I got a Crock Pot for Christmas, and tried it out for the first time yesterday. I was quite happy with it. I chopped up some veggies, stuck in rice, chicken and stock, and at dinner, I had a hot, nice meal waiting for me. I had more of the meal as leftovers for lunch today, and have enough to take me through tonight (and likely tomorrow lunch, too, if I’m not sick of it). The genius of the slow cooker is not so much that it saves time. It may, but it probably would have taken me less time just to cook a frozen pizza. The genius is that it moves the task of making dinner from a time when you have a lot of things going on (6 p.m.) to another time of your choosing, when you have less. I definitely plan to use it again — though I need to figure out a way to keep stuff from sticking to the sides. I lost 10 minutes of my life last night trying to scrape the residue off the inner stoneware part.
The Crock Pot philosophy — moving tasks from high-demand times to low-demand times — is one tenet of productivity. Here’s another I’ve been thinking about today: figuring out how you can use small bits of time by minimizing transitions. Ruth finished eating at 11:18 a.m. I knew that my sitter would take off to pick up Jasper at school at 11:55 (meaning I needed to be around for the other two kids). I managed to get my running clothes on by 11:21 and be out the door for an incredibly quick (and cold) 2 and a quarter mile run. Back at the house at 11:45, I jumped in the shower and was out at 11:52. Three minutes to spare! The key to this is having one’s exercise clothes readily available, plus all outdoor gear, and knowing exactly what you need to do to be out the door. Otherwise, I would not have exercised today, as the afternoon is pretty booked.
Another time management dilemma I’ve been thinking about: how to spend the evenings when I have all three kids. I pretty much have to put on the television for half an hour for the older two while I’m getting Ruth down. Dinner goes from roughly 6-6:20 or so. So I have about an hour before I want to put on a show for the boys. What should I do with all three during that hour? Last night I tried to read a lot of stories, which worked pretty well. We could try art projects, too, but the challenge is figuring out something that can be done while juggling a baby and possibly feeding her. Suggestions are welcome.