If you’d like to know how to save time in your busy day, I’m here to help. Time is that elusive thing that slips away from us so quickly! The alarm goes off and before we know it, we’re racing out the door, whether that’s to shuttle kids to and fro or head to an office job. Then, when we get home, it can feel like a race to make dinner, review homework, work on a project. You get where I’m going with this. Well, I feel your pain and that’s why I’m sharing what I’ve done over the years to get more done and stress less!
I have friends who claim I’m Superwoman, with boundless energy, able to do it all. But the truth is, I’ve just learned to prioritize. And I’ve learned from my own mistakes, trust me!
If you’re constantly feeling frazzled, I suggest you first take a hard look at your routine and determine your pain points. In many cases, there are little tweaks you can make that will ease your load if you’re willing to find that discipline. I had a co-worker who once said everything you do comes with a choice, and she was right. If I choose to not do something that’s been nagging at me, that’s on me.
In the Morning
I have a set time to wake up, and set windows of time for breakfast, walking the dogs, and getting ready for work. That means if I choose to hit the snooze button, something has to give to keep me on schedule. In most cases for me, the dogs will get a shorter walking time. Our dogs love their walks, and I like that time with them too, so that’s an incentive for me to get up on time.
Although you don’t want to get yourself overscheduled, it’s important to have some sort of daily schedule established to keep stress levels down. A set wake-up time and breakfast is a good starting point.
Some little things you can do to make mornings go smoother involve preparation the night before. If you’re wondering how to save time in the morning, try these:
- packing lunches
- setting your coffeemaker to brew when you wake up
- checking the next day’s weather so appropriate clothing can be picked
If you need to be somewhere at a set time, whether that’s to work or to drop kids off at school, check apps like Waze or similar to see if there are any reported accidents or other issues that may mean taking a detour along the way.
I can’t speak for you, but my to-do lists sometimes have to-do lists of their own! How to save time at work is a goal each and every week for me! Here are my tips:
Start each day by reviewing what’s on your plate, evaluate pending due dates, and prioritize accordingly. Days sometimes do not go as planned, so evaluate your list daily. Then:
- Give your tasks and anyone you have a meeting with your full attention. Block off time on a shared calendar. A pending deadline is not the time to get distracted by emails that keep landing in your inbox.
- Set breaks. You’re human if you hit the wall while working on a big project. Small breaks give you a few minutes to be “off task” and recharge. Refill your water bottle, take a quick stroll, and respond to emails at set times.
- Ask if you really need to be in a newly scheduled meeting or if the meeting time or datecan be moved.
- Get help from co-workers who may be able to do a few minor things for you while you focus on that big project.
- See if working at home is a possibility on a day when you’re really busy. Commute time adds up!
At the Gym
I need to get my daily endorphins, but spending hours working out each day is not in the cards. I teach classes a few days a week, so I use that time to do cardio and lift weights. However, on days I’m not teaching, I get that dog walk done early in the morning so I can crank out a short run or bike ride.
I’m not typically someone who wants to exercise after a long workday, so early in the morning works for me! If you’re the opposite, do what works for you. If you like going to the gym but can’t work in a class, be purposeful with the time you have. Hit a treadmill for half of the time you have and get a weight circuit in for the second half for the best calorie burn.
In the Kitchen
Planning meals each week is a great timesaver. It certainly beats scratching your head as you look in your fridge, wondering what you’ll cobble together. It also helps you waste less food and buy less, too. Other things that significantly help me save time in the kitchen are:
- Chopping vegetables for weeknight dinners all at the same time. No more washing the cutting board each and every day!
- Keeping an active grocery list right on the fridge. As soon as I run out of something I use all the time, it goes on the list.
- If I’m baking or cooking something that takes a lot of utenils and pans, I wash them as I use them. Cleanup becomes a breeze instead of a burden.
- Using tools like my airfryer or Instant-Pot to get food on plates quickly on crazy-busy days.
Learn to Prioritize
There are some things you just can’t put off indefinitely, and you know what those are. The things we continually push to the backburner are typically “dreaded” items. But continually choosing to put them off to the side yet again will only stress you out more, whether that’s a conversation you’re not looking forward to having or a big project you just can’t seem to find your motivation to do. I’ve found in many cases, we tend to think the worst will happen, but the reality usually isn’t nearly as bad. Learning how to save time involves prioritizing what’s most important first.
Big projects can be broken down into chunks so you can cross off them off a list like this one I created for spring cleaning. Each cross out is a little sigh of relief and it’s much better than flooding your body with stress-induced cortisol. Prioritizing also helps keep you from getting distracted. This morning, I knew I had only a tiny bit of time to spend in the garden before getting ready for work, so I picked tomatoes. I know I have to weed too but picking is what’s getting done today. Weeding is on another day’s list. Do what you can in the time that you have.
- Reject multitasking. It’s ineffective and your attention will not be solely on what you need to do. Check out this article on how inefficent multitasking really makes us. Practice staying in the moment. The quality of what you’re focusing on will be so much better.
- Use down time wisely. Going to a doctor appointment where you know there will be significant waiting? Bring that book you want to finish reading, those papers that need to be graded, that grocery list that has to be made. Same things for car trips where you’re not the driver.
- Commute time is perfect for catching up on podcasts or audio books.
- Set a timer for certain tasks so you don’t get sucked down a rabbit hole. When the time is up, move on to something else.
- Finish what’s nearly done before moving on to something else. It’s better to have something crossed off your list instead of continually adding to it.
- Learn to say no. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do sometimes, but it’s better for your own mental health to not overcommit if you’re already stressed out.
I hope these tips that work for me can be helpful to you. Learning to manage stress isn’t always easy, but the tools for doing it successfully are totally in your grasp. Most of all, though, it’s essential so you can truly enjoy the life you’re living!