Let’s admit it — saving time is hard. Whether we’re rushing to work, rushing home to make dinner, or rushing to pick up the kids and take them to practice, we all seem to be short on the same thing — time. Here are some ways that can help you add more minutes to your day.
Make breakfast ahead of time
Since you’re likely trying to reinforce to your family the importance of eating breakfast, resorting to a protein bar in an effort to save time isn’t doing you any favors. A great way to ensure you’re getting a good breakfast — while also saving the 10 minutes to make it — is to premake breakfast sandwiches, suggests Amanda Mushro, creator of Questionable Choices in Parenting.
Over the weekend, crack an egg into each cup of a lightly greased muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Place the eggs onto English muffins with cheese and your breakfast meat of choice, and then freeze to heat up during the week. Or freeze fruits and veggies in baggies or food storage containers to blend into smoothies during the week.
Organize toy cleanup
To make toy clean up a breeze and save on the sorting time, put a picture of each type of toy on stackable storage bins, suggests Mushro. This way, all of the dolls go in one bin while the Legos and the blocks go in another.
Besides making the playroom more organized, it can also encourage each kid to get involved in cleaning up since even the youngest can help sort the toys based on the bins’ pictures, says Mushro.
One of the best ways to save time is to time yourself, especially if it involves any mundane tasks such as chores, says Bonnie Joy Dewkett, a professional organizer and founder of The Joyful Organizer. Either set a ticking timer or use a visual timer like the Time Timer.
Better yet, get the whole family involved by doing a cleanup between dinner and dessert, she says. Not only will this get the dishes done in record time, it will also motivate the family to “work” for their sweet reward.
Get ahead of events
A favorite time-saver of Dewkett’s is to take note of all upcoming events (birthdays, graduations, anniversaries) happening in the month ahead. Then she’ll buy all of the cards and any gifts in one swoop, saving herself time and multiple trips in the weeks ahead. The same practice can work if you prefer not to leave home. Just keep your list handy, and do all of your online shopping at once at the start of the month.
One surefire way to save yourself an easy 10 minutes is to stop trying to do everything yourself, Supermom. Whether it’s asking your husband to pick up the dry cleaning or trading off carpooling with the neighbors, you’ll breathe easier when you can outsource at least one task a day.
And don’t forget to use your kids wisely. Even if it means having to take the time to teach them how to do laundry or load the dishwasher, it will benefit everyone in the long run. Plus, they’ll likely be thrilled you’re giving them more responsibility, says Dewkett.
Keep a time journal
Before you bypass this tip because it doesn’t sound all that time-saving, just hear us out. While it may take some time at first to jot down how you’re spending your days, it will help you identify where you might be wasting time — which will end up saving you a lot of time in the long run.
Dewkett recommends keeping a journal for one to two weeks to give yourself a general idea of how you’re structuring your days. Then, pinpoint some of the “black holes” in your schedule that are eating up your time. In Dewkett’s experience, the biggest ones are typically social media, TV, and shopping.
“I’ve yet to have one client who really knows how long they spend in Target,” she says. Just being aware of your tendencies to spend more time than you’d like on certain activities will save at least 10 minutes (if not more) every day.
With the modern conveniences of technology, a bevy of time-wasting distractions are usually close behind. To keep yourself from going down the Facebook-browsing rabbit hole, schedule time each day to turn off the Internet and put your phone in your desk drawer so you won’t be tempted to peek at it every time the screen lights up.
If your willpower is wavering, try an app like Freedom or LeechBlock, which will temporarily block the Internet or any distracting social media sites.