Just about everyone claims to be busy. "Sorry, I've been swamped." "I've just been so busy." "I haven't had a chance to breathe." However, maybe we aren't actually "that" busy. We're using every second of every hour in our lives whether it be sleeping, eating, working or, yes, relaxing. How we spend those seconds is a personal choice.
Still, we use the word "busy" to define how our time is or was spent.
Think about it this way: Each week has 168 hours. If you work 40 hours a week and sleep eight hours a day or 56 hours a week, you have 72 hours left. Everyone has the same total amount of hours in their day. The key is managing that time efficiently.
We're here to help. Follow these tips and tricks to help you manage your time better.
ONE: Prep for your mornings.
Check your e-mail first thing. That way you won't miss getting word about a last-minute morning meeting at the office or that today's science fair has been rescheduled. This process starts your day in a proactive, rather than reactive, way.
TWO: Automate as many of your daily tasks as possible.
Think about what you can automate. For example, grocery shop online and have items delivered. Get your dry cleaning picked up and delivered to save yourself that extra errand. Use auto refill to automatically refill prescriptions at the drugstore. Use autopay so you don't have to remember to pay the electric bill.
THREE: Spend less time on what you can live without.
Ponder what you're doing that is a waste of time. Maybe it's surfing through your Facebook feed constantly. Or perhaps you're giving that awful TV show too much of your life. Make an effort to do less by carefully choosing which activities you can remove from your life.
FOUR: Eat later or earlier.
Be a trendsetter. Take lunch before or after everyone else. You'll be able to get work done when it's quieter around the office. The cafeteria or local restaurants will be emptier, too, so you can get your food faster.
FIVE: Simplify breakfast.
Ditch your inner Martha Stewart. You don't have to whip up an omelet from scratch—though scrambled eggs, whole-wheat toast and fruit make a fine meal. Cereal, fruit, yogurt or oatmeal also can do the trick. If your kids love pancakes or waffles, make a batch over the weekend and freeze them. Then reheat them in the microwave or toaster. Or perish the thought and go for the premade, frozen variety. Read more about top tips to simplify your mornings.
That way, you won't have to do as much the night before or in the morning. Enlist your partner's help, whether that's prepping for breakfast, going over homework or driving the kids to day care. As the kids are able, give them responsibilities, too. Teach them to lay out their clothes the night before and pack their lunchboxes.
SEVEN: Set limits.
You don't have to serve on every school committee and accept every birthday party invitation that comes your way. It's OK to decline something that interferes with getting a work project done or from spending time helping your daughter with her book report.
When you have free time, maximize it by doing more than one thing at the same time. The more you can check off your to-do list, the better. For example, schedule the heating tune-up and the exterminator appointment for the same day.
NINE: Get up earlier.
Resist the urge to hit that snooze button. Get up before the rest of the house, whether it's 60 or just 10 minutes early. Use that time to shower, hit the gym or mentally plan your day. You'll feel calmer and less stressed.
TEN: Do it now rather than later.
If you can do something—like replying to an email or emptying the dishwasher—in two minutes, do it now. It will only take more effort to remember to do it later.
ELEVEN: Make yourself inaccessible.
Keep your phone on silent and return calls in batches. Leave your phone in your bag or a drawer so you're less likely to pick it up for every ping. Hunker down in an empty office or a local diner if you're on deadline. That way you can bang out the project uninterrupted.
TWELVE: Freeze it and forget it.
Freezer meals can be lifesavers for busy families. Grab a casserole from the freezer and pop it in the oven after basketball practice. Throw some chili you froze last month into the slower cooker during breakfast. By evening, you'll have a hearty dinner. Consider doubling regular dinners and then freezing the other half. Or cook and freeze multiple meals over the weekend. You'll save time not starting from scratch every night. Check out freezer-friendly recipes.
THIRTEEN: Be a woman with a plan.
Don't sit at the computer at home or work without a plan for what you'll do there. Your time may be spent surfing Instagram for 20 minutes when you intended to buy a birthday gift for your daughter.