Life is hectic. Most people are balancing many responsibilities with little time to spare. Toss in an extra event (e.g. a relocation, a new baby, the holidays…), and time seems even more compressed. Until someone invents time travel, we’ve got to do all we can to use our time wisely.
If you are feeling a bit “pressed and stressed,” here are a few ideas on how to make the most of the 24 hours you’ve got each day.
Tricks for the Time-Crunched
√ Run the dishwasher every night and empty it every morning.
While I understand the desire to conserve energy, busy seasons demand a system that ensures predictability. Knowing when the dishwasher will be loaded and unloaded makes it easier for you to plan the necessary time into your day (or into another family member’s day). Furthermore, most dishwashers are now energy efficient, and use very little water. Lastly, this ensures you will clear away all dirty dishes before heading to bed, and thus be greeted by a clean kitchen in the morning.
√ Run a family meeting on Sundays to schedule the week ahead.
If you live alone, this isn’t necessary. However, if you are part of a multi-person household, this is a must. Much time gets wasted when you have to deal with unanticipated needs and conflicts. Gather everyone around the table and talk about who needs to be where by when during the upcoming week. Not only will you avoid having to answer questions and solve problems at inopportune moments, you may find it becomes a pleasant family time.
√ When in doubt, do it now.
Sometimes, although we have the time to complete a task in the moment, we put it off to another day. For example, “I could get gas today, but I really don’t feel like it, so I think I’ll just get it tomorrow.” The problem is, we never know what tomorrow will bring. You may wake up with a sick child rendering you unable to leave the house. Or, there may be an unanticipated amount of traffic, leaving you dangerously low on fuel while stuck between exits. Demanding seasons of life call for prompt action. If you are able to check something off your list in the current moment, don’t overthink it, just get it done.
√ Make sure all family members have some white space/downtime in their day.
As the old saying goes, “our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.” There is so much to do (both required and optional) that we overstuff the day with no margin for error. Many people are literally moving from one scheduled activity to another all day long. Unfortunately, most people can’t sustain this pace for very long. We end up missing small details, running late, and letting people down. Even the recreational activities can feel rushed and draining. When planning the day, make sure to have some space where you (and your children) don’t have to do anything. This provides a “cushion time” that can be used to catch up, rest, or zone out. In the long run, white space makes you more productive and calm.
√ Outsource what you can.
The business world has long embraced the idea of outsourcing, or hiring someone to perform some function that had previously been handled in house. Outsourcing is all about maximizing resources. Sometimes, time is more valuable than money. If you’ve been trying to “do it all” by yourself, step back and consider whether hiring someone to help out – even for a short period of time – might ease your burden and make a difference. For example…
- Pick up dinner on a day when you have no margin to cook.
- Hire a babysitter one Saturday morning so you zip through your errands.
- Take your holiday gifts to an event where volunteers wrap gifts in return for a donation to the charity.
- Hire a handyman to help you finally check off tasks from the list of house projects.
- Hire a virtual assistant to help with paperwork, business responsibilities, and correspondence.
- Hire a party planner to help run an event.
Make a list of the chores you are dreading and then consider if outsourcing might be worth it to lighten your load.
√ Put boundaries on your screen time.
Most of us feel we don’t have enough time. However, in some cases, we have time but are wasting it in front of screens. Games, websites and social media sites are captivating. They attract our attention to such an extent that we lose track of time; precious minutes we don’t have to waste. It isn’t necessary to avoid screen time all together, but it is important to avoid going down the rabbit hole. If you have a tendency to squander time in front of a screen, set a timer when you begin. This will require that you make an intentional choice in advance about how much time you are willing to allocate.
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A full life is a blessed life, but nobody enjoys feeling overwhelmed. What tips do you have for making the most of the time you have each day?