We tend to focus a lot of our energy on money but time is also a precious commodity. It seems to slip away so quickly, and I often find myself trying to slow the clock, savor a moment, and relish the present.
Along with finding new ways to save money, I’m constantly aiming to save time as well. My goal is always to spend less time doing the things I have to do, so that I can spend more time enjoying the things I want to do. Oh, and save more money of course.
I’ve assembled a list of more than 20 of my most often used tips and tricks to save time and money.
Save Time in the Morning
The best way to save time in the morning is to prepare the night before! It took me a long time to accept this fact, but it’s true. In order for my family to have a (somewhat) seamless morning we do the following each night:
- Lay out clothes for the next day
- Pack lunches – you can save $1,000+ per year by doing this
- Prepare breakfast and drinks for the next day (cut up fruit ahead of time, pour milk into cups, etc.)
- Clean and pick up (especially the kitchen and dining room)
Set a routine. You are more likely to stay on track and on time if you follow a similar routine day after day. Easier said than done, I know!
Especially with kids, pets, etc. I swear my dogs take twice as long to do their business when I’m running late, however, once you have found a routine that works for you, stick to it!
Avoid morning rush hour. Everyone’s schedule is different but try to do what you can to avoid wasting time in rush hour each day. Now that I work from home, I can avoid this completely. When I used to work in an office, we had a flex schedule and I had the option to come into work between 8 am and 10 am. While, this isn’t an option for everyone if you have the flexibility to beat the traffic, do it! It’s worth it to have an earlier wake-up time!
Be More Efficient and Productive at Work
Keep a to-do list. I try to keep my task list short and manageable otherwise it seems too daunting and overwhelming. Crossing tasks off my list always keeps me motivated to keep going and get as much done as possible.
Focus on one task at a time. I pride myself on being a master multi-tasker, but when it comes to certain work tasks, digging in and giving one thing 100% focus is the fastest way to get it done.
Block time for specific projects. Blocking time for certain pieces of work has been incredibly helpful for me, especially when I’m up against competing priorities. I estimate the time for each project and build in mental and physical break times.
Don’t fall victim to perfection. Oh, that image isn’t perfectly centered in an email that only three internal people are going to see? That’s okay! Send it on and cross it off your list!
Just dive in! We all come across that overwhelming -this is going to take me all week-task. It’s easy to postpone these type of tasks because just thinking about them can be stressful. You know what you need to do? Just dive in! Start somewhere. Break the task into pieces and get it done!
Stay Organized. I’ve learned that I function at my best when I’m in a productive workspace. It doesn’t matter if I’m working or cooking, I need my space to be neat and clean in order to be productive. I also use my day planner religiously. I’d highly recommend getting a planner that helps you stay focused and organized so you can meet your goals. By staying organized and knowing what you already have, you can also save time on
Strive for a zero inbox. Email is rarely an issue for me. I credit that with my zero inbox policy. When a new email comes in, I do one of two things after replying. Save it or delete it. I have folders and subfolders for each of my work projects. That way I can keep important emails I might need to refer to at a later time, but they aren’t clogging up my inbox.
But, don’t be a slave to email. It’s easy to watch and respond to emails as they pour in, but then before you know it your day is over, your inbox is nice and tidy, and yet your work still sits in a pile next to you. I check and respond to emails several times a day, but I don’t instantly react the second an email comes through.
Save Time at Night
Make ahead meals or prep ingredients. It feels GREAT to just pop a pre-made meal in the oven after a long day at work. Even if you simply prepare ingredients ahead of time (chop vegetables, batch make rice, etc.) you’ll cut down a lot of post-work kitchen time.
Clean up as you cook. If you do need to spend some time in the kitchen preparing dinner, try to clean up as much as possible while you are in between chops and stirs.
Smart Multi-tasking. Multi-tasking works well when the attention required for each task are complementary. Holding a meeting while simultaneously trying to participate in a webinar is not smart multi-tasking (true experience).
However, I will clean up the kitchen while listening to my favorite podcast or radio show on replay, and I will fold laundry while watching television. I’ll talk to my son about his day while we’re preparing lunches for the following day.
Use downtime productively. It’s easy to get caught up staring at my phone for 20 minutes, but I know in that amount of time I can sweep the floors, pack bags for the next day, put away a load of laundry, or focus on learning something new.
Don’t relax too soon! I have this terrible time and productivity sucking habit. Often right after I put my son to bed, I walk right into my bedroom and sit on the bed and check my phone. This leads to a downward spiral of procrastination and loss motivation and all I want to do is lounge in bed watching Netflix. Rather than get sucked into my phone or the television, I need to head straight down the hall and get something done. Then, I can retreat to bed!
Although it takes time to save time, these actions help me free up extra time when I want it the most.
What are your top tips to save time and be more efficient?