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Get It Done: 11 Useful Time-Saving Tips


Time. It's that thing we can never seem to get enough of once we start taking responsibility for our own cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, childcare, bill paying and every other adult necessity. Sure, you'd love to spend an hour with that new novel, but you've also got that massive pile of dishes in the sink, and with a grocery list to make and groceries to shop for, your hour is eaten up in no time. The good news, it's possible to be resourceful and use little tricks here and there that help you stop wasting precious minutes. Who knows, maybe you'll have time to pick up the new issue of your favorite magazine this weekend, and actually read it! From simple household tricks to office strategy and general good lifestyle know-how, here are my some of my own tried and true time-saving tips.

  1. Honey Dip: Have you ever wasted seconds or even minutes dealing with trying to get all the honey off the spoon and into your recipe or cup of tea? You can stop. A drop of cooking oil on that spoon will have honey sliding off the bowl like low viscosity is its job.
  2. Pillow Redux: Thinking it might be time to go through the time-consuming hassle of buying new pillows, bedding or sheets? Or are they not ready for a clean yet, but decidedly less fluffy? 10 minutes in the dryer will fix that problem. Time saved.
  3. Unstick Zipper: We all love the bargain that comes with inexpensive clothing. What we don't love is that it also means wonky, low quality zippers that get stuck on the second or third wear. Try rubbing a classic number 2 (pencil) on the teeth. Graphite acts as a lubricant.
  4. Designate "Still Using" Daily Dish and Glassware on Counter: Cut down on dirty dishes by putting a tray on the counter and calling it "still using." Whether it's a glass of ice water that can be drunk and refilled throughout the day, a coffee cup, or a saucer whose only claim to being dirty is a few crumbs from toast that morning, reusing dishes saves energy and a lot of time. 
  5. Ongoing Shopping List on Fridge: You finish it, you record it. This is a super easy way to keep an ongoing shopping list to reduce time spent on that weekly hassle. Put a sheet of paper on the fridge and pen or pencil nearby. Whatever someone takes the last of, they have to write it down on the list. 
  6. Listen While You Work: Dying to read that new non-fiction book that's destined to change your life? Load the audio version up on your iPod or phone and listen to it while you run around the pad doing chores. This is also a good way to keep up on podcasts you've missed or bone up on some classical literature. You have always wanted to read Moby Dick, right? If you're spending lunchtime at your desk. Chew and listen at the same time.
  7. Forget the Dishwasher: Perhaps no other modern convenience causes more of a hassle than the dishwasher. They break and have to be repaired, the amount of soap required is costly, and they use a lot of energy. They create the unnecessary habit of allowing dishes to pile high, creating a task no one wants to do. Rinsing off dishes, essentially pre-cleaning, so they can be wastefully cleaned in the washer. What's better? Just quickly clean and rinse off dishes as you use them. Set up a drying rack so they can air dry. This is great for every day. If everyone gets in the habit, dirty dishes don't become a problem. Leave the dishwasher to clean up after dinner parties and big get-togethers.
  8. Forget Timed To-Do Lists: A guy named David Allen wrote a great book called "Getting Things Done". In it he says the human brain has a natural capacity to organize our activities. And that creating to-do lists with dates and days next to them — and times of day — is overdoing it. Plus, how often do we have a day that goes exactly as planned? Instead, just list what you need to do, keeping high priority items at the top. Keep the list where you'll see it a few times per day, and let your brain do the rest of the scheduling in the moment. Saves anxiety and time!
  9. Turn Off Email Notifications: When I did this, it was a revelation. Today, computers and phones have built-in dings and little numbers that pop up when a new email comes through. You can go into your settings and turn these off, and you should. Without that constant distraction, you can really focus and get down to business. 
  10. Don't Be Afraid to Move on and Revisit: As a writer, I've definitely dealt with creative burnout. Sometimes you just look at your work and — blank. This is a good time to switch to a different task for a little while. So many of us waste time just staring and trying to force it. If you keep yourself moving along, you'll be getting more done in the long run.
  11. The Two Minute Rule: This is another priceless piece of wisdom from David Allen's book. If you've got something to do that will take two minutes or less, do it right now. You would not believe all the little things we put off that could be done and over with right away. Junk mail sitting on the shelf? Get up, and put in the recycling, right now. A couple of bills to pay online? Do it now. Two minutes now saves untold minutes worrying, procrastinating, trying to remember, and forgetting in the future.