When a Crock’s Not a Crock

Over the years I’ve had a few consulting firms as clients. Thus I’ve been exposed to a lot of theory about lost time and whatnot, which is why I can be so “efficiency” minded — even if I’m sometimes poor at practicing what I preach to myself.

But since Maggie came into our lives 11 months ago, efficiency has become a means of survival. She is a great kid for a work-from-home parent, nearly always happy and proficiently self-entertaining. Even so, sharing space with a baby consumes a few hours of each of my workdays.

Diaper changes, wardrobe changes, toy clean-ups, toy re-clean-ups, and rescuing her from every dangerous situation she can find — all of that pinches the minutes available for work. Nowadays the last thing I want to do at 5 p.m. is get off the computer so I can get on the stove. I don’t want to lose that hour.

That’s why the crock pot has become such a standard in our domestic repertoire. My mom gave my wife one for Christmas, and it’s made our culinary life easier to live. I love cooking (I’m the one who does most of the non-microwave food prep in the house), but on most days now I just want to not worry about it.

The crock pot gives me two huge conveniences:

  1. Cooking is actually faster. The food isn’t ready to eat until forever, but my role in compiling it is brief. Most slow-cooker recipes involve just cutting and measuring (and the latter is barely necessary), followed by dumping everything in the pot and pressing the power button.
  2. One crock-pot session gives us three or four meals’ worth of food. We can eat until at least Wednesday on Monday’s bounty. Two days of cooking can feed us for a week. We sometimes don’t have enough Pyrex containers to contain it all.

On cooking day I spend all afternoon hungry, because I can smell the food simmering for hours upon hours. I keep peeking at it to see if it looks as good as it smells. Then my wife loves walking in the house and smelling the brew.

We haven’t ventured far down this culinary road yet, and the short distance we have traveled has included just the usual stops, such as beef stew, pulled chicken and chicken soup that was supposed to be chicken stew.

I recently posted a request for crock-pot ideas on Facebook and received a generous portion of recipes from friends and family, ranging from pulled-porks to puddings to soufflés to casseroles to enough oatmeal to feed the cast of Oliver!

We will likely try it all, which should give me more time to write. Bring on the paper. Bring on the Pyrex.

Dirty Laundry

We can’t create extra time. We can, however eliminate unnecessary lost time.

I define “lost time” as time spent doing something that could be done faster by changing the process. Lost time cannot be recovered, but it can be prevented. When I save time, I can use it to catch up on work or to spend more time doing things I enjoy.

The key is to project the time savings over the course of a year — that’s where the real value of enacting this philosophy becomes apparent.

For example, if I can save two hours per week (while getting the same result), that totals 104 saved hours per year. That’s over two and a half working weeks (at 40 hours per week) per year free run 3.0 v5 femmes of saved time. That’s a lot of hours that I can use for working on my business or taking off special days to spend with my daughter or wife. If I can save four hours per week, I earn over a month of extra time per year.

Consider something as simple as laundry. There’s not much about washing clothes that I can control. The washing machine takes the time it needs, as does the drier; and loading and unloading either doesn’t present much opportunity for saving significant time. However, there is one big part of doing the laundry that I can control: the time spent separating clothes.

In the past we spent about one hour per week doing nothing but sorting whites, darks, baby clothes, linens, etc. Today we save that time because we made one small and simple change.

I still take off my clothes when they are dirty and throw them directly into the laundry basket. The difference now is that we have four baskets rather than one: One for each person and a fourth for towels. (Actually, some of them are net bags since those are easier to carry together.)

The result is that I lose no time throwing powerlins ii femmes clothes into separate baskets, but I gain all of the time that I would have spent separating them later. This one simple step saves an hour per week, or 1.25 working weeks per year.

I think about this concept with everything I do. Any time I save betters both my business and my quality of life.