In March, I shared with you, general tips on how to save time. These ideas included staying organized (of course!), identifying time wasters, making the most of running errands, finishing what you start, readjusting priorities, keeping healthy snacks on hand and outsourcing where it makes sense.
This month, I would like to share with you how I personally try to be more efficient and save time. Like you, I too juggle family, jobs, bosses, meals, schedules and fun. Here are my go-to concepts for saving time and reducing stress.
Kitchen Time Savers
Kitchen time is not enjoyable for me, but I know the importance of good nutrition. I use a couple resources to help with this.
Each week I have a simple plan for meals. I don’t make large, multi-course meals, but I will always have a refrigerator stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, and a pantry full of nuts and seeds. Meals are always prepared for plenty of leftovers. I also leave a day or two for take out or going out to eat.
Health Heather with Better Health by Heather has been wonderful with helping to keep our meals on track, limit processed food and eat meals to sustain energy throughout the day.
Prepared Meals Jess with Cream City Casseroles has been a huge time saver for the weekday chaos. Her casseroles are made from scratch weekly, and are delivered frozen on Wednesdays. My kids love them. Her menu changes monthly. We haven’t had the same casserole yet this year!
I have an ongoing shopping list with Woodman’s online grocery delivery service. Every week, I import my standard list into the shopping cart and then make changes and additions based on the meal plan for the week. I no longer spend three hours grocery shopping each week.
Laundry Time Savers
I have a laundry day. Instead of running a load or two of laundry each day, I do it all in one day. On laundry day, I do not schedule any other appointments or meetings. To complete one week of laundry for six people, it takes six hours of non-stop focus. This includes sorting and stain treating to folding and putting away. Doing laundry in one day saves time overall because I fold, sort and put away one time. Doing laundry multiple days would force me to repeat the same process multiple times.
Cleaning Time Savers
We do not allocate funds for a full service house cleaner. Instead, our cleaning assistant, Jackie, comes every other week for three hours. She focuses on the main areas of the house, alternating certain details each visit. I handle the other areas (office, bedrooms and bathrooms). Having Jackie help works two-fold: the house has to be tidy so she can see the areas that need to be cleaned, and it forces me to do my share of the cleaning. My house stays clean without breaking the bank.
Keeping a Master Calendar
Everything goes in the Google calendar. All entries include first names of who is involved, addresses and any other pertinent information. All calendar items are differentiated to show which items are family, business related, and so on. I can then print the family calendar so the kids know what to expect each day, and my husband is always in the loop of appointments and activities. I can rest easy each evening since all the next day’s activities are scheduled to the minute.
Lists keep me accountable, focused, structured, and also help to reduce stress. A small notepad is in my bag at all times to make my lists. This is used to jot down things that come up throughout the day, reminders, shopping lists, and notes during client meetings all go in my little notebook. There are great apps for this same thing, but I find my notebook to work best. My husband likes to use Trello to track all of the household projects that he is involved in. There are many list making apps available including Wunderlist, todoist and Evernote.
Sticking to a Limited Wardrobe
My wardrobe consists of a limited number of items that mix and match, and can go from running kids around, to consultations with clients, to teaching college lectures, to volunteer work, to dinner prep., and running kids around again. It is a capsule wardrobe of sorts. My good friend LeAnn Conway with Conway Image Consulting helps me with the selection of each item (she’s great). I have some personal restrictions: no dry clean only, no wardrobe changes throughout my day (with the exception of tossing on a blazer or sweater), and no heals. What I put on in the morning has to take me through the entire day.
Packing Swim and Sports Bags in Advance
Gym bag, swim bag and sports bags, stay packed and stocked. This way we are not running around last minute to grab swim suits, soccer cleats and baseball socks. As soon as it’s washed, it’s back into the bag.
Despite my ability to be organized, I still struggle to get projects done. Having Jeanne, my organizing assistant, come help me with projects, allows me to schedule time to stay focused on the project in front of me. She keeps me accountable, offers another perspective and keeps me on track.
“Three hours working with an organizer is like 12 hours of working on my own.”
My Advice to you: Outsource
Where it makes sense, outsource. Look at the value of your time. It may make sense to outsource a couple tasks, in order to help you focus your time on more important items. Consider getting help with cleaning, laundering, yard maintenance and meal preparation. Your family may be the first option for help in these areas.