As a busy mum, we seem to run from pillar to post all day, then get to the evening wondering where the day has gone.
Here’s a few time saving tips to give you more ‘me’ time.
1. Check where your time is going
I use an App called ATracker, and there are others, to see where I am spending most of my time – I’ve found that I waste a lot of time on social media, driving and just general grooming (such as doing my hair, taking a shower and get dressed). So now I know where I should be aiming to trim the fat.
How much time are you really wasting?
When you keep track of your time with an App like this you will find that you tend to have to decide what you will do next when you log off from one task, therefore you are choosing how to spend your time, and you can choose to enjoy it purposefully and relax or be more productive. So whatever you do, you can do it with intention.
2. Social media and checking your phone
Limit checking emails or social media to just one or twice a day. The ATracker App has a feature where an alert will sound if you have been on social media, or any other task that you may pick, for longer than a time you designate.
Install an App called Checky to see just how often you are checking your phone, you’ll be amazed at how much time you are wasting. Without really thinking about we tend to pick up our phone and get drawn into stuff that really isn’t that important.
Plan your weekly errands in advance so that you are making fewer trips.
Walk or ride to the shops to combine your exercise time with transport time, it’s good for you and the environment.
Choose venues that are closer, or if you need to go further away ensure that you have more than one thing to do there if possible.
If you can’t sleep, get up and do something but nothing too stimulating. You may find that attending to whatever was keeping you up will help you rest better, or even better, make a to do list of what you need to do when you get up so that your mind knows that it will be attended to.
While you may be tired in the morning, once you are awake, just get up. That may be easier said than done, but once you get into the habit it will be easy. I found that I was in bed for 9.5 hours and only getting about 7 hours sleep, that’s a huge waste of time.
Have a schedule of chores to do. I use the Motivated Moms App which schedules in different tasks so that they get done when they need doing, it keeps the house clean and stops you from doing more than you have to.
Invest in robotic vacuum cleaner, I use the iRobot Roomba, which I just love. There’s the iRobot Scooba (mine is getting on and leaves a fair bit of water on the floor but I’ve found the solution online so be prepared to replace a few parts as the years go by to keep it running) for mopping or the iRobot Braava, which I would like to try. There is also the robotic window cleaner, which is fairly inexpensive called Hobot, which does a decent job.
For outside windows use the spray on window cleaners which attach to the hose, and you spray the dirt away, great if you have a double story house.
Enlist the help of other family members. As women we tend to take on too much, and even young children can help out with age appropriate tasks, it’s a valuable skill that they are acquiring as well as teaching them responsibility.
Hang your washing out on coat hangers, you can then steam them rather than iron direct from their hangers (if they even need ironing at all as you can flatten them out as you place them on the hanger), which is much quicker than ironing and as they are already hung up, there are less creases, and you can put them in the wardrobe straight away.
Clean up as you go, it’s much easier to clean a recently spilled mess than one that has been left of to give the counter a quick wipe down as you finish cooking, it only takes a moment.
When you have a few spare minutes, rather than doing nothing, pick a small job and do that, such as loading the dishwasher, or putting on a load of laundry. The little things add up.
Line your fridge and pantry shelves with cling film or paper for quick and easy cleaning, just remove the dirty liner, chuck it in the recycle bin and replace – no more scrubbing dried food.
Clean the bath while it is still wet – an easy way to keep to clean is wipe it down with the dirty towel after you’ve bathed (same goes for the sink).
Heating a solution of vinegar and water in the microwave loosens the dirty for quicker and easier cleaning.
Put disinfectant in the toilet before you go to bed and leave overnight to thoroughly clean.
Do your weekly grocery shop online, check for retailers that offer free delivery. No more impulse shopping, time wasted in the car, and you can set your regular items in a list for automatic addition to the shopping cart. You can also compare prices more easily on different brands so that you take advantage of the lowest prices and specials. You can even check in your pantry to see what you need as you go along.
Prescriptions can now be filled online, either drop your prescription at your local pharmacy (not all offer free home delivery) or post it into Chemist Warehouse, then re-order your repeats online, and pay through paypal – couldn’t be easier, they’ll be waiting for you when you get to the chemist – no more waiting around.
Shop around for bigger purchases online. Use websites such as getprice.com to see who is offering the lowest price, and they may offer free delivery too, once you’ve decided you can simply arrange the purchase.
Plan your meals ahead of time, so no more standing in front of the fridge wondering what to eat, you’ll also have all the ingredients so you don’t have to pop off to the shops.
Cook larger meals and freeze, such as lasagne, cottage pie, Mac and cheese – the possibilities are endless and if you’re out of ideas, check out your local library for cook books specialising in freezer friendly meals or through Book Depository or your local bookstore. It doesn’t take that much more time to make an extra 4 or 5 lasagnes. With only one clean up, and when you are in a hurry, pull one out the freezer, into the oven and that’s basically it.
Use a slow cooker, the meals usually require less preparation and can be left to cook through the day without you having to do anything. You can come home to a delicious home cooked meal, and the house smells great. Choose recipes that you can double up and freeze one portion of the broth or uncooked meal, to later pop in the slow cooker to cook while you are at work.
Write up a few weekly menu plans that you can rotate, with a corresponding shopping list so that you can quickly and easily shop and cook to a menu, and let’s be honest we mostly tend to eat the same sorts of meals all the time.
Use a pressure cooker to get things cooked fast.
Don’t waste time driving to the gym just to walk on the treadmill – go outside and do it.
Walk with a friend – you will be socialising and exercising at the same, find it more enjoyable and will be held accountable to exercise.
If you have the discipline there are many great exercise programs to do at home, look on YouTube, or apps, or do the Bikini Body Guide. This saves driving time.
Get the App called ‘Seven’ it has seven-minute exercise routines that you can fit in when you have a few minutes or when you need a break from something, it’s a great way to use you spare minutes.
Fit in incidental exercise during your working day, take the stairs, get a standing desk, there are treadmill desks that allow you to walk while working, sit on a large exercise ball which engages the core muscles, pace whilst on the phone.
You can double up what you achieve at the gym by performing compound exercises that work a number of exercises at once, then switch back and forth (superset) between different exercises so that you get more done and the workout combines cardio and weight training. This minimises the time that you sit around waiting at the gym.
If you are walking or riding, use that time productively and listen to a podcast on a topic that interests you and that you wish to learn about.
Negotiate with your employer to work from home, one or so days a week, saving time on your commute.
Negotiate working hours so that you can commute during off peak times.
Take public transport so that you can work, study, read or catch up with the news during the commute, or even do your online shopping – put this time to good use rather than just staring out the window.
Pick out your clothes on a Sunday night for the whole week. No more standing in front of the closet bleary eyed in the morning wondering what to wear. Just get dressed and go. And no last minute ironing or looking around for that top that goes with those pants.
Check out YouTube or Pinterest for hairstyles that are quick and easy to achieve, or where you can sleep in to get your hairstyle in the morning.
Set a timer for a 4-minute shower. We are all guilty of standing there enjoying the hot water for longer than we need to.
I use my bath time to relax and also to learn. There are many great videos on YouTube in whatever area you want to learn something new. Ted talks are great for this.
Keep a to do list and group thing according to geographical area to do to when you are already in the area. Ortackle all your tasks once a day rather than interrupting yourself thinking that you had better do it them before you forget.
Pay online or set up direct debits for your regular accounts, you might even get a discount for doing so.
Only check your emails at set times in the day, depending on the amount of email you get.
Immediately delete all emails that are unnecessary, leaving only those that actually require your attention.
If you are apt to get distracted, set a timer for 45 minutes, or a lesser time, to dedicate yourself to the task at hand, and don’t do anything else during that time. I sometimes use an App called Block and Flow to keep me on track when I’ easily distracted. I find it easier to get down to the task when I know that I just have to do 25 minutes and then I can stop for a break.
If you find you can’t concentrate on the task at hand, don’t just sit there, do something else – check your to do list for a quick and easy task.
Schedule your tasks in your diary – when you know you don’t actually have all day and that time is scarce, you will more likely get it done quickly. I find that this is a reality check – that I don’t have all the time in the world to get something done. The more time I think I have often the longer something takes to get done.
Pick doctors’ appointments in the beginning of their day or straight after lunch, that way you won’t be stuck in the backlog.
If your doctor routinely runs late, call before you go to check if they are running on time.
Bring something useful to do if there is a risk that you may have to wait a long time, rather than staring idly at your phone or the annoying family in the corner.
Arrange your time around your appointments so that you don’t go back and forwards. Schedule them one after the other.
Incorporate your social time with say exercising.
Socialise when doing activities that you love, say crafts or other hobbies.
Talk on the phone while doing housework.
Pick places to go that are close with less travel time or drive there together for more fun.
How do you save more time in your day to do the things that really matter? Tell us in the comments section below.
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