photo credit @prettyinprint

I’ve been doing laundry for myself since college and it’s always been a source of frustration for me.

In college, I threw everything in together and washed it all on cold. Separating my clothes seemed too time-consuming.

As a newlywed, I visited the laundromat with my husband. I didn’t mind it so much, sitting together in the warmth of the dryers, finishing all our laundry at once.

Nearly 20 years later, our family of five creates a lot of laundry.

You would think — after 20 years — that I would have figured out a better system for laundry.

But — no.

Up until last week, my laundry process included gathering up laundry whenever I thought to, starting a load whenever I remembered, counting on my sitter to throw it in the dryer, and letting laundry pile up on the couch waiting to be folded.

Oh, and stacking piles of folded laundry on my bed, only to transfer them to the floor at bedtime.

We always have clean clothes but that’s really about all I can say.

Last week, I decided I need a new process. Hold it. Last week I decided I needed a process, period.

So, I implemented one.

Every morning, before I start breakfast for the girls, I gather up all the laundry in the house and throw in a load.

It’s done around the time I leave to take the girls to school, so I transfer it to the dryer.

When I get back home, if it’s dry, I fold it and carry it upstairs before I sit down at my desk to work. I also start another load.

Using this process, I stayed caught up with laundry all week.

Anybody want to guess how many loads it took this week for me to stay caught up? 15. (Intense, isn’t it?)

Fifteen loads of laundry, left until Saturday, would have looked like Everest. Spread out across 6 days, not bad at all.

So, here are my lessons about process improvement:

You have to HAVE a process to improve a process. Although there was much room for improvement in how I completed the laundry (for more than 20 years), I couldn’t pull apart a process and look for hang-ups because I didn’t have any static process in place. Haphazard is not a process.

You have to be committed to the process. The only way this process is going to continue to work is if I continue to follow it. I could easily slip back into my bad habits. Since I have now created a process, I have something to return to, at least. And now that I have announced my new process to the world via this blog post, I am certainly committed.

You have to stay focused on the benefits of the process. The benefits to my process are huge: an orderly home, wrinkle-free shirts that stay wrinkle-free, and a couch that I can relax on at the end of the day.

Tell me something! Do you have a process for laundry at your house? How many loads of laundry do you do every week? What is your best process improvement lesson and how did you learn it?