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8 Ways to Save Time at Home

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How to streamline your domestic duties so your home can be a sanctuary, not an endless to-do list.

4 Fast and Fun Cleaning Time-Savers

When you think of home, you probably imagine it as a place of rest. After a long day at work, you look forward to going home and relaxing, connecting with family and friends, maybe reading a novel in the hammock or puttering around the garden. Unfortunately, stacks of bills, dirty dishes, and that never-ending pile of laundry can make home as hectic as the office. Want to spend more time enjoying your home and less time tending to it? Our experts offer eight time-saving tips.

1. Do a Pre-Emptive Strike on Dirt

Want to spend less time cleaning? Laura Dellutri, author of Speed-Cleaning 101, says that the bottom of our shoes accounts for 85 percent of the dirt that comes into our homes. The solution: "Place mats at the entrance of your home. People can wipe their shoes, and you'll reduce the amount of dirt coming in -- and the amount you'll have to clean later," says Dellutri. You could also take a tip from most Asian cultures and leave your shoes at the door. After all, what's more relaxing than bare feet?

2. Consolidate Cleaning Supplies

Put all of your cleaning supplies into one container -- a cleaning caddy, five-gallon pail or laundry basket -- so that you can easily carry them from room to room. "This will shave time off your cleaning routine, because you won't have to stop to retrieve missing tools or products, says Dellutri. She also suggests carrying a few damp cloths over your shoulder. "These can be used to clean 90 percent of the surfaces in your home and will save you time running back and forth to the sink," she says.

3. Listen While You Work

Don't have time to read? Listen to books on tape or CD while you're cooking and cleaning. "I know some people who could get the equivalent of an associate's degree from all the books they've listened to," says Stack.

4. Discard Junk Mail Immediately

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, suggests keeping a recycling bin in your entryway or near the mailbox. "Sift through the mail you wish to keep. Discard the rest in the box for easy recycling," says Hohlbaum. This way you eliminate clutter before it has a chance to accumulate.

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