Saturday, August 3, 2013

Show and Tell Saturday: Productivity

For today's Show and Tell Saturday post I have something slightly different from our normal Show and Tell posts for you. I don't have one big project that I did for's a series of small projects, tips, and methods. Yesterday (Friday) was the first day I have had at home for a while with all my running around. The house was in desperate need of a slick up. There's organizing to do to get ready for Merle in 3 months. Dishes were stacked up. Now that the rains have finally come, the yard needs some care and the garden needs some de-weeding. There was a huge list of things that needed to be done, and I just didn't want to face it. There are projects I want to do, blankets I want to finish sewing/crocheting, meals I want to cook, books I want to read, and pictures I want to take. I couldn't justify blowing off the house and yard to do fun things, but I didn't want to spend my whole day cleaning either. So I decided to try out something I remember my mom doing with us as kids. She would set the timer for 15 minutes and we'd have to be busy working for the entire 15 minutes. After the 15 work minutes were up we got a reward 15-20 minutes. We could read, watch TV, play, or do whatever we wanted in that time. When the reward time was up, the timer was set again and we were all busy working for another 15 minutes. This seemed like something I could face. It would get me cleaning, but I could also do some of these smaller projects I want to do. I did this yesterday starting at 11 am and kept up until 5 (when I had to get ready to drive some of my girls from church to a big dance in the "neighboring" town). I'm still working on this today, but I thought I'd show you what I got done yesterday and how this worked. It really helped me to stay productive and motivated.

First, I started off with my Cleaning Soundtrack. This is a playlist I have on Windows Media Player that I only turn on when I'm cleaning. This helps me jump start my brain into cleaning mode. The songs are all upbeat and fun and help me to feel happier while I clean. You can find that list by clicking here

Once I got my music going I jumped in. I didn't set a specific time period for my reward times, but I tried to keep them around 15-20 minutes. Depending on what I did some were shorter and some were longer. I did keep my working minutes to 15 though. You really can get a lot more done in 15 minutes than you'd think. For example, here's how a portion of my day went:

15 Work Minutes: Cleaned off Kitchen counters and stacked dishes. Put all shoes by the front door in closet. Started a load of laundry. Cleaned off the table. Straightened bathroom counter. 

Reward Time: Recovered and decorated a small notebook I had laying around to be our Gift Log for Merle (we still haven't come up with a name for him, but we're not too will come. I think we'll call him Merle online though even after he's born).
The nice camera has a dead battery, so you get the not so nice camera photo...but you get the picture.
It's brown...not purplish-reddish-brown...and the stickers are a light blue. Again, cheapo camera. Next time I'll get a better point and shoot and not the cheapest one. 
Work of art? No. Functional and less girly? Yes. Now I have somewhere to keep track of things we receive for Merle and I can get Thank You cards lined up easier.

15 Work Minutes: Switched Laundry. Folded huge pile of clothes at the foot of the bed. 
Okay, I can't resist doing a small infomercial here (of my own free will and volition...not sponsored in any way shape or form). I bought a new laundry hamper a few months ago and it has made laundry so much easier. That sounds dumb, I know. Before we just had one large plastic hamper that we stuffed everything into/around. When laundry time came we had to pull everything out of the hamper and sort it into piles (whites/colors/jeans/towels) and then those dirty piles sat around for a while until they got done. In the process of hauling out dirty piles and bringing in clean piles sometimes piles got mixed up and we'd have clean and dirty clothes all together again and we'd have to sort it out (smell checks, ew). While perusing Walmart one day I found this hamper and bought it (I think I bought it for around $25...which seemed crazy at the time, but it's totally worth it in my books):
Now at the end of the day our clothes go into the designated bag (we do jeans, whites, colors, and towels). The bags looked small at first, but they hold just the right amount for a load of laundry. The bags come off the frame easy so I just haul it down the hall, dump it in the washer, and haul the empty bag back. No sorting through stinky clothes. No piles of dirty clothes on the floor. Easy hauling. And it makes it so easy to see when it's time to do a load (since we fill up some bags faster than others). I feel a little dumb for being so excited about a laundry hamper, but this one has helped us out a ton! Okay, infomercial done. 

Reward Time: Did a round on a blanket I'm crocheting:

15 Work Minutes: Restarted the dryer (ours takes two cycles to dry a load). Edited pictures (I really hate editing pictures, so I knew I wouldn't choose to do that during my reward minutes so I did it during my work minutes).

Reward Time: Started this post.

15 Work Minutes: Switched laundry. Folded Laundry. Put away laundry.

Reward Time: Typed up my Cleaning Soundtrack and started linking songs to the Amazon MP3 database.

30 Work Minutes: (I found that as I went along I wanted the 15 minutes of work time to last longer. So I gave myself a double work period before a break)  2 sink-fulls of dishes. Put away laundry. Sorted through my closet and dresser to pull out my "normal" clothes and replace with "maternity" clothes. I don't have room for 2 different wardrobes to hang up at the same time, so I came up with a method that is working so far. I have a box in the corner of our room behind the recliner where I put my normal clothes when they quit fitting or when I want to put a favorite article away so I'm sure I'm not tempted to wear it too long and stretch it out. This way I clear out space in my closet and drawers for the maternity clothes, and then I'm not staring at my normal clothes and wishing I could still wear them. Out of sight, somewhat out of mind? That's the idea at least. Then when I'm ready to pull the box back out it'll be like Christmas in (insert month I fit back in them here). Luckily right when we found out I was pregnant I went through my wardrobe and cleared out the items I hadn't worn in a while and didn't want, so I'm not storing a bunch of things I'll never wear again in that box.

Reward Time: Ate a handful of White Chocolate Chips from the bag in the freezer...sssshhhhhhh, don't tell I snitched some (it's reward time, right?!) while I went through this past year's projects and photos to start picking out County Fair possibilities (yet another use for Pinterest! I can pin all my favorites and have them all in one place to go through for later when it comes time to narrow them down to the ones I want to enter). If you've never participated in your county's County Fair, you should! It's never too late. Don't enter with the point of trying to win. Just enter to enter! Enter to give you motivation to make/bake something. It's a lot of fun and such a good American Tradition! 

15 Work Minutes: I worked on our bathroom, and tested this pin:

 I'm not going to lie...I didn't think it'd work, sounded fishy to me. I was pretty sure it wasn't going to scour off the hard water ring magically, and I half expected a toilet volcano of foam. But it sounded like a simple one to try. If it worked, great! If it didn't, Pinstrosity fodder!

Well, I could show you before and after pictures...but I won't. I'll post my face all over with goofy expressions or double chins...but posting a picture of my toilet just seems like crossing some sort of social line that I'm not ready for (and it's not even a disgusting toilet). So I found someone else who posted a picture of their toilet and its hard water ring. This is pretty much what my toilet looked like before AND after the "treatment":
I didn't have the toilet volcano like I worried about...but it didn't do anything about the hard water ring at the same time (and I tried scrubbing it with the brush again after the bubbles died down). So don't bother with that pin, it's a dud. I knew it was too easy. But now my toilet is super clean...bacterially speaking at least. I'm gonna just have to buckle down and get a pumice stone or a drywall screen (as the site hosting the above toilet picture suggests and shows). I'm calling it a GCT Level 4 as it didn't do what the pin said it would at all, but it wasn't a disaster...just a pin that doesn't work.

So there you have it. My super exciting day yesterday. I'm sure you're all jealous of how much fun I had. Okay, I really wasn't a bad day, and I did get a lot done. Hopefully today will be just as productive (or more so) than yesterday. What do you do to get motivated to stay busy during the day?


  1. I know this was not the point of your post at all, but omg I want that hamper too! You are not crazy for being excited about it. We're still using the mesh pop-up one I bought for college. It's ripped in a couple places, the handles aren't strong enough to carry it by, and the whole thing flops over if you put clothes in at the wrong angle.

    1. I just had to throw out another one of those mesh hampers yesterday! My husband and I got married in grad school, and we lived on campus because he worked for housing. So we lived in a teeny tiny residence hall director's apartment in a dorm as "old" married folks (we were 24). It had so many rips from our days of overfilling it and dragging it up and down flights of stairs (because we couldn't lift it because, like you said, the handles aren't strong). Oh, and our cats liked to use it, when it was empty, as a tent or playhouse. I need new hampers, too...

  2. I totally hear you on the laundry! My husband and I made Ana White's laundry dresser a few months ago (, and it has pretty much changed my life. No more piles of clothes lying all over the place, and laundry's in the machine in 30 seconds, no sorting required.

  3. I saw that pin for the toilet and thought about using it yesterday. Our toilet bowl had this stain that I was previously u8nable to get out. ...On a whim, I tried out this stainless steel and porcelain cleaner we had on hand. (It's called Bartender's Friend, or something similar.) It worked like magic! I've since discovered that it's really good at removing rust deposits as well.

    1. Barkeepers Friend. I use it for EVERYTHING! It's truly the "magic" cleaner. It's the only thing that will get our stovetop clean.

  4. I'm totally going to try this 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off plan today while we clean!

  5. Kaboom. I've had rings like this, and the right Kaboom product will take them out. I've long since learned if you want to save your elbows, you should just go with the most hardcore product you can find.

    Also, you should check out the Pomodoro method! That's what I use, and it's very similar to what you're doing.

  6. Totally awesome pin for getting the hard water stains off! We live in southern AZ and I'm going to the store this afternoon to get screen and clean my toilets!

  7. My parents have a hamper similar to that one, they got theirs at Ikea though and it really is a wonderful thing. :D We're in the midst of packing to move (while I'm 7 months pregnant as well, so fun times there.) right now and I think the 15 mins on 15 mins off will work wonders to keep me motivated and not exhaust myself too quickly.

  8. What a productive day. I am going to try that. I use a pumice stone for the toilet ring. It works great and it won't scratch the bowl.

  9. If you drink soft drinks pour some leftover coke in your toilet and let it sit for an hour or so....flush and use the cleaning brush and you will be AMAZED at the difference....especially in that little nook in the bottom that's hard to clean!

  10. My kids "forgot" to clean their toilet for 4 months and I had to try to fix the mess. After trying the conventional methods it was mostly clean. I got the last, worst of it out with fine grit sandpaper. I put on some rubber gloves and went to town. 30 minutes later it looked perfect again. I now make sure to check their bathroom regularly LOL!

  11. You can try dissolving a few vitamin C tablets in your toilet (over night or while you're gone for the day.) Sounds crazy, but it worked on our toilet stains!

  12. The Works toilet cleaner (about $1.25 at Walmart) works great for stains and hard water.

  13. I read somewhere that vinegar and baking soda, combined, cancel each other out. What you're left with is essentially saltwater, which doesn't clean much of anything. This site has some GREAT tips for DIY cleaners:

  14. Funny story: I saw that hamper a few days after reading this post. Not in Walmart, since I live in South Africa, but in a store called Game, that was bought by Massmart last year. If we ever decide to replace our home-made wooden laundry bin I'll get one of those :)

  15. In my last place we had a hard water ring that would NOT come off. The thing is you can sometimes get the stain off, but the actual ring is still there because of mineral build-up. What worked for us finally was a pumice stone - which you can get at the dollar store or from any beauty department! If the stone is wet, and the bowl is wet, the stone will gently grind off the mineral build-up without scratching the porcelain. Just make sure you set that thing aside and don't accidentally use it for normal beauty purposes afterward!


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