I recently decided that, since I try to exist without sleep but for some reason my body insists on getting it, I needed some good time-saving ideas. So I reached out to a bunch of bloggers and experts who specialize in the topic, and was flooded with a tsunami of tips. Happily, I’m already doing some of this stuff. I suspect the only real solution to my lack of time would be to give away the kids, perhaps Brad and Angelina wouldn’t notice if I dropped them off. But, maybe I will try some new tips:
From Karyn Beach, a life coach and author of a program she’s releasing next month called “Get It Together Girl: A 28-Day Guide to Practical, Not Perfect, Organization”:
- Don’t underestimate small blocks of time. You would be amazed how much you can get done in fifteen, ten, or even five minutes. I love using the kitchen timer and making it into a game, “For the next five minutes, I’m going to pick up toys, straighten out the kitchen, put away clothes.” I guarantee it will be a major eye-opener. (Note from me: I challenged myself to see how many toys I could clean up in one minute and almost impaled myself with a kazoo, so please, don’t get too crazy here.)
- Use that five to ten minutes after the kids go to bed to lay out clothes (down to the underwear) for the next morning.
- Keep a bag in the backseat with any clothes or other items that need to be returned. Tape the receipts to each item and then when you are driving and happen to be in that area, you can make the return instead of planning and making a special trip or just not returning it.
These are from Lori Radun over at Momnificient, life coach and author of “The Momnificent Life—Healthy and Balanced Living For Busy Moms”:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Delegate tasks you don’t like, or aren’t especially good at. [Note from me: Would anyone like to do my laundry? I’m not very good at it. Come to think of it, I’m also not very good at cleaning the floors. Or doing any kind of housework. Would anyone mind if I delegated all of my housework to you?]
- Focus on what’s most important to you. Lower your expectations for tasks/activities that aren’t top priorities. (If nobody is willing to let me delegate my housework to them, then I will just have to lower my expectations and not clean my house for the rest of the year and not care if my kids have cooties.)
- Identify your non-negotiables to protect your time. For example, Friday night is family night. Set strong boundaries around those non-negotiables.
From Maureen Nuccitelli, a professional organizer in Boston who runs Harmonious Life Designs:
- Keep a pair of scissors in each major room in the house (and even in the car), out of the reach of your kids. Clip that article (then recycle the magazine), cut those tags (clothes can be put on immediately) or snip that hard-to-open package (no need to go downstairs to the kitchen drawer).
- Dedicate one drawer in the kitchen to lunch making. Put Ziploc bags, snacks, juice boxes and lunch bags all in one place to make lunches for the kids in a snap.
- Trying to squeeze in gym time? Have your gym bag already packed and ready to go. (Note from me: I would love to delegate the task of working out, too. Would any of you be up for getting me tighter abs?)
- Hang small dry-erase boards with markers inside the linen closet and pantry. As you run low on toothpaste or tuna mark it down on the respective boards. When you’re ready to go shopping, check the dry erase boards, make your list and wipe them clean. (Note from me: If you’ll be able to do my grocery-shopping, too, I like the firm kind of peaches.) From Louise Reilly Sacco at The Frugal Yankee:
- When you cook, double everything you can. It’s almost the same work to make a double batch of soup or stew. A large pan of lasagna, for instance, might take three minutes more than a small one. Either freeze the second batch, or serve it again a few days later, maybe with different sides. (Note from me: In case you are wondering, it does not actually save any time to make double batches of lean cuisines.)
- Pay bills online through your bank. You can set it up so that some are paid automatically, maybe the electric and phone bills. You can establish a recurring payment so that the same amount is sent each month on your mortgage or a loan payment, but you don’t spend time writing and mailing checks. You even save a few cents on stamps and you may save on penalties and late fees because it’s simple to set up the payments so that bills are paid on time.
From Mary Davis, author of The Entrepreneurial Mom:
- Keep a “gift cabinet” stocked and ready! Fill it with things like scented candles, picture frames, holiday ornaments, and gift certificates. This will become your first stop when you need a hostess gift, thank-you gift or teacher gift. Stock up on these things when they’re on sale. Also keep gift bags and “thank you” cards in this same cabinet, for your personal one-stop shopping.
From Eileen Roth, author of Organizing for Dummies (no offense) and a national speaker:
- Ask someone—a friend, a spouse, a sitter—to give you time at least once a week. Make a list of things that would be “rewarding” for you. Note things that take five minutes, thirty minutes, one hour, half a day, a full day, a full weekend. Then you always have something to fall back on. It could be as simple as having a “slow” cup of your favorite drink (tea or coffee or hot chocolate, that is). One of my favorite rewards is hot apple cider. (Note from me: One of my favorite rewards is delegating my housework.)
- Try to structure things into routines. The more routines you have, the faster things go. Do the wash the same day every week. Shop the same day. Have a “launching pad” for things that need to go out the door—library books, dry cleaning, school back packs, etc.
- Keep a tickler file of things you need to act on.
And wise advice from a comedian named Dan Nainan, who wasn’t joking: “Turn off your television! The average American watches twenty-eight hours of TV a week.” (Note from me: If you delegate the task of turning off the TV to your husband while you are simultaneously making double batches of baked ziti and organizing the living room while cutting things with the scissors you have handy and lowering your expectations that your husband will actually turn off the TV, you will save so much time that you will actually not know what to do with yourself.)
Now, go save yourself some time! And when you have lots extra to spare, send some of it to me, please.