Timing Tasks

Plow_InMay 16, 2013

I've been getting the feeling that I'm not getting anything done around the house. For example,this is what I did yesterday, from after breakfast to bedtime:
strip my bed - 20 min.; wash & dry 1 load of wash - 15 min.; fill bird feeders (15 min); garden (20 min); read paper & do puzzle (2 hrs); unclutter 1 desk drawer (15); do 1 dishwasher load (10); watch TV (from 2 to 9pm); make up my bed (30); computer (from 9:30 to 1).

So today I decided to try timing 15 min tasks on my feet, and 15 min tasks sitting down. This worked pretty well until about 1:30 when I sat down to lunch. Then things just went to pot, and I ended up writing, reading, napping, TV, etc. for the rest of the day.

How much do you get done in a day? Do you set a timer for each job? Do you work for longer periods? I did notice one thing today - doing things in short bursts of time actually seemed to make clutter, especially on the dining room table.

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"I've been getting the feeling that I'm not getting anything done around the house."
" read paper & do puzzle (2 hrs)"
"watch TV (from 2 to 9pm)"
"computer (from 9:30 to 1)"

That's a total of 12.5 hours!

Looks like if you want to get more done around the house, you should - at the very least - turn off the television!

Reading the papers takes 20-30 minutes for me. I watch, on average, 2 hours of TV, and I spend 45-60 minutes on the computer.
I have plenty of time for chores, both inside and outside.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 8:34AM
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20 minutes to strip the bed, and another 30 minutes to make it?

It's faster to strip it, make it up with another set, and toss the dirty bedding in the wash as part of one task (10-15 minutes tops!). That leaves the bed ready for you instead of it being another "must do" task late in the evening.

If it's an every day thing, that is one heck of a lot of TV ... is there really that much on that is worth watching? I don't have a TV, and haven't had one in several years, although I may watch a series online if it's getting good reviews. That way I'm not tied to the broadcast schedule.

I won't comment on the computer use - I work online so I'm always on the computer.

Try setting aside a block of time to get the household chores done as well as any special projects like the decluttering - TV and computer turned off. You may be one of the people for whom if it's not done by noon, it's not going to get done. That's nota problem as long as you arrange your workload for it.

ADDING: My schedule is totally wrecked this week because of an AC install and flooring replacing, but usually I have the morning "tidy up" session where the dishes get loaded into DW, kitchen counters wiped, and laundry loads started (if any).

I tend to clean as I go - empty containers put in the trash as they happen, spills wiped up while dinner is simmering, vanity wiped down before I leave ... in the 90 seconds that my coffee is heating in the microwave I can clean 1/4 of the kitchen. 4 cups of coffee and the kitchen is DONE!

External schedules affect me: because city trash is picked up on Thursday, any major decluttering gets done so I have as full a trashcan as possible on Thursday AM. Wednesday night is "empty all the trashcans" so it's gone with the truck on Thursday AM.

Get decision-making out of the process:
If I'm cleaning, I make no attempt to decide whether an area "needs it" or not. I do the hotel maid style, starting at one side of a door and go around to the other side, cleaning as I go.

I realized that one reason my SO's son had such a hard time keeping his room and bathroom clean is he was trying to decide how messy was messy enough to 'need' cleaning. And it was never quite dirty enough to need cleaning. I told him to stop wasting brain cells and just clean it once a week, returning it to a state of ZERO clutter, ALL laundry done, and sheets freshly changed, and all surfaces wiped down with the appropriate cleaning solution.

This post was edited by lazygardens on Fri, May 17, 13 at 10:19

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 9:41AM
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"20 minutes to strip the bed, and another 30 minutes to make it? "

Yeah... I thought the same thing. That task should not take almost an hour.
It takes me a minute or two to strip it, and around 5 minutes to make it (king bed).

This post was edited by LuAnn_in_PA on Fri, May 17, 13 at 10:09

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 10:08AM
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Obviously you're spending a lot of time watching tv and on the computer which is eating into your time, but I think you may have a motivation and procrastination problem. I like to sit and watch a recorded tv show when I have my lunch, but once the show is over then it's time to get up and get on with some other tasks so you could try setting yourself some limits like that.

I don't time tasks because I think things take as long as they take, but you could also try having a to do list so that when you finish your lunch break, you just try to pick a few things off the list to get done for the afternoon before you knock off for the day. I suspect by lunch time you're motivation is just waning so you may just have to start pushing yourself to limit your tv and computer time and get on with other things and if you start getting a sense that you are accomplishing more tasks then that might motivate you to keep moving.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 2:15AM
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My sister has a very clean, neat, organized home. visually perfect. I joke that I once went for a visit, mentioned an interesting article in the daily newspaper, and even tho it was only 2 pm, her paper was already out in the garage in the recycle box. Yet she herself seems calm and peaceful enough, not running around and worn out from cleaning. I asked her how much time she spends "cleaning up" and she told me, about 45 minutes a day.She told me she never does "Spring Cleaning" because her home stays clean enough from her daily routine. One thing I know she does is throw away left over food. She doesn't bother with the ritual of saving food after a meal, gather it up, put it in a container, put it in the fridge, then bring it out to eat at some later date. For me, it usually ends up looking pale, unappetizing, dried out or spoiled and gets tossed.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 8:32AM
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You've all given good insights. I must admit the TV & computer were not typical, but that's really what got me started thinking - it was such a bad day. I like the suggestion to just go around a room, cleaning & picking up. The kitchen never seems to be a problem - or the living room, for that matter. The trouble seems to be upstairs, maybe because of too much clutter, which I have been working on.

And procrastination is a problem. I'm always amazed that something takes so little time once I get up off my - "chair". Lazygardens, you're right that my time spent on tasks probably ends at lunch time, which is usually at 2. I guess I should just admit that, and plan my time better.

Thank you all for your input. I'll let you know how I do!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 7:02PM
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Plow in, there could be another reason you aren't accomplishing much. Maybe you have a low energy level. I too find my energy is highest in the morning, so I get up early, even on weekends. Sleeping in too long just makes me sluggish. I try to do the big things that require the most energy early on. Also, having too large or heavy a lunch totally makes me crash.When I start to lose steam, then I do the easy stuff. I iron while watching TV, or fold laundry, match socks, make lists etc.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 11:46PM
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I do not have a schedule of any kind. I can't imagine being retired and giving myself so many minutes to do a job. Watching a clock would make it seem that much longer. I clean up after myself, have a maid to do the floors and that only leaves dusting which can get a little out of hand sometimes.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 9:02PM
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Yep, I have to avoid the TV and computer for the most part, or I don't get much done.

More recently, I've tried to get away from my cleaning schedule. It was eating up just about all the time the kiddo was in school and it didn't seem like the outcome was consistent with the input- if you KWIM. Now, I've been trying to hit the high points, so to speak. If the bathroom looks like it needs cleaning, I clean it. I decide what to spend time on based on what looks like it needs to be done. The kitchen and laundry are the only real exceptions, as the kitchen is twice daily and the laundry is mostly weekly. Doing this things look about the same as when I was doing it all the time. Go figure.

A magazine article I read recently suggested making a "5 before 11" list- of 5 things you want to accomplish before 11am. Kind of a way to temper yourself from trying to do too much, but still enough that you can accomplish something. I tried that for a few, but then decided to go more with just the things that absolutely must get done, and a few others if I have the time.

I'm also a lot more productive and happier when I give myself a day off each week. With a family, there are chores to do 7 days a week; it's like I never leave my job and that is very tiring. So usually on Friday, while the kiddo is at school, I commit to doing nothing but that I want to do. It helps to know that even if it feels like I'm running ragged the rest of the week, that day is mine and without chores or someone who needs me to do something for them.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 2:35PM
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One reason to time a specific task is to figure out how long it takes, so that you can plan you day a little bit better when that task is on the schedule or just needs to be done.

Sometimes, we over-estimated how long something takes. Then we tend to avoid it, because we think we don't have time to do it. You may think washing the dishes after a typical dinner takes half an hour. If you time it, you may find out it only takes 10 or 15 minutes. I was startled to realize that I can vacuum every room in my house in 20-25 minutes. For some reason, I thought it would take much, much longer. (It's a small, one-story house, which helps.)

I also time tasks by what I can do while waiting for water to boil. I have an electric kettle to boil water for tea.

In the time it takes for water to boil for tea, I can several of these tasks:
-empty the dishwasher
-put random glasses/dishes in the dishwasher
-empty the dish drainer
-make a sandwich
-wipe down the counters
-wipe down the stovetop
-tidy the island (which seems to be a clutter magnet)
-sweep the kitchen floor
-water the plants in the kitchen
-inventory the pantry for an upcoming grocery run

Most mornings, I stagger out of bed and put the water on for tea and, working on autopilot, empty the dishwasher and dish drainer. Then I have the satisfying feeling that one household chore is Done, first thing in the morning. Sets a good tone for the rest of the day.

Another reason to time tasks is to see if you can reduce the time you spend on a given task. For example, in the OP, it takes Plow In 20 minutes to strip her bed and 30 minutes to re-make it with fresh linens. I agree with PPs that this is a fairly long time. It takes me about 3 minutes to strip the bed and about 10 minutes to re-make the bed with clean sheets (I'm impressed with LuAnn's 5 minutes to make a king-size bed.)

So look at ways to reduce the time. If your bed is against a wall and you need to move it to change the sheets, that adds time. Can you rearrange the room to make it easier to change the sheets?

Do you have tons of layers of sheets, blankets, and quilts on the bed? It's a fashionable look right now, but it takes time take all that off and find a place to put it, then to put it all back on again.

I have just the fitted sheet, flat sheet, a blanket and a quilt/bedspread--they change throughout the seasons with the quilt being a down comforter all winter and the bedspread being an old linen tablecloth during the summer, but I've found that more than those 4 layers and making the bed become too much of a chore for me.

Also, check out YouTube. There are a ton of how-to videos there--there are many on how to make a bed neatly and quickly.

Another thing to do is to determine how neat/clean you want your house to be. If you are living alone and in complete control of the messiness or otherwise of the house, that's one thing. If there are other residents, including kids, that's more work--but it is not necessarily work that has to be done by you.

Check out FlyLady for some ideas on how often chores need to be done. Apartment Therapy has some good ideas as well--I've linked to a post there that describes how to keep your house neat in 20 minutes a day. (I will admit that I've tried this schedule and some days took less than 20 minutes and some took more. It depends on the size of your house and how many people are messing it up. But it's a good place to start.)

Here is a link that might be useful: 20 minutes a day to a clean house

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 8:56AM
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" (I'm impressed with LuAnn's 5 minutes to make a king-size bed.) "

Oh, don't be! LOL! :-)
I just got it down pat (and I am tall with a long reach).

Fitted sheet, top sheet, duvet cover (with our without duvet depending on season)... flop the king sleeping pillows down and top with three shams.

I DID time it last week, as I never had as was curious. I came in at a tad under 5 minutes, so it was a good guesstimate!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 10:16AM
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I timed my kids to show them that the chores they were procrastinating on really didn't take as long as they thought. Not if they DID them without dawdling.

So I agree w/ Cami wholeheartedly, that it makes sense sometimes to time tasks so that you can see how long they truly are (or aren't).

I also sometimes motivate myself with a "to-done" list. A backwards "to-do" list. I get a list, and I write on it what I've done. Sometimes that actually works better for me than making a list and crossing stuff off.

I like the "five before 11" list!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 10:01PM
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I do the same talley sue... except my 'to-done' list is a 'ta-da!" list.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:13AM
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