How can recovering lost minutes in your day help you find balance in your life? The majority of people feel like they’re off-balance because of a lack of time in their life. If we can learn to recover lost minutes in our day or to be more efficient at tasks that we are already doing, then we’ll find a better balance.
So how do we recover those lost minutes?
Recovering the Lost Minutes in Your Day
#1 – Stop the Procrastination Habit
I’ve mentioned this before in my post on how to conquer to-do list stress. We procrastinate by intentionally delaying a task (that’s me with dishes and folding clothes) or accidentally by doing our best zombie impersonation.
I’ll be honest, in the evenings I get stuck in a loop. I go through to check my Pinterest account, my Facebook page, and now probably the Busy Christian Moms Facebook Group. I’m not intentionally procrastinating any of my tasks. Yet I’ve given into a habit that ends up with the same result.
If you want to recover the lost minutes of your day, start by resisting the urge to mindlessly do things. Learn to be intentional about your resting so that you’re mind doesn’t automatically switch into zombie mode when you go to sit down.
And, while there’s nothing wrong with social media, set a limit to how much time you’re going to spend on Facebook when you flip it open on your screen.
#2 – Strategies to Conquer Your To-Do List Stress
Seriously, go read this post if you haven’t already. It’s full of task-related advice to help you get a better handle on things. I promise it’s relevant to the subject of today’s post; I’m not trying to trick you into lingering on my little blog.
#3 – Prep Work
All the advice you read about spending just a few minutes doing prep work to save yourself time later on isn’t exaggerating. Spending a few minutes doing some prep work and/or organization helps things run smoothly when it counts. I refer to these kind of tasks as “small time investments with a big ROI.”
- Empty out the vacuum cleaner before you put it up – When you have a toddler in the house you only have a few precious seconds to actually get the floor cleaned up before all the toys get drug back down. Make sure the vacuum is ready to go by doing your prep work before you even put it up.
- Make it a smooth morning – have your clothes ready to go, coffee ready to make, and your breakfast as prepared as possible before you go to bed. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m always prepared like this, but I count it as a win when I can get us all out the door by 8 am without too much stress.
- File organization – If you deal with a lot of electronic files (hint, hint, fellow bloggers!), you’re killing yourself by not putting a good file system into place. And if you deal with a lot of copy and pasting of key links (hint, hint!), you need to learn how to use Excel to organize all the links for you. A little bit of extra time when a post is first published can save you a lot of time bouncing between your blog, Pinterest, and Facebook.
- Kitchen prep – Okay, so it’s not always the best idea to chop up your veggies in bulk. However, if you want to get really crafty with your DIY kitchen antics, there are some things that you can prep in advance. For example, it takes about the same amount of effort to make dough for two pizzas as it does for one. You can also create your own pancake and muffin mixes in bulk to save yourself time (and dishes!) there.
#4 – Get the Right Tools
I’m not telling you to go spend $150 on a fancy mixer if you’re only going to use it three times a year. I’m also not telling you to spend money that you don’t have. However, if you’re going to frequently go through the same task, you might as well invest in the tools that will make it easier for you. Sometimes the right tools will even pay for themselves.
So check around. What tools are available to simplify your cooking habits? Your work life? Cleaning?
#5 – It’s 85% Mental, 25% Changing Habits
I’m convinced that most people need help at time management because they stay too stressed, not because it’s really anything that they’re doing or not doing. Seriously, when I choose to not get ready in the morning (SAHM-life!), it’s because it’s either:
- Cleaning Day (because who wants to wear chemical-smelling clothes all day?)
- I feel cramped for time
The reason that the last one is bad is because my attitude from the start is all wrong. I expect to be stressed and rushing through tasks, therefore that is exactly what ends up happening. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you think about it, this makes sense. Stress is brutal. High-stress can lock our bodies down and even give us a pseudo-sickness. Stress causes us to make silly mistakes. It makes it hard for us to focus.
If you want to regain some lost time in your day, then learn to conquer your stress. It’s 85% mental compared to 25% actually changing habits or finding a better system.
And if you’re looking for something broken that needs to be fixed (besides my math skills!), then you better start with yourself, first.
This is a little counter-intuitive to what some people recommend. If you’re struggling to focus on a project because of other little thoughts that creep in to distract you, then it’s probably better to stop working on your project. For example, if I can’t focus on writing a blog post because I’m too distracted thinking about chores that need to be done, then I will go work on those chores first.
Clearing out the distractions means that I can stay focused on the blog post when I actually sit down to write. This means that I finish the post in less time and with less stress. Make sense?
#6 – Actually Improving Your Systems
There are so many little ways to do this depending on your situation. That’s why I’m only giving you some general advice. If you need help brainstorming something, post in the comments below.
I once wrote about creating worksheets in Chaotic Weekly as a way to improve time management. This is why: most of us waste so many precious minutes just trying to remember what we meant to do.
I’m not a planner person. I’m only partially a bullet journal person. However, I understand the importance of needing a way to remember that cannot easily be lost.
Hence, I keep a bullet journal for blogging-related notes. I draft digital worksheets to track various things on. I’ve also created a decent selection of worksheets for my readers; just go look through my freebie section if you’re interested in more.
I actually wrote about this in How Can You Balance All of Your Roles. To put it in investment terms, though, sometimes we need to invest a larger chunk of time into mastering a skill so that we can gain it back over a longer period of time. It’s worth it.
It’s hard to put this into terms while writing. The best way I can explain it to you is to share my experience working in my alma mater’s marketing office. You see, as it was a very small college with limited manpower, work-studies from all departments were called in to help with the bigger tasks.
Thus, even though I normally wrote articles, I found myself spending a significant portion of one semester stuffing envelopes.
We had to stuff the envelopes with a letter, a brochure, a ‘respond back’ card, and another envelope. The envelopes, once stuffed, needed to be sealed. Then, of course, they needed to be moved into a designated location.
At the start, there was a nice conveyer belt system going. But, as the project drug on, the number of other students helping dwindled. That’s when I became Queen of the envelopes. How? I streamlined my motion.
Instead of doing one envelope at a time, I learned to do them in sets of five: five letters at a time, five brochures, and so forth. This meant that I could just focus on moving my hand to one stack of papers at a time, instead of having to bounce back-and-forth. Because of this, muscle memory took over very easily.
My movements became streamlined, which made me more efficient at stuffing envelopes.
The same principle works with any repetitive task. The easiest way to streamline your motion is to try doing something in sets. You know, instead of peeling one potato just to chop that same potato, try peeling all the potatoes. And instead of completely chopping one potato before moving on to the next, try doing all the long cuts for multiple potatoes at once. Ask yourself, “How can I streamline my motions?”
#7 – Efficient Trips
We all know that it’s easier to do our errands in town in one trip than to do them in multiple trips. However, many of us fail to put this same principle to use when we’re picking up around the home. It takes up a lot of time when we carry one item to the kitchen, return empty-handed to the living room, carry two items to the kid’s bedroom, return empty-handed, and then go put an item up in the kitchen again. (Don’t ask me how my kitchen items get drug out all over the place. I haven’t figured it out either.)
Make your trips efficient by either grouping everything that needs to go to a certain room together so that you can then focus on picking up the next room, or (better yet) toss everything that doesn’t belong in a room into one box. When you’re done picking up, carry the box to the next room. Unload items that belong while adding new items.
Trust me – it makes cleanup go by quicker when all the pacing is cut out. Although you might have to go on an afternoon walk to make up for your lack of exercise.
So right about now, you might be thinking, “Hey! That’s not enough information. How is this supposed to help me keep a cleaner house easier?”
The thing is that I’ve already written on several different topics. I don’t want to keep rehashing the same thing over and over again, so instead I’m going to close out this post with some related links:
- Eight Strategies to Help You Conquer Your To-Do List Stress
- Balancing Your Child’s Extracurricular Activities with the Rest of Life
- How Real Busy Moms Clean House: Four Strategies Learned from Interviewing Real Housekeepers
- Seven Tips for Managing Stress in the Middle of Chaos
- How Can You Balance All of Life’s Roles?
If you’re struggling with organizing something specific, please let me know in the comments so I can help you manage life just a little better.