Getting ahead of the things that make me fall behind

I had a lightbulb moment the other day. Sort of  a revelation. My mind was spinning all morning trying to figure out why I struggle so much with keeping up the house. Well, I didn’t figure it all out, but in the process of all the mind spinning, I realized that I should focus on some of the things that seem to have a domino effect in my day.

Like dinner. I struggle with getting dinner ready on time.

So I thought about it and backtracked through a typical day.

When it’s time to start dinner, I can’t just start cooking. First I have to wash any pots,  pans, and knives I might need to use. And I might need to clear out at least one side of the sink. And clear/clean some counter space. And find the ingredients – including the ones that are still in their grocery bag on the floor left from a few days ago.

This is why it takes me so long to make dinner!

Then the table needs to be cleared so that we can eat. And when dinner is done, the dishes all get piled up in the sink with the rest of the dishes from the day, because the dishwasher has clean dishes in it that were never put away. 

After that we need to rush through homework and getting the kids in bed, which usually ends up being late because dinner started late.

Then the kitchen gets cleaned….or at least the dishes…usually. And then there’s laundry, and I have to check email and my blog, right? I get to bed too late.

So if I can put away the clean dishes early in the day, then the dirty dishes throughout the day should be able  to go right into the dishwasher. This helps with both the dishes-piled-up-in-the-sink problem and the clearing the counter/table problem!

I should be able to actually start cooking dinner sooner, which should help the evening routine to go smoother, etc, etc! I know, it won’t always work perfectly, but I think if I can get ahead of the dishes thing by simply emptying the dishwasher early in the day, that will ultimately help dinner to be ready on time!

Check it out!

Of course I have known before that this would be a good and helpful thing, but I don’t think I realized what a big impact it could make on my whole day. I know for some of you this is a ridiculously obvious thing, but for me…I needed a lightbulb moment!

What other things help you get ahead of the crazy?


31 Comments on “Getting ahead of the things that make me fall behind”

  1. Kimberly says:

    Yay for clean sinks!! 8)

  2. Sonjia says:

    I had the same problem for years. Then I found, which motivates to set things in an orderly direction. Check her out.

    • Hi Sonjia! I have actually tried to do the flylady system twice before. For some reason it just seems to overwhelm me and I give up too quickly. I can’t seem to get past shining my sink!

      But I do still get her emails and I have thought about trying again – this time while blogging about it. Thanks for the suggestion. I know her system works well for lots and lots of people!

  3. Jen S. says:

    YES! This is really a struggle for me as well-The days when I get the dishwasher unloaded before lunch and am faithful to rinse/clean each meals dishes right away makes such a difference, both in cooking and in my ability to keep up. I also occasionally resort to paper plates when I feel like I’m too far behind for another set of meal dishes to be dirtied. Thankfully that is happening less and less. KEep up the good work! You are an encouragement to me. (guess I need to get off this computer and go unload/wash those dishes!)

  4. Dede says:

    Have you checked out Fly Basically where she says to start. My dh says she’s like cleaning with a friend. Good luck!

  5. Barbara says:

    I’m with you, FlyLady is awesome for a lot of people. I’m just not one of them, as I got way too overwhelmed. On a good day, here’s how I keep a foot ahead of the crazy:

    1. Empty dishwasher while kids are eating breakfast
    2. Start 1 load of laundry before I enter the kitchen to start breakfast
    3. Breakfast dishes to empty dishwasher as soon as kids are done eating

    1. Load dirty dishes as I use them- lunch, snack bowls for baby, etc.
    2. Clean up food prep as I go, putting away all food I used to make for lunch
    3. Mail pick up from mailbox: immediately sort into recycle or shred, take action, or to husband’s office
    4. Fold AM laundry, start 2nd load
    5. Cleaning:
    Mon./Wed: 11:30-12:30: 1 hour clean/pickup upstairs (15/min. timed each room)
    Tues/Thurs: 11:30-12:30:1 hour clean/pickup downstairs (15 min. timed each room or area)

    1. Pack lunches for next day
    2. Fold Day laundry, wash 1 more load and put into dryer on the way up to bed.
    3. Run dishwasher, wipe down counters, wash pots/pans by hand and leave to dry on counter
    4. Sit on couch and catch up on my guilty pleasure TV watching

    Now, this is a GOOD day/week. Some days I am just not into al of this and give myself a mental break. Really, why stress it? As long as it gets done somehow and you aren’t stressed out over the chaos. But I do KNOW that having some sort of a routine to get the basics done is so crucial to sanity. Which reminds me, I need to load those dishes now….

  6. Chelsey says:

    My sink and counters look just like yours! (The pre picture that is).

    I’ve thought this same thought before, but haven’t been able to faithfully do it… I’ll have to try, try again……

    Thanks for the reminder!

  7. April says:

    I stumbled on your blog a few weeks ago. 🙂 I used to struggle with the dishes thing BAD. Then I realized how easy it could be controlled. After breakfast I do the dishes. After lunch I do the dishes. After dinner I do the dishes. This way I wake up to a clean kitchen and can easily start whatever meal I need to without feeling completely overwhelmed( I HATE to cook). It has really become a habit for me. Took a while to enforce it but once I did I was good to go. A lot of times I put the kids at the kitchen table to do homework while I do the dishes. Good luck and congrats on your lightbulb moment. 🙂

  8. Megan says:

    Well, I don’t have anything to bring to the party solution-wise, but this post made my day. Now I know I’m not the only one that leaves the groceries in the bag on the floor! It drives my husband crazy — it drives me crazy!– but I can’t seem to make myself *finish*. (Which, actually, is one key to the solution after all, in my case: developing the discipline to FINISH.) Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you so much for telling me this, Megan! I love that I’m not the only one, too! I agree that it is a finishing thing!

      I struggle with finishing in other areas, too – like books. I can’t tell you how many books there are that I have read all but the last chapter, or the last few pages!

      I peeked at your blog, which made me think of the reading thing. Also, I love your sewing projects!

      • Megan says:

        Thank you — how sweet of you!

        The deadline attached to library books makes me either commit or get out, but magazines (which I love)? I keep finding them half-read and still lying open all over the house. Well, at least it’s proof that I don’t spend all of my time goofing off, right?

        Keep fighting the good fight!

  9. WilliamB says:

    What you described is an instance of Critical Path Analysis. Every project has sub-tasks, yes? Some tasks don’t depend on other tasks being finished first, while some tasks do require that other tasks be completed first. The goal of Critical Path Analysis is to create a timeline or chart of the jobs that have to be done before other important jobs can be done. A full analysis, such as is used for project development, includes time estimates; you add up all the times on the longest/critical path to determine the minimum amount of time the project will take.

    You just laid out two lines of dependent events, one that starts with getting the clean dishes out of the dishwasher and another that starts with putting away the shopping. Go you!

  10. Two things, WilliamB:

    1. My brain hurts just a little after reading your comment. 😀

    2. Mr. RSS will *greatly* appreciate your comment. He has been known to say things like, “We need to determine the critical path.” Maybe my attempt at this line of thinking is his positive influence!

    • WilliamB says:

      A friend said about the same thing, when I used the phrase when helping him with his wedding.

      Does it hurt less, when you realize that your figured it out by yourself? I’m just attaching the fancy words to your process.

  11. robbiekay says:

    This is a thought-provoking article…if only I can find a quiet moment to think about how to apply this in my own life. Please do keep us updated on your progress.

    Like you, I also found flylady to be overwhelming. It felt like in addition to everything else that was already on my To Do List, I would then have to add all these other tasks that she was giving me (and this was when my life was simpler than it is now!).

    I appreciated Barbara’s comment. I like seeing how other people structure their day. If you ever end up trying to come up with some sort of routine like that, I’d be interested in reading yours, too. One of the things that I really liked about Barbara’s schedule is that she allowed time for TV. It always gets me a little irked to read time management advice that says to “stop watching so much television”. There happen to be a few shows that I enjoy and I’m trying to figure out how to find the time to watch them!

  12. Messy Wife says:

    Great post! I start to be doing good with putting away the clean dishes in the morning but still struggle with washing the breakfast dishes (our dishwasher sucks!) before dinner preparation!

    I too find flylady overwhelming and I cannot get past dressing to the shoes part. But I do like many ideas of hers like having a morning and evening routine and changing one little thing at a time and build on it. Right now, I am working on doing the breakfast dishes before lunch… not good so far as you can tell 🙂

    • I am actually amazed so far at how much of a difference it has made for me on the days I really do it!

      Sometimes when I’m really serious about cleaning, I put on my tie shoes like flylady says!

      • WilliamB says:

        The days I get the most done, I don’t get out of my sleep clothes. I get up, get going, and don’t want to take the time to shower and change. I think “I’ll just do this one more thing or I’m planning to do something messy or sweaty,” and I know that taking that long a break will interrupt my groove and I just don’t want to do that.

        Unfortunately it doesn’t work the other way around: staying in my sleep clothes doesn’t magically make me productive.

  13. […] Getting ahead of the things that make me fall behind […]

  14. Tiffany C. says:

    I just read through your whole post nodding my head! “Yes!” “Me too!” Thanks for the good idea about emptying the dishwasher earlier in the day. It’s always right after dinner when I realize, they have no place to put the dirty dishes! And the pile gets bigger, and I get more overwhelmed. I’m reading these backwards to catch up, but I am just loving every minute. Thank you for the motivation to try something different!

  15. Sara says:

    I used to have trouble keeping up with dishes, too. Then I realized that I had four times more dishes than I had family members. I got a cardboard box and put all but one dish per family member in storage in the garage (still accessible for company). Now I have one plate, one bowl, and one cup per person, only one of each type of pan, and I never have huge stacks of dirty dishes. We use them to eat; we put them in the dishwasher after; they’re clean by the next meal. Sometimes you have to do drastic things to get under control.

  16. […] What will save you time in the long run? Get ahead of the things that make you fall behind. Would you be more efficient in the kitchen if you had a clear counter with  no dishes in the sink, […]

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