Have you ever wished you had an extra 10 or 15 minutes to add to your day? You might fantasize that with all that extra time you could get caught up on your to-do list or snag some extra, much-needed sleep.
While there are only 24 hours in a day no matter how you slice it, you can find ways to make the most out of the time you have. Here are surefire ways to create time-saving habits without sacrificing sleep or sanityin the process:
Keep things in their place
Probably the biggest, most frustrating time-waster in a busy woman’s day is spent looking for things that she needs and uses all the time. Things like your keys, wallet and remote control are all easy to lose track of if they don’t have a regular home.
But there are simple fixes: Get a pretty bowl to keep on your coffee table for your remote controls. Put a little hook or nail in a wall near your door and hang your keys on it every day when you get in. Buy some of those pens-on-a-chain (like they have at the bank) and stick a few around the house so you don’t have to write your shopping list in green crayon.
Learn the quickest route to work and other places you visit often
Consider this recent piece of news: UPS has implemented technology in their delivery trucks that chooses routes for drivers that don’t require them to take left turns. Why? The time spent idling and the fuel used sitting in the turn lane or waiting for traffic to clear was cutting into their productivity and profit.
Your time is just as valuable. Shortening your commute should your first priority. Clock yourself taking side streets instead of freeways and going longer distances on streets where traffic moves faster. Consider changing your hours so you can skip the jams. Look into public transportation options that allow you to get to your destination, help the environment, and catch up on some pleasure reading in the process.
Prepare your morning the night before
Unless you’re a morning person, you probably aren’t moving very quickly when you first wake up. To help get you going before your mind is fully engaged, give yourself a little help. Lay out your clothes the night before, and come up with a backup outfit, too. You may change your mind based on your mood, the weather or other unpredictable factors.
Before you head to bed, prepare your breakfast as much as possible, take out the items you’ll need and keep them on the counter or front and center in your refrigerator. Gather whatever you normally take to work, prepare your packed lunch and make sure the car is parked where you need it to be to get out quickly. (Police officers are trained to park their cars facing out whenever possible, so if they’re sent on a call, they can pull out quickly. Maybe adapt this thinking for your own situation.)
Plan your food in advance
Try to cut down grocery shopping to once a week. When you’re in the store, be aware of what you need and what you don’t. You can squander countless minutes perusing unnecessary aisles and contemplating which products you have coupons for and which you don’t. If saving money is a priority, plan ahead and come up with a strategy so that you’re not having to do mental math while standing in the canned goods aisle to figure out which items are most cost-effective .
If most of your time is spend wandering aimlessly or backtracking to pick up something you missed, a few extra minutes spent at home coming up with a list and writing it out in the order that you normally travel through the store will pay off.
A DVR — digital video recorder — can save precious moments that you’d normally spend watching commercials. The average 30 minute show on television actually contains only 22 minutes of content. That means that if you set your TiVo to record at the beginning of your chosen show, you can skip all 8 minutes of ads, and you won’t miss a thing.
Make laundry easier on yourself
Get separate baskets for whites and colors and put dirty clothes in the appropriate basket after wearing them. When you’ve finished the load, hang or fold clothes right away. For most items, this will eliminate the need for ironing altogether and keep you from spending time rummaging through the dryer to find the shirt you wanted to wear.
Another time-consuming element of laundry is matching up your socks. Save time by buying several of the same pair of basic colors — like black and white — so matching socks is easy.
By making these simple choices into habits, you’ll be able to devote the time saved to more productive and entertaining activities than searching for lost items — which means just about everything else in life!