We're all aware of our need to budget our finances, cut corners, live frugally. Sometimes, however, we're not as cognizant of ways to make frugal use of our time. The list that follows will give you some concrete strategies for saving the only thing you can't buy more of: time.
Use driving time wisely. Keep a small spray bottle filled with Windex under your front seat. Also keep paper towels in your car (always!). These two things can clean nearly any mess you're likely to find in your car. At traffic lights the truly neat among us can use the time to quickly clean their dashboard, drink holders, inside windows (the passengers in the car next to you may get a kick out of that!), mirrors, kids faces, and the steering wheel.
Cordless phones are a wonderful invention. I'm not much of a laundry fan, but I can get a whole load folded if I can chat on the phone at the same time.
We squeeze extra book-reading time for my daughter's school reading program by reading to her while she is in the bath. Captive audience! Since we have to sit with her anyway, why not use the time? Added advantage: her little sister hears the stories too, giving her valuable reading exposure.
Keep a trash can in your garage. Sounds simple, but it's saved me so much time when cleaning out my car, sorting mail and school papers (yes, I do keep some of them!) and the like. Also when cleaning out your car, use a laundry basket. When you pick something up it either goes in the laundry basket (take in the house and put away pile) or the trash can. No other options. And lay towels down on your car floors. You can skip vacuuming the floor 4 out of 5 times this way. Just throw the towel in the wash.
Never underestimate the power of small chunks of time strung together! This whole newsletter, for instance, is written in increments of 10 - 15 minutes, barring the occasional large block of time. Current research on exercise suggests that even three ten minute exercise sessions a day (rather than 30 minutes in a row) can deliver substantial health benefits. A preschooler's favorite game can often be played in five minutes (less if you let her win!). Just a few of the dinner dishes can be washed or put away while you wait for your husband to get ready to go out for an evening drive.
Finally, always have a project brewing in your mind. That way, you'll never lack for something to dwell on during those otherwise dull moments!
Being frugal with your time, like being frugal with your money, does not mean denying yourself. It doesn't mean saying no to pleasurable, but "non- productive" activities. What it does mean is budgeting your time wisely so that you have the freedom to choose where you will invest your time most profitably.
Marla Saunders is the publisher of HomeLight. It's a newsletter dedicated to successful home living featuring tips to make your home a happier place to live. I'm sure that Marla would be glad to answer any of your questions about HomeLight. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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