10 ways to make the most of your time

I feel like I haven’t done an organising post for a reeeeaaaaally long time and it is possible that this has been a reflection of what’s been going on in my life the last few months!! However, now that things are settling into a bit of a groove, my goal for this Autumn has been not just to clear our home of clutter and get organised, but also to find better ways to organise my time. 

I’m always thinking to myself that if I could just get some routine into my life, I may not feel quite so much like I’m racing around like a headless chicken. However, my husband and I have never been ‘routine’ kind of people. We have always definitely preferred to be a bit more spontaneous and take things as they come. Tying ourselves down to grocery shopping on a certain day or washing our car on a Sunday has always felt a little bit (dare I say it?!) ‘grown up?’ This has been all well and good until recently when we have found our lives becoming more and more chaotic with all the running around we are having to do at this phase of our children’s lives.

So, at the risk of admitting defeat and accepting that we are actually getting old (!!) I have taken definite steps towards introducing some routine into our lives. And I have to tell you, it has been a revelation!! I feel like I am more on top of things and it’s certainly not because I’ve suddenly found myself with extra time on my hands!! And, hey, I’m actually writing a blog post – that has to be progress!!!

So, just incase it may help you as much as it has me, here (interspersed with a few pictures of our organised spaces!) are the 10 things that have had the biggest impact on helping us to stay on top of our housework, be more organised and manage our time more efficiently. (I’m sure many of these are things you are already doing and I’m the last to catch onto but just in case…)

1. Keep a running ‘to-do’ list and turn to it whenever you have even 5 minutes to spare. I recently talked about the ‘to-do list’ system that has been working so well for me over the last year or so and it is so simple I’m sure you are all thinking ‘duh’ but for those that didn’t see, it’s basically a notebook (I use this one) where you keep an ongoing list of absolutely everything and anything you need or want to do. Include everything, large or small and keep flicking back through every time you have even 5 minutes to do a task or spend a small amount of time working towards one of your outstanding items. I also use a highlighter to pick out two or three items that absolutely have to be done each day. Finally, if there is something that has been hanging around on the list for ages, I will write it in again to be sure it doesn’t get forgotten.

2. Plan your week out allocating specific tasks to specific days. The trick here is not to overwhelm yourself because if you feel your list is not achievable, you won’t bother looking at it. Just pick one or two simple things that it’s easy for you to do each day over and above your regular daily tasks . For example, I have made a note to make sure I get one load of washing done on each of the days I know I will be at home to rotate it through the washer and dryer and get it all folded and put away. I also have a day when I meal plan and grocery shop as well as a day to change the beds and a day when I will take the car to get it cleaned. (Note – sometimes I won’t need to do an item every single week so I will interchange it with another fortnightly task).

3. Meal plan at least one week ahead. I’ve always thought of meal planning as being a bit daunting and imagined it taking a lot of my time. Partly because our kids can be very picky eaters and it’s hard trying to think of something everyone likes for every day. However, recently, I have let go of the idea that each meal has to be perfectly planned out and just jot down one main meal per day which I know the majority of us will eat. (I try to make sure there are enough elements that each person likes so that they don’t have to eat every single thing in order to be full!) Even doing this one meal per day has made my life so much easier. It has enabled me to use the slow cooker more to get food ready ahead of time. I’ve also been able to double up on the quantities and have freezer meals to hand (which I actually remember to take out of the freezer because the meal plan reminds me!) and just knowing that I have food in the house for each day takes away the stress of having to rush to the supermarket because I don’t have anything in for dinner that night. Finally, I try to plan a ‘freezer meal’ which can be cooked straight from the freezer each week so that if we finish up eating out or get a last minute invitation, we can shift the other meals around to accommodate and we don’t finish up with food going to waste.

4. Use any ‘dead’ time more wisely. I try not to allow even a single minute to be ‘wasted’ time. If I have to sit in the car and wait for one of the children to finish a sports session or music lesson, I make sure I have with me either my laptop, to catch up on some work or my ‘to-do’ list and my contacts so I can make some calls on my list. There is nothing that frustrates me more than ‘wasted’ time as I know that if I’m not making the most of every minute, it’s likely I will have to catch up during the time I want to be doing something else (like sleeping!) Here is a list of things you could do in any ‘dead’ time you may have; make a phone call, catch up on some work, text those people you’ve been meaning to contact, plan your meals, do your online grocery shop, delete/organise your emails, respond to messages, order any gifts you need to buy online, edit your photos and order prints, update your diary, research your next trip/holiday/purchase/home project, book a haircut, make an appointment, write an email,  clean your car out! There you go, that should get you started 😉

5. Use a timer. I have heard this recommended before and I’ve often dismissed it as I think ‘I don’t need a timer, I will just get on with it’ but I’ve tried it out recently and it really works. For example, if I know I have work to do but the house is a complete mess, I find it really hard to ignore the mess and get on with the work. I finish up cleaning up first and before I know it, an hour has escaped me and I still haven’t started the work I wanted to do. However, if I set my timer for 15 minutes and give myself a limited window to tackle as much of the mess as possible, then when it goes off, force myself to leave the rest and go get that work done, it makes such a difference. It really is amazing what you can achieve in 15 minutes when you are against the clock! It works the other way too – if there is a task you really don’t want to do and you’ve been procrastinating about it for ages, set yourself a timer and force yourself to do whatever it is for just 15 minutes. You will be amazed how quickly you get that thing checked off your list 😉 And, many times, after 15 minutes, you just think ‘well I may as well finish it now,’ and before you know it, you’re done!

6. Turn off your phone!! Do you ever notice how easy it is to get sucked into your phone whenever you pick it up? If I’m working on something and a text comes through, I will often read the text then have a ‘quick look’ at something else and before I know it, half an hour has disappeared. If I’m going to get some serious work done, I know I need to turn my phone off or leave it elsewhere in the house. It’s difficult to do that as a Mum (I’m always expecting that emergency call from school) so I’m not saying leave it for hours on end, just give yourself a half hour or 45 minutes before you check back in (and then leave it again!)

7. Step away from social media. This relates to my point above about turning your phone off. Social media is such a huge time waster – ever noticed how you can fall down the Facebook rabbit hole and not surface for an hour?! This is one I struggle with all the time. I need to be on social media for my blog to get my posts out there and interact with the people that follow it and I want to connect with friends on a personal level too but at the same time, I know I need to be spending less time getting side-tracked and drawn into watching videos of people falling over! Every now and then, I will delete the apps from my phone and decide only to access them from my laptop or iPad but I always come across a reason to put it back again. Recently, I’ve tried restricting the hours I will allow myself to look at social media and I’m finding that I am doing better than I was – and something is better than nothing right?! Do tell me in the comments if you have any tips for cutting down your social media time, I could use the help!

8. Have a ‘power hour’ as often as possible when you ‘don’t sit down.’ I love challenging myself to do this. It doesn’t even have to be an hour, half an hour will do, or however long you can spare. Just set your timer (see how that works?!) and run around until it goes off clearing, tidying, cleaning and putting things back where they belong. You will be amazed at the difference this makes. (And it really helps build up that step-count too!) You could even challenge the whole family to do this at the same time – just imagine the difference you could all make!

9. Turn off the TV (at least during the week). We have been watching so much less TV in the last few years than ever before. I think it’s happened naturally as a result of having so much to do and so much running around after the children but it’s made me really re-evaluate how much time we can afford to give to the TV. The other bonus of watching less TV during the week is that you can really look forward to and enjoy a bit of TV at the weekend – it makes it more of a special treat! I read Chip and Joanna Gaines’ book when it came out earlier this year and they mentioned that they had never owned a TV and it made a light bulb switch on in my brain – that’s how they get so much done!! They don’t waste time with television! How ironic that watching their show is one of my favourite ways to waste an hour 😉

10. Make the mundane tasks more enjoyable. I mentioned this in a recent post. Here are a few ways I love to turn those mundane tasks into times that I actually look forward to….listen to a podcast, watch a TV series, listen to an audiobook, make a phone call and chat with a friend or family member, put on your favourite music and dance as you clean/cook/organise!

There we go, 10 of my favourite ways to try and stay a little bit more organised. I know it’s not rocket science and not everyone wants to be busy all the time or worrying about whether the house is a mess or  not and that’s absolutely fine. We all have different priorities in life. And my priorities change all the time as my family grows and their needs change. These are just some little tips that may be useful if you are finding there are too few hours in the day 😉

I will be back next week as promised with some more hints and suggestions to make the most of your Orlando holiday.

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