I was able to do the following in 15 minutes this morning, with a 3 year old potty break and a baby (my cousin's 3 month old) needing soothing mixed in:
1. Sort laundry by color.
2. Protect lingerie in a lingerie bag.
3. Put a batch of laundry in the wash.
4. Unload dishes.
5. Load a batch of dishes.
6. Clean the kitchen sink, stove, and the kitchen counter.
7. Refill the paper towel roll.
8. Make a snack for the 3 year old.
9. Clean out the bottle and get it ready for the next feeding.
10. Start the chicken defrosting in the sink.
That's a lot in fifteen minutes. There are some things about being organized and some tricks that made it easier for me.
First, I teach the 3 year old to potty by himself. He needed some help adjusting his pants, but I've taught him to do the best he can and then ask for help politely. That took eons of patience - definitely not just 15 minutes - but the payoffs are huge. Second, I got the baby situated first. I changed him, fed him, and put him down in front of the tv, propped up so he thinks he is playing with the three year old. He only required one little "Ethan, B-Box is here." (How obnoxious is B-Box as a nickname?)
For the laundry, I have laundry baskets throughout the house wherever laundry tends to pile up. About once or twice a week, I have my five year old collect laundry from those baskets and put in in the main basket. Otherwise, I forget about them. They are gone from my mind. So, this morning, I didn't have to think about them. Also, I have 4 colored mesh laundry bags in my laundry basket. I used to have a sorting "center," but it took up a ton of space and let us avoid doing the laundry because at least one bag wasn't quite full. Instead, I pulled the four bags from the one large laundry basket. The white bag was empty (because we did whites yesterday). The lights bag only has a few things in it and the "special laundry" bag has some swimsuits that need to be hung dry next week when I am home all day to deal with it. But the darks bag was packed full. So darks it is. A small pile of laundry had accumulated ON THE TOP of the bags since yesterday's sorting, so that small amount got sorted - whites, one khaki, and the rest darks. The whites and the khaki went in the bags and back in the hamper. Tomorrow, there will be more to sort. But there is rarely more than a minute worth of sorting - and that is so worth this system! (Bonus tip - when I travel, I throw the mesh bags in my suitcase. I come home with sorted laundry and just resume my routine.) The laundry closet with the washer was recently culled of everything but detergent, pretreater, and dryer sheets. One shirt was sitting in the area, being pretreated for a stubborn stain. I retreated it with a quick spray and threw it in with the darks. When the clothes come out of the dryer, hanging stuff will be hung immediately so I NEVER have to iron. Other stuff gets put away, except the underwear and socks that are saved for the children to sort later.
Unloading dishes was quick because we load the dishwasher according to our cabinet layout, with stuff to the left of the dishwasher on the left and the right stuff on the right. Also, my counters are uncluttered, allowing me to stack like tupperware together before putting it up. I also open all the cabinets FIRST, before putting away a single item, so I'm not balancing bowls while opening cabinet doors. And my cabinets are clear of extra clutter, making storage easy since there is plenty of space and a designated home for each item. I loaded the dishes by grouping of like items, left on left and right on right. I tossed in the drain stopper and dish scrubber thingy (you know the thingy, right?) so they would get de-grossed. (Another bonus tip - all sorts of things can be dishwashed. The gross basket of kids toys by the tub? Dishwasher. The toys themselves? Dishwasher. The container for your toothbrush? Dishwasher!)
While the sink was empty, I decided to clean it. While spraying, I went ahead and sprayed the counters and stove and let that sit while I cleaned the sink. By the time I got to the stove, it was so easy to wipe the mess away, especially since I wiped major spills as I cooked last night. I ran out of paper towels, but they were stored nicely in my pantry, so I just refilled the roll. I noticed I am running low. Conveniently, my planner was at it's designated spot on the counter, so I wrote "paper towels" on next week's list.
I made a cracker and peanut butter for the 3 year old, who is trained to eat at the table and wipe up with the paper towel that I gave him and to drink water out of the cup left all day at his designated spot. Noticing that I am low on peanut butter, it went on the list in my planner on the counter as well. I ran hot water and soaped and rinsed the bottle, leaving it to dry on the counter.
Finally, my planner said lunch and dinner (leftovers at dinner) is chicken enchilada pasta, so I grabbed chicken to defrost. The chicken was labeled and in the "frozen uncooked meats" section of the freezer, so it was easy to find.
The point is not that I work very fast. I work at a normal, often-interrupted pace. The point is that, if you are organized, you can accomplished a lot in a little bit of time and watch tv, write blogs, or play on facebook instead. Um, exercise. Yes, that's what I meant. I meant you could exercise and go to church, a lot. ;)