So I’ve spoken before about planning out your days the night before. While that was a decent general overview, I wanted to share some things I’ve found extremely helpful when doing this. These are pretty much guaranteed to ensure you get more done, and save more time.
The first is to batch tasks. There are some items on your ‘to do’ list that will be similar in nature, or are done in the same area. So, for example, you should make all your phone calls in one go. Also, if you need to leave the house to run an errand, make sure you’re hitting the post office, the supermarket, the dry-cleaners, or wherever else you need to go all in the one outing. There’s no bigger waste of time than having to pop back out for a pint of milk.
Alternatively, if you know you have to leave the house later in the week, consider putting off today’s outing so that you can reduce two trips down to one. It won’t always be possible (those pesky kids need to be collected from school every weekday, unfortunately), but you can usually hold off on posting a letter until the next time you’re out and about.
Similar to batching except that, instead of getting lots of similar things done, you’re getting more of the same thing done. It’s a great way to save your future self a lot of time, while inflicting minimal effort on your present self. The best way to describe it is by example — when cooking a meal, make multiple portions and freeze the extras for later in the week.
You’re doing the same job, with perhaps a fraction more effort (those vegetables won’t chop themselves, you know), but you’re saving yourself countless hours slaving over a hot stove later on. (And personally, ANYTHING that saves me slaving over a hot stove is one million percent worth it.)
Try sorting all the clothes in the laundry basket at once, instead of just enough to get one load in the washing machine. It’ll only take you an extra minute, but it’ll save you having to start sorting again when the next load needs to go in. (Better yet, get separate laundry baskets. I have one for whites/light colours, one for bright colours, and one for darks.)
Look, I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist (also known as a bit of a pain in the hole). But there are some things that just don’t need to be done as perfectly as you normally do them, as often as you normally do them, or at all.
Most clothes, for example, only need to be ironed on one side. There are exceptions, of course. And do you need to iron several times a week or can you reduce it down to once a week? Or can you pretty much eliminate it altogether by hanging up your clothes straight away, or — handy tip alert — hanging them in the bathroom while bathing so the wrinkles are steamed right out.
Yes, that’s right, you’re not relaxing in the tub, you’re ironing! You poor dear. You deserve a long lie down afterwards.
Basically, if you can, cut it down or cut it out.
This one comes with a caveat because, usually, trying to do two things at once is a recipe for disaster. The trick is make sure that one of them requires minimal brainpower. You want one task to be passive and one to be active. So, for example, you can fold clothes (active) while you’re watching TV (passive). You can clean the bathroom (active) while listening to an audiobook (passive).
BUT you should try to make the passive task something that you actually want to get done. You want to catch up on your favourite show, not just mindlessly flick through the channels. You want to listen to the audio version of that book you’ve been meaning to read, not just stick on whatever white noise was free to download.
Are there tasks you can combine? You can make a phone call while stirring the spaghetti sauce [disclaiming all liability if you drop your phone in], and you can do some squats while brushing your teeth [yes, I’ve done this].
And that’s it. Do it all together, do it more, do it less, do it with something else, or don’t do it at all.