decluttering, drEAming, fEAsible, nEAtening, organising, random thoughts, rEArranging, simplifying, taking stock

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

 

 

 

 

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fEAsible, getting things done, homestEAding, managEAble, my goals, nEAtening, organising, rEArranging, simplifying, taking stock, to do list

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

 

 

 

appEArance, beauty, fEAsible, my goals, organising, rEArranging, simplifying

Focusing on Simplifying my space update #1…

I don’t know about you but getting ready for work in a morning has to be a very smooth operation and it often feels like I am a contestant  in that well known game of Beat the Clock.  I hate to be rushed in a morning and my  preferred style of  getting ready is ‘Beautify and Stroll’ rather than ‘Primp and Scurry’ quite amusing terms I once saw in a magazine.  However I do find myself often primping and scurrying rather than strolling due to a lack of organisation.
So to help me in getting ready on time everything I need has to be in the right place.  My morning routine is very simple so it easy to stay on automatic pilot until I am fully awake.
However, there is always room for improvement and I am hoping that as my Focus on Simplifying develops my routines will become so streamlined I can sail through the day.
Of course getting up and getting ready in the morning really begins the night before when I should (note the should!) make sure my bedroom is tidy, my clothes for the next day are chosen, my bags packed, my To Do list printed, and any other errands I have to do are noted and prepared for.
One other important task is to estimate how much time I need working backwards from the time I want to leave the house and then set the alarm clock accordingly allowing for 3 snoozes before I have to get out of bed.

Organising my beauty essentials

One way of making my morning routine simpler has been to reduce the amount of clutter in the bedroom starting with my dressing table drawers.  I have been through them item by item and identified those I use everyday and those that I may only use every now and then like foundation cream and anything that I found I hadn’t used has been put on the out / use – up / charity pile. 
As I sorted I also cleaned not only the drawers but the items themselves which always adds a nice sparkle.  So I am really down to the basics now – no rummaging around and nothing in here that isn’t used at least 20% of the time, in fact I would say that 80% of the contents are used 80% of the time.

Drawer 1

Dressing Table Drawer
In the top drawer I have my skin care, makeup and fragrances –
  •  face cream 2 for daytime and two for night time
  • Nivea for really dry patches
  • Cuticle massage cream from the Sally Hansen range
  • foundation creams
  • sponges, cotton wool and towelling headbands
  • everyday makeup – mascara and lip sticks / gloss
  • makeup brushes and pair small scissors
  • eau de cologne and deodorant
Everything is neatly laid out and ready to go and kept in a series of Muji containers with a small flat box of Kleenex tissues perching conveniently on top.  I also keep my Thyroxin medication to hand in here as taking my tablet for the day is the first thing I have to to do when I wake up.
Dressing Table Drawer

Drawer 2

The items in this middle drawer are less used – perhaps weekly rather than daily – I keep
  • much reduced selection of nail polish
  • cotton buds
  • small emery boards in case of a quick repair to a snagged nail.
 
Dressing Table Drawer
This is also where I keep more specialised creams for occasional use – I find I prefer keeping them here to the bathroom cabinet as this is where I would apply them at night.
  • Calendula
  • Tea Tree
  • Traumeel
  • Arnica Gel
  • and essential oil mixes for massage
I also keep my ‘Sunday’ Thyroxin in here (which is a lesser dose) and needs to be kept separate from my main dose.
Dressing Table Drawer
I have also a collection of eye make up and blusher cases for special occasions and a mini massage roller and soft skin brush.  Again everything is contained in the clear perspex containers from Muji with movable sections.
Dressing Table Drawer

Drawer 3

The bottom drawer is where I keep my hair styling bits
  • soft rollers for a bit of bounce
  • hairdressing scissors
  • brush and comb
  • travel hairdryer
  • extra rollers hidden away at the back.
Dressing Table Drawer
The brushes just rest neatly on top of the tray which was from Ikea.
 Dressing Table Drawer      
My main stock of creams are kept in the shower room cupboard and bulky paper goods such as tissues and cotton wool in the airing cupboard – this keeps my drawers free of unnecessary duplicates.  I like the ever increasing minimal look of the drawers and feel that this is probably is as far as I can go.
Of course there are always the annoying bits and pieces that do not fit into the drawers and I have 3 of these
  • hair Mousse
  • fine pump style hairspray
  • Aveeno body lotion in a pump container Mismatch items
None of them are particularly appealing in respect of the packaging design, they do not co-ordinate in anyway and are not a pretty addition to my dressing table top and until I can come up with a solution I just have to live with them.
There are only a few days left in February and I am finding that I am not able to declutter at any speed and this months focus may just spill over into next month.  This week I am going to concentrate on the office.  After focusing on our finances I realised there are a few systems I want to change so that the finances are easier to track.
To read about my grocery spending and see what I bought this week click here and it will take you to my other blog Re-routed.
organising, rEArranging, trEAsure

Organising those snippets of information (Part 1)

with my Systemised Product and Information Folder or ‘SPIF’ for short

For ages now I have been trying to find a way to catalogue and contain all the bits and pieces of information that I seem to collect from sources such as magazines, catalogues and even the junk mail.   These assorted clippings can be anything from a magazine recommendation for a new skin cream, to a newspaper ad for a play at our local theatre, or even a leaflet advertising an upcoming event and I keep them all thinking I might find them useful one day. (Whether this is the case or not is another matter and maybe another blog!)

Up until now I have never really found a good way of collecting and keeping these odds and ends so that I can easily retrieve the information when I need it.  All too often I have discovered details for an event that has passed tucked away in the back of my Filofax and forgotten about. I tried sticking these clippings into a small notebook but soon realised that I couldn’t organise them into any kind of order and in no time at all I had filled the book.

Then one day recently as I was browsing in my local stationery store Ryman I noticed that they are now stocking A5 lever arch binders and A5 tab inserts (even though they are in garish primary colours – what is wrong with plain white???) and this gave me the idea.

So my plan is that I will stick each clipping with Pritt stick to a piece of A5 paper (at work we always have a huge shredding pile where the bottom half of an A4 sheet of paper is unused so I cut them in half to produce a clean A5 piece to use in my Filofax).

This is a clipping advertising Solgar Probiotics that I want to try…

and this is a flyer giving details of some Open Gardens that I was interested in going to


and this is a page from a garden catalogue with various plant frames that I might be tempted to buy- but just not yet.

I have made a separate tab for each category and so far I have

Out and about (Places to go)

Gardening

Supplements and vitamins

Skincare

Foot care

Haircare

Exercise

Gifts

Books / Music

Home-ware Items 

I am sure I may add to this list as I go on or even shorten it depending on how useful it is.  As soon as I have attended an event or the date has passed or I have bought and tried a product or no longer have a use for the clipping I can remove the sheet and throw it away.

When I have the whole thing assembled I will make proper tab labels with my trusty labelling machine but for now I am using a few Post it notes. So far I am loving my new binder already.

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decluttering, fEAsible, getting things done, organising, rEArranging, taking stock

Yo-yo organisation – is there a cure?

The sorting out and decluttering is taking a lot of time but I am trying to be very ruthless and thorough.  This week I have been through all my books in the office which are mainly craft, health, time, and home management.

Part of the bookcase before the tidy up still bearing the aftermath of Christmas

I limited myself to an amount which comfortably fits on the bookcase which instantly made the space look neater.  As well as not buying more magazines I have decided no more books either – for a while at least – instead I will reread some of the ones I already have and if I feel the information is not relevant any more I will give it away to the charity shop.

Bookcase after

In addition to my organising frenzy I have been thinking about the constant problem I seem to have with what is similar to Yo-yo dieting and that is my Yo-yo organisation.  I get everything organised and neat and tidy and then something happens like an event such as Christmas or a holiday which seems to take over and I end up with the house back in a mess.  It is not necessarily a big event that leads to my downfall – it might be that I have to work some overtime one or two nights or we have a weekend away or just the fact that I am often too tired to do anything after working all day and this alone can be enough to generate those piles again – piles of washing, ironing, paperwork, and items to put away.  So here are my thoughts on why this might be happening.

Reasons for finding I am getting back to chaos

  • Taking on too much
  • Spreading myself thinly because I hate to disappoint people and say no
  • Thinking I am superwoman and planning more than I can do in a day
  • Doing the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Not allowing time for the clean up after a job
  • Booking out too many weekends away visiting etc
  • Leaving preparation to the last minute
  • Letting the filing and shredding pile mount up
  • Not taking the time to put things away after use
  • Not having a designated place for everything I own
  • Not learning from past mistakes
  • Continuing to do what doesn’t work
  • Going to bed late and getting up too late to get ahead with the day

In addition to this list there are other matters that I have identified as being definite problems in my life

Frequent and time-consuming issues that need resolving

  • Meals – these are something that I must get to grips with and plan ahead more to save time
  • Clearing up the kitchen after cooking and eating – this seems to be an endless task
  • Recycling – all the washing and sorting and storage and then disposal of the recycling rubbish
  • Paperwork – Hurrying to open all the mail and putting it to one side for later and not getting back to it for a few days
  • ISA fixed savings constantly reaching maturity and require re-investing this takes a lot of time to research a good rate as does searching for new insurance / energy / internet deals

As well as all this there are issues I keep having with finding a good system or storage or time which I need to consider

Other issues I need to address

  • The paperwork pending piles – where, when and how to ‘pend’ items waiting for a reply or a decision or action
  • Articles relevant for a current or future project
  • Items waiting for a future appointment or event
  • Upcoming exhibitions, plays art courses, gardens open etc
  • Magazine clippings
  • Finishing old projects
  • Collecting a lot of craft items and having no time to make things with them so I need to think about planning sometime for a ‘Crafternoon’

I have clearly a lot of thinking to do and then an action plan…watch this space!