Saving time at the dishwasher: it's the little things

You can "nickel and dime away" a fortune.  That fortune can be measured in money or in something much more valuable: time.  This...

You can "nickel and dime away" a fortune.  That fortune can be measured in money or in something much more valuable: time.  This means that finding lots of tiny improvements can save you 'way more time than you'd think in the long run.  One way is to think through how you load and unload cutlery in your dishwasher.

Here's a little lifehack I've developed about dealing with cutlery and dishwashers: sort the cutlery when you put it into the dishwasher, not when you take the stuff out.

There's some assumptions here: (1) you care about having your cutlery sorted in the cutlery drawer, (2) you have enough cutlery that this is an issue, and (3) you have both a dishwasher and a cutlery drawer with dividers.  When I was a young university student, I didn't give a tinker's cuss about this, and I was right not to.  I had only two forks, two knifes, and two spoons.  But now that I have a family, it's become something that matters.

There's really two ways to deal with cutlery.  One way is to just toss it all into the cutlery tray willy nilly and then sort it all out when you take the stuff out, clean, to put it back into your cutlery drawer.  The other is to sort the cutlery when you put it in the dishwasher to begin with.  In my experience, it's faster to use the second way.

When you put dirty cutlery into the dishwasher, you're usually only going to put comparatively few pieces in.  When you take them out, though, you're having to sort a single giant batch of cutlery. Search theory says that, generally speaking, search time increases polynomially with the size of the search space.  This means that the more cutlery you have to sort, the longer it will take to sort.  If it takes you one minute to sort and put away 10 items, it could take you three minutes to sort and put away 20 items; three times longer to put away twice as many items.

So you want to do your sorting when there's the fewest things to sort.  That's when you're putting things into the dishwasher, not when you're taking them out.

Also, excluding the searching, it takes the same effort to use either way.  So sorting cutlery when you put it into the dishwasher takes less time for the same effort: that means you're being more efficient.

It might seem like a little thing, but my rough calculations suggest you can save a couple of hours a year just doing this.  Two extra hours to watch TV, nap, read, go out for a nice dinner with your spouse, play with your kids, or just watch paint dry.  Sounds like a win to me.



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The Trouble with Normal...: Saving time at the dishwasher: it's the little things
Saving time at the dishwasher: it's the little things
The Trouble with Normal...
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