Saturday, July 8

Household Habits

I've just returned from a short vacation, so I don't have much to relate by way of being frugal. However, I did have some time to reflect on my household habits and think of some ways of improving things. These aren't exactly frugality ideas but are simple helpful points of view or strategies.

Pace Yourself
You can only do so much at one time. You can only devote all of your time to work related efforts for so long. Of course there will be deadlines in life, but generally you do have control over much of your decisions and how high you raise the bar with respect to your activities. If you honestly can't be away from something for a while, such as me getting away from this blog for a couple of weeks, then consider finding ways to either let go or get involved in less demanding efforts.

Chores are Investments
As a bachelor you can imagine that it is easy for me to drift into living in a sty. Based on the goals I've set for myself, and I often don't enforce the discipline required to pace myself all that well, I find that I feel I need to just stack dirty dishes on the counter top and find time to do them later. It seems that there are always things popping up to take precedence over minor chores. After coming back from my vacation I am going to look at these chores as investments.

A clean kitchen enhances my lifestyle. It is more enjoyable. It is less stressfull than looking at a large pile of dishes and knowing how much effort is involved to get them back under control. Making time to do my chores on a regular basis will reduce my stress and increase my enjoyment of my home on a daily basis. They are an investment in my happiness. Why on Earth have I been allowing myself to find ways to keep putting them off?

As a humorous side note, I am not going to keep my home absolutely spotless. I'm a single guy, yes, but I'm not gay. I don't imagine I'll have any trouble avoiding becoming a neat freak, since I've managed to do so my entire life.

Enjoy your Work
As much as I hate spending endless hours cleaning, I don't find it that bad to do a small amount at a time. Perhaps I can pop in a good CD mix and work away during the good songs. As you may have guessed, I've come back from vacation to grungy apartment. So, I've decided to get the kitchen under control.

I've done a load of dishes at a time and have the third and final load soaking in the sink as I write. So, I'm doing small chunks. As I do a load I find more of the counter is left bare - which is incredibly convenient given the size of my kitchen. And I think about how much I'm going to enjoy using a clean kitchen while I'm doing the dishes. There are plenty of other things, such as the stovetop, that will need my attention, but I'm not setting any particular goals or deadlines.

It's not like I won't immediately see what needs attention every time I walk in the kitchen. It's not like I don't see things to improve every time I walk in the bathroom. It's not like I don't notice the dust on the television and the rest of the furniture every time I look. It's not like I don't notice grit on the floor if I walk around in bare feet. However, I'm pacing myself, making sure to consciously look forward to the end result, and trying to keep doing these chores as a lighthearted or enjoyable task.

Wish me Luck
This isn't the first time I've decided to change my habits and move myself into a higher plane of existence. It's been quite a while since I was originally knocked down to this level - it happened several years ago during an economic downturn and a period of unemployment. I guess my household was a reflection of the depressive effect that not being in control of your life exerts. However, not too long ago I quit a formal job that I was unhappy with and now I do freelance consulting from home. While I am much happier, I am also home a lot more, two good reasons to get motivated don't you think?

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Jenn said...

Some very good points. Good luck.

Fran said...

Dear Frugal,
Wow, I'm impressed you've decided to get control of the clutter. Here's a few tips I've learned that make my life easier:

If you have a dishwasher...load and start it at night and empty it in the morning. If you happen to dirty dishes during the day they go straight into the dishwasher.

Cleaning up after yourself saves a lot of time later.

Before I go to bed at night I cruise the house to see if the little darlings have left a mess anywhere. This could be dirty dishes, clothes papers, etc. This all gets picked up before I hit the sack. This way the house is clean in the morning and I leave for work happy. ;>)
Since we are into saving money...keep a spray bottle of lemon ammonia diluted with water under your bathroom counter. Once or twice a week, spray the counter, sink, toilet, tub and floor with the spray and an old cloth. The bathroom stays nice and clean this way.
As clothes come out of the dryer, hang them immediately on hangers. Saves ironing time.
Saturday I wake up at 6:00 AM and do my weekly cleaning. This doesn't take long because the house never gets to be a sty. Saturday cleaning includes sweeping and mopping hardwood and tile floors, vacumning, dusting, and a quick clean of the bathroom. It also includes a cleaning of the fridge. With 5 kids there's not a lot of leftovers. Using old butter and margarine tubs for leftovers works great. You don't feel guilty if the whole mess needs to be thrown out.
Get rid of clutter and give away any unnnecessary items to the Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul. Good tax write off as well.
P.S. I just discovered that baking soda cleans my dishes in the dishwasher as well as more expensive dishwasher detergents. Probably better for the environment as well.