If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. Why? Because he has an extra Saturday once a month? Of course, not! A busy person has learned to make the most of his time. And more often than not, a busy person is busy doing fun things as well as well as productive things!
Most people think that time is finite. It is, and it isn’t. That is, time can be manipulated much like a rubber band. Sixty minutes spent by one person may be elongated by another. It’s all a matter of learning a few easy tricks and tools.
Most people leave chores until the weekend. I remember my mom bleaching and scrubbing things on the weekend because it was Saturday and it was a “Saturday” chore. In short, it was the way it had always been done. I remember thinking that as a beautiful summer weekend day would crop up, it seemed like a waste to be spending it dusting, watering plants, etc., when those jobs could be done just as easily another day. As I grew up, I turned that concept on its ear, vowing to take back at least one bright sunny day a month.
First, for the record, for as much as Americans complain about being busy, the fact is according to time use studies, we have the most free time. Still, we feel like we are hamsters on a treadmill. To me, that can only mean that we don’t know how to get the most bang for our time buck. Here are some of the tricks I’ve used to gain that ever-elusive extra time:
The main concept is that if you get it done during the week, or during odd, late-night times, you will free up more time on the weekend or large chunks of time after work which can be filled with leisure activities. So think double duty. While you are tuning in to Lost or 24, fold a load of laundry, clean out the kitchen utensil drawers, organize your toolbox. These are all things you might group together to do on the weekend. What a waste! Do it little by little as you are watching a favorite show or listing to a CD, and you’re ahead of the game.
I also reserve bookwork for TV time. Bill paying, paperwork sorting, and filling out forms are ideal all things people put off to do separate afternoon. Most often, these tasks are time consuming but not difficult, so it doesn’t make sense to devote a lovely, free day to doing them.
Love Those Commercials. I have REPLAY TV, but I don’t always fast forward through the commercials. Long before the advent of DVR, REPLAY TV and TV, I figured out a way to make commercials work for me instead of allowing them to suck up the last little bit of gray matter in my brain. It’s my own form of Beat the Clock, only I race against commercials. For the TV shows I allow myself, when a commercial comes on, I attempt to complete a few minor tasks. Normally, I stick with cleaning out the dishwasher or filling the dishwasher up. How much can you get done in a typical 30-second break?
Dinner Time. We all know to cook a double helping of a meal to freeze for another night to save time. Consider cooking an offshoot meal as well. When I brown ground beef and onions for spaghetti sauce, for example, I make a batch with peppers as well to be used for enchiladas later.
Five a Day. This isn’t a vitamin or mineral regime, but it is my new personal favorite pick me up of sorts. I’ve added this one recently. I put together the daily to-do list, even if by this point in my life I can do most of it mentally. At the end of the day, I add in 5 extra things not on the list, and things not likely to make it on the list anytime soon. One night, I updated my credit card accounts and cancelled unwanted cards. A quick wipe down of the kitchen counters gives your kitchen a fresh look without the full-day clean. Last night, I cleaned out my refrigerator while I made a fresh cup of hot chocolate.
Up and Down. My mother had a rule: If you went up the stairs, you had better grab something that belonged upstairs. If you were coming down, you needed to carry down dishes, clothing, boxes, anything that didn’t belong in the upstairs space. Never walk with your arms swinging. Think about it, if you leave it until one time, you can spend an entire afternoon retrieving and returning goods to their proper places. Chip away at it a little at a time and it’s not so painful.
Finally, delegate. Don’t be a saint. Get others to help you. For laundry, if you wash the family clothing, for example, set down ground rules, then stick to them. For starters, shirts that come to you inside out, will be folded inside out. They’ll get the idea, and if they don’t, you’ve still have saved your own time.
As for putting away the clothes, think color coordinated. Each family member gets his own colored laundry basket. When you fill it up, deposit it into the proper room and let them worry about it.
Better yet, teach them how to wash their own clothes. Even if they take responsibility for just their own sheets, that’s one load of washing and drying you are not involved with.
Add up all of these little tricks, and you’ll be adding minute after minute, hour after hour of free time. It may be a bit of a time management-induced illusion—but who cares?