Sunday, November 1, 2009

Do You Have the Time?

When I go to the grocery store to buy a particular item, the number of products on the shelf causes my head to spin. I can understand why people stick to one brand. It’s much less time consuming to grab the same product time after time than it is to read through all of the fine print on the bottles while trying to compare them all.

The older I get, it seems the less time I have. I remember my parents making comments about this when I was younger. It didn’t seem possible to me as a child since every day seemed to stretch on forever.

Now that I’m juggling the activities of two busy children, homework, housecleaning, cooking, laundry, and trying to fit my own interests into all of that, I can understand the way my parents felt. I’ve often thought that life was simpler back then and in some ways, it was.

Before you disagree with me, understand that this was the world I grew up in. It may be a generalization. It doesn’t describe everyone’s upbringing, but it does describe mine.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have to sit in car seats. I could ride my bike to the other side of town and my parents felt safe about it. Yes, there were certain foods that weren’t the healthiest, but the dangers weren’t as obvious so we ate whatever we wanted. I could play in the front yard without my parents worrying about who was driving by. At the same time, since the Internet did not exist, my parents did not have to worry about who I was chatting with on-line.

Not only that, but there were also fewer companies offering fewer products. It’s those products that contribute to my information overload so much that I often look for ways to make the most of my time. Not only is it important in my world, but it’s an important lesson to teach my kids.

Here are ten time saving tips I have come up with:
  1. Designate a home for items that you use every day. Teaching children to put their shoes away in the same spot every time will prevent the last minute frantic search while heading out the door. 
  2. For easily accessible organization, hang an over-the-door shoe holder on each bedroom door. Not only will this make clean-up time easier, but it will offer your children a home for their items (see tip 1).
  3. Pack things away in colored containers for easy finding later. For example, store Halloween costumes in an orange tub.
  4. Do laundry every day rather than letting it pile up. Have your kids help fold and put away the laundry. Wash socks, sorted by owner, in lingerie bags for easy pair matching later.
  5. Place a notepad on your refrigerator to write your needed grocery items on when you think of them – and determine what you will need for the coming week. Then designate one time during the week for your main grocery trip and resist mini-trips during the week. 
  6. Pay bills online rather than writing them out by hand. This also saves the expense of checks, stamps, and envelopes. 
  7. Sort through and recycle unwanted mail when it arrives rather than letting it pile up. 
  8. Shop ahead for birthday parties and Christmas from clearance sales. This will not only save you time, but money as well. 
  9. During birthdays or holidays, when your children receive a large amount of toys, allow them to open one or two and put the rest away to open later (kind of like saving for a rainy day). 
  10. Set a schedule and stick to it. For instance, have your kids practice their musical instruments at the same time every night. This way they will know to expect it rather than fighting against it. 
Establishing a routine is the key idea consistent in each of these tips. And these tips will not only help to save time but will also help to instill discipline in your children.

Read more by author, Linda Hatton, at Suite101, the whatnot shop, and Deliberate Creations.

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