Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Taking care of something right away most often means much less work than letting it go until later. The saying was published in a book by Thomas Fuller back in the 18th century. The concept is as equally true for a stitch in clothing that breaks open and needs repaired as it is to many tasks that I encounter day to day. If you are someone that mends your children's clothing (I am not) then it would be better to repair a break in a seam when it first occurs than to have it worn and the break in the stitches gets larger meaning more work for you. If something is spilled, it is far less effort to clean it up right away than to let it dry or set.

It took me many years, and some insight from my friend the FLYLady, to understand that if you clean something before it even looks dirty or dusty it is much less effort than waiting until it looks like it needs cleaned. If I use a duster every day or two, I don't see dust. I spend two minutes or less each day doing a quick "swish and swipe" in my bathroom, and it stays clean. If the boys go in and get toothpaste on the counter or mirror, we just clean it up then instead of waiting until "cleaning day". I don't let rooms get past a five-ten minute pick-up, and then we do the pick-up when we are finished with the room for the day, or at least that part of the day.

Then there are the things that need to be done and are tasks that are ongoing, like cooking meals, cleaning dishes, washing clothes, and sweeping the kitchen floor. If these things get done routinely they require much less effort than letting them go until they need to be done. It relieves much stress to have these done regularly too. There will be no scramble for someone whom is out of clean socks or jeans. There will be no urgency when dinner needs cooked and the pan is still dirty from an earlier meal. I say, "No thanks," to procrastination. I want peace and time to enjoy life.

I have learned that preparation saves time too. It is as simple as that. It makes me more effective at home and at work. If I sit down and plan what I am going to do from hour to hour during the day it becomes my map for reference. If I know what is for dinner, or have at least planned and shopped for a well stocked pantry, getting that meal on the table at our family's dinnertime is very doable. On the other end, and I have been there before, the question of what is for dinner was asked when it was too late to thaw out meat or stop to pick up a missing ingredient and I either needed to pick up a pre-made/fast food meal or drag the family out impromptu to a restaurant and hope we ate and got back home at a decent hour. More likely though, I would throw something else together and it took longer to prepare and often lacked the quality I wanted for my family. So a bit of planning and stocking up makes the evening hours much less chaotic, and we can focus on spending time together, catching up on what happened that day and then start our preparations for the next day.

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