We’re all on a mission to save time. “I don’t have time”, “I’m too busy”, we’ve heard it all, and probably said it all too. Because today being busy has suddenly become cool and glamorized. It’s so common, that if you plan ahead and prioritized your life to have free time, social pressures can make you feel like you’re slacking off.
I often feel like not being busy would feel wrong. Like I’m not working hard enough and not doing enough as a mother. How crazy does that sound? (Or worse. How accurate does that sound?) If you are badass enough to have your stuff together and you now have a couple of hours of time to hang out with your little instead of going to workout, clean the house, work, or cook dinner, you are doing something right, not wrong!
I am always looking for ways to do everything I have on my plate in less time because I love leaving more room for time with my family. Here are 8 ways to save time each day, sometimes the smallest things make the biggest impact.
1. Say no to the things you don’t actually want to do
This is a huge one for my perfectionist people pleasers out there! (me)
Remember that thing you signed up to do every Tuesday and now you’re dreading it and thinking about what you’re missing with your daughter or your spouse every time you do it? Yeah. Cut it. Be honest with yourself and with the person you’re breaking the commitment with and cut it out of your life.
You can’t say “yes” to something on your schedule, without also saying no to something on your schedule. This concept really started to stick when I read The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. If you really put her concepts to practice, it can change your life.
2. Watch less tv
It is easier than ever to accidentally spend the entire night mindlessly watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. (Has this been worse for anyone else during COVID-times?) If you are struggling for time in your day, take a week or two and track exactly when you watch tv and for how long. You might be (not so pleasantly) surprised at how much time you spend in front of that screen.
Jeff and I gave up tv for lent last year and not only did we have more time, we didn’t miss it like we thought we would. It actually felt really good to cut it out. But I’ve also noticed that it’s a slippery slope for me. If I “watch one episode” that can easily get me hooked and next thing I know I’ve watched the whole season. Keeping it top of mind is crucial and setting some general rules is helpful too.
When you do you inventory of when you watch tv and for how long you will probably notice patterns of when tv becomes a mindless time suck instead of something you enjoy and then turn off. For me it’s a bad idea to turn the tv on as soon as we tuck the girls in for bed because it’s my first chance to completely relax for the night and I could easily sit there the whole night. (Hey, some nights you’re going to sit and watch tv (that’s ok!!), but for me feels best when I make a night of tv infrequent and intentional instead of often and accidental. Awareness is key.)
3. Plan ahead
Have you ever spent a perfectly good hour of time going from one activity to the next spinning in circles without ever really finishing anything? The other day while both girls were taking a nap I was so overwhelmed with all of the things I could be doing that I ended up half sweeping the floor, emptying the top of the dishwasher, and starting a load of laundry with a lot of ‘what the heck am I doing’ in between. It’s not very productive and it also drains my energy because I am annoyed with how terrible my use of time was.
Jeff and I spend a solid hour planning our week ahead on Sundays and it makes all of the difference. We know who is taking and picking up the girls from daycare, who is cooking dinner for the night, and what chores need to be completed in an out of the house. It’s not always perfect, but planning ahead sets everyone in our family up to make the most of each day.
4. Wake up earlier
Try waking up an hour earlier and before you go to bed, write down what you want to accomplish. Maybe you could get your workout in, you could start a load of laundry and listen to a podcast, and finally finish those thank you notes from your kiddos birthday party. When no one else is awake, you’d be amazed with what you can accomplish.
Many women respond back to this with “but I need to sleep” and I totally agree. This goal might require you going to be earlier, which save you time in the end because you are being productive with the hour in the morning, but likely doing things like scrolling through your IG stories and watching Friend’s for the 10th time late at night.
That time would be much better spent in the morning getting stuff done. If you want some morning inspiration, here’s what I do each morning.
p.s. if you want some accountability, join me at 5am on Instagram every weekday morning! I’m working my way back to this routine when Nellie sleeps 🙂
5. Meal prep
I am pretty simple and uncomplicated when it comes to cooking. I like to eat fresh, healthy-ish meals that don’t take a lot of time. Part of the reason I keep my ingredients and cooking methods so simple is because I don’t love cooking enough to spend that much time on it, I’d rather save the time. Also, it’s a mess to prep! The thought of having a counter full of dirty dishes, measuring cups, cutting boards and knives is extremely unappealing to me. Because it’s a mess and it takes time to clean all of that up, why not do a big clean up once a week instead of seven days a week?
After you go grocery shopping spent a couple of hours cutting up vegetables, cooking meats, and packaging up lunches. The amount of time you save during the week prepping and cleaning up will feel so good, you might just look forward to meal prepping each week.
My brother and sister in law bought bento boxes and cook all of their lunches and dinners on Sunday and put them into their bento box so they have nothing to do during the week but heat it up. Not only does this save a bunch of time, you’re way more likely to eat health meals when they are already prepped and ready for you to eat. Meal prepping is something that I am still working on incorporating into my routine, but when I do it, it feels a-mazing and I am way less stressed after work when it’s time to make dinner, give Hayes a bath, and put her to bed.
6. Have social media free hours
If you pay attention to it, it’s a little scary how often we grab our phones to scroll for absolutely no reason. It can certainly fill in the gaps in your day, but it also might take up a little more time than you bargained for. Have you ever started to scroll and by the time you look up 20 (30?) minutes have passed? Yikes.
Screen tracking data on my iPhone has helped me become aware of how much time I spent on social media and that awareness has helped me cut back on the time I reach for my phone for no reason. So starting with awareness might be enough to slowly take back your time.
I’ve also set personal boundaries for when I use my phone during certain parts of the day. Jeff and I stack our phones during dinner (after I’ve taken a photo of our yummy meal, of course) and I put my phone to charge in my bathroom starting at 9pm and don’t touch it until my alarm goes off in the morning. This totally helps avoid the evening mindless scroll (which also keeps you up longer at night because of the light—double whammy!)
7. Batch anything you can
Ok, you might not know what I mean by batch. Batch work is something that makes content marketers geek out because it’s so darn efficient. Instead of writing a blog post here and writing a blog post there, batching encourages you to write a bunch of blogs posts in one day because when you get into “the zone” you can knock out a bunch at once instead of having to start, stop, start, and take the time to get in and out of the material.
Because productivity makes me so darn happy. I like to take the batching concept I use in my work into my daily life. Why clean one bathroom today and one tomorrow when I can knock all three out right now? Much like the benefit of meal prepping, taking an activity that you repeat over and over during the week and combining it into one activity can make save a ton of time.
8. Multi-task the right things
To a productivity lover like myself, the concept of multi-tasking is so intriguing. You do two things at once. You save time. You increase your productivity. All of that sounds fantastic for a mom who is always looking for an extra minute. But multitasking isn’t really effective and it might end up taking you longer to do things because of multi-tasking.
I have found this to be true for
certain most things, but for there are few exceptions where I have found multi-tasking to work for me in regards to household tasks. Check out my post linked for the details.
Tell me your favorite ways to save time
What other strategies do you use to find more time in your day? I know I am missing some and I want to learn from what you guys do! Fill me in, please.