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Posts: 497
Location: Ohio, USA
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As innovative, and perhaps some of us a little absent minded, our family would much rather pursue a project and learn something new than do repetitive endless tasks. Like dishes, floor cleaning, laundry, etc. But this results in a lack of ergonomics and efficiency. Like where are my shoes? and taking 40 min to soak and scrub a pot. We found some methods to deal with this, but still need more. So maybe we can kinda bounce ideas here about how to deal with these things.

The ecologic method of control: we have a dog, also known as fly swatter, protein and starch eater, mouse catcher, and general guardian of the fort. We have spiders and centipedes who scurry around when we aren't looking compensating for any explosion of flies from oops- who left that out? And the centipedes keep the spiders in line.

The zone method: our kitchen is permaculture zoned. In fact, everything is zoned that can be easily zoned on our property. The laundry goes down a chute to a basket next to a sorter that can be wheeled 20ft to the washer and dryer which can then be plopped into a basket.

General ergonomics: the lawns are as small as reasonable and in easily mowable shapes. They are not encouraged to grow directly (no fertilizer or watering) and let grow more than is probably reasonable. The floors are (when removed of clutter) also ergonomically open and simple to move through.

From the cleanliness experts: I'm working on everything having a place that's easy to put it in and we almost always take a little time during the day to clean something. I even move things towards where they belong when I wander through the house. We purge the unnecessary stuff or allocate it as project and even that allocation is limited to keep sanity.

Yet, still it is a mess and seemingly full-time job, which cuts into fun and project time. It's not even that big of a place! What are your methods and innovations? And no, I'm not talking about being at peace with the mess or living without stuff. Shoes and clothes are required for life most places, etc.
 
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I try to systemize regular life tasks in our home.
I'm often met with resistance,for reasons that are never clear.
For example,I have finally gotten my family on board with just keeping laundry in baskets.
Since no one here wants to fold up and put it away, the laundry  can go in your socks and underwear basket, strait out of the dryer, and onto the shelf.
I prefer to sort laundry by owner and clothing type(socks/underwear,pants/skirts/dresses,shirts/blouses,rags,washcloths/towels) before I even put them in the wash.
At this point my family agrees with me in principle,if not in practice.

Since no one wanted to dry the dishes by hand before puting them in the cabinet, so instead of being put in cabinets,they are placed on wire shelving.
They still don't want to do dishes...

So why bother making things easier?
Well they are still easier on me when I do them,for one thing.
Plus, when my kids try to plead ignorance or incompetence,there is a simple step by step method laid out before them.
That way, I'll know I tried every reasonable response before I cull them and start over.πŸ€”
Culling ones own children creates so much paperwork that,it's really worth trying other things first.
Bureaucracy truly is the bane of efficiency πŸ˜‘

I'm still convincing my daughter that it is entirely reasonable to expect she be the one who knows where her own shoes are.
Keep in mind I'm no organizational saint. The sawzall I needed yesterday showed up today in the dirty rags bin,for reasons I am still not clear about,but the blame is on my squarely on my shoulders😏

On that note, I have solved the riddle of how to never lose your car keys.
1. Drive a beater vehicle. As the doorlocks fail, so not fix them.
2. Leave the ignition key in the vehicle at all times. Tie it on a lanyard to the dashboard.

Worried about it being stolen? Don't be. If it's a true beater, no one will want to steal it, and further,no one will suspect it contains anything worth stealing.
This has worked for about 5 years now,knock wood...
 
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What you are really describing is not so much ergonomics, but what the industrialized world calls Lean Manufacturing. Basically it has had different names in all the years I was a welder, but it means the same thing: looking at  a cycle of something...anything...and then eliminating the waste; whether it be materials, labor or steps involved. In the farming world it is called Lean farming and just beginning to hit in a big way.

I embrace it, partly from my industrial background as a railroader, merchant marine, and shipbuilder, but also because I am a minimalist by nature. Part of that is being frugal, but part of it is doing what you can with what you have.

On the railroad I was a safety coordinator and what we found was that we had a 4 inch thick rule book, guarded every darn moving part possible, and yet people were still getting hurt! Why was that...or more importantly, how do we change that. A case in point was a guy that had some scrap steel that started to fall, he tried to catch it, and it broke his wrist. That was a $27,000 hospital bill for a $20 piece of steel...let it fall! Getting that point across was what we needed to do...we needed to change peoples behaviors. So that was what I was, a the Behavior Based Safety Coordinator. In essence I used phycology (spelling?)  to change how people do A,B and C.

I bring this up because to bring lean domestication into our homes, we need to do the same thing. I have four daughters and know yelling at them to pick up their socks is just not going to work. That is because assigning something negative only works when I am constantly on them. Rewarding a human being is a greater reward and nets better results. It is that kind of thinking that gets long term results, and after 21 days of consistent behavior, it turns into a habit. That is ultimately what we are after.

How well does it work? After the first year of behavior based safety I had no budget; if I wanted something I bought it. That was because in the first year focusing on peoples behaviors saved the railroad 12 million dollars over accidents the year before. But the concept applies to anything. If I want my daughters to pick their clothes up everyday, I simply need to reward them for that and thank them when they do it. If they fail two weeks in, we start again until they do it consistently for 21 days. Then it is a habit. But I don't pull the reward...I just apply it to the next thing I want  to change until that becomes a habit. On the railroad we never did more then 3 things because we did not want the people to get overwhelmed. Just 3 things, then as one thing becomes a habit, I pick something else.
 
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Decades ago I used to work in the Defense Commissary Agency, sounds big but is the grocery stores for the military. 

I was part of a process implementing managing aspects from quality management and total quality management.  From a worker standpoint these are bad words but they dont know it as it is about doing more with less and they want blood from a stone.  I also lived in Germany and had German employees and thus I am well versed in the German system.  Their work is like an extension of their home when correct, very different than American work relationships.

Later in life I worked for J Bailey Management (sold long ago) but, I tweaked and altered quality management principals for growth and adopting much of the German management aspects in my work, we truly cared about them.
In so doing I helped save many small to mid size businesses and not for profits, specifically for group homes for the mentally handicapped.  The key is to get the employees to take pride and see their job as an extension of their home.  They will take pride in their work but you have to promote and maintain that type of environment but is easier said than done.

As a result I enjoyed watching great things happen as those businesses and organization refit its management and blossom.  In short, just care for real about those who are part of what you do.  It is not so hard in concept but is alien to most in USA.

I will also add this:
Business plan, business plan, business plan.  Do a "correct and real" business plan.  This is the math and science of your endeavor and if done diligently will illustrate much that you might not of seen before when planning out the business or endeavor at earlier stages.  Banks and other lending institutions now use business plans more as check mark on a sheet required for a loan and they are not well analysed as they care more about your collateral than your competence as a business owner.

I seen somewhere else in a writing here at permies someone said most small farms fail due to divorce but I will add poor business planning is a large part of that equation.


Now regarding "ergonomics of life."
I say live for happiness.  I care not for money and luxury, what I call the shiny.  In my view, live your life true to yourself.  No matter what that is but I hope it is good!  But freedom and happiness does not come from things but from love and respect and this comes from our contributions all the way around.  I do not know what worry is and I am personally at a low spot for me financially (I will be fine) and emotionally devastated (mourning loss of a loved one) but I am still me happy go lucky kind of guy.   I say to live by "your" principals and not by emotion, influence or circumstance.  If you know your self truly than you know what you can and what you cannot accomplish or do and depending on that mentally is how you can find true freedom. 

In my case, I know who and what I am and their is almost no scenario I cant face as I know no matter what happens or what I do, I will be as competent and diligent as I can.  I am not saying I am going to hit home runs every at bat but by being ethical and competent the solution to any problem can be found and implemented but this also does not mean it is easy.  Life did not promise easy, it just got you in the door of physical existence.  Live well by the internal you and you will find freedom and happiness.

For financial aspects, contact a good accountant, a good one will run you money but it is worth it!  Failing competence due to whatever excuse/"justification" will harm you and what you love.  Look at competence as serious as patching a hole in a boat out in the ocean.  Even small leaks can become disasters.

Hope that helps,
Harry Soloman.
 
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Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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We have a somewhat easy solution to the "getting unliked jobs done" problem. We built a couple cabins and have people come live here (sometimes long, sometimes short term). We teach them farming/gardening/heritage skills. In return we have them spend part of their time doing jobs we don't really like. Such as washing dishes and cleaning stalls. Works great. We get things done, they gain experience. And they get out of the city.
 
Harry Soloman
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Jim Fry wrote:We have a somewhat easy solution to the "getting unliked jobs done" problem. We built a couple cabins and have people come live here (sometimes long, sometimes short term). We teach them farming/gardening/heritage skills. In return we have them spend part of their time doing jobs we don't really like. Such as washing dishes and cleaning stalls. Works great. We get things done, they gain experience. And they get out of the city.


Something like a working vacation kind of thing.  I love it and wish you much gratification as I can see that as a quid pro quo and rewarding experience for all.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have thought about trying that approach, goodness knows I have a big enough farm and am doing it all alone. My wife helps some, but with 4 young daughters, it really falls all on me.

Still I always steered clear of that method as I felt it might negatively impact permiculture, and farming in general. I know because I lived it out. Growing up on a dairy farm, I was not high enough in family status to get the good jobs, so I had to do the grunt work labor while others did nothing but drive the equipment. There is some merit in that hard hand labor, but if we as a farming type of community use people to get drudgery type of work done, am I alone in thinking a high percentage of these people trying their hand at farming tire of the hard hand work and think farming is not for them? Myself, farming is enjoyable when there is both, using equipment and hand work.

In some ways growing up doing the hard work only ruined me. As soon as I could get off the farm at 18 years old, I did, and to the farm's loss. Granted I filled in here and there, but had the work load been spread more even between drudgery hand work, and equipment operation, I would have never left. However even now, you seldom see me without being on some sort of equipment. A case in point is a new rock check dam I just built in my new swale. It was a lot of hand work, but for the big rocks my log loader was right there to move the big rocks.

I do not get on-farm labor here granted, but should I, I probably would swing too much in the other direction, always ensuring they were on the equipment type of jobs so that they were encouraged to get into farming, and not be put off by it.

 
Amit Enventres
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In the childcare profession they say make things easy to put away. That's why the book shelves there are always pockets and things are often in little bins on short shelves. In the laundry world, this is the sock and underwear bins, which we do too. They are the few things that get regularly put away because all it requires is aim.

As a minimalist sustainability nut, I tried hard not to get a bunch of plastic organizational pieces. What's the point? I thought. More plastic toxicity in our lives-ew! But, my five years old natural organizer (children fill the niches you leave open), taught me something very important. The poor thing couldn't organize her room because she couldn't put things away herself. She collected any old box when ever possible to sort things, but then there were bins on bins scattered throughout the floor and things she couldn't reach to put away on the ground. It finally got through my think brain how to fix the problem.

I found these really cheap fabric and plastic cabinets (portable closets). They are made like my first little store-bought green house with plastic piping and fabric. I then broke down and got the dollar store bins. Suddenly, the floor appeared in her room. She could reach her dresses and self-manage the organization of her home life. Wow!

Then, the dog, who hates getting wet, decided our dirty laundry in the basement was an adequate toilet when it's raining outside. After all, it had flooded before with a mix of rain and sewage and my daughter did have an accident, so it's got the right scent. Well, with that I implemented the same logic and got a laundry sorter with wheels. I have an old cooler to catch the laundry as it falls out of the laundry chute, then in a few minutes it's sorted and wheel to the machines. A lot better than piles and lugging them across the basement multiple trips. And, the dog can't fit her butt on the pile for relief. The problem is getting the clothes up two flights of stairs, sitting again, and then folding to put away.  I imagine a secondary chute that you pull a lever and it throws the clothes up the wall and files them at the same time... But, I'm thinking this is a day dream. I found some relief from this by getting smaller laundry baskets to sort each family member's clothes into. It's easier than collecting piles and less likely to get stepped on.

Another point to these simple seemingly frivolous purchases is that although they cost some money and do take resources to make, they will last for like, ever and they make it so other resources last longer too. It's similar to the logic of using cloth diapers. It took a lot of resources to get that collection. Lots of acres of cotton and manufacturing stuff. However, they can last for generations, saving more than if we didn't bother to invest.

Yes, I could out source, but I don't like giving others tasks I don't want to do. It seems disrespectful, especially since they are not getting done. I can therefore tell no one else likes doing then either.

I'm sure reducing workload in general will also make these tasks more likely to happen and more enjoyable. After all, folding laundry and chit-chatting is about the same thing as hulling seeds communally or canning together.
 
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About 30 years ago, I had some neighbors that had remodeled their house into a delightful place. Their stairwell went from the second floor down to the basement, and there was a big enough gap in the middle for a pully for their laundry basket/bag. I think they had a laundry chute to get clothes down, and used the pulley to get the clothes back up without carrying the basket up.
 
Amit Enventres
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Mark those are my kind of people!

I've also heard of people having make shift showers in their basement so they can take off their dirty clothes there and get dressed there without schlepping any of it anywhere.

There's also the do the laundry as one load per person trick, but I think that only works in certain situations.

Having reusable clothes that don't need a laundry cycle is another trick, aprons and smocks help keep clothing clean. I don't wear socks all summer so I never need to match a pair.

Folding socks into each other after you take them off is another trick to keep pairs together.

Having clothes that don't wrinkle another.

Another trick I just read said you can clean clothes by steam near a hot shower. Maybe not a full cleaning, but if you have a hot-shower-taker in the house or multiple short hot shower users, you could theoretically just put all your dirty clothes that wrinkle on hangers in the bathroom and stream them clean. I'd be nervous of this from highly chlorinated tap water because of breathing the chlorine vapor, but an interesting proposition for those office folk in wet climates. This may also have potential in some green houses during summer.

Another trick may be to throw the hanger down the laundry chute when you go to wear a garment so you can pull out and hang it again immediately to avoid wrinkles. Which means having a ladder or shower rod in proximity of the dryer is helpful to hang the cleaned clothes until they are dry or ready to move to their next location.

Having the laundry stuff in close proximity to the closet is great, when you have that luxury. Water and drain access might make that impossible in some situations.

 
Amit Enventres
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Here's an idea in infancy by LG. I can see long term potential here with refinement. It's low water use and requires no folding or schlepping.

http://www.businessinsider.com/lg-styler-home-dry-cleaning-closet-2016-12

Simple idea. Steamer in waterproof box with hangers.
 
Mark Tudor
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If you get milk that has a plastic ring when you remove the cap, save that ring and use one for each pair of socks. Take if off and leave on the dresser, then put it back on the dirty socks and wash/dry them with it on. No need to sort socks again.

The Tightwad Gazette had that one in it plus hundreds of other time/money savers.
 
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Amit Enventres wrote:What are your methods and innovations?

Dishes
When designing the house instead of putting in a single, normal-sized dishwasher (that was usually only 40% full) we installed two under-counter DishDrawers (DD) on either side of the (double-bowl, double-drainer) sink.  All of the daily dishes go into one DD that then goes through its cycle in the evening.  When it finishes we just crack open the drawer and leave it.  We don't unload.  We don't put dishes away.  By the next morning everything has dried.  When we want something we get it out of the first DD, use it, and then stick it straight into the second DD.  Continue through breakfast, lunch and tea... by which time the first DD is pretty-much empty and the second DD is full of dirty dishes.  Then that one goes through its cycle in the evening.  The next day dishes move from the second DD back to the first, and so-on.

Having DDs β€” which are about 60% the size of a normal dishwasher β€” means that they are better-sized for the amount of dishes that we use and thus all the detergent, water and energy is being used more efficiently.  Having DDs means there is less bending because the drawers are both just under the counter (particularly nice for older folk like us, or for those with back problems).  Having two of them means we just move dishes from one to the other, and eliminate the drying, unloading and putting-away steps entirely.  Having two means that when the inevitable does happen, and one fails, we'll still have one that works because we have designed redundancy into our system.  Having two identical DDs means that when one eventually fails completely, it can be cannibalised for parts to keep the other one running for as long as possible.  Having two means that the duty cycle has been halved, so we should expect to be able go twice the warranty period before having any issues at all.  Having two means that when you've produced an unusual amount of dishes in a short period of time, you can press both into service for more throughput than a normal, full-sized dishwasher.  Having two also means that if you've got a really dirty pot, say, that would benefit from a different type of cycle (e.g. one with a hot pre-wash and long soak) you can use one DD for that and the other DD can be on your normal cycle with the rest of your (normal) dishes.  Lots of advantages to doubling up on DishDrawers.

As for washing dishes themselves, we found that 'eco' cycles used colder water that took much, much longer to dry... and often plastics would still be wet the next day and need drying.  Rinse aid improved things immensely.  Using the shorter (hotter) cycle eliminated the nuisance completely.  No more wet dishes.  Manual drying is totally unnecessary.  Further, if solar power is heating all of your hot water, you may as well use the hotter cycle β€” the 'eco' cycle is pointless in that situation.

Clothes
One hamper for adults.  One hamper per child β€” stored in their room.  If a child is over the age of about 6 they are tall enough and smart enough to learn how to do their own clothes.  Wash, dry, fold, put away β€” the lot.  If they are lazy, don't wash their clothes, and go to school in dirty clothes, the other kids will tease them, call them 'stinky', and they will come home to you crying ... at which point they are totally receptive to a refresher on the process.

Kids and chores in general
Let your children learn life skills by shouldering their fair share of household chores β€” which are relatively risk-free β€” whilst you focus on the more demanding, complex and dangerous tasks that move the family forward.

Children should be given nothing but love and affection for free.  Everything else should be earned.  The earlier they learn to value their time and barter with others, the better prepared they will be for the real world.

If you have multiple children, they will quickly work out the fastest and easiest way of doing chores, and also will develop a black economy where one child does the chores of another in exchange for something else (like, for example, one does the clothes in exchange for the other mowing the lawn... because, of course, you have them mowing that as well).

Acting as a child's personal slave for 18 years will have no net positive outcome for either of you.

Agricultural and mechanical mess
If you don't allow dirt to enter the house, you don't need to expend nearly as much time and effort sweeping/washing floors, cleaning seats, knobs and handles, or dusting.

Drawing inspiration from Finland's old homesteads, we designed what some may call a 'mud' or 'muck' room as the back entrance into our house.  This is also where the laundry is.  This room also has a direct connection to a bathroom.

You can spend all day outside, get filthy, come inside, hang your coats and hats up on hooks, sit down on a nice wide bench, take your boots off and put them under the bench, strip off the rest of your dirty clothes and put them straight into the (appropriate) hamper, or washing machine, or trough (if they need a soak), and then walk straight into the bathroom for a shower.  By the time you set foot in the house proper, you're squeaky clean.

Under the back verandah we have a boot-cleaning station (basically four stiff brushes screwed to a frame) that sits under a tap so that you can (turn the tap on then) slide your boots between the brushes and they will scrape/wash away the muck from not only the bottom, but the sides, tip and heel of your boots as well β€” all whilst standing upright and not requiring your hands to do anything at all except steady yourself.  Super, super useful in winter when you've been in areas with clay, or at all times of the year when you've been trudging through poo of various sorts out in the fields and pens.  Naturally, the run-off from this is directed to plants that thrive on the nutrients.

The shed has its own trough for cleaning up in, so that greases, fluxes, cleaning agents, oxidised metals, paints and other sorts of nasty stuff doesn't get anywhere near the house.  None of the discharge from this goes to the worm farm or anywhere near garden beds.

We also have a couple of camping showers that can be strung up practically anywhere.  Especially handy during summer when you're doing earthmoving or grass-mowing and you get absolutely covered in sweat, dust, dirt and organic fines.  10L of water in a black plastic bag that heats up during the day will give you a brilliant, gravity-fed shower at the end of it.  You can head back to the house feeling (and acting) human and 99% of all the mess (and attitude) stays out in the field where it belongs.  If you've got a 12V camping shower, you can power it from your vehicle, dump the suction hose into the water supply for a stock trough, and have a quick shower that way.

Basically, keep the mess as far away from the house as possible and you'll waste less time cleaning it.


A whole lot of other ways, but that'll do for now methinks.
 
Amit Enventres
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I love the idea of the mud room. The most brilliant one I saw had a small corner sink and a rag. You'd come in, off the boots and jacket, rinse the hands and face, and then walk in the house. I am the guiltiest at tracking mud, dog comes second. My husband laughs and says it's one thing he loves about me πŸ’•. However, I am usually in charge of clean up. Half the problem is I have my tools in atleast 3 places in the house and 3 places out of the house. Plus, to get to a sink to clean the freshly pulled potatoes, I have to tromps half way through the house and there's no way to empty my hands or quickly clean my shoes or bare feet. And then the produce cleaning takes place inside, which is a mess and a half that should be outside. A mud room with a sink and all my tools would be a big upgrade in the trompsy mess. Unfortunately, trompsy mess only is about 2% of what makes our floor dirty. Using containers and easy put away will clear up 50% or more. Not having carpet in an eating area will solve another 20% or so. The remaining 28% is partly: "well, it's already a mess, so who cares if I leave this here?" And then dog debris. Maybe a small robot could solve the hair and food floor cleaning (once cleanable). If the robot is low powered, then it could be a solar or wind to electrical thing. I've heard of people having a floor they could flood and drain to clean. I don't think I'd trust that in this house, but I'm not to that level yet.
 
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