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Time Saving Strategies

It can be difficult to get motivated after the rush of the holidays, especially when the weather reminds us that bears have the right idea with the whole hibernation thing. Alas, very few of us have the luxury of “switching off” in the winter. And, even though dreary days seem to drag on, we can still find ourselves crunched for time when it comes to the daily “To Do” lists. Here are a few tricks to make the most of your time.

First, if something will take less than five minutes to accomplish, don’t put it off — just do it. When little things start piling up, tasks can start to feel overwhelming and, before you can blink, it’s 3 o’clock, and it feels like you’ve wasted the whole day. So, wiping off the kitchen counter before heading out, hanging up towels, responding to an email, etc., when you think of it, do it, then it’ll be off your plate.

Speaking of plates, making meals can be quite daunting and stressful, especially dinner at the end of the day. The trick is to create and stick with a meal plan, which starts with your grocery list. Now, this may sound like a huge time suck, but having a strategy before hitting the store will save you time in the supermarket, and set you up for time-saving success during the week. Come up with your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and then shop for those ingredients. Having a dry erase board in the kitchen listing each day’s meals will help you keep on track and take the guessing game out of the equation. Ideally, you’ll want to have a repertoire of meals you can make on the regular. The planning part won’t be so daunting as you get used to organizing your weekly plan and shopping.

Once you have your plan set, see what parts you can prep ahead of schedule. On Sundays, I try to make up a batch of muffins for ready snacks, prep potatoes, soak beans, and chop up veggies. Again, this does take some planning, but once you have your routine and meals set, it’ll save you time and hassle during the week. Don’t forget to schedule leftovers. Marking down the days and meals, you’ll utilize leftovers are like get out of jail free cards when it comes to time management for lunches and supper.

In addition to meals, you can also have a weekly plan for you and your family’s clothes. Like shopping lists for food, this timesaver starts with laundry because, ideally, what you wear during the week should be clean. As you fold your clean clothes, you can set aside outfits for the week. This time of year, you definitely want to check the weather to make sure what you have planned is appropriate to the forecast, and keep your schedule in mind, especially for work wear. Then, physically place things within reach, i.e., the front of your closet, or piled neatly on a chair or chest in the order you’ll wear everything. Hopefully, your spouse and older children can do this for themselves. For my toddler, I line up her outfits by day right by her crib so whoever’s turn it is to dress her in the mornings can simply reach for her clothes and start wrestling her into them.

Remember, not everything has to be done by you. Feel free to designate the workload by assigning chores and “to dos” to others in the household. Whether it’s kids, spouses, or roommates, everyone should have a responsibility list. Of course, these don’t need to be set in stone. It’s good to switch things up every few months so that the same person isn’t stuck with garbage duty every week.

These time-savers can also be applied outside of the home.

At work, being proactive with small tasks, planning ahead, and delegating when appropriate will also save you time throughout your day. Same goes for keeping up with family and friends. When you think about that quick phone call or text to check in with a loved one, do it right away. Plan out the birthdays and anniversaries for the month and stock up on greeting cards. And be open to spreading out responsibility to take the burden off of your shoulders.

Lastly, whether it’s at home, work, or general running around, try to tackle the most unpleasant tasks first. If you’ve been avoiding a work assignment, a house project, or a tedious visit with your half-deaf great uncle, putting it off won’t make the undertaking any easier. It’s time to bite the bullet and move forward. Once you get going, the less it’ll weigh on you and take up space in your mind and on your To Do list.

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