I am a mom of two little ones (under 3) and lately life has been getting the better of me. My house is never as clean as I want it to be, my time is always too short, and I often feel like I am not taking the opportunities I do have to get a little something done. And a little something is about all I seem to be able to manage between the diaper changes and the sprints to the potty; the mediating of endless, shall we say, “disagreements over possession;” and still feeble attempts to “nap when they nap.” I am also trying to establish a routine of getting up earlier than both my girls (and my husband) to take time in the quiet morning to get ready for my day. But I need motivation: COFFEE!
I was thinking one morning about the things I do while my coffee is brewing and realized that the short span of time it takes for water to almost boil, then percolate through my coffee machine, to create the substance of which my mornings are made complete is prime time real estate. I could get a couple of little things done, or one medium sized thing in that interval! This would solve some of my, “When am I going to have time to get that done?” problems.
So, I started up my coffee maker one morning and timed the hands-off preparation of one pot. I make around 6 cups each morning (so half a pot of coffee). It takes 7 minutes. And then I sat down and drew up this list of things 28 things you can get done in 7 minutes. I had only one requirement: these tasks would have to be things that would truly help me to cross off one thing from my endless to-do list. No internet-required, no “meditating on the couch” aka snoozing for another 7 minutes.
And then I started thinking that this list may help other homemakers that are struggling to get the little things done in the midst of getting all the big things done.
So, here is my list of Coffee-Brewing Tasks (don’t worry they don’t require too much not-yet caffeinated brain-power):
- Wash out the kitchen sink – Take a few minutes to clean out the sink and put some baking soda down the drain to deodorize it.
- Empty the dishwasher – If you run the dishes at night (like I often do), the early morning is a perfect opportunity to put them away. That way you can add dishes to the dishwasher throughout the day, making your day easier to manage and your sink empty at dinner time.
- Clean out the fridge – I don’t mean the kind of clean out your fridge where you take the bins out and scrub them in the sink, I just mean a quick going over of the fridge, pulling out and discarding less-than prime food items, half drunk-juice cups, that half a cookie your little one asked you to save (you know the normal stuff).
- Sort your laundry according to wash loads – separating the whites from the colors and the towels from the sheets really only takes a few minutes, even if your mound is starting to contemplate reaching the ceiling.
- Start a load of laundry – This is the easiest way to get your laundry routine started early in the day. By 10 AM you can have 2 loads of laundry done (maybe even folded) if you start first thing and stay on top of it.
- Drink a glass of water – I need to do this one more often! It is a way to get energized, wake up your body and get the hydration flowing.
- Tidy up the powder bath – Since it is the powder bath, this should really not take to long. Clear the counters of clutter, rinse out the sink and wipe down the counter. Make sure you have adequate paper and that the towels have been changed in the last few weeks.
- Sweep the entryway or front porch – Take a moment to look outside (enjoy the sunrise, if you are up that early) and quickly get the entry point of your home tidy. Potential visitors will have to wait to see the chaos until they are fully inside the house.
- Stretch – As I get older, I really need this one. I am trying to take a few minutes to stretch with some stretches my chiropractor taught me. They really help me get loose for the day.
- Sort the mail – I try to do this when it comes in the house, but sometimes it is impossible. I quickly go through all the unsorted mail, discarding the envelopes into the recycle bin and putting bills in our to-be paid cubby, and junk mail into the shred pile.
- Scan a magazine for interesting articles – I tear out interesting articles and toss the rest of the magazine into the recycle bin. I take the time later to read them when I have a moment.
- Take out the trash and recycling. Another quick moment outside may be just the thing you need to start your morning feeling refreshed and ready to go.
- Make a bowl of oatmeal – I often look up hours after I have been awake to realize, I haven’t eaten anything yet. Taking the time to make a quick breakfast for me to enjoy with my morning coffee is worth it for my energy level and my metabolism.
- Check your voicemail – You know that OLD invention, barely used anymore? Well, I have a tendency to never check it. I have had people tell me, I don’t leave a message on your voicemail because I know you won’t hear it. Ack! I need to take a few minutes to listen every now and then, I might hear something important!
- Pay a bill or two – It only takes a minute to write a check and get a bill ready for mailing.
- Make a to-do list for the day – Write down three things you would like to accomplish today by the time your head hits the pillow tonight. Post it somewhere you can see it later in the day.
- Memorize a Bible verse – I am constantly writing down verses I would like to memorize, when I get to it. Take a few minutes and focus on memorizing the verse. Say it out loud, write it down again, create hand signals to remember it.
- Dust your living room – Unless your living room is tchotcke-central, it will likely only take a few minutes to run a duster over the hard surfaces. You can save the vacuuming for later in the day, when the rest of your family is awake.
- Make your bed – Many debate the worth of this chore, but you must admit that it makes your home feel cleaner when you walk into a bedroom with a neat bead.
- Check your Instagram feed – Start your day with a smile and a quick visual history of what your friends have been up to lately. You likely won’t have the time the rest of the day!
- Prep lunches for your loved ones. My husband likes to take a homemade lunch and we (the girls and I) eat at home most days. Taking a few minutes to get items prepped and ready to go keeps everybody happy midday.
- Write a note to a loved one. I don’t do this as often as I would like! Taking the time to jot down a note of love, of thanks, of congratulation and mailing it off first thing in the morning can keep you more connected with those you love.
- Fold a basket of laundry. If you are like me, you have a load of clean laundry in the dryer, right now! Go grab it and fold it. Extra points if you are able to put it away before the coffee is done.
- Put fresh towels in the bathroom – Take out the soiled towels and put in fresh towels. Don’t you feel accomplished already?
- Light a scented candle or put on a pot of potpourri – Scent is a great way to set your mood for the day. Pick a scent that makes your home feel cozy to you. My latest favorite is my Citrus-Rosemary Home Scent.
- Start a slow-cooker dinner. Just gathering together all the ingredients for your meal can save you time later in the day. If your recipe and slow-cooker allow, go ahead and put it together. I always feel like I am getting away with something when I am playing with my kids all day and still have dinner ready at the right time.
- Set out the items your kids use for breakfast – Having everything (cups, bowls, cereal, fruit, etc.) in one place will prevent the gentle yet forceful prodding of your 16 month old at breakfast time.
- Grease the squeaky hinges. I told myself for months that the creaky cabinet door where I store my coffee accoutrements needed some grease, months. Then, one morning I got out the silicone and went around to all the doors in my house. It took 5 minutes. That’s not much time for months of peace and quiet.
So, there you have it, a month’s worth of simple tasks to do while the coffee is brewing. It is amazing how much freer I feel when I accomplish one or more of these things before I have really even started my day.
It gives me hope for the rest of the day!