Time management

How to manage it all?

We have probably all been there. Busy at work, busy at home. Having a feeling that time is not really our friend. So what can we do to make our lives easier or at least manageable as far as house chores are concerned?

Cooking, washing, ironing, cleaning up, spending quality time with children on top of working 100 per cent can easily transform into a constant marathon leaving us stressed, tired and unhappy. Luckily there are some easy strategies that can help you to overcome this (and do not cost an arm and a leg).

What I find of greatest help in keeping things under control is planning. Having it all nicely planned and written down, be it in one of the apps or in a paper diary means that I do not necessarily have to think about a task until the time comes to deal with it. For example, meal planning eliminates from your day the constant thinking: “What are we eating from dinner?” By deciding what you will cook over the week before doing your grocery shopping also helps you to save money since you only buy what you actually need.

Even more important is advance meal preparation. Besides helping you to save quite some money, especially if you decide to bring homemade lunches to work, it is really a life saver when you come home late and lack time or are not really in the mood to cook (like me always;-) So how does it work? It’s quite simple. Basically, you need to set aside some time on your day off (or in the evening, if you still got some energy left) to prepare food that is easy to freeze and then defrost as needed. The simplest recipes are those for all sort of stews and soups, where you basically only need to chop the veggies and let them simmer for some time. Investing in a pressure cooker or one of those specialised cookers makes the preparation even easier. You basically just put all the ingredients in and press a button. What you end up with are big quantities of yummy and healthy food that you put in (preferably) glass containers, mark them clearly and store in your freezer. Voilà!

And then there is the weekly clothes plan or at least preparing your children’s (and your own) clothes the evening before. Believe me, it is a life saver in the morning! While with smaller children it might happen that there is still some “negotiating” involved when they actually need to put their clothes on, the bigger ones will usually not change their mind overnight.

The next big time saver is online grocery shopping. The two biggest supermarket chains in Switzerland both propose home delivery and often have deals offering the delivery costs (especially for newcomers). Shopping for food online is a huge time and hassle saver, especially if buying heavy items. You “basket” selections stay saved so subsequent purchases can really be done in a matter of minutes.

But this is only the beginning of the chores’ list. There is also the laundry that needs to be done of course. I used to live in a building with a common laundry room where I had to follow a pre-determined schedule, which was not great. Now with our own washing machine no specific planning is necessary and we do the laundry whenever needed, usually several loads over the weekend. It also happens that I do some quick washes in the mornings or in the evenings.

I will not lose many words on ironing. Suffice to say that I iron a very small amount of clothes and do it once they pile up. As an incentive, I do it while watching TV;-)

With cleaning in general, I came to an important realisation – if you don’t want to spend all your free time cleaning up (because one can always find something to clean…) it is necessary to lower the expectations. We try to keep the apartment clean(ish) all the time so there’s no need to plan it in the precious time off during the weekend.

If your employer allows it, working from home at least one day per week is really a game changer. Not only you save time spent in commute, instead of the usual work coffee breaks and chats with colleagues you can also get some house work done. And what is also very important is to involve your children in house chores from an early age, according to their capabilities of course.

Now if your budget allows it and you feel comfortable with it, having a house helper or at least a cleaner can reduce considerably the amount of work (and stress). I used a cleaner once or twice only with rather mixed feelings but might go back to it in the future.

Hope some of these tips will be of assistance! Are there any other strategies that work for you?