Tidy Friday…and catching up with myself

At last it is Friday and my day off or rather a day to get down to some tidying and cleaning, paperwork and planning.  Such a lot to fit into so little time.

This morning my book prize arrived from Sue and I have now put it by my bedside table ready for some early bedtime reading.

Book Prize

 It was tempting to sit down and start reading this morning but I really need to get a grip on my messy house.  I am having to work all hours at the moment as my colleague is off sick for a few weeks and I am doing both our jobs but this means not much is getting done outside of work hours.

I spent an hour or two this morning stripping our bed and putting things away – my usual TIDY FRIDAY – I don’t know how it happens but at the end of a week I find many things that belong upstairs end up downstairs and vice versa – I think perhaps it is the little dust fairies who run round in the night moving everything around and sprinkling their fairy dust everywhere!

After my mammoth putting away session I went into the office to look over the pile of paperwork.

Tidy Friday desktop

Even though I try to keep a tidy desk by the end of the week it invariably ends up with bits and pieces strewn across it waiting for my attention.

I sorted through the many leaflets that had dropped through the door – there was one for the local Pizza place, a made to measure blinds offer and a Councillors letter asking for volunteers to help run the local village library  which is under threat.  I only wish I had the time – I can’t help thinking that if I had been able to retire this year at 60 as was the case under the old rules (now it will be 66) I would have had spare time to do this and also look after my new baby grand-daughter.

After sifting through the pile I pulled out anything interesting and snipped the coupons and put the rest for recycling.

Today on the urgent pile I need to look at our house insurance for our home here in Yorkshire and the BT line rental which we pay up front to save £30.  I have still to finish the accommodation receipts for our cottage insurers and find the contents receipts to send.  Probably more than a mornings work in that lot.

It has been quite helpful that I signed up for a Sainsbury’s Credit card earlier in the year as it is interest free on new purchases  until 2015 and I get extra reward points.  It means that we can pay all the accommodation costs without dipping into savings until the insurers reimburse us – we are over £1,000 out-of-pocket from our stays over in Scotland since the flood.

 Working until after 6pm each night for four days a week means I am not spending money at the shops as they are well and truly shut when I leave work.  In fact I had to get my son in laws birthday card and pressie from Sainsbury’s last night.  My daughter tells me he wanted a Christmas jumper so now he has one – a bright red one with an elf and bells on! We wouldn’t want him to feel left out this Xmas!

I have over £155 on my reward points and this week is double up week so if I spend them wisely I can get items to the value of £310.  So far I have bought some clothes for myself and baby L, the Xmas jumper, and some Xmas decorations (will show these another post).  They have extended the range of departments and goods to select from this time and wine is included so I may be able to stock up for Christmas.

You may remember I bought a Lumie lamp last year – and it worked but we put it away during the summer and have only just put it back in our bedroom since the clock change plunged us into those awful dark mornings.   We found last year that the alarm was irratating and unnecessary as the rising sun effect woke us up on its own.  There is one problem though – I prefer our ordinary clock to tell the time – I particularly like a proper clock face to a digital one and I find the light from the digital ones distracting when I am trying to sleep.  Current research has found that sleeping in complete darkness is better for our bodyclocks, unfortunately the Lumie lamp has an illuminated digital clock face which you cannot turn off so I have stuck a circular piece of cardboard over the clock this morning to block out the light!  I will let you know if it works and if it does I will have to think of a more permanent solution.

Lumie Lamp update

 

The bathroom pumps that we ordered to boost the hot water pressure from the new taps arrived by post this week and the bath one has already been fitted and it has improved the flow – so our builder will be back soon to do the basin tap.   Once done we can fit the down lights and the fan and the bath panel and hey presto it will be DONE.  It has almost taken as long as my daughters bathroom 2 years ago.

Bathroom refurb 1

 

Tomorrow me, hubby, elder daughter and partner are going to Masham, North Yorkshire for the day to my younger daughters and meeting up with my hubby’s sister.  We will be celebrating my son in-laws birthday and also my sister in laws recent marriage to her partner of many years.   We sadly missed their wedding celebration in Oxford  because of the flood at our cottage.

It is also our yearly Crisis at Christmas Coffee morning at our local church so I might pop in for an hour before we set off for Masham.  It will be the first year that I haven’t made anything for them but with my extra hours at work and all the paperwork for the insurance claim and my dodgy knee I think I am quite over extended at the moment.

Hope you have a good weekend. 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