Clients often tell me they’d be much happier if they didn’t have to do laundry. Some say, “It takes up so much time. It seems never-ending!” Others tell me, “I can’t keep on top of it all—when one pile disappears, another one grows in its place!”
Doing the laundry is a time-consuming chore especially if you have a large family. But, don’t despair! There are ways to lighten your ‘load’ (of laundry). Here are two organizing philosophies that will help manage your time while you fluff and fold.
Break it Down
Break a huge task into many mini-tasks is a philosophy most organizers use when approaching any large organizing project. Below are the steps or ‘mini-tasks’ often taken when ‘doing the laundry.’
1. Collect dirty clothes and bring to laundry area
2. Sort if they haven’t been sorted already—whites, colors, sheets/towels, etc.
3. Put a load in the washer
4. When done, place wet items in dryer (or hang on the line)
5. Take items out of dryer (or off the line)
6. Fold items
7. Place back in closets or drawers
How will you know how much time to devote to all of these steps? Keep reading…
Time it Out
You can’t know how much time to assign to laundry if you’ve never added up the time it takes to complete the process. Next time you’re ready to do a load, take a timer and a notepad and pen and jot down how long each of the above steps takes you to finish. This will tell you whether or not you are leaving enough time in your day for the completion of the laundry.
• How long does it take for you to collect and sort the laundry? _____
• How long does it take for your washing machine to do a normal sized load? _____
• How long does it take for you to transfer your clothes from the washer to the dryer? Take into account hanging clothes to drip dry, searching for missing socks, etc. _____
• How long does it normally take for the dryer to dry a load of your clothes? ______
• How many times to you reach into the dryer to pull out something you don’t want dried all the way? How long does that take? _____
• How long does it take to fold a load of your clothes? _____
• How long does it take for you to return your clothes to where they belong? _____
Add up all those minutes and I’ll bet they’ll add up to hours.
Grand total: ____________
So you’ve broken down the tasks and figured out how long each of them will take. It’s now time to do laundry!
Here are a few ideas for managing your time while getting your clothes clean:
• Do laundry when you know you’ll be home for a period of time longer than the amount in your above grand total. For example, do a load while waiting for the cable guy or when your child has a friend over to play. Some people throw a load in before they prepare dinner, throw it in the dryer before they eat, and fold it in the early evening.
• Or, before you leave the house to run a few errands, toss your laundry in the washer or dryer. By the time you get back, the cycle will be over and you’ll be ready for the next step.
• Is there more than one member in your household? If so, delegate laundry tasks! It may take extra time to show children (and sometimes spouses!) how to tackle the above laundry steps but once they’ve learned them, you’re spending less time sorting whites and darks and putting away your kid’s clothes. Even preschool-aged children can help. Have them sort whites and darks or match up socks.
Important supplies to help manage your time in the laundry room:
• Timer. When doing the laundry, clip it on your waist or hang it around your neck. When it goes off—off you go to the laundry room to start on your next mini-task.
• Hampers. Use hampers in two spaces. If you have the room, try placing a hamper in each family member’s bedroom. When it’s time to do laundry, have everyone sort their dirty items into collapsible, space-saving hampers in the laundry room.
• Shelves, containers, or cabinets. These will house your laundry supplies. You don’t want to have to spend time searching for detergent and your lingerie bag when you could be relaxing to the sounds of your spin cycle.
Some bonus laundry time management tips…
• Don’t do too many loads of laundry at a time. This can easily lead to exhaustion and a pile up of clothes if there are any interruptions.
• Sort and purge your drawers and closets periodically. If they’re overcrowded, you won’t have room to put clean clothes and linens away.
• Finish it! The task of doing your laundry is not complete until the clothes and linens are returned to the closets and drawers they came from.
Laundry can easily take over one’s space and life. Follow the organizing philosophies above and your time in the laundry room will become less stressful, more manageable, and who knows—you might actually have ‘loads’ of fun…
Stacey Agin Murray is a professional organizer and owner of Organized Artistry, LLC. Visit http://www.organizedartistry.com for your FREE e-list of ‘Top Ten Tips for Organized Living.