Practical Time Savers

Linen pants always need pressing after washing.  I ironed these straight out of the washer.  The process went very quickly and the pants looked great.

Linen pants always need pressing after washing.  I ironed these straight out of the washer.  The process went very quickly and the pants looked great.

Looking to save time ironing?  Frankly, I rarely iron.  I find creative ways to avoid it as I don’t enjoy it.  When clothes are absolutely screaming for a pressing, I opt for the quickest way to zip through the process.

Try this:  Iron your clothes while they are still damp.  You can try straight out of the washer.  If they are too wet, run them through the dryer for a few minutes or hang on the line until mostly dry.  Face it, many times we end up spraying wrinkled clothes with water or steam to speed up the process so why wait until they are fully dry? 

After ironing, immediately place on a hanger which will keep the clothes wrinkle-free and save you time after you have finished with the entire “to be ironed” pile.


Traffic Snarl Warning

If you are looking to save time and hassle this summer, make note of the following major Portland area disruptions.   Road construction projects are slated to begin today, July 9, 2018 on I-5, and the I-5/I-84 interchange.  Oregon Department of Transportation is projecting 24-hour closures for extended periods during July and August.  They are warning drivers to expect significant congestion and severe delays.  Certainly you can imagine how this will impact the entire metro area especially during rush hour.  Plan accordingly if you are heading across town to the airport and consider alternate routes.  Note these specific closure details:

Plan alternate routes to avoid this mess

Plan alternate routes to avoid this mess

  • I-5 southbound ramp to I-84 eastbound ramp will be closed starting July 8 at 10 p.m. until July 23 at 5 a.m.

  • I-5 southbound full closure between Fremont and Marquam Bridges will be closed starting July 13 at 10 p.m. until July 16 at 5 a.m. and July 20 at 10 p.m. until July 23 at 5 a.m.

  • I-84 westbound to I-5 northbound ramp will be closed starting July 25 at 10 p.m. until August 6 at 5 a.m.

  • I-5 northbound full closure between Marquam and Fremont Bridges will be closed starting July 27 at 10 p.m. until July 30 at 5 a.m. and August 3 at 10 p.m. until August 6 at 5 a.m.

  • I-84 westbound to I-5 southbound ramp will be closed starting August 17 at 10 p.m. until August 27 at 5 a.m.

Click here for additional information on summer road construction projects.

Create a Distraction Free Zone

You are in the groove.  Finally making progress on that project you have been meaning to tackle for weeks.  The ideas are gelling, the words are flowing, then ding.  A sound emanates from your laptop and a pop-up flashes across your screen.  Your eyes dart just for an instant.  Yet bam, you are now officially out of the zone.  The words are no longer under your fingertips and the ideas evaporated as fast as they formed.

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In a University of California, Irvine study, Informatics Professor Gloria Mark, researcher of workplace distraction, learned that while a typical office worker performs approximately "11 minutes between interruptions, it takes nearly 25 minutes to recover from the interruption" to return to the task at hand.  Mark also noted that "the interruptions caused participants to report significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort and pressure".

Further researchers have found that constant distractions are resulting in poorer performance.  Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson, authors of "The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success" in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon designed an experiment to measure cognitive variations as a result of disruptions.  Out of three groups comprised of 136 participants taking a test, those distracted or expecting an interruption performed worse than those in the control group who completed the exam unimpeded.

So not only is the incessant beeping and blipping from emails, social media alerts, phone calls, and texts causing you to lose valuable time, your work quality potentially suffers.

Your time is precious, your thoughts are worthy of sharing, and your work should reflect your best efforts.  Yep, this is sounding a bit preachy, but after watching one email notification after another flash across the bottom of my screen, I decided to take action by shutting off all email and social media alerts and notifications.  My fingers pounded out this tip without shiny object diversions. 

Take the bull by the horns, go into your Settings and turn notifications to the off position and let those ideas soar.



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Speed Up Drying Time with this Simple Tip


You probably know that you should swipe your dryer lint screen/filter after each load of laundry to remove lint build up.  Isn't it amazing how much accumulates after each load?  Surprisingly our clothes and linens last as long as they do considering the amount they shed.

Filter cleaning will enhance your dryer's efficiency reducing the drying time considerably, prolong the life of the dryer, and reduce fire risks.  Do not use your dryer if the screen is damaged or loose as this can cause your dryer to overheat.


If you have never used a dryer before, the filter is typically located either on the top of the machine or inside the door depending upon the model.  Remove it from the machine and roll the lint off with your fingers.  Do not wet the screen before you remove the lint. 

I like to take the extra step of gently vacuuming my screen weekly to ensure it is super clean.  I hold the vacuum close, but not directly on it to avoid damage.  Also vacuum along the outside edges.

Residue can cause clogs as a result of some laundry detergents and fabric softeners delaying drying time.  If you notice that lint is in the dryer, it is likely falling off the screen due to obstructions.

To remove the residue:

  •     Soak the screen with hot water, vinegar and baking powder and let it sit until the fizzing stops
  •     Use a nylon brush to gently scrub
  •     Rinse with hot water
  •     Let it thoroughly dry before reinstalling

You may need to repeat this process.

Once a month, I use a flexible dryer vent vacuum attachment to suction out the lint left inside the machine's lint trap.

Remember to reinsert your fully dried screen when you have finished.


Prioritize your to-do list

This is often much harder than it sounds. It is not uncommon to have competing priorities and limited time to address them. So how do you decide? First make a list so you are clear on what needs to get done in the short term vs. the long term. For short-term goals, here are 3 ways to get you sorted.

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1. Assess the level of importance or urgency. Who assigned it? Is it time sensitive such as taxes? Is it urgent such as does your child need a potty break?

2. Determine which will give you the biggest bang for the buck? Select the one with the biggest payoff in terms of revenue, client satisfaction, impact (such as straightening before guests arrive), etc.

3. Consider which needs your highest level of productivity and brain power. Schedule these for the times when you operate at your best. Are you more alert in the mornings or after meals?  Tasks will take much longer and quality will suffer when you are drained.  Listen to your body.

Delegate or enlist the help of others if you are completely overwhelmed. Offer up some margaritas to your gal pals in exchange for a hand organizing an area of your home that is driving you to distraction.  Entice kids to help with chores or appropriate tasks that can lighten your load with apps such as

Wishing you could get to your long-awaited organizing projects? Need an extra hand?  Contact The Practical Sort to schedule your Journey to Organization Free Phone Consultation today to get sorted right away.


Breaking Through The To-Do List

Do you keep a to-do list?  How often do you look at it and think I WILL NEVER GET ALL OF THAT DONE!  Implementing the 4 D's of Time Management, attributed to several different time management gurus including David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, provides a roadmap for you to cut through the morass of to-do list clutter and achieve the results you desire.

1.  Delete/Diminish:  Consider if the task will further your goals or the project's goals.  If not, delete it and move on.  If deletion is not an option, consider diminishing it by breaking it down into smaller pieces that you can tackle quickly.  If you have no choice because your boss is expecting it on his/her desk in an hour, then you best get to it and delay other jobs.

2.  Delegate: Is it imperative that you are the one who does the task?  Yes, it may take longer to explain it to someone else or clean up after them if they do not excel at the execution.  However, by teaching them how to do it, they will be able to take those kinds of tasks, chores, etc. off your hands in the future while giving them a chance to learn and grow.  Sometimes we presume certain chores are too complex for young children, but they can be very capable of getting things done.  Delegation helps them to build independence, responsibility, and character.

In fact, a 2015 longitudinal research study on household chores conducted by University of Minnesota professor Marty Rossmann followed 84 children during four distinct ages in their lives: preschool, elementary, high school and at the age of 20.  At the last stage, they were interviewed to determine their success based upon college attainment, career path, IQ, substance abuse, and interpersonal relationships.  The study found higher success rates among that were those who had started doing chores during or before preschool. Success rates were lower for those who started in their teens.

3.  Delay: Take care of the urgent items first.  Move on to the less important tasks when you have time.  If the less important tasks are mindless, do those when you are not fully resourced since they require less concentration.

4.  Do:  Tackle the must-dos and the items that will get the biggest bang for the buck first.  Or do the things you are certain you can knock out quickly particularly if you are not in a mental state to handle anything highly creative or requiring intense concentration at the moment.

I hope the 4'Ds will help you have a more practical and productive day.



You may be wondering why I have a photo of dust rags and sweepers under the heading "Walk and Talk."  While placed on hold yesterday for 10 minutes, I grabbed my floor duster and swept nearly my entire first floor hardwoods and tiles before the Customer Service Rep returned to the line.  Chore accomplished as we finished the transaction, 10+ minutes of movement felt great, and no time was wasted.  So next time you are on hold, chatting with a friend, or waiting for dinner to finish cooking, grab a duster, broom, or mop and knock another chore off your list.

Pre-Prepare Ingredients

If you frequently make cookies, pancakes, scones, etc. that use the same dry ingredients, keep them pre-measured in a jar (plastic could impart odors if left too long). Used jam jars particularly the wide ones or canning jars are great. Then add the liquid ingredients when you are ready to bake, and voila your baked goods are created so much faster or in the case of pancakes whipped up quicker. When I have a free moment, I refill the jars, place them back in the pantry until needed again which is usually only a matter of days.

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If you frequently use diced foods such as onions, carrots, etc., use your chopper to chop up enough for multiple meals.  One less prep item during the busy weeknights.


Color Code

Your home improvement project includes touching up a kitchen wall.  Your painter asks you for the color brand and code.  You have no idea but you love the color and want it to remain the same.   You no longer have the paint can.  What do you do?


Keep a list of paint colors, codes, brands, and a swatch used for any home improvement projects.  You’ll be prepared in the future for any quick touch up jobs or attempts to match paint for any other reason.  For instance, you may love the color in one room and decide that same color would be perfect in another room.  Same idea works if you move.  You may have loved your old bedroom color and now wish to paint your new bedroom the same.

Store the list in a spreadsheet on your computer or file away in your home improvement file folder for future reference.

There is a chance the paint store may have your account information, so before you panic, check to see if they retained your project information.  We were very lucky that our home's previous owners left us most of the paint cans with the color information.  We also lucked out on a color where we did not have a can, but the paint store had the former owner's paint information still in the system.

The paint store may be able to replicate the color from a piece of siding or drywall.  As a last resort, take a photo and see if they can assist with a close approximation.

If you have left over paint, write the room name on your can and whether it is for wall or trim.  This has been especially useful for us where the exterior siding and trim were very close in color.  At a quick glance, I could grab the correct can when needed.