Do you struggle with fitting everything in? Do you always feel strapped for time? Most of us do. To help you, here are some very practical time saving tips that can add up to a more streamlined life and less stress. Here’s to enjoying our life more!
- Kids Help Too. At the minimum, have kids do a quick tidy up 15-30 minutes before bedtime. This would include picking up toys, laying out tomorrow’s clothes, and collecting anything they’ll need by the door. For more kiddie help write down a list of all the chores that need to get done, and then assign them on a weekly basis on a family planning chart or white board. Depending on their age, kids can help to varying degrees with folding laundry, taking out the garbage, loading/unloading dishwasher, sweeping, bathroom cleanup, etc.
- Weekly Routine Chart. Make up a template of your typical week and what everyone is doing at certain times. This way chores, homework, bedtimes, and more will run more smoothly because you can always refer to the chart. Excel or any other spreadsheet is a great tool for doing this. Or you could use a whiteboard.
- Family Calendar. Have a family calendar posted in the kitchen where all appointments are scheduled to keep everyone on schedule, avoid overlapping appointments, and keep you from overextending with too many activities. Decide for yourself or as a family how many activities a week are manageable and cut back if you need to.
- Choose a spot. Don’t put your car keys or cell phone in a different spot each night after work. Choose a spot and make it a habit. There is nothing more frustrating in the morning than looking for the stuff you need. You WILL go nuts if you go through a scavenger hunt every single morning.
- Know your routine. Similar to placing your keys and phone in a common place, learn what irritates you. If a messy kitchen kills you every morning as you pour your Cheerios, clean the kitchen the night before. The morning is not a time to struggle.
- Reduce TV Time. Plan your TV watching. Only watch the stuff you love. And if you can afford it, use Tivo or similar DVR technology to save time because the commercials are cut out. Of course you can always try “No TV Nights” too. Give it a try and see all the time that opens up for you!
Laundry & Cleaning
- Socks. Buy each person in the household 2 small mesh laundry bags. In one bag keep all the dirty socks. In the other all the clean socks. When the dirty sock bag is full then throw it in the laundry and then the other empty bag then becomes the dirty sock bag. Works especially well if all your socks are the same because then there’s no need for matching.
- Presort laundry using large mesh bags. Have one for lights and one for darks. When full all you have to do is dump it in the washing machine.
- Wear Clothes Twice. Or heavens forbid, more than twice. This will cut down on laundry and utility costs.
- Mopping. Use your bathroom garbage pail for mopping jobs. This way your garbage pail gets washed out every once in a while. Try this also with the kitchen garbage can as well if it is plastic.
- Vacuuming & Sweeping. Arrange furniture so that the vacuum fits around corners. This way you don’t have to move it every time you vacuum. Try not to store things on the floor so that you don’t have to move them every time you clean the floors.
- Eliminate cup clutter. Assign one place, say a tray, where everyone keeps their cup(s) during the day. At the end of the day, they go into the dishwasher. Also assign a place in the fridge for drinks that are not finished. One other method that helps is to have each person have their own cup with their name on it. This way there’s no wasting of drinks and using multiple cups in one day.
- Touch it once. Don’t use a dish and then place it into the sink “to soak”. Scrub it clean or put it right into the dishwasher. There is no reason to touch it twice!
- Garbage. Keep the garbage can right next to you when cooking or a bowl that you put all garbage into as you cook. Either way will eliminate walking back and forth to the garbage multiple times.
- Weekly/Monthly Cooking: consider cooking once a week or once a month and freezing meals in meal sized portions that you can take out and heat up for quick dinners. This idea saves people time, money and makes watching your calories easier too. Here’s link for some ideas: BetterBudgetingand FrugalMom.
- Quick Breakfasts: Wake up 15 minutes earlier and prepare breakfast instead of waiting in line and paying extra at the coffee shop. Have a few favorite quick recipes that you can make and eat quickly or bring with you on your commute. A couple ideas are:
- Oatmeal with cinnamon, nuts, and (frozen) berries which you can put in a plastic cup to go.
- Ham & Cheese sandwich
- Fruit smooth. Prepare the night before in blender and then in the morning take it out, blend, and bring it with you.
- Or try this, list of 10 quick and healthy breakfast ideas.
- Quick Lunches: some ideas:
- Eat out. Not always the most economical, but if you are savvy you can find places that give a lot of food and maybe stretch one lunch into two, today and tomorrow.
- Bring a frozen meal. This can be especially good if you are watching calories.
- Bring leftovers. I always hesitate with leftovers but seriously, it’s something to consider. There are not many foods that don’t last in the fridge until the next day. If you are concerned, check out what Clemson U. has to say.
- Quick Dinners –
- Remember dinner doesn’t have to be elaborate. Try breakfast items such as cereal or eggs for a quick light dinner, especially if you had a big lunch. Or simple sandwiches can be quick and easy meal.
- Check out Cooks.comfor quick dinner recipes.
- Variety. Here’s a quick way to keep meals from becoming hum drum: subscribe to Epicuriousfor new recipes emailed to you weekly. Use the ones you like and delete the rest. Enter your email in their Newsletter section.
- Leftover Liquids. Things like extra lemons or homemade broth can be frozen for use later in recipes. The lemon juice can be frozen in ice cube trays for small portion usage.
- Making Own Baby Food. Make healthy baby food and freeze it in ice cube trays. Examples are mashed peas, carrots, apples, pears, and more. By cooking baby food in batches you can save a lot of time and money on prepared baby foods. A great book on this topic is Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.
- Consider Less Frying. Your kitchen will stay cleaner longer and you may keep an artery healthier.
- Online. Do as much of your errands and shopping online as you can such as grocery shopping and delivery services, Amazon Dry Grocery shopping (with free shipping over $25), and, obviously, many other stores. You’ll save driving time, gasoline, and you won’t be temped to buy things you don’t need. It also allows you to find the best prices more easily.
- Call Ahead. If you plan to go to a store to buy something that might be out of stock, call ahead to make sure that the store has it. Also call around to get the best price if it is a high ticket item.
- Categories. Write out your grocery list according to the major aisles in your grocery store. This will make in-store grocery shopping go much faster because you won’t have to backtrack.
- Planning. Plan your meals for the week before writing out your grocery list. If you wait until you get to the grocery store to think about meals you might end up buying more food than you need. Plus thinking at your kitchen table will be faster than in the store with so many distractions.
- Master List. Keep a running grocery list on the fridge door at all times.
- Plan Your Day. Do this religiously and you’ll be far more productive. Plan only as much as you can actually accomplish. Be realistic about time frames and do the most difficult and most important stuff first. Make a habit of doing this first thing when you wake up or at the end of the day.
- Get Things Ready the Night Before. Prepare as much as you can to make mornings stress free. Set out clothes. Have bags packed and by the door. Make your lunch and have your breakfast chosen and partially prepared. Have a travel coffee mug ready. Put the coffee in the coffee maker.
- Toys. Have current toy bins and dormant bins. Only keep out a limited number of toys at any given stage. Then every 3 months or so rotate some of them. The dormant toys will seem like new and your house will be less cluttered.
- Checklists. Make these for major outings. Type them into a spreadsheet or Word document and print out a few for future reference. Or only print as you need them. Some ideas:
- Babysitters Checklist
- Vacation Packing Checklist, Baby Checklist, Morning Checklist, Beach Visit Checklist
- Roadtrip Checklist, etc.
- Purging. Have an area designated for things that are to go to charity. Every so often, bring the items over to your local goodwill or call to see if they have pick up service. By doing this as you go along, you won’t have major purging to do later.
- Social engagements. Only attend the ones you really want to go to. It’s ok to say no. It’s your life and your time. Spend it the way you want.
- Greeting Cards: Cut back on the number of cards you send out. If your life is hectic with family, let this go until the kids are older. It’s about priorities. If it’s something you really enjoy, then keep it up. But otherwise, consider using email instead for birthdays. Another idea for birthday cards is to send them in monthly batches when you pay your bills. Just check the next upcoming month and send the birthday cards early. Holiday cards can be a nice way to keep in touch with old friends and
family, so I would vote for keeping it. Consider putting all your contacts into an excel spreadsheet so you can easily print labels or if your contacts are in MS Outlook then you can mail merge them into a document for printing labels.
- Find Files: Use Launchyor Google Desktop for finding any file, folder, or program that you need. These work much better and faster than windows explorer.
- Subscribe to email newsletters or RSS feeds for just the information you like to read. Or consider a subscription to The Week which is a super concise wrap up of everything that happened that week. It is a very slim magazine with just the facts. Check it out!
What are your favorite time saving tips? Please share with us in the comments!
Written for Dumb Little Man by K. Stone, author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. Popular articles are Green Cleaning: Easy and Natural Ways to Clean and Freshen Your Home and 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Financial Life.