"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant treasures." Proverbs 24:3

Scientific Homemaking: Speedy Table Setting.

Setting the table is one of those chores I wish I didn't have to do. Sometimes I get my kids to do it, but often that seems like more work than doing it myself.  All that back and forth carrying things to the table seems tedious to me, especially after cooking and preparing the meal.   On occasion I will get a tray and load the dishes right onto it, then carry it over to the table to set them out all in one trip.  But, I wondered if this was really saving me time.  That is the background for this segment of "Scientific Homemaking."

Question:  Does using a tray to carry dishes to the table make table setting faster than going back and forth carrying dishes to the table?  

I tested these two methods five times each:

The Loaded Tray Method (LTM):  Load the tray on the kitchen counter with 4 plates, 4 cups, 4 napkins, and 4 forks.  Take the tray to the table and set the table in this order: plates, cups, napkins, then forks on top of the napkin as shown in the picture below.  (I chose 4 because that is the number of people in our family and we usually only need forks so I don't bother with spoons and knives if they are not necessary.)  

Back and Forth Method (BFM):  Grab four plates, walk to the table and set plates at each place.  Walk back to kitchen and grab four cups, walk to the table and set cups at each spot.  Repeat this process for napkins, then forks.

I really thought I would be saving time by using the LT Method.  Here are my results:
The Loaded Tray

                          LTM          BFM
Trial 1             67s                     51s  
Trial 2             49s                       33s
Trial 3            43s                       43s
Trial 4             41s                      41s
Trial 5             40s                       38s
Averages    48s             41.2s

Conclusion:  As you can see the BFM was faster than the LTM by an average of 6.8 seconds!  I was actually surprised by these results.  I realized that in my case the motions of loading and unloading it at the table were almost equal to the amount of time I spent walking back and forth.  My table is only 8 feet from the kitchen counter so I would guess that the LTM would only save time if the distance from the kitchen to the table was significantly greater resulting in more time wasted walking back and forth.  So unless you are physically impaired or the distance from your kitchen counter to your table is significantly longer, your best bet is to just use the back and forth method and leave the tray out of it. 

This study took about 30 minutes for me to complete.   I am going to have to set the table using the BFM 265 more times before I start recovering that time.   If I set the table using the BFM every night for the next 50 years instead of the LTM I could save 124,100 seconds.  That's about 34 1/2 hours or almost a whole day and a half of my life!  
Not only will I be saving time, but I will also be getting a small workout before my meal.  Now that's what I call multi-tasking! 

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