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Do you find yourself constantly wishing for more hours in a day and asking yourself “where does the time go?”

Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.”  Well, we can’t get back the time lost yesterday, but we can certainly make changes today to have more time tomorrow.

The decisions we make about how we go about doing things each day have a ripple effect on our lives that can impact how much time we have to do things later.  Our routines and schedules both at work and at home can affect our ability to be successful.  The more time you have to rest, exercise, eat well, have down time with friends, family or even alone the better balanced you will be and therefore more focused and productive you can be at work.

If you are tired and stressed about how you will meet expectations and demands outside of the office it will carry over during the workday which ultimately impacts your performance.  Ever known anyone to doze off in a meeting or at their desk?  Perhaps there was some way they could organize their time a little better to get more sleep.

Do you throw your clothes on the shelf in your closet instead of hanging up or putting in the hamper when you get home from work?  This is something I am constantly working on myself!! 😉

Does that mean you end up running a little late to work by the end of the week because you spent 15 minutes rummaging around in a message closet?  Perhaps you have to come home a little early from a team building happy hour to sort out the mess because you have a jam-packed schedule over the weekend.

Or worst yet you planned to wear a blouse for that important presentation and decided if you keep your blazer buttoned no one would notice how wrinkled it was.  Regardless a few minutes spent each day can save a bunch of time, stress, and aggravation later on.

Below are a few other things that you can do to be more efficient with your time and hopefully earn back a few minutes or hours in the week to either get more done or even better yet…get more sleep!

Double Time

Do you have a pharmacy near your work?  Instead of making a special trip or stopping on your way home at the location by your house, why not pick up prescriptions at lunchtime?

Does your Supermarket offer online grocery shopping that you can pick up on your way home?  The one by my house charges $5 per order or an annual fee of $99 for unlimited pick-ups over $25.  Think about that…if you get groceries every week it would cost you an extra $1.90 for someone else to do the shopping for you.

Now I have to be honest I was VERY cynical about this concept when I first hear about it…it seemed very snobby plus I actually enjoy food shopping.  However, when I considered that it was at least an hour spent wandering around the store that I could spend with my family or friends doing something even more fun, the decision was easy.  Plus, how often do you shop hungry after work and throw random things in the cart that you don’t need, which ends up costing you more both in calories and dollars!

Delegate

Look at all of the tasks you do in a week.  Do YOU need to do all of them?  Can your co-workers, significant other, roommate, parents help?  I completely understand that you know if you do them they will be done correctly…but you might be robbing yourself of precious time.

Do you use the dry cleaner?  Perhaps your spouse or roommate drives past one or works right near one.  Why not ask them to drop off and pick up?

Do you do all of the cleaning around the house?  Could you talk to your roommate and come to a compromise so that you both are doing some of the chores?

How about in the office, do you go to every meeting?  Do you need to?  Could you ask an intern, new or junior staff member to cover one meeting a week?  This would give you more time at your desk to catch up on things you needed to do and perhaps avoid having to stay late that day.  Note that not only is this good for you but you are helping to develop that other team member by offering them the opportunity to attend a meeting they wouldn’t normally and then briefing you on it.  Of course, if you just add another meeting to your calendar in that spot then…you didn’t really improve things.  🙂

Say No

You are one person, you can only do so much in a day.  Consider this when someone asks you to take on more work.  Ask yourself how the added task will impact your schedule. We often do not want to say no but if we add too much on our plates then we are actually losing. Losing quality time with friends and family, losing health due to stress and sleep, and possibly losing the confidence of those who are depending on us because the quality of your efforts is diminished.

When considering taking on a new task such as driving carpool for a child’s sporting activity, volunteering at a church bake sale, or taking on an extra project at work ask yourself the following questions and be truthful!

  • How will this impact my schedule?
  • Can I be reliable and do this every day/week/month?
  • What will I need to cut out or change in order to fit this in?
  • Is this more important than what I need to cut out or change?
  • Does this task interest me? Do I really want to do it?
  • Will I benefit from this task?
  • Can I do the task well?

Some of these questions may sound self-serving but why shouldn’t they be?  You are being asked to spend YOUR time doing something.  Be protective of your time if it isn’t going to be worth it for you emotionally, spiritually, and financially then you might consider other ways to better spend your time.

Plan Ahead

There are many recurring tasks we tackle each week.  Some need to be done at certain times but others can be very flexible.  Are there things you can do ahead of time to save time later?

Do you bring lunch to work?  Do you struggle every night to get dinner on the table at a reasonable time?  Why not cook up a bunch of food on a Sunday afternoon while watching the big game?  You can portion and package it up individually then refrigerate or freeze it.  Now when you are running out the door in the morning you can just grab the container to take with you.  Or simply reheat when you get home in the evening for dinner.

Soups, stews, and casseroles are great for this and if you prefer to eat healthier think grilled meats and veggies which freeze and reheat well too! There are loads of recipe websites and apps these days. Try googling “make-ahead meals” to get some ideas.

Multi-task

Women are champion multi-taskers!!  Chances are you are already doing this throughout the day but where else can you apply it?  What else can you do while commuting?  Do you drive, take a bus, or train?  How about using that time to read or listen to audiobooks?

Wait…you could use the time to plan your meals for the week, then you could make your grocery list, and then you can order them online to pick up on your way home!  See what I did there? 😉

While you are doing the cooking and food prep on Sunday could you listen to a book on tape or podcast?  Catch up on the shows you keep recording on the DVR that constantly seem to disappear because it is full to the brim?

What about a new skill you want to learn or a language you’ve always wanted to learn?  There are podcasts and webinars for EVERYTHING these days…how about downloading a few and listen to your headphones while folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen?  I’m not sure it will make scrubbing out the fridge more fun but at least you can check more things off that never-ending to-do list!

I am always looking for more ways to be more efficient and there are some weeks I do a great job while others…I’m just a big ‘ol slacker.  Allow yourself that.  Sometimes we need it to motivate us to be better the next week.  If you are disappointed in your lack of time then harness that energy into changing some things to improve it.  I promise you, when you somehow manage to finish everything on your list for the afternoon and find that you can take the puppy for a long walk or play a game with your child, or even just sit and read that mystery novel that has been sitting on your nightstand for months…you will be so happy you did.

Remember, your time may be finite, but the ways in which you can spend it is INFINITE!

 

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