Let’s talk about time. It’s the one thing we can’t buy, but we can create it by becoming more efficient and productive. So what is a time trap anyways? In the plainest terms, it's something that takes more of your time than it should. We all have time traps in our homes and they are unique to each person and family. Getting organized requires an initial financial and time investment; however, it pays off in dividends over time, especially when we are able to remove time traps. Here are the top three time trap zones I see in people’s homes.
People don’t call me because their pantry is costing them time. Even though there are A LOT of time traps in a pantry; their main complaint is that it’s a mess. Only later after the pantry has been emptied, purged, categorized, containerized and labelled do they report later to me that they are saving time AND money. Here's how:
They only buy items they NEED, since they are no longer buying duplicates of items they already own.
They are consuming all of the food in their pantry and throwing away little to none, due to items going stale or expiring. This often means less frequent shopping trips.
Its easier to identify exactly what they need to purchase at the grocery store, making it easier to make an accurate grocery list. This also prevents additional shopping trips for forgotten items.
They can find exactly what they need, when they need it.
Their children can easily find snacks and/ or help pack their lunches and even help put away groceries.
If there isn’t a clear and organized “landing area” for specific homes for mail, coats, shoes, backpacks, car keys, etc not only will things get dumped all over the place, getting out the door can take MUCH longer because no one will be able to find anything. You should have a clear and designated area for the following items, so that when each family member comes home all of their possessions can also be returned to their home.
Recreation/ club/ sport items
School backpacks/ briefcases
Accessories such as scarves, hats, mittens, baseball hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, etc.
Lets examine mail sorting a little closer as this is an extremely common time trap. We walk to the mail box and pick up the mail. I personally walk straight over to my recycling bin and remove all junk mail. If you do not have the ability to complete this step before entering your home I recommend having a recycling bin close to where your mail sort happens. Next divide your mail into categories that make sense to you! But here's an example:
1) File (i.e. important tax forms, annual statements)
2) Take Action (i.e. subscription renewal notices)
3) Bills (i.e. medical bills)
I've even created a "mail sort" for children to help them unpack their school bags, organizing items from their backpack into three categories:
2) My parents need to see this (i.e. items that require signature)
3) I'm proud of this! (i.e. artwork, tests)
Toys can easily take over a home. Children receive up to 70 gifts in a single year! Consistent purging of items is absolutely necessary to maintaining order of children’s toys, but that’s not what this post is about. So, how does organizing a children’s toy area save time? To be fair, I didn’t realize the extent to which organizing a toy room would save time for the parents until I did a few and received feedback. Here are some of the responses I have received from parents after organizing their children's toy rooms:
- they know how to find their toys.
- they are playing with a larger variety of their toys.
- they are playing nicer together.
- they know how to put away their toys.
- their toys are accessible and in easy to manage bins.
Are you noting a common theme here?.... They are playing with their toys independently! When that's happening, the parents can accomplish other tasks.
The biggest time savings that I'm able to provide to parents is teaching children organizational systems that they are able to maintain. On all three of the examples I have provided above, I do like to take the time, when age appropriate and with permission of the parents, to teach the children how to use the organizational systems. When it comes to items the kids will be accessing often, I try to get their input because they are the ones using it. If a child is able to access items that they frequently want and need, and can also help put things away, then that removes a task that may have been previously on a parents plate. I recently had a client tell me that since having their toy room organized, clean up now takes 10min instead of an hour!
The most significant way I'm able to help save time for a family is to teach children organization skills that provide them with more autonomy which frees up time for the parents. However, everyone, including adults with or without children, still personally benefit in time and financial savings by getting organized, especially in these three main spaces above.
As always if you have any questions or comments about time traps, or you'd like to book an assessment whether virtual or in person email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.