Creating Time

Creating Time: Streamlining Tasks

To right our finances, we need some time. Not just long term so that compounding can do its job, but immediately, so that we can read financial guides, track our spending, and so on.

There are many ways to increase our time and energy. One is to become efficient with tasks and, if we have kids, to set them up to be so too (we are NOT our kids’ maids, butlers, and chauffeurs!).

To this end, I use an App called Choiceworks.

It’s a cheery, simple visual that encourages a person to complete the “steps within a step.” It was pitched to me as a tool for kids with autism, but when I was travelling last week, families absent of autism were expressing an angst similar to that which we once experienced. I showed them my son’s Choiceworks App, and now a whole neighbourhood is doing it!

To me, it seems an equally valid tool for adults getting through their necessary life tasks.

To make the most of Choiceworks or any other visual task-completion system, do the following:

  1. Arrange a quiet, peaceful time to consider the task that needs prompts. e.g., “Organize fridge weekly.”
  2. On paper, write down the steps you believe would be involved. e.g.,
    1. Bring garbage bin to fridge.
    2. Bring warm soapy water and rag to fridge.
    3. Prop door open.
    4. Remove all food.
    5. Throw out bad food.
    6. Wipe fridge shelves.
    7. Put perishables on top shelf.
  3. Rearrange the steps until they are in order.
  4. Enter each step into your electronic system, or finalize it on paper.
  5. Do a run-through to test it.
  6. Edit the list as needed.
  7. In your daily calendar, enter a reminder to complete the task.

Interestingly, the Choiceworks App promotional material includes “take a bath” as part of one person’s routine. For many people, this is already too overwhelming. If this is true for you or your child, you will have more success making “bath” its own task, and breaking it down into approximately eight steps, such as: put pajamas and a towel on the floor beside the bath; put plug in; find the right water temperature and start filling the tub; add bubble bath to water flow; watch water reach the 3/4 line; turn off water; test temperature; get in.

As you can see, with a task broken down into easy steps like these, any family member can suddenly become “on top of” a job. In the fridge example, parents are freed of one job, a child learns how to work well, the refrigerator is always clean, food is easily located and accessed, and the family’s grocery budget naturally transforms. What a win!

My eleven year old is now a pro at laundry, tidying, checking for library due dates, packing for a day out, shredding our papers, and so on. He doesn’t intuit the steps, nor “see” what his mother naturally notices, but the App supports him to complete all steps effectively, removing all necessity for mom to prompt, remind, intervene, etc. He still doesn’t love having work to do ever, but we’re both so happy with this tool and its results. I use a very similar system for the chores only I can do.

2 thoughts on “Creating Time: Streamlining Tasks

  1. Wow, this is awesome! I’ve been printing out instructions for my kids for years for various chores, cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry for example. “There’s an app for that…” Indeed!


    1. Hi Carrie, I had just read your first comment, and signed in all excited to point you to this post! You found it 🙂 Choiceworks is amazing! We use it pretty much every day.

      It’s lovely to have you here with us. Thanks so much for commenting, for sharing your specific experiences of what works and helps. Great stuff!


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