No matter if we are working inside or outside of the home, we all have busy weeks and can find ourselves living day to day, working for the weekend. With a few tricks and a little planning ahead, you can gain extra time in your week and can be more prepared for the unexpected things that arise and throw your schedule for a loop.
(there are way more than 5 things, but we’ll start with just 5 for today!)
1. Prep lunches for the entire week on Sunday night. Whether you have kids or pack a lunch for just yourself, prep ahead of time. If you’re like me, you walk to the Ziploc baggy drawer at least 3 times a night to fill them with chips, then a sandwich, then a cookie, etc. (it’s my husband’s lunch if you can’t tell!). Why repeat that routine every night when most of the items can be bagged ahead of time. On Sunday night, take out the box of baggies and fill enough bags for each day of the week with chips/pretzels, trail mix, or whatever you like in your lunch. Obviously you wont want to make 5 days of sandwiches on Sunday if you want them to be fresh (but you could make a couple days?!), but that leads me to point #2. Oh, and be sure you designate a place to put these filled bags – a bin or cupboard space – so that they aren’t sitting on your counter all week creating clutter.
2. Prepare the night before. Layout your clothes the night before. All the way down to laying out undies and jewelry. It seems excessive, but it eliminates having to make decisions in the morning and makes the morning less chaotic. Less trips into the closet to change your shirt 3 times, makes the day start out so much smoother! Put your lunch items together in the fridge or cooler, make your sandwich or leftovers so they are quick to grab (see tip #1 if you are skimming this article), and have your assignments and paperwork in your bag by the backdoor. Again, it saves time looking for your computer, papers, or lunchbox in the morning, and you have confidence as you walk out the door that you have everything you need. If you exercise in the morning, have those clothes laying out as well. If you really want to be over the top (like I admit I am sometimes…), you can even have your coffee cup sitting out ready to be filled!
3. Anticipate your needs for the week. At the beginning of the week, look 10-14 days ahead on your calendar (if you don’t have a calendar…this should be the first clue as to why you may feel out of order). Are there school projects due, upcoming holidays, birthdays to buy for, gatherings that require a clean house, meals to cook, etc. As you mentally go through the days ahead, identify the things you need to do to accomplish the tasks. Add items to your errands lists, grocery’s to your shopping list, and put your to-do’s on your calendar so the house is cleaned in time for the upcoming party. Group your errands so you aren’t running all over town and duplicating efforts. Anticipating needs can save you a TON of time. If you aren’t sure how this would look in your life, please ask! We each have different variables in our weeks, but it’s possible to not be running around feeling like you’re going nowhere.
4. Meal planning. 3 fresh and 2 reserves. If you’re super on the ball, you may have made dishes and done meal exchanges so that you have meals in your freezer for the week, and hats off to you, that’s fantastic! But for most of us, that’s not reality. I recommend planning for 3-4 “fresh” meals per week. Meaning you have planned ahead and purchased the ripe ingredients for those dishes that week. You can prep the food in the morning (or night before!) and then finish making it in the evening before you eat. You may want more or less than 3 fresh meals depending on how sporadic your evening activities are. I also recommend having 2 “reserve” meals on hand that don’t require many (or any) fresh ingredients, meaning it requires things that are frozen or canned (meat or veggies) and can be thrown into a crock pot or oven without much prep or thought. Always having these reserve ingredients on hand can be helpful on nights when plans fall through or you couldn’t get to the store. Realize, that if all 5-7 of your meals are “fresh” and your evening plans change, you end up having extra food that usually ends up going bad. That’s why reserve meals save money and time. If you need new recipes, I like browsing Pinterest or AllRecipe.com.
5. Use technology. You don’t have to be super savvy to use technology to your benefit. If you have a smart phone, most things are already at your fingertips, you just need to find a way to implement them. A few ideas: digital calendar – You can even share it with family members. Grocery list on your phone – you never forget your phone, but always arrive at the store without your list. Set reminders – use Siri (or android equivalent) to speak your reminders so you don’t spend energy trying to not forget, or set the alert in your calendar. Email – process email on the go, or at least keep up on the junk mail so it doesn’t build up in your inbox. Shopping – I’m not advocating more shopping, but if you need to make a purchase on Amazon, why not do it while you’re waiting at the doctors office. Recipes – keep a recipe file on your phone so that you can pull them up in the kitchen or double check the ingredients while standing in the store so you don’t over buy or have to make a second trip. (I use Evernote for my recipe file. Ask if you’re not familiar and I’ll show you how!) Of course there are a ton of other things technology can do for you. But this is just to get the juices flowing.
Hopefully a few of these will make your week a little less chaotic, and hopefully you’ll find other ways to make life easier. No reason to make things more difficult than they need to be! If you have tricks to making your weeks easier, please share so we can all learn new ways to be free to do more life!
My favorite apps and some meal planning charts are found on the Resource page.
Posted November 22, 2014