In this month's Domino, editor-in-chief Deborah Needleman points out that time is the true luxury. We agree. While we love a beautiful home, what we love even more is a home that is beautiful and low maintenance. Not just easy to clean but easy to live in. When your home works, it supports your life. There's a place, and resources, for all of your activities, so you can spend more time doing the things you like (like entertaining friends, reading, crafting, relaxing, sleeping) and less time doing things you hate (paying bills, cleaning). After the jump, 7 tips that have helped us to create more time in our life...
Landing strip (and Launch Pad): Regular readers of AT know our obsession with this simple concept. If you have one, you know that it's the first step in dealing with the mail and other stuff from outside that threatens to upend the tranquility we're looking for at home. Take it one step further. Deal with the mail and the bills when you walk in the door: shred the junk, put the bills in one place to be dealt with (and decide on a day each week or every two weeks when you will deal with them and consider paying them online), respond to invitations and letters immediately, plug in your phone or pda (so it's charged up for next time you leave), have a place to hang up your keys (so you don't spend time looking for them), your dog's leash, your bag and your coat.
Clean up before you go to bed (and make your bed in the morning): Taking a few minutes at night to organize your thoughts and your stuff can do a lot towards having a peaceful morning (you might even want to try the grade school trick of setting out your clothes the night before). And, fight us on this, but making your bed makes the room look neater, and, when you walk back in at night, it looks tranquil, putting your head in a good space for getting a restful night's sleep.
Figure out a place for everything (and put it back when you're finished with it): From where to put the milk in the refrigerator to where you store your yoga mat, having a place for everything saves time. Sounds silly but if the milk is always on the left side of the top shelf of the refrigerator, a glance will tell you if you've got to pick some up the next time you're at the store. That two seconds of not searching for it saves time and money (when you're not buying doubles of things). And, yes, it may seem crazy that this included organizing our medicine chest so that everything's in the order in which we use it but when you're as blind as we are without our contact lenses, it can prevent you from putting sunscreen on your toothbrush (trust us, we've done this). Get into the routine of having a place for things and you'll have few worries about whether you left the stove or another appliance on; putting it back (or turning it off) when you're done will become an automatic part of your routine.
Pare down and eliminate choice: How many towels do you really need? How many sets of sheets? Choose quality over quantity and you'll not only make room in your home but you'll spend less time dealing with stuff and more time doing stuff. From socks to cleaning products, how can you streamline? (We only wear one kind of socks which makes pairing them up when they come out of the laundry a breeze; we've pared down our cleaning products to a glass cleaner, an all purpose cleaner and a scrub)
Multitask and make it fun: Dust while you're on the phone, tidy up while brushing your teeth, wash dishes while waiting for the water to boil, clean the shower while you're in it. These tasks demand only partial focus. And, there's no reason they can't be fun. Put on IPod and catch up on your podcasts while you dust or dry mop, call your mother while you do the dishes, teach your kids about colour while you separate laundry.
Farm out: How much is your time worth? If you can get someone else to do it for less than it's costing you in time, it's worth paying them for their skill set. If money's tight, consider swapping tasks with a friend; they can do your laundry and you can bake them muffins or drop off their dry cleaning. Or play around with the timing of a task; schedule a maid every three weeks instead of every two weeks.
Do a little bit every day: Whether it's a quick run over your wood floors with the mop when you come home, doing the dishes right after dinner or doing laundry when you have enough for one load instead of waiting until you're spending all day doing it, doing a little bit every day keeps you from killing your whole day off cleaning. Wouldn't you rather be hanging out with friends?
[image: Karen and James's Colour Commitment]