I don’t know about you, but I feel as though my to-do list keeps getting longer and the time I have to do everything keeps getting shorter! Between working four days a week, blogging part-time and wrangling two toddlers, I’ve got priorities pulling me in all different directions.
It’s also important that I make some time for me because you can’t fill from an empty cup, and burnout is a very real and overwhelming condition that can have some serious health issues. So, today I’m going to give you all a few of my favorite tips for staying ahead of the chaos and saving yourself minutes and hours each week.
A few extra minutes may not seem like it’s worth the trouble, but imagine spending an extra 10-15 minutes on your passion project in small chunks throughout the day. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly better than spending no time on the thing that makes you happy and wishing you could find the time. Small gains in time here and there add up to great big wins if you use them!
Let’s crack on and get into my ultimate time-savings tips!
Do Grocery Shopping Online
I’ve mentioned this tip before, but I’ll say it again here because it is such a game-changer! I can’t count the number of times I have thanked the supermarket gods that someone else was able to put all my groceries in a cart for me to collect whenever I’m ready. You can also have it delivered straight to your front door if you’re really time-poor, or just not in the mood to leave the house. I use collecting the groceries as an “outing” for my kids, which sounds super lame but they love it and trolley rides are free entertainment!
You save time trudging up and down aisles looking for that one odd item you just can’t find! You also save time at the checkout AND you’ll save money by avoiding any impulse purchases! This tip does require some organization in that you’ll usually need to finalize your order 24 hours in advance, however major retailer apps now allow you to order on the go while you’re waiting to pick the kids up from school or on your lunch break.
On the occasions I’ve done the weekly shopping in-store and brought my kids along, one of them is usually due for a nap or needs to go to the toilet halfway around the store. I also generally end up with one or two items in my trolley that I certainly didn’t put there! Online shopping removes all of these obstacles, and that means I have more time to enjoy with my children.
Extra points: once you’ve got your order home, chop up the fresh produce you’re going to use that week (or just for the next couple of days) to save you a stack of meal prep at dinner time! Diced onions store well in an airtight container in the fridge, and fruit like watermelon always gets eaten up when it’s in bite-size portions!
Bulk-buy Birthday Cards for the Year
I don’t know how often I have a notification pop up on my phone to remind me it’s a friend’s birthday and I haven’t organized a thing! A text message just doesn’t have the same beauty as a handwritten card in the mail that arrives in the days before someone’s special day, so I have to scoot to the newsagents to pick up a card, the post office to get stamps, and then double-check the address to make sure I’m not jumping through all these hoops for nothing!
I have always written important birthdays for the year in my planner, but recently I’ve converted to buying standard, elegant birthday cards, like these, in bulk when I see them discounted. I buy a pack of stamps and store a couple in my wallet for emergencies, and make a concerted effort to store updated address details in the Contacts app on my phone.
At the beginning of each month, I take a look to see who has a birthday in the following weeks, write out the relevant cards, stamp and seal them, and store them in my planner with a reminder on when I need to post each one so they arrive just in time. No more running around like a headless chicken AND I look like an organization queen!
Nothing says “I’m thinking of you” quite like a handwritten card on your birthday. It means someone has made the effort to be organized and on time, all for you. The tradition seems to have gotten lost in our march towards instant messaging and constant contact, but I truly believe this time-savings tip should be brought back into the light.
Have Your Schedule, Goals and To-Do List Finalised the Night Before
Some of you might know I love starting my morning routine the night before, and checking my schedule and jotting down a to-do list is one of my MUSTS for a smooth morning! This tip saves me a stack of time in the morning when I’m short on sleep, un-caffeinated and watching “Bluey” on repeat.
I don’t know about you, but these do not strike me as prime conditions to be planning my day out to achieve my goals – all I want is to glance at my schedule and be gently directed to my first task. Thank you, past-Emily!
Whether you prefer to put pen to paper or sync everything across multiple devices, take 15 minutes each evening to run through your commitments and write down any associated to-dos. Need to remember to pick up milk? Write it down. Want to draft a blog post? Write it down. Water your succulents? Write. It. Down. Your brain is busy enough juggling your hectic life, so give it a little treat and turn up to your morning already prepared.
Automate Recurring Events
Does anyone feel like they spend hours upon hours doing the same tasks over and over? I know I do. Food shopping is probably my number one, but washing laundry, paying bills and cleaning the bathroom would come in close behind on my list of least favorite chores.
We’ve chatted about ordering your groceries to be delivered to your door. Take it one step further by creating a list of items you order every shopping trip and you’ve got a one-click Basics List. This saves you 5-10 minutes of remembering and searching for the same items each week – winning!
Speaking of winning, I use the delay timer on my washing machine like it’s going out of style and it saves me so much time. If I’m extra organized I throw a load in before I go to bed, and it finishes just as I’m polishing off my first coffee the following morning. If I’m in a rush to get to bed, I put the washing in the machine before I go to work and put the timer on so it finishes as I’m walking in the door. The delay timer means I don’t get that awful smell washing gets if it’s been sitting in the machine for a while after it’s finished. Doing washing during the day while I’m at work also uses my solar panels, saving me money as well as time!
My last tip in this section is about setting up direct debits for your bills (I haven’t worked out a way to automate cleaning the bathroom yet, but I’m working on it!). I have a separate offset account that is purely for bill payments. Each fortnight, I transfer money into it (there’s always a cushion of about $750 in case I get a surprise bill) and just about all my bills are direct-debited to automatically take the money from this account on the due date.
I have found direct debits work best for us for a few reasons: it means our money stays in the offset account (and therefore against our mortgage) until the due date, instead of needing to be transferred earlier so it clears before the due date. There are no fees for paying by direct debit, which isn’t the case with credit cards. I also don’t have to remember to pay the bills – I make sure the money gets transferred in once a fortnight and that’s it!
Have a “Uniform”
Barack Obama, former president of the USA, is credited with only ever wearing one color suit and saving his brainpower for more critical decisions. While it seems strange, this habit is based on several studies that show our willpower is finite and if we use it all in the morning deciding between three different tops, there is less for when we need to knuckle down and focus on an important task at work.
A few months ago, I decided to wear the same jewelry and shoes (these ones are super comfy and so darn cute!) to work each day. I have this gorgeous tote bag from Collette that I use for only for transporting my things to and from work. I use a capsule wardrobe of pencil skirts, white collared blouses, and dresses in navy, whites and red to make getting dressed in the morning a breeze. When it’s cold outside, I have a go-to coat and scarf that go with all my outfits.
On days when I’m not heading off to work, skinny jeans and t-shirts are my uniforms. I have a few more options in my wardrobe on these non-work days, but for the most part, I need to be comfortable and able to get down on the floor to play with kids. To make life extra easy, my children also have capsule wardrobes – navy and grey are their staples, and adding a few pops of color mean all their tops go with all their bottoms and I don’t worry about finding that particular top that works with the tights my toddler is adamant she’s wearing to daycare.
Phew! Ironic that my time-saving list is one of my longest posts to date? Hopefully, you’ve seen something here that can help you take control of your schedule and save a few minutes throughout the day. Give one of my tips and try and let me know how you go (or if you have any top tips I haven’t mentioned) in the comments!