Lately I’ve been on an efficiency kick. I’ve been doing lots of exercise, meetings, and future planning, and asking myself, how can this be more efficient?
We are living in a time poor era. Somehow we are haunted by chores of various sorts. Abundance of time is what we dream of. I’m sure that if you are given a bunch of free time you’ll enjoy it and use it as productive (or unproductive) as possible.
When I do occasionally get those free times, I try to plan how I want to use those times. Often I choose to be productive and plan lots of things to do within that time frame, such as organizing a catch up with old friends who live far from me or do a complete garden makeover. When I succeed to spend the time efficiently, I feel so good and satisfied.
However, those free times don’t always come with a notice in advance. They visit me when I am least expecting. When that happens I just get blinded. I know there are lots of things I’ve been thinking about doing, but I just end up standing there, not knowing where to start.
So I’ve been looking at everyday activities in my life and asking myself if there are better way or more efficient way of using time and doing the house chores.
For an example, I spend lots of time in the kitchen. Most of the time I’m holding my baby in one arm and using the other arm to do the kitchen work. There are limited activities that one arm can handle, and carrying the extra weight (of the baby) makes it even harder. If every kitchen items are placed at the level of my free arm, it would be lots easier. but that’s simply not possible. so I thought about activities I do in the kitchen, in terms of how often, how important, how hard to complete those activities, and how I can make those activities easier for me. One thing became clear was that most of the time when I’m in the kitchen, I make tea or coffee. That happens many times a day. The hardest part of the simple activity is when I grab milk out of the fridge because the milk is placed on the bottom shelf of the fridge door. That makes me to squat to get it as if I’m touching the floor. Maybe this little squat is OK to do once or twice a day, but it happens rather often than that. so it doesn’t make sense to have milk at the bottom shelf and have a tomato sauce at my arm level because I use milk several times a day and I hardly use tomato sauce (maybe once in every few weeks). It was easy decision to swap the location of those items in the fridge but until that location change, I didn’t see that the original location was inefficient. I guess it wasn’t a conscious decision when I first placed milk where it was.
When I buy a fridge next time I would probably buy one with fridge-on-top-of-freezer style because the fridge is at my arm level and I use fridge more often than freezer. If I think about how many times a day I have to bend over to get an item from the fridge, the current style of fridge (freezer on top of fridge) seems a bit stupid.
Similar changes I’m going to make in the kitchen are where cookware goes in the cupboard especially heavy items like cast iron pans. Every time I pull them out of the cupboard - again, from the bottom shelf - my back cries. It happens again when I put them away after washing up, back to the bottom shelf. They don’t make sense to be there!!
It reminded me a kitchen-product-demonstrator at a shop while ago. She was demonstrating a hand sized chopper, that chops veggies in small pieces very easily with a few palm pushes instead of a hundred cuts of knife. One of the viewers asked her that the chopper does everything a food processor does, what’s the point of buying her chopper if you have a processor. She asked the viewer “How often do you actually get the food processor out of your cupboard and actually use it?” The viewer said “never”.
If that’s happening in your kitchen or like my situation - backache comes with casserole dinner - is happening, it doesn’t make sense does it? We don’t consciously think about what we are doing when those things become a habit. I certainly didn’t think about my backache until the pain builds up and it needs a session of remedial massage.
I’m not saying I’m going to leave every cookware on the kitchen bench, because that will cause a broken window situation and it won’t be efficient. What I’m saying is the importance of this question: “Why you are doing what you are doing in the way you are doing” - This is what most of us forget to ask ourselves. If you want to live consciously, this is a starting point.
When I finish organizing my kitchen, I’d probably work on my computer desk, then living room and the rest of the house. I can think of so many items out of order, causing inefficiency and waste of lots of time. No wonder I rarely feel the satisfaction of the efficient time usage.