Time Saving Tips to Help You Save Your Sanity
Time saving is super important if you are trying to balance all of the obligations in your life. Giving away your precious time to work, commuting, children, spouses, household chores, exercise, shopping, cleaning, cooking, and various appointments….Uggh! I’m exhausted just thinking about it! If we are to maintain balance in our lives then we have to find a way to fit in all of the essential tasks and still leave time for the enjoyable ones. I have found a few tricks that help me to keep it all under control (well, mostly) and none of them take a lot of effort. That is what I consider to be the key– big impact for minimal effort= sanity.
10 Easy Time Saving Tips:
- Choose your weekly wardrobe. Let’s face it; we all have “fat days”. You know the ones. You get up, try to choose a cute outfit, and no matter what you try on, you feel like Jabba the Hut. This sets off a maniacal search through every outfit you own, trying on one thing after another, until something a bit more “slimming” can be found. Sigh. We need to be nicer to ourselves, girls.
Pick a day of the week (I chose Sunday because I have the most time then and my workweek begins on Monday. Do whatever day is best for you) and find an attractive, comfortable outfit to hang up. Pick out your jewelry, your matching shoes, and any other accessories that help pull it together. Now repeat times “X” (however many work days you have). Now when you get up Monday morning, you will not have to have a closet meltdown. You will grab the first outfit and put it on. Commit to it. Even if it’s a “fat day” just put it on and say something nice to yourself like, “wow, this color blue looks great with my eyes!” So much nicer than calling yourself names.
- Plan your lunches. Maybe you buy your lunch every day and that certainly saves time, but if you read my blog you know this is about money saving! Buying your lunch is a huge money-suck. I also advocate for healthy, real food which is a lot trickier to find if you don’t make it yourself. Spend 30 minutes on Sunday putting together everything you’ll need for the workday. Meal, snack, fruit, whatever. You can go as simple as healthy salads which you can make ahead and store in a mason jar so they stay fresh, or you can get more elaborate. I do a 4 hour meal prep once every 2 weeks after grocery shopping. This save tons of time and money. If you haven’t checked out my post on meal planning and saving at the grocery store you can check it out here.
I typically like to make a protein (think chicken breast, turkey meatballs, salmon, etc), a double order of veggies, and a gluten free carb. I pack a combination of these things for my 4 days of work along with a container with my fruit and 1 mid-morning snack (I work 10 hour days) like nuts or a Larbar. The choice is yours. Once you’ve packed enough days’ worth of food, stack it neatly in the fridge and just grab and go in the morning.
You can also do the same for breakfast if you like, although I find this is an easy meal to put together quickly anyway. Seem too much like work? Check out my next tip:
- Double Down at Dinner. Look, you’re already cooking anyway. Why not cook a double batch of food and pack it up for the next days’ lunch? Throw an extra chicken breast in, make more veggies or rice, or use leftover taco meat for a taco salad. Re-think lunch! If you are having something simpler like sandwiches for lunch, you can still double dinners and freeze one for another week (see next tip, below). Once you commit to doing this you’ll wonder how you ever didn’t do it!
- Freezer Cooking. I will be doing another post devoted to freezer cooking sometime in the near future so I can really dig into it for you, but here is the idea. If you are prepping lasagna for dinner, make 2 instead and freeze one in an aluminum $ Store container. Making chicken enchiladas? Same thing. Steak or chicken fajitas are simple meals and all of the ingredients can be put together, uncooked, in a couple of zip lock bags and frozen for another night. I often make a double batch of pizza dough in my bread maker, freeze a ball of dough with a baggie of some shredded mozzarella and we have a quick pizza night whenever the mood takes us. Other easy to double freezer meals include chili, salsa chicken, and meatballs.
- Freezer Cooking on Steroids! Okay, so if you are enjoying the time saving that doubling dinners gives you, wait until you try this! Cooking multiple freezer meals at once can be intimidating at first so I’d advise you try doubling first and see what meals you enjoy as a quick pop-in dinner. Start making a list of those meals. When you’re ready, you’ll make a grocery list, buy supplies, and spend several hours in your kitchen batch cooking freezer meals.
Some things don’t freeze well (like potatoes) so try to keep it to meat and veggie-type meals. As I said, I’ll give you a more in-depth look at this but suffice to say, it’s easy, done only once every 2 weeks to 1 month, and you’ll never walk in the door after an exhausting day at work with that I-don’t-feel-like-cooking dread. There is always something on hand to toss in the oven, crockpot, or skillet. This helps to make life easier, eliminate expensive and unhealthy take-out, and gives you the satisfaction of knowing you gave your family a wholesome meal with little to no effort.
- Menu Plan for 2 Weeks. As you know from my grocery saving article, the most cost effective and efficient way to shop and plan meals is to spread it out for more than 1 week. Once every 2 weeks works best for us. I have a master list of 30 meals that my family tends to eat regularly. When the grocery store sales come out, I sit down with my master list and try to plan meals that coincide with the sales. I think most families tend to eat the same foods over and over but we sort of forget what they are, bringing on the “what-should-we-do-for-dinner” quandary. I try to always have a breakfast for dinner meal (BFD) each week, a hamburger night each week, and at least 1 leftover night in the 2 week period. I will include a freezer meal 1 time per week. That only leaves me with 3 other meals each week to pick from my master meal list. Now, hang the 2 week meal plan up on the fridge so everyone in the family knows what to expect and your spouse can assist with getting things going if you get home late.
- Only Shop for Groceries Every Other Week. It takes no longer to shop for 2 weeks once you get the hang of it. Only 1 menu planning session every 2 weeks, only 1 shopping list to make every 2 weeks, only 1 meal prep every 2 weeks. And then you have a week totally FREE of anything grocery related! ‘Nough said.
- Coffee to Go! Most of us have an automatic coffee maker at home these days (if you’re a coffee drinker, that is). If you are not taking the 3-4 minutes it takes to set up your coffee and hit the program button each night after dinner, I highly encourage you to get in the habit. It makes mornings so much better to wake up to an aromatic pot of hot, fresh coffee and saves valuable time in the morning. If you are still buying your coffee at a chain coffee house….tsk, tsk. I don’t want to coffee-shame you but you’ve got to be aware of what an expensive habit this is. This is a perfect opportunity to save extra money. Please don’t spend $4 a day on a cup of coffee. A really good bag of coffee only costs about $10 and you’ll get so much more from it. But I digress. Set your coffee maker at night to save time.
- Errand Cluster. Gas prices are a bit better these days but I notice they are starting to come up again, just in time for summer. I already have a long drive to and from work so I really don’t want to drive all over creation to run errands on the weekend. Enter “errand clustering”. On my way home from work, I can pretty much drive past anything I chose without going more than a block out of my way. If I have errands to run, I pre-plan which day I will run them and do it all at once in order of how I pass them on my way home.
Let’s say it’s Thursday (my Friday since I work 4 ten hour shifts). I need gas, hairspray, a birthday card, dental floss, low cost fruits and veggies, and my dollar store items. In addition to that, I need to stop at the bank to get cash for my envelopes. On my route home, I first pass Sprouts so I run in and grab the produce on my shopping list (I’ll make this list on Wednesday night after the weekly sales come out). Next, I drive by the gas station where I can use my reward points so I stop and fill up. I go a couple of lights down and I pass the Ulta shopping center so I swing in and grab my hairspray. My next stop will be the Dollar Tree. After I leave there, I’ll turn onto the road that leads into my neighborhood, stop at our local Walgreens and grab my dental floss and birthday card. Right next door to the Walgreens is the Chase bank so I’ll go through the drive through and get my money. 5 minutes later, I’m home and I only have to run back out to buy groceries (Safeway is in my neighborhood, 5 minutes to get there) for the rest of the weekend. The entire errand cluster only took me 45 minutes.
- Embrace Technology. What can I say; online banking is a girl’s best friend. If you have a check to deposit, take a picture with your phone and do it on your mobile app. Easily transfer money from your phone or computer or check your balances. The only time I ever go to the bank is to get cash.
Are you aware that you don’t have to stand in line at the post office to mail a package? No, really! I do this all the time. Go to USPS.com and set up and account (don’t forget to mark down your user and password somewhere or it becomes a real pain to try to figure them out the next time you need it). Just select the option to pick up a package during their normal mail delivery and the postal worker will come right to your front porch (or wherever you tell them) and grab the box. You can print postage online (you’ll have to weigh the package) or if it is a return item and you already have the pre-printed label it’s even easier. You can even order stamps if you want but most grocery stores and Walgreens sell stamps these days.
So there you have it! 10 little tips to make the most of your time. You can try any or all of these and I’m sure you’ll find they add value to your life. We all have the same 24 hours in our day. Why not do all that you can to preserve as many of those hours as possible for pleasurable things. Go on a date with your spouse, play with your kids at the park, take a hike, read a good book, watch a comedy. The choice is yours. Carve out time for these things. Don’t underestimate the importance of FUN in your life. If you don’t make time for it, who will?