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Does anyone feel like they have enough time? Family, kids, work, house upkeep, the dream of a social life…there are just not enough hours in a day. I felt like I was keeping more or less on top of things until my second kiddo came along. For anyone that has more than one child, you know that one plus one does not equal two!
Things got even harder when we bought our house. Don’t get me wrong – I love my house and would not go back to our condo – but it’s a lot more upkeep and time involved.
For the past several months, I’ve been very focused on figuring out time saving tips that will help me do more with the time I have. Since I know I’m not the only one out there struggling to fit everything in, I’m sharing my best time saving tips that help me to tackle my to do list and crush the overwhelm.
Before we jump into the time saving tips, I want you to take a moment to think through your day and your week. What stresses you out the most? When do you find yourself overwhelmed? Is your busyness adding value to your life?
Americans are notorious at being busy for the sake of being busy. We’re always multitasking, rushing from one place to another, and going through life in a blur.
If you’re only going to adopt one of the time saving tips I’m going to share with you, please make it this: If you’re doing something that doesn’t make your life better in some way, drop it so you can focus on what is important.
Don’t Waste a Minute
Can I let you into my dirty little secret? I hardly ever brush my teeth at my bathroom sink. That’s probably weird, isn’t it? I just can’t stand in place for two minutes doing nothing else. So I pick up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket, set my kids clothes out for the day, and otherwise tidy up. Sometime I do some stretches or check my email. I know, it’s probably weird but if I can get a few things done twice a day while I brush my teeth, for me, that’s a win.
TV watching is another time to tackle your to do list. If you’re watching live TV, load or empty the dishwasher during commercial breaks, tidy up, or set your coffee for the next morning. Fold clothes while watching TV, or complete surveys from MyPoints, InboxDollars, or Swagbucks to make money during your downtime.
Learn to Say No
This can be tough, but it’s important to know your limits. No one can do everything, so why do we think we can be the exception?
Social media adds to the pressure. Seeing everyone’s perfect family, perfect home, and perfect social life makes us feel like our own lives are lacking if they don’t measure up. We hustle more to try to achieve the unachievable and stress ourselves out in the process.
Again, it’s important to determine what adds value to your life, and what is important to you. Stop comparing your life to everyone else’s and focus your energies on what is best for you and your family. Sometimes that means saying that you can’t work extra hours, or that you’re going to make a boxed mix of brownies for the kids’ school party rather than the epic Pinterest creation. That’s okay. Do what you need to do for your own sanity.
Easier said than done, I know! I can procrastinate like a champ. Things that should take me thirty minutes, I can drag out for days.
These past few weeks I’ve been making a conscious effort to nix the procrastination and just get things done. And here’s the thing: checking a few things off of my to do list has a snowball effect. I started getting the clutter in my house under control. The frightening pile of laundry started diminishing, and I even had a few minutes to work out.
There are still nights after I put the kids to bed that all I want to do is plop on the couch and veg out, and I do that on occasion. We all need a break sometimes. But I try to make those nights a minority. I’ll still watch some TV but after I tidy up a bit or do some laundry. It’s really helped with my stress level. I still get to relax, but I also get things off my to do list.
Take Care of Yourself
I am really good at running myself ragged until I am so worn down and tired that I can barely function. When I’m this tired, I don’t work efficiently and I’m short tempered. I will likely do wrong anything that requires a tiny bit of brain power. I have to force myself to just go to bed and start fresh the next day. Sometimes, all I need is an extra hour or two of sleep. I’ve found it’s a far better use of my time than trying to push through and get things done. I can be much more productive the next day with a bit more rest.
It’s also hard to function at your best if you’re dehydrated or not eating well, so be sure you’re drinking plenty of water and getting your fruits and veggies! It does make a difference!
Time Saving Tips
Here we go! The list you’ve been waiting for (because you’re busy and just want the list, right?). Here are all of the time saving tips that help me get more done with my day.
General Time Saving Tips
- Make lists to keep track of what you need to accomplish.
- Establish a routine: Routines help us to run on autopilot and get things done faster and more efficiently.
- Combine errands to minimize the time you spend running around.
- Don’t shop around. This is where my money saving tips and my time savings tips come into conflict! I like to get the best price on everything I buy, but sometimes it makes more sense to pay a bit more and only go to one store. Once I factor in my time and the gas it takes to get to the next store, I’m often no more ahead than if I just spent a few more cents at the first store. Save the comparison shopping for bigger ticket purchases and don’t lose your mind chasing cents.
Around the House
- Clean more often: It may seem counter-intuitive but staying on top of the mess and cleaning up more often is faster than needing to do a deep clean every couple of weeks.
- Keep cleaning products in each bathroom. This way, when you have a few minutes, you can quickly clean up because your supplies are right there. You don’t have to run down to the basement or wherever to get what you need.
- Declutter: The less stuff you have, the less you have to dust and tidy! Use websites like OfferUp, Letgo, or Craiglist to sell your stuff and make money.
- Get a Robotic vacuum: If you have the extra cash, this can be a game changer in keeping your floors clean.
- Get a cordless sweeper: If a robotic vacuum isn’t in the budget, consider getting a cordless sweeper. We only have one room with carpet so lugging out the vacuum whenever we have a spill is a pain. I store my cordless sweeper in the garage next to the room with the carpet so whenever there’s a spill (which is pretty much always with two kids four and under!) I can grab it and quickly clean up. It’s the simplest thing but my floors are so much cleaner now since we got it!
- Enlist help: If you live with other people (kids included!) you shouldn’t be the only one cleaning up. Everyone needs to contribute, starting from two years old!
- Hire out: If you have some disposable income, you may want to consider hiring out some things on your to do list. Yes, it will cost you, but you need to consider the value of your time as well. For example, my husband and I pay to have our lawn mowed. We’re perfectly capable of doing it, but we feel our time with our kids is limited enough. We don’t want to pull more time away from them by mowing the lawn every week. On the other hand, I would LOVE to hire someone to come and clean, but that’s more than I’m willing to spend right now. You have to make a judgement call on what makes sense to do yourself, and what might make your life easier by hiring a professional.
In the Kitchen
- Clean up while you cook. The last thing I want to do after cooking dinner is spend a half hour cleaning up the mess. Put ingredients away when you’re done using them, put dishes in the dishwasher, and wipe up any major spills.
- Marinade and freeze. I have the best intentions to whip up a marinade before leaving the house so my meat is ready to cook when I get home from work. But on several occasions, I’ve forgotten that was my dinner plan and rushed out of the house. When I come home, I’m left scrambling to come up with dinner. My friend clued me into what’s become one of my favorite time saving tips: marinade your meat when you get home from the grocery store, and then freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Now I just need to take the meat out of the freezer a day or two before I want to use it and it’s ready to go!
- Meal plan: Meal planning is usually on the top of any list of time saving tips. It’s also a great way to save money. Check out my Pinterest Meal Planning board for ideas on how to get started.
- Buy in bulk. Stocking up when things go on sale not only saves you money, it means fewer trips to the grocery store! To really take advantage of buying in bulk, consider getting a second freezer so you can freeze your meats and vegetables until you’re ready to use them.
- Meal prep: Pick a time during the week to chop and prepare all of the ingredients you will need for the week. I am never that organized but I do find it helpful to chop everything I will need for dinner the night before. Then when I come home from work, I can dump things in the pan and get dinner on the table much faster.
- Have a list of fast go-to meal options on hand at all times and stock your kitchen with those items!
- Batch cook: Whenever you cook, make extras to freeze so you always have something on hand to defrost and get on the table!
- Use a crock pot so dinner is ready by the time you get home. With my commute, I’m out of the house too long for most crockpot recipes. My workaround is to set the crockpot over night. It’s done by the time I wake up so I can let it cool for a bit and then put it in the fridge. When I get home, I just heat it up and have dinner ready to go! Need crock pot inspiration? I have a Pinterest board for that too!
- Keep it simple: serve tasty foods that are easy to prepare and don’t require a ton of ingredients. You’ll be able to whip up something faster with five ingredients than with fifteen!
Morning Time Saving Tips
- Set out your outfit the night before. If you have kids, consider getting a closet organizer and have them help you set out their outfits for the entire week! It’s a great time saving tip for hectic mornings, and helps them to feel more independent. Win win!
- Shower at night.
- Minimize your hair/makeup routine. Focus on the essentials to make yourself feel confident and ditch the rest. Also, opt for products that do double-duty, like a tinted moisturizer so you can skip the foundation, dual use cheek and lip tints, and a combo shampoo/conditioner.
- Dry and style your hair at the same time with a hot air brush.
- Set a programmable coffee maker the night before so there’s no waiting for a hot cup of coffee in the morning!
- Have a variety of quick, no prep breakfast foods on hand: cereal, yogurt, fruit, granola bars, etc.
- Pack your lunch (or the kids’ lunches) the night before.
- Carpool or take mass transit if you can so you can check emails, read the news, or get a head start on your day.
In Your Wardrobe
- Take your clothes out of the dryer immediately. This minimizes the wrinkling, which means less ironing! For minor wrinkles, use a wrinkle release spray.
- Buy wrinkle-free clothes. Again, less ironing (I will do almost anything to avoid ironing!).
- Transition to a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe focuses on versatile basics, allowing you to create tons of outfits by mixing and matching. They are a mainstay of the minimalist movement, but using a capsule wardrobe is one of the best time saving tips too. Imagine walking into your closet, picking out almost anything, and creating a cute outfit, all because your pieces can mix and match. How much less stressful would that be?!?It’s also a great way to save money because you minimize your shopping and all of those extra purchases that you never end up wearing anyway!
- Program your washing machine. Just like my dishwasher, my washing machine has a delay set feature. I can set my washer to go off so the cycle ends right when I get home. Then I can throw everything in the dryer while I get dinner ready. An hour later, I’ve finished my laundry. It’s an amazing feature that I don’t use nearly as much as I should.
Make Technology Work for You
- Combine working out and reading by listening to audiobooks through Audible.
- Use Google Flights to track prices and set alerts for your upcoming travel. No need to spend hours looking for the best flight!
- Set news alerts for topics you care about and get a summary of the topics emailed to you.
- Get a rapid charger for your phone. Game changer.
- Take advantage of mobile deposits and skip the trip to the bank!
- Set up auto payments whenever possible so you can set it and forget it, and not worry about forgetting to pay your bills.
- Sign up for Amazon’s Subscribe and Save to minimize your errands. Set a delivery schedule for items you need on a regular basis (diapers, toilet paper, detergents, etc.) and get up to a 15 percent discount!
If You Have Kids
- Make bathtime more productive with these three simple time saving tips.
- Swap babysitting with fellow parents. Drop your kids off with a fellow parent to tackle a project or something on your to do list. Of course, the idea is that the other parent will be able to call in the favor and drop their kids off with you at some point, so this may not be one of my best time saving tips. But it could work well to get a quick home improvement project done without little people underfoot.
Keeping it Real
Life is hectic. I don’t know a single person who feels like they have enough time. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel like you can get anything done, or if you’re constantly five minutes away from a meltdown. Take a deep breath, collect yourself, and try to incorporate a few of these tips to save a few more minutes in your day. You’re doing just fine.
What are your best time saving tips? Help your fellow readers (and me!) out by sharing them in the comments below!