It keeps getting ahead of me. Blame it on ‘tis-the-season. Soon I will launch a new campaign, a new-old way of dealing with an old-new problem.
Way back in My Other Life, I coped with a full diaper pail, a fixture in the bathroom for ten years. That’s when I began to say “Today is not forever, it just feels like it”. You may have heard me say/write that. That’s when I read Management in the Home (Doddd,Mead & Company, 1959) by Lillian Gilbreth (1872-1972), the American industrral engineer who with her husband wrote Cheaper by the Dozen (made into a movie, 1952) about raising all those children and still having a life (as they say), thanks to her expertise. Even then I was trying to find enough time and energy to write in my spare time of which I had none. I developed habits then that served me well. I still use Gilbreth’s methods - and Julia Child’s - of time and motion in the kitchen and elsewhere, (though I have never mastered the discipline of mending). I took the idea of hanging a lot of kitchen tools in plain sight and within easy reach from Child’s husband, Paul, and from Gilbreth of duplicating frequently used items in another adjacent area.
I had my own little routines and codes. One I still remember: BDT. I had mastered (?) the art of lists by then and I tried to condense the daily chores to codes, to be dealt with asap so I could get on with the rest of the daily demands. So BDT was short for Beds, Dishes, Tidy. This was before dishwashers - not before dishwashers but before I had a dishwasher - and before Betty Friedan (The Feminist Mystique, 1953) pointed out that anyone over the age of 6 could make a bed. My rule with my husband became last-one-out-of-bed makes it. Once the basics were done I could get on with the rest of the daily, weekly, inexorable chores. I won’t go into any more detail.
One day when I was walking around the house taking notes on where I could apply Gilbreth’s directives, my friend Judy dropped in and looked at me in shock (?) when I explained what I was doing.
“You mean” she said,” you are using your spare time to look for ways to discover how you can develop spare time?”
“And energy,” I added.
She shook her head in wonder.
Still looking after all these years.