For over a decade I’ve worked with thousands of women, and they all have something in common: so much to do and not enough time. Here are some favorite time-saving tips that have worked for my clients – young and old, married and single, children or not.
1. Plan your week every Sunday night. What appointments do you have? Any work deadlines coming up? What carpools need to be arranged? Is it someone’s birthday? Have you been thinking you’d like to reach out to a certain friend? Do an inventory of the things you have to do – and the things you want to do. Then put your week together like a puzzle. Bonus tip: You can even schedule those important but unessential things you seem to run out of time for, like reaching out to that friend, on a certain date and time in your calendar. Creating personal appointments are a great way to get things done!
2. Have a night routine to make the morning go smoother. We’ve all done it before, and now is a great time to try it again! Lay out the kids’ clothes, prep breakfast or lunches, iron that shirt you never have time for, and make sure backpacks and brief cases are packed. This is a no-brainer for starting the day out right!
3. Start dinner when you eat breakfast. Nothing is better than sitting down to a nice dinner with the family at the end of a busy day, but running out of an ingredient – or running out of energy – can often sabotage getting dinner on the table. Getting a head start early in the day means you can thaw meat, throw something in the crockpot or stop by the store for that missing ingredient while you are already out during the day. Dinner is saved!
4. Online grocery shopping. Guys. If you haven’t tried this yet, you are missing out on the quickest way to reclaim hours in your week. Take the plunge and create an account with a local store that offers this service, create a favorites list, and then order your groceries at the same time every week – like Sunday nights or first thing after the kids go to school Monday morning. Schedule to pick them up when you’re on your way home from work. The fridge will stay stocked, and you will save time to boot!
5. Cook in bulk. Don’t just make one recipe – make an extra one and freeze it! And don’t just chop a few veggies for dinner – chop a bunch and throw them to use in salads and wraps and omelets all week. Same thing with browning hamburger and cooking chicken. Once you are already getting out the ingredients and dirtying the dishes, it’s minimal effort to do a little more – and saves oodles of time when you need a quick meal another day.
6. Run errands in bulk. Cooking isn’t the only thing you can do in batches. Keep a running list of errands throughout the week, and knock them all out so you aren’t running to the store last minute for a birthday present or making multiple trips to the same store.
7. Recycle menu plans. Invest the time in creating several weeks of menus, and then you’ll have some on hand when you need to make your grocery list quickly.
8. Set a weekly laundry appointment for yourself. Regular laundry means less loads each week– and quicker folding and putting away. Want laundry to be even easier? Sort the laundry and start a load the night before your laundry day. Start another load when you wake up, and keep the loads going until everything is washed and then dried. Then put on your favorite Netflix series, call your sister to talk, or enlist your family to help while you fold it and put it away. Condensing the part of laundry we all dread into something that can be completed in one sitting, and then freeing up your mind to do something pleasant while your hands do all the work, can be a magic bullet for the laundry dilemma.
9. Give yourself boundaries. Set certain time frames for accomplishing tasks that tend to bleed into other parts of the day – such as checking email or social media, or staying at work longer than you know you should. If you have integrity with the boundaries you set, such as quitting a project when the kids come home from school, you will have more discipline and waste less time.
10. Learn to say no. I think of time is a container, like a bucket. It can only hold so many commitments, and when we insist on putting more in our bucket than we have room for, it overflows and causes chaos. Be honest with yourself – if it doesn’t have to be done, and if it doesn’t bring you a sense of joy or purpose, have the courage to say no. You’ll recover lots of precious time this way.