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If there is one thing we are guaranteed, it is that we all get 24 hours in our day. Busy moms, whether you homeschool the kids, play chauffeur to kids for school and activities, or work from home find that there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. How to save time is a common pursuit.
For me, I have kids who are homeschooled, a child who was driven to and from school each day, and my various businesses (blogging and direct sales) which all vie for my attention. Sorry…unless I want to give up sleep more sleep or time with my family, there is little likelihood I will ever end my day with a checklist all checked off.
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Tip #1 on How to Save Time: Prioritize What Needs to be Done
…and be okay with ditching things that are really not that important.
I recognize that what is important to me might not be as important to you. Some of my homeschool friends gave up blogging as it just required too much of their attention. I’ve also talked with a few moms who’ve decided that housework was not a task they needed to spend their energy, so they hired someone to come take care of major tasks. I haven’t given up blogging as it is both a small source of income for our family AND something I typically enjoy. But, I’ll admit to letting the house slide until critical mass is reached.
As simple as this tip might sound, it can be VERY hard to ditch things if you are a DIYer. I come from a family line of DIY people which means the idea of paying someone to do something I know I can do just doesn’t pop to mind. But, my time has a value and sometimes the full cost of hiring someone to do a task is really less than if I had to carve out the time to do it. I still remember my dad trying to save about $50 by flushing the radiator of the van by himself. He figured it would be quick to do and a good return on his invested time. Only, the chemicals used in the process ended up spewing out and all over him. That money saved ended up being less than the hospital expenses not to mention pain and suffering.
Remember…everything has an opportunity cost and there are times when outsourcing a task is the best option.
Tip #2 on How to Save Time: Schedule what needs to be done
This could be a simple paper checklist for the day. Or, maybe a calendar/ planner like Franklin Covey offers. I really liked the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner as she includes a section for the must be done items that you should focus upon in the morning. (Review of 7 Minute Life Daily Planner.) If you know you HAVE to get certain tasks done and push off other things until after 11 am, it is amazing how much closer you get to your goals.
Keep in mind that your planner or list is only going to help you IF you use it. Some things might be more than you need at this season in your life, so find what fits for your needs. Or, adapt something so it works for you.
If you just need help on getting the housework done, then Motivated Moms maybe perfect for you. I have reviewed the Motivated Moms ebook in the past and dabbled with their app. Another great resource is Paperless Organization which talks about using Google Calendar, Remember the Milk and Evernote in a strategy to be on top of things without the paper.
Tip #3 on How to Save Time: When You Are Working on Priority Tasks, Turn Off the Distractions
What things in the house distract you from your tasks? Maybe it is having Facebook notifications pinging on your phone or the same thing for email on your computer. Or, as a homeschool mom with family living in a different time zone, it can be phone calls right in the middle of prime school time.
When you have a set time for a task, it is much easier to just close up those browser tabs, put your phone to do not disturb, and turn off the ringers on the house phone allowing an answering machine to pick up for you. I’ll admit to be guilty of running down rabbit trails rather than sticking to the task at times. Feelings of guilt also have hit at times when I’ve picked up the phone and had to tell the other person I can’t talk right now. But, if I allow everyone and everything to veer me off course, I’ll never get my must do tasks accomplished.
This also includes all those requests made by other people to do what they consider a simple task just because you do not work outside of the home. Do you ever get those? You know: “Something’s come up and I need you to cover my spot for xyz event?”, “We need a few dozen cookies / cupcakes baked for tomorrow, can I count on you?”, “Can you watch my young children for me so I can go do xyz?”, etc. I’m not saying those requests are always to be avoided. I’ve had times when someone helped me out in a pinch. I honestly believe we should be helpful where we can. However, I have spoken to many SAHMs and WAHMs who feel slammed and taken advantage of simply because they don’t have a job that takes them outside of the home.
Keep the needs of you and your family in mind and do not be afraid to say no!
Tip #4 on How to Save Time: Use Automation Tools to Help You
What automation tools you use will depending upon your needs.
Are you a homeschooling mom with a household to manage? Do you run a blog as a business or maybe a direct sales company with social media to manage? Or does your family have a business in which you are an active participant? If you manage the finances, setting up your bills to be on auto pay so you don’t miss a payment can be a very important automation tool. Yep, I’ve been there and done that more than I care to admit and boy does it sting to pay late fees and interest when your cash flow is already tight. Along with setting up auto pay, make sure you have an overdraft arrangement set up with your bank in case cash flow gets tight so you aren’t surprised by those fees.
As a blogger, I have begun to do more automation of social media sharing of my posts. A few weeks back, I wrote about CoSchedule (a paid service) which allows me to have social media messaging both shared and tracked through my WordPress dashboard. Instead of spending time each day considering which posts to be sharing, where to share them, and when, I can set up a stream of sharing when I am writing a post. Of course, I can also go back and add more shares later. I figure I am saving at least 10 to 15 minutes per day as well as giving more thought to my social media plan.
Tip #5 on How to Save Time: Plan Your Meals in Advance
…and maybe even precook some for the freezer!
Along with the fact we only have 24 hours in each day to use wisely, we also have this nagging need to eat. If there are kids or a spouse at home, then they probably want to eat, too. I do outsource some of the cooking to my teens as they need to have basic cooking skills. Plus, it helps the family in the process.
However, even with helpers there can be that nagging question of “What’s for dinner?” usually about 20 minutes before they want to eat. While I might be content to whip up a Shakeology for a meal or declare it is another salad night, I know that won’t fly for my guys. They are okay with salad topped with yummy Buffalo Chicken Salad on occasion, but not several nights a week. Also, my husband is not okay with the ‘raid the cupboard for dinner’ as a bowl of cereal just doesn’t have an appeal when he’s been working all day.
If you are constantly stuck on what to make that doesn’t involve the same rotation of 5 family favorites, then you might consider a meal planning service. I love Build a Menu as they now have 2 options: pick your own meals OR have 7 dinners planned out for you and emailed on a weekly basis. I’ve used the build your own off and on for over a year and can say that it makes a big difference when I use it compared to winging it all. I just recently started receiving the weekly emailed plan and hope to share more about that soon. I selected the Trim Healthy Mama styles foods to help me stick with that eating plan. (Read a review of the classic Build a Menu plan.)
The other thing that I will do is to double my recipes and freeze off half. Dishes like lasagna and chili work really well for this. Beyond having a few meals in the freezer ready to heat up on a busy night, I also do not find leftovers going to waste as people tend to forget what’s in the refrigerator. This can happen even with the boys’ favorites as I discovered a few slices of uneaten pizza in the back of the fridge when digging out the pepperoni to make a fresh batch last night. Finally, you can find more meal ideas in Simplified Pantry (both regular and gluten free versions available.)
What are some ways that you’ve found help you save time?
What are some of the big time sucks in your life?
For more time saving tricks, visit a few of my favorite blogs:
- Blogger Hacks and Tricks to Save Time by Ellen Blogs
- 6 iPad Apps that Actually Make Blogging Easier by Pretty Opinionated
- 5 Time Saving Tips for Bloggers by Biannual Blogathon
- Save time on Social Media with Facebook Interest Lists by Mom on the Side
- Warning; Wasted Time Is Wasted Money by I’m Dreaming Big