So I turned to pinterest for inspiration on how to be better organised but found that, in general (like this blog about 10 habits for a well-run home), I was already doing the suggestions. Maybe I was as organised as I could get? Then I found an article (which of course I have lost and have NO idea where I read it, somewhere on the internet is as good as it gets I'm afraid) which suggested that the most likely candidate for time stealing was not The Husband, The Children, The Dogs or even The Cleaning, but myself. I was stealing time from myself by not putting things back where they should be as I used them and simply by not doing jobs as I went along.
For example, I have a hot child, so I grab the thermometer from it's resting place in the bathroom cupboard and run downstairs to where the hot child is and take their temperature. They are feverish, so I put the thermometer down on the side and go and grab them some calpol. I then forget where the thermometer is, so the next time I go to take a child's temperature, I have to spend 5 minutes hunting down the thermometer. Or, I come in from the school run and everybody (including me) dumps their stuff in the dining room as we sit down to a snack. After snack, the children go to tear apart the playroom, leaving coats and shoes in the dining room. Of course the next morning when we are trying to get ready for school, shoes are lost (mine as well as everyone else's) and tempers get frayed. Things are NEVER where they should be because we (as I am not the only one guilty of this) have tried to cut corners and shave time off our jobs.
In the long run, I end up stealing the time from myself - 30 seconds is all it takes to run back upstairs and put the thermometer back, about a tenth of the time it will take me to look for it if it's in the wrong place. 30 seconds to put my boots back in the cupboard rather than the 5 minutes as I run round stressing because I have to look in every room because I can't remember where I took them off. I have not left them in the wrong room because I am lazy and can't be bothered to put them away, but usually because I am hopping on one foot trying to take them off with one hand whilst separating screaming children with the other hand (and my teeth) and pouring glasses of milk with my free foot (I'm multi talented me - prehensile toes).
So who is stealing all my time?! Oh, it is me, I am stealing it from myself.
Over the Christmas break, we worked hard to organise the house even more than it already is to ensure that everything has a place where it can be put and we are making sure that stuff is put away. Not only ourselves, but the children too. I have started two separate picking up times during the day - one before lunch and one before tea and I expect the playroom to be tidy at both of those. The children now put their shoes, coats and other oddments away as they come in from school. I have a new routine for after school that ensures that spellings and reading are done straight away and don't hang over us. I wash up the dishes as I go through the day so that there is not a huge load to be done at the end of it. It is really small things that are making a HUGE difference to my life. I can now be pretty sure that if I need the thermometer, it will be in the bathroom cupboard, if I need a scarf, it is in a specific box in the coat cupboard and if I need a large gin, the bottle is in the alcohol cabinet... It's working well, the putting away as well as the gin that is, and life has become calmer still. One day I may even reach the zen like state that I aspire to. One day.