Recently, I had the privilege of getting to know the mother of a dear friend. We talked about the trials and stresses of new home ownership and tight finances when you’re starting out in family life. For instance, when she was a new mother (with four children) and they moved into their home, she said it was 100 small things that got them through, like the move from brand name Cheerios to knock off bags of cereal. Finding ways to free more time in your schedule is like that, too. To jump start your own path of 100 small things, today I offer you 33 ideas to spark more free time.
33 Ideas to Spark More Free Time
- Mix your favorite go-to spices (cinnamon and sugar counts!)
- Use Youtube to learn how to slice weird shaped fruit or veggies
- Download an app so you can capture your mental to-do list on the fly
- Put your keys in the right hand pocket every time
- Use Amazon auto-ship for toiletries that you buy every month (works for diapers, too!)
- Create a family habit of 10-minute cleanup before the bedtime routine starts
- Have multiple laundry baskets so that you can sort clothes as you take them off
- Make your kids and spouse responsible for packing their own lunches
- Set out your outfits for the entire week (no more rushing around to find the right shirt!)
- Put only the utensils you most often use in your kitchen utensil drawer
- Use see-through food storage containers so your food doesn’t go to waste
- Set your email account to automatically file e-receipts in a separate folder
- Get yourself on the federal do-not-mail (or call) lists
- When you’re online shopping, commit to purchasing from a company you trust and avoid wasting time on bargain hunting
- Unsubscribe from listservs whose emails you never open
- Use your lunch break to squeeze in a workout or a trip to the gas station
- Elbows up! Learn to gracefully say “no” to activities you would rather not do
- Plan for activities you *do* want to do, so that they are sure to happen
- Ask yourself, “does this serve me?” when you’re doing something that’s not productive. (Sometimes the answer is yes, in which case you should absolutely continue!)
- Set a timer for things you know could accidentally make you lose track of time, like online shopping, Facebook, or reading a book.
- Chop extra veggies while you’re in the kitchen and freeze what you don’t use
- Batch cook
- Don’t set a snooze alarm (you won’t hit snooze too many times, plus you’ll sleep longer)
- Stack your folded laundry in a way that lets you see everything, so you’re not digging for what you want.
- Give away jewelry you don’t use anymore
- Organize your grocery list by section of the store
- Set boundaries with what your little ones play with…you should not have to search for things that you actually need.
- Get your spouse and kids on board with choosing a home for things that sort of float around (in our house, it’s the salt shaker).
- Keep a just-in-case bag that lives in the car (water, diapers, extra clothes, snacks, toys, sunscreen, lotion and earrings for you…). It’s your backup to the bag that goes with you everywhere.
- Create a routine that helps you see where your time-saving gaps are. For us, setting 6:00 as dinner time set off a whole chain reaction of choices that help us get to 6:00 without stress.
- Set up auto bill pay for as many things as you can.
- Use mini-gaps between activities to start a piece of housework
- Throw a pillowcase in with the laundry loads, so you have a backup “basket” to stuff clothes in if the actual basket wanders off.
Commit to Actively Looking for Time Saving Moments
Saving time is a journey that will never end, because our lives constantly change. The kids get older, we get new jobs, sports come and go, we try new hobbies… Along the way, you’ll figure out some time saving tricks that you keep around, but there are others that will only be discovered when life calls you to new rhythms and routines.
Your challenge is to commit to actively looking for those 100 small things you can do to save time. You’ll know you are successful because suddenly you have 10 minutes to read a book, or you’re playing with your kids before dinner when there used to be no time. Maybe you’re getting a little more sleep. Maybe you finish the dishes and look around and think, “Now what do I do?” (Yes, this can be you!)
Whatever it is that you long for, its 100 small choices that save time that will get you there. Plus, you’ve got a head start with these 33 ideas to spark more free time. Get going, mama bear! I believe in you.
***How about you? What are the small things you do that save a tiny bit of time? Please share in the comments! You never know who you might be helping out. May our loving energy inspire and cheer each other on. Go mama!