In today’s busy world, there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. The hectic pace of daily living can drain you of time and energy and make you less productive and less effective at work and at home. Time wasted on trivial tasks can rob you of hours that you could spend with our families and prevent you from relaxing and enjoying life the way you should. How can you cut down on stress and devote more of your resources to the things that really matter? The answer may lie in adopting some easy time-saving tips that will streamline your routine and schedule and help you simplify your life and priorities.
Use Technology to Simplify Your Finances
Computers and the internet are a great boon to anyone who wants to save time and simplify his or her life. You can do just about anything online nowadays. The internet can be particularly helpful in simplifying and streamlining those paperwork-intensive tasks, such as banking and bill-paying, that can eat up so much of your time and cause you so much frustration.
Save yourself trip to the bank or the ATM machine. Switch over to online banking and handle your finances from the comfort of your own home while curled up in front of your computer. With online banking, checking your account balance, transferring money from one account to another, or ordering new checks is as simple and easy as logging into your online account and clicking a few icons with your mouse. Most online banking sites allow you to place stop orders on checks, submit address changes, and report lost or stole cards from your computer. An online bank account also allows you to communicate with customer service representatives through email or live chat rather than waiting on hold on the telephone or waiting in line at the teller’s window. In addition, you can set up automatic deposits from your paycheck or from other bank accounts and automatic withdrawals to be transferred each month to a savings account. By automating your savings and your money management, you can eliminate the stress of dealing with these financial decisions from your life and free up your time for more rewarding activities.
Paying Bills Online
Start paying your bills online. Most banks offer a bill paying service. You direct your bank to pay your bills and checks are automatically sent to your landlord, creditors, and utility companies each month. If your bank does not offer this service or charges a hefty fee to use it, you can generally set up automatic monthly payments with each individual vendor. Each month, the amount you owe will be automatically deducted from your bank account with your having to lift a finger. All it takes is a few minutes filling in some information, and then your bill paying is totally automated. You’ll never forget to pay a bill again, and you won’t have to worry about your payment arriving late. Instead of spending hours hunched over your checkbook each month, you will literally spend only minutes per month paying bills. No more laborious writing out of checks or inconvenient treks to the mail box. And you will even save on the cost of stamps!
Instead of receiving your monthly bills in paper form, why not opt to receive them electronically via email or through an online account. You will still be able to examine them in detail online. But you won’t have to plow through the clutter that all those paper bills create, and you won’t have to spend time filing and organizing. No more daily trips to the mailbox in anticipation of receiving that bill you are particularly anxious to pay. You can access it without stepping foot outside by turning on your computer and logging into your email account. As an added bonus, going paperless helps the environment!
Simplify Your Shopping Routine
Shopping can be extremely time-consuming. First, there is the time it takes to travel to the store. Then, the process of browsing the store and locating the item or items that you want can seemingly last forever. Sometimes, you may find yourself trekking from one store to another to compare prices or to find exactly the right product in exactly the right model. Simplifying your shopping routine will free up significant time and energy for more important activities.
Online shopping can save you a lot of time and spare you a great deal of frustration. Instead of hopping in the car, you only need to sit down in front of your computer. Going from store to store is as easy as typing in a new web address. You can easily find exactly the product that you are looking for by typing information about its specifications into an online store’s search function. The internet also makes it easy to research your purchases thoroughly before making them. Need a microwave but not sure which brand, model, size or color to buy? Simply type what you are looking for into Google or another search engine and you will be offered pages and pages of online price comparison tools, consumer product reviews, and buyer’s guide for the product that you are in the market for.Nowadays, you can buy almost anything online. Web grocers such as Peapod and Fresh Direct have made it unnecessary to go to the supermarket. If you still prefer your local grocery store, many stores now have their own websites which enable you to choose your items online and have them delivered to your doorstep by store employees. You can even buy a car online, and, in some cases, even custom order the features and extras that you want included with your new vehicle. In addition, many big box chain retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, allow you to order items online and pick them up later in person at the store. That way, you can save yourself the time and hassle of shopping without having to wait several days for your purchase to be shipped to you.
Use the Internet to Make Reservations and Appointments
The internet also facilitates making travel reservations, reserving seats at a restaurant or play, reserving products at your local store, and making appointments with doctors, spas, and local service providers. When it comes to travel, you can book your own train, plane, or bus tickets online and also arrange your own hotel accommodations through the internet. It is even possible to book a limousine or car service online. Online services such as Open Table allow customers to reserve seats at their favorite restaurant without a phone call. If you want to order food for delivery or take-out from your favorite take-out place, you can often do so through the eatery’s own web site or through an online ordering and delivery service such as Seamless Web. Buying tickets to the season’s hottest play or concert no longer requires standing in line at the box office. You can purchase your tickets and even select your seats online. Even movie tickets can be purchased in advance on the internet. DVDs of your favorite movies can be reserved and rented online through Netflix and similar rental services. If you prefer to visit the video store, it is often possible to reserve a movie in advance so that it is waiting there when you arrive to pick it up. Many libraries allow patrons to reserve books online, as do large booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders. In addition, more and more service providers are offering their clients and customers the capability to schedule appointments online. This includes doctor’s and dentist’s offices, diagnostic laboratories, hair and nail salons, spas, utility companies, and appliance repairmen. You can also buy your prescriptions online from your local pharmacy and set up online reminders for all your refills.
Streamline Your Grocery and Household Shopping
Create a Reusable Shopping List
If you buy your groceries online, you can generally set up a standard reusable grocery list online. When you next log in to buy groceries, shopping will be as simple as checking off those items on your list that you need for the week ahead and adding them to your online cart. Online pharmacies and retailers, such as drugstore.com, also offer customers the option of creating and using a reusable shopping list. Some stores, such as pet supply stores, allow customers to set up recurring bi-weekly or monthly orders. For instance, if you buy sixty cans of cat food a month, you can submit a standing order so that your card is automatically charged on the same day each month and your cat food is automatically shipped to you. If you prefer to buy groceries, health and beauty aids, and household supplies in person at the store, you can create your own reusable shopping list. It is simply a matter of creating a document on your computer in Microsoft Word or the word processing program of your choice. Organize your list by categories, for example, produce, meat, cleaning supplies, and paper goods. Arrange the categories in the same order in which you generally travel through the grocery store from the time you enter to the time you end up in the register line. When it’s time to go to the store, simply print out a copy of your list and take it with you. No more time spent at home writing out a list of items while you scratch your head trying to remember what you need. Additionally, you have to try to decipher your own handwriting to figure out what that next item on the list is.
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk can often save you time as well as money. However, unless you are planning a large party, you should reserve your bulk purchases for non-perishable items. Buying paper towels and toilet paper in bulk makes a lot of sense. Buying milk, eggs, and bread in bulk is not such a good idea. On the other hand, canned goods, which have distant expiration dates, can be bought in bulk, as can most cleaning supplies. You can even buy meat in bulk if you have a freezer. Household goods in general are good candidates for bulk purchases. But exercise caution when buying non-perishable items which have a limited shelf life, such as batteries, camera film, and vitamins. Only buy as many of these items as your foresee yourself using before the expiration date stamped on the products. Designating one day a month as your “bulk shopping day” will make your shopping trips later in the month much more efficient and less time-consuming. Bulk-shopping of household essentials also ensures that you won’t be caught without an important and urgently needed item such as toilet paper and light bulbs. Nothing disrupts an individual’s personal schedule more than having to make an emergency run to the grocery store for toilet paper. If you are interested in buying in bulk, try to locate warehouse stores, such as Sam’s Club and Costco, that have retail outlets in your area.
Streamline Your Household Routine
Housekeeping can be exhausting as well as time-consuming. Yes, it is your home, and you take pride in caring for it yourself. But if you work and have a family and have other obligations outside the home, it may be difficult to find the time to clean house, let alone do a thorough cleaning job. If you do manage to get the housework done, you will likely find yourself completely burnt out without any energy left over to engage in fun, relaxing activities or to pursue the hobbies and activities that are important to you.Hire a Cleaning Service If you can afford to do so, there is nothing wrong with hiring a maid service to do a thorough cleaning of your home on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. There is nothing more satisfying than coming home from work to a house or apartment that is sparkling clean and knowing that you did not have to pick up a finger to get it that way. The time you save by paying someone else to clean for you is a precious gift. You can use it to spend more time with your children, to take a class at the local Y, to catch up on your reading or sleep, or simply to relax.
Use a Laundry Service
Doing the laundry is a time-consuming chore. It can also be an exasperating activity, especially when you make a mistake sorting the laundry or accidentally shrink your garments in the dryer. Sometimes it’s best to leave certain chores to the experts. Again, if you have the financial resources to do so, consider sending your laundry out to a laundry service. Many self-service Laundromats and dry cleaners will do your wash for you and charge you by the pound. Usually, you can drop your laundry off in the morning and pick it up later in the day. If you don’t have time to drop it off and pick it up, most laundry services will come to your home to collect your wash and deliver your freshly dried clothing and linens to your front door for an additional fee.
Are there chores that you routinely neglect? Chores that can so time-consuming, that attending to them regularly makes it difficult to meet your other important responsibilities? Do you live in fear of your front lawn turning into a jungle? Or is your flower garden being overtaken by weeds? Do you dread shoveling snow in the winter because of your bad back and knees? Does your car have so much dirt on it that it looks like it’s turned a different color? Remember, there is almost always someone else who is eager to do the work that you cannot or do not wish to do for a small fee. Every neighborhood or apartment complex has at least one trustworthy teenager who is trying to save up money for a car or a spring break trip or a prom dress. Ask that teenager to mow your lawn, pull your weeds, shovel your driveway, and wash your car.
A Final Piece of Advice:
Learn to Say No – Is there a club or activity that you used to enjoy but which now seems like a chore? Have you begun to dread the volunteer work that you have been performing for years for a local non-profit or other organization? Are you always being asked to attend meetings and events and perform favors for friends? Have these demands turned into insurmountable burdens?You may be continuing your volunteer work because you would feel guilty if you stopped or because you don’t like to think of yourself as a quitter. However, if your heart is no longer in your work, then you are probably not doing anyone much good anyway. If you do not wish to give up your volunteer work completely, simply take a hiatus. The organization and the work will still be there if you later decide that you want to come back. Or you may decide to take on a volunteer position elsewhere. Taking a break from volunteering does not make you a bad person.Likewise, you are under no obligation to say yes to your sister-in-law’s request that you attend your niece’s piano recital or to the school principal’s suggestion that single-handedly organize this year’s spring bazaar. If engaging in these activities causes you stress and consumes too much of your valuable time, then you owe it to yourself to say no. Many of us feel selfish when we say no, when we give up an activity, or when we turn down a request to participate in an event or project. But remember that your highest responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones. If you are engaged in so many activities and struggling to meet so many demands that you can no longer take care of yourself and your responsibilities at home and work, then it is time to let something go. If you are simultaneously taking classes in cooking, photography, and French, attending a weekly book club, and chairing a parents’ committee at your child’s school, then you are painfully overcommitted. Slow down. Do a little less, and you will end up enjoying what you do much more.
(Last Updated: April 22nd, 2017)