Yes, you can save yourself time by managing your household more efficiently.
Maybe you never realized that running a household requires management skills before, but it does. If you want to save time, turn your attention inward, to how you live every day. Ignoring how you set up and run your household is in and of itself a self-defeating behavior.
Managing your household wisely, and thus your time, involves setting up good boundaries. These boundaries are not for others per se, rather they are for yourself and how you spend your time.
All your household tasks can either be a source of wasted time or a way for you to squeeze a little more time out of your day. I’ve picked the ones that will provide the most extra time for you if managed right.
Meal planning is part of managing your household. You may not realize how much time and resources you waste when you don’t plan meals carefully. Most people throw out about 30 percent of the food that they purchase. If a restaurant did that, they’d go under. If you want to avoid wasting food but also avoid wasting time, take the time now to organize and plan your meals for the seasons, months, weeks, and days.
A great time saver is using a menu planning app that allows you to collect and keep favorite or new recipes, create a menu plan, create and connect your shopping list to an online store or order delivery service. Here’s my favorite.
Grocery Pickup or Delivery
Instead of spending time shopping, these days in most areas, you can order your groceries for delivery, or you can order them and then go pick them up. This service is a lifesaver and will save you a minimum of an hour and for many people much more time. Plus, most people report that they not only save time but money because they’re planning more carefully and not buying extra last-minute impulse items.
Other meal time lifesavers include prepared meals that are delivered and ready to heat up or meal kits that package all necessary ingredients into one grocery sack and have incredibly easy instructions on large colorful recipe cards. This one is my family’s personal favorite.
Limit Screen Time
Yes, managing your household includes managing how you spend your time in it. Of all the things that people waste time on, television, computers, and smartphones are at the top of the list. There is nothing wrong with enjoying entertainment and screens on a limited basis, but the four to five hours a day that you spend on average is a definite roadblock to productivity in your life.
Instead, find out what’s on or take note of how you like to spend your time on electronics, and then plan it into your day. When it comes to smartphones, games, and apps, time yourself and limit your daily online activity. This can be a challenge when you use your phone for work. You’ll start off with checking work email and before you know it you’re distracted by notifications and alerts. If you find you simply cannot ignore those, then turn them off for all apps that don’t pertain to your job.
Make One Trip
Inside and outside chores are a part of managing your household.
Whether it’s going upstairs in your house or it’s heading into town, get in the habit of stacking your tasks for where you’re going. This idea of habit stacking was first coined by author S.J. Scott in his book of the same name, essentially means that one thing leads to another and to another and so on and so forth. One action triggers the next. This concept can be used here to stack your errands all at one time. By planning your trip to town (or up the stairs) around tasks that come in order and make sense in relation to the other actions, you will save yourself time and make the most of your energy (efficiency).
So think of your “trip” as a loop. Starting on one end, organize your activities in a way that you do those nearest to you and work your way around, avoiding backtracking whenever possible. Think logically too though. It doesn’t make sense to grab groceries that will sit in your car for an hour, so try to plan that for last. It also doesn’t make sense to carry around a large stack of towels as you drop off other smaller items in other rooms upstairs, so plan to hit the bathroom first if possible.
Use Collection Baskets
No, I’m not referring to the ones you pass at church. These collection baskets are not a gathering spot for your money, rather, they are gathering spots for items you need to put away. Maybe it’s items you need to relocate to a different room. Or maybe they are items that can be dealt with more efficiently at a later time. Set collection baskets at the top and bottom of your stairs. Then put items in that belong on a different level of your home.
Next time you make the trip up or down the stairs, grab the basket and deal with the items in it all at once. It might be a stack of towels, a package of toilet paper, and the soap refill for the upstairs bathroom. This can all be put away efficiently at one time. Use a basket just inside the door of your office. Put one in the kitchen and living room. And anywhere else you find yourself picking up items frequently.
One hint: Use baskets that have handles you can hook on your arm to make them easy to carry with you. Drop the empty basket in place of the full basket from upstairs if that one is full. And if you have time to put away the items when you go back downstairs, do so. Do not however allow yourself to put away items in the basket just because you’re heading in that direction. If you have a specific purpose and/or a small set amount of time that is dedicated to a different task, then that task is what takes priority. Do not grab the basket and be distracted by its contents if it isn’t time to do so.
One more option is very important for you to remember. When it comes to household management, enlisting the help of family and others is crucial. Not only . Your spouse and your kids can help with many of the tasks that you need to do. However, you must delegate, teach, and let them be responsible for their own tasks. So what tasks are age appropriate for your kids? What tasks does your husband reasonably have time to take on? At the risk of getting into the middle of any marriage or parenting squabbles, I think they can do more than you think they can. And they should. For more help with how to pick age appropriate tasks for your kids, check out this ideas list here. And for ways to approach this topic with your husband, check out this article.
No matter what gets decided on this end, know that continuing to play super hero and doing it all is actually holding you and your family back from getting to spend more quality time with the person they love the most…you.
Do you have tips for time-saving household management? Share them in the comments. And don’t miss out on signing up for my free ebook to help you make every minute count!