Do you ever wish there were more than 24 hours in a day? Do you end your day feeling like you didn't get enough accomplished, and that your to do list is even larger than it was when the day started? If so, you need more time in your day. “Well duh Rob,” you say, “I can't freaking control time!” While that's true, we can't control time, there are specific things we can do to reclaim it and put it to more productive use.
Shortcut 1: Plan Your Meals a Week In Advance
My wife prefers that we go shopping on Wednesday or Thursday. Based on anecdotal evidence, she's pretty convinced that deliveries to our local grocers happen on those days, and who am I to argue? Those days are also less crowded, as opposed to Saturdays and Sundays that just suck for shopping.
So come Saturday or Sunday morning I will plan our meals for the following week by pouring through our vast array of cookbooks and getting a variety of recipes. While I'm fine eating literally the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week, my family isn't. To keep everyone sane we keep the menu flexible and diverse.
I then go shopping 2x per week, typically one weekday and one weekend. I do this as we don't have a huge fridge and a staple in our diet is fresh veggies.
As soon as I get home from shopping I prep everything – cut and peel veggies, peel potatoes, marinate meat – whatever I need to do so I can quickly start cooking when the time arrives. After that I cook my weekly lunch and any other items that will keep in the fridge for a day or two.
After cooking I portion everything out into boxes I can take to work with me. The reason for this is that I can quickly pack up my cooler each morning and head out the door likety split. There's no guess work or thinking required – I just do it.
Planning your meals ahead of time doesn't mean you have to eat the same thing everyday. However it will turn your eating into a healthy habit that you'll enjoy immensely, and save you huge amounts of time.
Shortcut 2: Dress Yourself Like Steve Jobs
Sunday is laundry day in my house. As soon as all the laundry is clean I get out:
- Five pair of jeans
- Five pairs of undees
- Five pairs of socks
- Five shirts
I fold each up nicely and create five piles, each with a pair of jeans, undees, socks and a shirt. I then take said piles and put them where I can easily grab one in them morning.
“What about variety”, you say? I make sure I don't pick the same shirts I wore the previous week, and I have enough shirts for a few weeks. Yes, I have a lot of t-shirts.
Without the need to figure out each morning what I'm going to wear I save critical mental energy as well as time.
Shortcut 3: Assemble The Pill Army
Depending on the complexity of your vitamin and supplement regimen, and the amount of marketing you've bought into, you might be taking a handful of pills each morning. If you have to open five or seven bottles of stuff one or more times per day, you're killing huge amounts of time.
Invest the $7 in a weekly pill container, and once a week put all your pills in there. If you take anything in the afternoon and aren't working from home, get little plastic baggies to hold your pills – no need for yet another pill container.
I take supplements before my morning workout, vitamins with breakfast after my morning workout, and then more vitamins and supplements in the late afternoon between my afternoon snack and dinner.
By laying everything out a week in advance I save myself crucial minutes each morning, and ensure that I'm always taking my medicine, so to speak.
What Will You Do With All Your Spare Time?
The time savings from these three shortcuts – planning your meals, laying out your clothes for the week, and prepping your vitamins and supplements – quickly adds up. I estimate that I save myself between 30 and 45 minutes per day. That's a lot of time I can use for other things like:
- Spending time with my family
- Working on my next book
- Learning something new
- Writing blog posts
- Exercising a little more
- Going outside for a walk
- Whatever I can come up with at the time
What shortcuts are you using to recover your time?