Exercise at home, organize the kitchen, make a few lists


Several readers have requested suggestions for streamlining life at home because they work outside the home or as full-time mothers. Several other readers have called with time-saving techniques that might help.

Linda Richards of Baltimore is a public relations director for Landmark Homes. She and her husband met working out at a health club and continue to share a passion for exercise. But their five trips weekly to the health club were taking up too much time. "So we put a gym in our home. We've eliminated the drive time -- and we don't waste time waiting in line to use the equipment. We also put a TV in the workout room so we can watch the news while exercising."

Dale Gibson, of Phoenix, designs efficient spaces for commercial and residential use. Mr. Gibson says time spent organizing the kitchen can really pay off in the amount of time saved using the kitchen.

"It definitely helps to put things at the point of use," he says. "If you're going to wash dishes, obviously where you stack them after they're dry should be either right above or beside the dishwasher or sink. You have to take into consideration whether you're a right- or left-handed person, too."

And this is from Time Saver's kitchen: Organize a "coffee station." Store and place all the paraphernalia needed to make either brewed or instant coffee -- or tea -- in the same area. Even if the coffee maker (or microwave for instant coffee) is situated under or next to a cabinet where dishes are stored, clear out a space in that cabinet for filters, jars, coffee beans, sugar, etc. Put mugs or cups and saucers above or beside the supplies.

Attorney Alice Ike of Baltimore says she may take some professional flak as a result of sharing her personal time-saving tip: "When I'm at really boring meetings at work, I make lists, lists of things I'm going to take on vacation, errands I have to run, groceries, whatever. I also operate with lists for leisure activities so that on Saturdays, I know all the things I need to do for the weekend and then number them from one to whatever so I can see where I'm going and what I need to do next."

Suzan Powell lives in Baltimore and works as a credit representative for a large equipment dealer. Like many single people, she has an active telephone life, but says some friends get a little long-winded. "So I return their calls during the day when I know they're at work so I can leave a succinct message for them." They get the information they need and she doesn't get caught up in a long conversation when time is short.

As any admirably organized person would do, Ms. Powell made a list of the many other ways she makes time work for her.

* "I'm a big fan of doing several things at the same time. I never just watch TV. I'm always doing something else at the same time like mending, reading something light, baking, cooking, exercising. And I never watch the commercials. I jump up and do something while they're on. I can wash a few dishes or change the cat litter. I also do laundry while cleaning the house."

* "I go to gas stations where I can insert my gas credit cards at the pump. Then I don't have to go inside and stand in line to pay." She also banks by ATM card only. "I haven't been inside a bank in two years.

* "A cordless phone is also wonderful. I try not to let people know I'm doing other things while talking, but I can do lots of things quietly with one hand while talking."

* To avoid frustration and wasting time, Ms. Powell carries something to read with her wherever she goes. "If I get stuck in line somewhere, I can read. I can keep caught up that way."

* "And I crank out a generic letter on the computer about once a month and then customize each one. This saves me time and money on telephone calls."

While some might find that practice a bit too impersonal, Ms. Powell says, "The people I send them to say they'd rather read something generic than nothing at all."


Have you developed a time-saving technique you think could help others? We'd like to hear about it. We will share reader tips and offer some solutions to your professional, home or leisure time-management problems. Please leave your name, city of residence and daytime phone number when you call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6220 after you hear the greeting.

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