Sunday, August 13, 2006

10 ways to save time for what matters most

It seems like everywhere you go, you hear the same message. I don't have enough time, I need more time, I'd love to exercise more, play more, __________ more (fill in the missing word) but I just don't have the time.

Here are a few of my favourite time-savers. If you have any more to share with me (and your fellow readers), please post them in the comments section below.

1. Do your grocery shopping when the stores are empty
I've started doing our weekly shop on Friday nights at 6.30. My favourite Pick & Pay closes at 7pm so the store is not very full and all of us shoppers are in "accomplish" mode so not a lot of browsing and so on. We're armed with our lists and get on with the job. I've saved at least an hour from doing the weekly shop on Saturdays like I used to do.

2. Whenever you cook, cook double
I cook at least double of everything for the nights when I have coaching appointments or consultations in the evenings. It then takes just a few minutes to defrost in the microwave and saves me about 30 minutes (you guys know I don't believe in spending a lot of time in the kitchen anyway, unless it's to organise something J ). You can freeze individual portions of just about anything – soup, rice, casseroles, etc.

3. When you return home from the shops, cut all your vegetables immediately.
Yes, it will take a bit of time, but it saves you time during the week when you're busy. Remember, you can spend some time every night getting out all your chopping boards, knives, etc. AND cleaning it afterwards, or you can do it once a week. I vote for once a week. Do the same for your meat and chicken if you separate it out for different meals.

4. Set up a menu plan for the week
I mentioned this point last month with regard to saving money, but the best part of it for me is that it saves me time. You don't have the indecision every night of opening that fridge or cupboard and wondering what to cook. It's already decided. Try it and see – you won't look back. You can download a
free menu planner off my website.

5. Choose your clothes in the evening
This is another underestimated time saver. When you choose your clothes in the evening, you can see if your shoes need to be cleaned, if all the buttons on your shirt are still intact, and so on. Then in the morning, and if you're like me, you need all the help you can get just to get out of bed, you're set to go.

6. Pack your lunch in the evening
Not only does this save time, but it also helps you to remember everything. I have a little cooler bag that I use to pack my lunch while supper is cooking (or defrosting). I pack my sandwich, cereal, yoghurt, my cup-a-soup and my two fruits.

7. Use TV time for other mindless tasks
I understand that TV is relaxation time but this works for me. I exercise with weights, wrap gifts, pack my bag, update my diary, sew buttons, go through my old magazines, etc, etc. all while watching TV. The list goes on and on. At least at the end of a show, I feel like I've accomplished something instead of just being a couch potato.

8. Tape TV programmes and watch them on video later
I'm a HUGE Dr. Phil fan and I tape the programme every day. If I had to sit and watch the programme live (well, first of all, it's right in the middle of the day) it would take an hour, or to be more precise, 58 minutes. Because I tape it and fast forward through all the ads, it takes only 43 minutes. The reality TV shows like Survivor, Amazing Race and The Apprentice are usually only about 37 minutes long. Just goes to show how they plug all the shows with ad breaks.

9. Batch routine tasks
Keep all your filing together so that you file 5 things at once. Make all your telephone calls at the same time. Write out all greeting cards for the month at one time. And wrap all the gifts at one time too – yes, in front of the TV!

10. Automate as much as you can
This is what I'm trying to do with the business more and more, like
automating this newsletter, so I can focus more time on my core genius. For example, I use the AutoText function in Microsoft Word extensively for all emails I write a lot, like questions on my coaching and workshops, my e-signature, etc. I'm actually also busy compiling these into a FAQ page which I'll upload to the website soon. I read a great tip in an online newsletter recently. Whenever you comment on a blog, make it meaningful and use the same wording as a post on your own blog. I did this with my spending fast post on the blog. By the way, I'm going to discuss lots more of these types of productivity-type tips at the Spring into Organising workshop.

Bonus tip - say no to things you don't want to do.
That's all I'm going to say because this is the topic for next month's newsletter!

Do you want to use this article? You may, as long as you include this complete bio with it:
Marcia Francois, the Take Charge coach and professional organiser, coaches people to reach their goals and maximise their potential. She publishes the popular “Take charge of your life” monthly ezine. If you're ready to finally live your dream life, get your FREE subscription now at

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