We had a systems failure this week.
Because we are in the middle of converting the office to a bedroom (aka no more desk), and because my old routines no longer apply, my system for dealing with our finances no longer works.
And so I forgot to pay a bill on time for the first time in years.
I’m a fan of creating systems. Systems make life easier and who doesn’t want to make life easier.
A system is a way of organising both your environment and the way you do things (procedures) to help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. Most systems usually include physical organisation (think filing or storage, for instance) and time and task management (routines, schedules, to-do lists).
While that sounds a little full on, having functioning systems helps you to run a household smoothly, which in turn saves you time, money and stress. It is when life is at it’s busiest that you benefit most from good systems.
Here are some examples of household systems.
Bill payment system
A bill payment system ensures that bills are paid on time avoiding late fees.
Some people like to pre-pay bills, others prefer an automatic debit, I like to use Google Calendar to remind me when to pay the bills. I’m thinking of setting up automatically scheduled payments when bills arrive. Do what works for you.
Menu planning makes preparing meals day after day that much easier. It helps reduce waste, saving you money. It allows you to explore new recipes and ensure that you have the ingredients on hand and you can plan meals in the following days to use up any special ingredients used in new recipes. And it helps you to avoid takeaway.
While a menu plan tells you what you’re going to eat on a given day, it doesn’t tell you when you’re going to prepare and cook that meal. A meal preparation routine helps you to remember to defrost meat before it’s needed and allows you to prepare food ahead to make evenings less stressful.
The other week I wrote on my personal Facebook page “The hours and the days might seem long, but sheet washing day comes round awfully quick.” To which several friends replied: “You have a sheet washing day?!”
Cleaning routines help you keep your house clean and comfortable with less stress, less thought, less effort and in less time. And really, who wants to spend more time cleaning?!
But wait, there’s more.
Not only does does a minimum level of cleanliness reduce illness and pest invasion, a tidy home can improve your mood.
Use a cleaning routine to spend more time enjoying your clean home and less time actually cleaning it.
Routine house and car maintenance
Beyond the regular cleaning jobs, there’s the household maintenance tasks that extend the life of your house and it’s contents, saving you repair and replacement costs.
Regular maintenance can also improve the efficiency of things like cars and air conditioners, saving you money on running costs.
But when was the last time you cleared the gutters, washed the curtains or checked for termites?
You probably record car servicing in the car’s log book. As with a car, it’s a good idea to have a schedule or log book for your home to keep track of maintenance tasks.
A home management binder is great for keeping track of regular maintenance as well as all your other household systems.
If you’re new to systems, schedules and routines, then this is the most important area to start with, even though I’ve left it to last. If you’re not fit, healthy and happy then everything else will be a struggle. Illness costs you both directly by paying for medication and doctors and indirectly through loss of productivity.
Personal care systems can include healthy eating plans, exercise plans, scheduling relaxation and ‘me’ time, maintaining regular personal grooming, and attending to personal and spiritual growth.
- It takes time to create working systems. Sometimes it’s just quicker to blunder along in our old habits than to set aside time to create a better functioning system. However, the time you spend up front will save you hours of hassle later.
- A system works best if it’s uniquely tailored to your individual circumstances. While it is great to get inspiration from the web, you will still need to create systems that suit you.
- Life isn’t static, circumstances change and when they do, systems that have worked well for you may no longer do so.
If you’re wanting to take a little stress out of doing all the things you have to do to maintain the house, spend some time creating systems that make the jobs you have to do quicker and easier.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.