TUESDAY TEASER: is your life lean-processed?

Miss Thrifty9 September 17, 2013

Lean processing is a manufacturing practice, which aims to improve efficiency and profitability through the elimination of waste. Wasted movement, wasted effort, wasted output, wasted time and so on. This is a very simple explanation, but you can read more about it here.

My husband puts a number of lean principles to use in his workshop, on a day-to-day basis. He put these processes into place with the help of his sister, who used to manage factory lines and is a dab hand at this sort of this. All his hand tools, for example, have fixed places within easy reach and are positioned carefully, so that the time he spends reaching out and grabbing an oft-used tool is minimised. The idea is that by shaving seconds from each job he undertakes, he can be more productive.

Over the past few months I have, almost without thinking about it, been lean processing a lot of what I do when I am at home. Because I work full-time and also have a toddler to hang out with, my time at home tends to be consumed by a to-do list as long as my arm. After Thrifty Baby was born, it didn’t take me long to twig that if I was going to see him or, for that matter, this blog at all, some daily life hacks were in order.

At first I thought I was putting some time-saving ideas into practice, but once in the swing of it I realised that these hacks were really lean processing, transplanted to a domestic setting.

Take this here cleaning caddy. I bought it a couple of months ago, for £1.99 from one of those discount stores with lots of plastic stuff out front.

lean processing cleaning

I hadn’t used one of these since I was a cleaner. (Many moons ago, I was in charge of doing all the cleaning, laundry and ironing at a large nursing home at the weekends.) This caddy lives in the cupboard under the sink, and is stocked at all times with everything I need to clean any room in the house: homemade multi-surface cleaner, homemade toilet cleaner, a spray bottle of white vinegar for glass and mirrors, furniture polish, some Grotbuster for occasional use in the bathroom, clean dusters, sponges, rubber gloves and microfibre cloths.

I put this together because I realised that whenever I cleaned a room, I was running back and forth between the room I was cleaning and the kitchen cupboard; to get, say, the vinegar spray to clean a sticky toddler handprint from a mirror, or a clean duster. Too much faff! Too much time, for a tired person with a limited time window. So that when I go to clean a room in the house – any room in the house – I can just grab the caddy and go. I have everything I need right there in front of me. I carry spares of the gloves, cloths and sponges in case the ones I am using need changing.

And it works for me: it’s such a simple thing to do and, although I couldn’t tell you how much time it saves on a weekly basis, it certainly seems to make household cleaning easier.

Still on cleaning: with the caddy in place, I’ve also started to give the bathroom a regular once-over in the evenings, while Thrifty Baby is playing with his toys in the tub. Obviously I can’t clean the bath while he’s in it, but I give everything else a quick clean. Result: sparkly bathroom with zero additional time spent.

I have even started picking in the washing differently. Rather than picking it in from the line and piling it up in the laundry basket indiscriminately, I now whirl that rotary line around and pick in each person’s load in turn. It means that once I’m back upstairs, I don’t have to spend time sorting it.

Finally, to try and keep the house tidy in the face of Thrifty Baby’s talent for turning rooms over in mere seconds, I have been sticking firmly to an idea I picked up on Mumsnet some time ago: never leave a room empty-handed.

Does all this make me sound like somebody with a neurotic cleaning obsession? I hope not. I just love the idea that by minimising wasted time and effort, just as I minimise waste in other areas of my life, keeping on top of things becomes less of a chore and a time-sink, and more of a smooth ride.

Do you have any time-saving or lean-ish tips? If so, please do share them in the comments: I really, genuinely would love to hear them (and pinch ’em)!

P.S. This post is called Tuesday Teaser. I am hoping that, if you lot like them, Tuesday Teasers could become a regular spot here on the blog with prizes for the best answers.  🙂

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9 Responses to “TUESDAY TEASER: is your life lean-processed?

Lorraine Thorn says:

Leading on from your “never leave a room empty handed” I always have a small pile of stuff on the stairs that goes up with me if I’m going upstairs for other reasons (eg going to the loo) and gets put away.

September 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

Clare says:

A great time saving hint I picked up from a trashy women’s magazine: put the sheet, duvet cover and extra pillowcases in one of the pillowcases for a set of bedding – so much easier when you need to change a bed to just grab the pillowcase and know everything you need is inside!

September 17, 2013 at 8:48 am

I love this post! I used to put tips on my Facebook page, also on a Tuesday, called Tuesday Tips … I try to keep cleaning to a minimum by doing little things every day, but when the whole house needs a good ‘do’, I set my oven timer for 2 hours. It’s amazing what you can get done when it’s against the clock! First of all I go round with empty carrier bags, picking up all rubbish and papers, etc, to be recycled. DON’T DO ANYTHING ELSE … it’s easy to get waylaid and caught up in another task! Next I collect glasses, mugs, etc (not mine, you understand, I have offspring!) and put in dishwasher. Then empty vases of dead flowers and put these in dishwasher too, after a quick rinse out … tooth mug, soap dishes, etc also. Then pick up towels and dirty washing. While the washer and dishwasher are in full swing, the cleaning can begin. Spray sinks, taps shower/bath in kitchen and bathroom and leave to soak in while you clean mirrors and then dust furniture. Give sinks, bathtubs showers a wipe and then get the hoover out. Once that’s done, put items from dishwasher back, buy yourself a bunch of flowers and enjoy your lovely home once again! Hope I haven’t missed anything … Claire xx

September 17, 2013 at 9:59 am

ann says:

I like this tip. My under sink cupboard is a bit full at the moment as I have tended to hoard products recently, so I’m trying to use up all the products by having a Household and Cleaning Challenge this year, reducing what I spend on products for the year by using what I have and trying different moneysaving ideas. Once I have used up duplicate purchases and made some room, I might try to implement this idea as I do find myself coming up and down to the kitchen to get different products for different jobs when I’m doing a big clean and it is a bit annoying and time consuming. Thanks for the idea.

September 17, 2013 at 10:35 am

Lisa Pritchard says:

Anything that makes life easier is a high five from me! Every night I wash my fave with a face wipe and after I clean my face, I’ll use the wipe to clean the sink and the window sill in the bathroom as well as my electric toothbrush. That way when I get up I have a clean bathroom and don’t have to faff about with it whilst in a rush to get to work!

September 17, 2013 at 11:44 am

Magali says:

Those are really useful tips especially for someone like me who really dislikes all the faff and fuss of cleaning the house. I’m hoping that by following your tips I’ll be much less grouchy about it all!

September 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Irene says:

Never go up the stairs empty handed. I find there’s always something that needs taking up there.

September 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head why I get so aggravated when hubby puts kids clothes away in wrong draws/ crockery in wrong places/ randomly stashes things and forgets where he puts them/ leaves tools out etc… Every one of these eats into my precious time and my own lean processes. I love the laundry tip – double or even triple handling items is a time waster 🙂

September 17, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Laundry tip is a winner – thank you! Here’s my one for the pot – when stacking the dishwasher, put the forks in one section of the cutlery basket, the knives in another etc. Makes it far simpler to unload it all when clean.

September 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm

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