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

 

 

 

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What greets me when I get home…

Do you remember the Siemens Advert?    If not click on below for a quick reminder.

I used to sing along to this all the time secretly wishing that on my return home after a long hard day at work my life was as easy and relaxed as portrayed in this video. 

Well I want that ‘Siemens’ life – I dream of that  tidy well run home that gleams, and of having a well stocked fridge with healthy food and our evening meal all prepared and ready to go, of being able to recline with a book or run a bath, even take time to kiss my better half – if I had a Siemens life I know I would have arrived!!

Well as they say ‘ Dream on’ in real life what do I have?  I have the ‘Frenzied’ life.

It begins in the hallway when I arrive home and trip over yet another pair of shoes that won’t fit on the rack (usually because all the shoes have migrated from the wardrobe to the hallway – they obviously have feet of their own) and sigh as I pick up yet more junk mail to deal with together with the third charity bag this week and it is only Wednesday.   I go straight upstairs park my bag and hang my coat noting that I must have been late this morning as the bed looks like it had a bad day and resembles a half-hearted attempt at being made; but I persuade myself it is not worth remaking it now as it is only a few hours from bedtime and it is going to get crumpled again soon – right?. 

I head on down to the kitchen to make a well deserved cup of tea (should be herbal or green but I think what the hell and go for normal).  Then I decide that hunger beats healthy and I opt for whatever I can grab as a quick snack. 

Hunger pangs now replaced with guilt pangs for the added calories I have just consumed I rush around the kitchen like a whirling dervish tidying up and dealing with the endless waste management – the washed and drained recycling (tell me where is that in the Siemens house?), emptying compost and rubbish bins and a general putting things into order ready to begin the cooking marathon.  I look in the fridge trying to remember exactly what I had planned on the menu tonight before realising what it was that I dashed into Sainsbury’s for after work when I got diverted and ended up in the magazine section.

If I am lucky by 8 o’clock if hubby is back from work we can eat and relax for half an hour before returning to the kitchen to wash what seems like every dish we own.  After doing bits of paperwork, bits of washing or ironing and checking emails I find it is almost time to collapse into bed, I might just have time to do a post or soak my feet before I do!  My life just does not match up to the Siemens life…yet… but on the bright side after a summer of hard work I am s l o w l y reducing the stuff in our house and the things that remain will eventually have a place and a place with space and this I am sure is key to helping me become more organised.

You can always tell a very expensive clothes shop as they have a minimal stock all beautifully displayed with space around each item and that is how I see our finished home.  So I will keep replaying the Siemens life to remind me that the Future is certainly moving in and hopefully my Frenzied life is on the way out.

That Friday feeling…

It is definitely Friday again and my day off but this was the scene in the kitchen that awaited me this morning!  It seems that on my day off I have been voted the chief washer upper without even realising.  Everyone else had eaten breakfast and made sandwiches and then gone to work leaving their mess behind.

The fridge was also in a bit of a muddle after a busy week.

But a few focused minutes sorted this out.


After sorting out the fridge in the kitchen I went on to clear out my other larder fridge that is in our laundry room and holds our fruit and veg.  This is the left overs from the week and I need to think of a recipe that will use up all the items in the picture for our evening meal tonight and lunch tomorrow.

I have four Little Gem Lettuces, a few button Mushrooms, 2 Tomatoes, 1 courgette, 1 yellow and 1 red Pepper, a bag and a half of carrots, a head of celery, 1 sweet potatoe, a bunch of Rhubarb and a Bramley cooking apple.  In addition I have a bag of potatoes and a few onions.

In my store cupboard I have red lentils and cans of green lentils and beans.  I also have eggs, nuts, tins of tomatoes and of course pasta.

So any of you foodies out there got any good ideas?  Any suggestions welcome.

Just one more thing – well done Patak’s for your smaller sized jar of Korma Paste.  I have always had to buy the larger size but then sometimes it goes out of date before I can use it all like the one on the left that I have just found in the back of the fridge. This 4 serving version on the right which I found whilst in Scotland is just enough for two meals for us and will not be wasted.

Reflections on the week that was…

Friday night at last after a long exhausting week which has seen my two work colleagues have their lives unexpectedly turned upside down.  Today should have been my day off but because of the unusual circumstances at work I had to go in today to keep on top of everything before I go away for Easter.  It is unfortunate that the Easter holidays have almost collided with my return to work and although I have only been back two weeks I am now going to be away for two weeks.  So instead of being able to pack and set off tonight we are having to delay this until  tomorrow.  At this very moment I have a few items in the washer which I hope will dry before tomorrow if I can stay up late enough to get them out.

Houseplants and Clean Air

Most of our clothes are clean and it should not take long to pack but some of the tasks we need to do before we leave can take quite a long time to complete – such as watering the house plants, emptying bins, checking the fridge and the endless charging of mobiles and cameras.  So far I have done the bins and will put the chargers on before I go to bed  – I aim to check the fridge whilst washing up the breakfast dishes in the morning and give the houseplants a good soak while I am packing.  Luckily we can set off at any time and although I would like to leave as soon as possible I am not going to race around the house to do so.

I really thought this time I would be all organised and ready but with the developments at work I don’t feel I have had any choice but to stay late every night to avoid a catastrophe.  I have been so tired each night that I haven’t even opened my planner.  This is exactly what I meant in my earlier posts about yo-yo organising when some unexpected event crops up and chaos takes over once again.  How do other people cope and keep organised when up against difficult times?

In and amongst all this I have had some new ideas which I will write about soon as it occurred to me that I have certain good habits that I never fail to do no matter what – for instance I always cleanse and wash my face and brush my teeth at night before bed – I would rather leave a sink full of dirty dishes than have a dirty face when going to bed.  I just need to expand on these automatic habits a little more.

Have a good Easter everyone and I will be back soon.