Peg Rosen

We’re headlong into the holidays. That means more cooking, cleaning and socializing. More of just about everything’s packed into our schedules. How can you tackle it all with less effort so you can have time for fun? “Simple changes can really make a difference,” says Jamie Novak, organizing expert and author of The Get Organized Answer Book: Practical Solutions for 275 Questions on Conquering Clutter, Sorting Stuff, and Finding More Time and Energy. “It’s about making chores easier and making the most of small windows of time when you can get something done.” Here, some great time-savers that will buy you precious minutes now -- and long after the holidays are gone.

If it’s two minutes or fewer, be a doer.

If you can tie up loose ends in two minutes, get the job out of the way (and out of mind), says Novak. That means responding to invites right away instead of letting them bog you down later on, or storing that giftwrap now instead of letting it clutter the counter.

Create satellite cleaning-stations.

Keep a bucket or caddy filled with basic cleaning supplies -- multi-surface cleaner, glass cleaner, carpet-stain remover and paper towels -- on each floor of the house. Quick, easy access to supplies helps you stay on top of the mess and minimize clean-up sessions.

Keep cooking spray and nonstick aluminum foil at the ready.

Now’s not the time to soak and scrub pots. Is it ever? Spray or line just about every cooking surface before you get to work. And don’t stop there. A quick spritz of cooking spray on measuring cups helps sticky stuff like syrup, honey, mustard and molasses plop out cleanly and quickly. Baking spray -- which has flour in it --will do away with the dreaded “flouring and greasing” step requested in many baking recipes. “Nonstick aluminum foil is also a fantastic time-saver. Use it on every roasting pan and you won’t have to scrub a thing,” says Lauren Chattman, chef and author of Cookie Swap!

Bag in categories at the supermarket.

Put down that People magazine and use time on line for organizing items in your cart. Unload the cart according to food type -- frozen goods, produce, dry goods and crushables ­-- and then bag it all up along the same lines. You’ll unpack back home at light speed.

Designate a family “lost and found.”

Instead of wasting precious time trying to match up family members with errant objects left around the house, toss them into a central “lost and found,” recommends Novak. It can be a big cardboard box stashed in the laundry room or a storage ottoman. “At some point, someone will come looking for what they need and you’ll know exactly where to point them,” says Novak.

Never take the stairs empty-handed

Establish launch sites at the top and bottom of the stairs and grab something that needs to find its home on the other side -- an empty plate, a jacket, a basket of fresh laundry -- every time you make a trip. Alert everyone in the house that this rule applies to them too. It’s amazing how many trips and how much time you’ll save.


Available at

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time

Nutrition at Your Fingertips

Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America

The Ultimate Birthday Party Book: 50 Complete and Creative Themes to Make Your Kid's Special Day Fantastic!

Organized Kidz: E-Z Solutions for Clutter-Free Living

The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green

Sara Snow's Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home

The Language of Interior Design

The Get Organized Answer Book: Practical Solutions for 275 Questions on Conquering Clutter, Sorting Stuff, and Finding More Time and Energy






Family & Parenting
6 No-brainer Time-savers