Some of the largest amounts of time in our days are taken up by routine activities, such as commuting, household tasks, personal care and things dealing with sustenance. If we can streamline some of these activities, we can cut out wasted time and free up time to do other things. Just as cutting back on our inputs can free up time, we need to also cut out excess time in our day-to-day activities.
Analyzing the Routine
All of us have routine tasks. We just may not realize it because they are routine and they don’t catch our attention! After all, do you consciously think about brushing your teeth? It’s automatic, so you may be aware that you do it, but don’t have to schedule time to do it.
Most routine activities can be found in the following areas. Pay attention for a week and make a list of things you do on a weekly and daily basis.
- Housework. This includes things like cleaning, dishes, laundry, taking out the trash and caring for animals.
- Shopping. Grocery shopping and general errands.
- Self-care. Dressing, bathing, exercise.
- Food. Food prep, cooking and menu management.
Each of these areas has ways to simplify and consolidate. I will be going into detail on my tips and tricks in future articles, but here are some things to consider:
Combine. Combining tasks and batching them can save time in prep and execution. It is easier to vacuum all of the rooms on one floor at once than to drag the vacuum out for every room.
Automate. There are many tools that can help you automate household tasks. I use my Roomba to handle the vacuuming for me.
Go against convention. Grandma said you had to sort laundry by color and do separate loads. Not any more. Using color catcher sheets, you can wash darks with lights and not have to worry about bleeding colors.
Batch. If you feed your pets dry food (and they can be trusted to self-feed), consider a bulk feeder. You load it up, and they eat when they are hungry. (Note: this does not work well with dogs who are walking stomachs, such as my beagle who would eat herself to the point of exploding)
Bulk shop. If you have the room, shop in bulk. Buying bulk staples such as toilet paper and soap can save many little errands
Plan. By planning a two week or month menu, you can shop for the majority of it all at once, and cut down your shopping for the rest of it. I do all my food shopping every other week.
Outsource. There are many options for personal shoppers. One local grocery store will pull my order and bring it to my car for a $5.00 fee. I also used a personal grocery shopper for many years.
Combine. Consider using combination products, such as conditioning shampoo, or by combining activities, such as brushing your teeth in the shower. (Although I admit I can’t bring myself to do that).
Simplify. Bring your wardrobe to simple things that require no ironing or fuss. Get a haircut that does not require much more than a wash.
Multitask. In a good way, that does not require using the same resources. Listen to books while you exercise, for example.
Use appliances. Use a crockpot, bread machine or other modern appliance to simplify your meal cooking. If you resist because you’ve never had food that tasted good from one of these machines, find other recipes.
Shortcut. Not all food has to be cooked from scratch with fresh herbs and served like something out of a fine restaurant. Find suitable shortcuts, like a bottled spaghetti sauce that you add some seasoning to.
Plan. Having a plan to follow can cut down a lot of time that would be otherwise spent figuring out what to do last minute.
Bulk prep. We may not have sous chefs to call upon, but we can food prep in bulk. If you know you use chopped onion in 75% of your recipes, chop up a bunch and put it in the fridge to use over the week. Or make extra of something to be used in another recipe, like doubling a batch of mashed potatoes.
By streamlining my routine tasks, I can free up a lot of time. This time I can use for pursuing special projects, or just relaxing.
What are things you could streamline in your routine activities? Share below.
Photo by neilbetter