Written by Emily McClements, Contributing Writer
We’ve been talking about a lot of different natural preventions and remedies here at Keeper of the Home over the past several weeks, but today I’m going to venture off the beaten path a little bit and talk about a different kind of prevention – around the home.
We’ve all heard the saying, “An ounce of preservation is worth a pound of cure”, but I’ve come up with a little different version that I use to motivate me around the house. “Five minutes of prevention, is worth an hour of cleaning.”
Basically, the idea is this – take care of little tasks that take 5 minutes or less as soon as you can, to avoid having to pick up or clean for an hour (or more) later on.
For example, one task that only takes me a few minutes to complete is emptying the dishwasher. We run the dishwasher almost every evening before bed, and I try to empty it as one of my very first tasks in the morning. If I get the dishwasher emptied right away, then I can quickly and easily add dishes throughout the day as we eat meals and snacks, and keep my kitchen counters fairly clean.
But, if I fail to empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning, then dishes and other kitchen stuff, start to pile up in the sink or on the counter. By mid-afternoon, when I’m thinking about beginning to prepare dinner, I have no clear counter space left in my small kitchen and I have to spend a fair amount of time cleaning up before I can actually start working on dinner.
If I had simply taken the few minutes to empty the dishwasher in the morning, I would have saved the hour spent cleaning up later in the day.
Tips for Spending 5 Minutes of Prevention to Avoid An Hour of Cleaning
Determine your key 5 minute tasks.
Some 5 minute tasks are worth more than others. Some are more likely to save you time by doing them now, before they turn into a much larger job. These kind of tasks may include:
- emptying the dishwasher
- washing dishes
- sweeping the floor
- folding a load of laundry
- sorting/recycling the mail
- filing papers
All of these things take only a few minutes to accomplish them if you do them regularly and while the task is still small and manageable.
But if these tasks are put off, they create piles (or mountains!) of dishes, laundry, mail and paper that will take much longer to get through and may become overwhelming.
Tackle your tasks at the time of day that they will be most helpful.
It makes sense to do your key 5 minute tasks at time when they will be most helpful and the most preventative for you. For me, that means emptying the dishwasher first thing in the morning. So, figure out what those times are and create a routine that works for you.
I have a list of eight key tasks that I strive to get done each day, and I have created a routine for when those tasks need to be done to keep me on top of things around the house, and to provide as much prevention against large chunks of time needed for cleaning as possible.
Avoid doing too many little 5 minute tasks.
As we already mentioned, not all small tasks are created equal. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just get this one thing done really quickly.” And end up doing lots of those little “one things” that don’t really add up to much.
While this may be somewhat unavoidable when you have small children in the house (don’t our days seem like an endless rotation of changing diapers, feeding children, cleaning up spills and picking up toys?) Don’t spend your whole day stringing together lots of different 5 minute tasks, or you will get to the end of the day and feel like you got nothing accomplished.
Pick your key tasks, like we talked about above, get through those, and then be done and move onto something else. Anything from larger cleaning or organizing tasks, to sitting down with your toddler and reading books for a half an hour.
If you do too many little tasks throughout the day, you can miss out on spending precious blocks of time on things that will help you feel productive.
We can all find 5 minute to get things done around our houses that will help to avoid the piling up of tasks that can become overwhelming to take care of, and allow us to keep our homes clean, peaceful and presentable.