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10 Practical Ways of taking more than 2 hours back each day for you

living our imperfect lives

1. Organise your wardrobe.

This takes a bit of initial effort but trust me it will save you time each morning and simplify the start of each day.

In the past mine was organised into trousers, dresses, tops and so on. Previous to this I had organised based on colours. While it looked great – it was of no use and every morning the same problem looking into a packed wardrobe, concluding that I had in fact nothing to wear and resorting to the same safe go-to black trousers and blouse.

Nowadays I have no hassle in deciding what to wear. My wardrobe was rearranged into matching outfits that cover the seven days of my week. Every outfit can be dressed up (add a pretty scarf and heels) or dressed for a more casual look (long skirt with pumps). Each piece is placed next to each other – each skirt / trousers alongside the matching top – all ready for me to take and wear together.

Excess clothing was given away and I included only 2 cardigans and 2 blazers, should I need to layer up.

I love clothes but too much choice leads to overwhelm and decision paralysis, ultimately wasting plenty of minutes of my time while I try to decide what to wear.

Take the time to set out your wardrobe, choose the outfits that you know you love to wear and each morning breathe as you simply pick, dress and go.
Time Saved Each Day : 20 Minutes

2. Prepare Work and School lunches the night before

In the past I always resisted this, thinking the lunches would just not be as fresh after a night in the fridge. Once I saw how much time and stress this actually saved me in the morning I quickly became a convert. I time this with when I’m making our evening dinner. Once you’re already in the kitchen and cooking there is no noticeable effort to make some lunches at the same time. You’re already in the right frame of mind. Make it a family effort and ask your children to help and relax in the morning as you simply remove from the fridge on the way out the door.
Time Saved Each Day : 15 Minutes 

3. Once a week, set out a weekly meal planner and pin it to your fridge door.

To save even more time order your weekly groceries online. Try do both of these tasks on the same day each week. Why? Well, let me share some of the benefits I’ve had from this. Before I had no plan each day what to cook for dinner so although I did my grocery shopping online it was adhoc and really only covered the essentials. Most days after school would involve a run to the supermarket to grab something to cook and including travel time would cost about an hour of my day, not to mention the extra cost involved when you purchase sporadically.

Now, each day dinner is already planned, shopping is completed in full at the start of the week – both tasks take in total 1 hour of my time per week. All meat is already in the freezer and depending on the meal planned for the day, taken out in the morning to thaw. The decision and preparation has already been made days in advance so saving me time and brain power.
Time Saved Each Day : 60 Minutes 

4. Limit Checking Email to Twice a Day

This is mentioned constantly in time management. The majority of us rarely to stick to this. Why? We love to see that new message arrive, we anticipate it could be something great and the notification actually causes a chemical reaction of dopamine in our brains. It creates an addictive effect that causes us to check and check again and so the loop continues. If you are constantly checking and reacting to email you are wasting large amounts of your time then trying to refocus on what you were originally working on. Check email first at midday and then again 30 minutes before you leave for work. Bulk your email replies and don’t worry about missing out on an urgent email. Anything that urgent would always be followed up with a phonecall if your response wasn’t timely.
Time Saved Each Day : 50 Minutes 

5. Take Regular Breaks

This may seem like a waste of time. I certainly wore my badge of honour for never taking breaks, not even at lunchtime. If I could just plough on through I would get more tasks cleared and get to the end of the time with some free time. Unless you do this on very rare occasions, no extra time is every really achieved. After 90 minutes we really require a break – even for ten minutes. Away from your desk to just re-energise. You would never physically work out for over 90 minutes so why do we believe that our brain, which is also a muscle, would not need some rest. Continuous working wastes your time and a tired brain extends the time it takes to complete your task. Take a break, then start again fresh and you will be convinced that this does save you time. With hectic works demands we may forget this and I’ve set a constant phone reminder to help here.
Time Saved Each Day : 30 Minutes 

6. Limit Social Media, Widgets and Notifications on your mobile

Similar to the email rule the impact of this can not be underestimated. My phone contained a widget for news and regularly I would drift down the rabbit hole reading one story, then the next and suddenly I’m reading the most popular girl’s names for next year. Why? I’m not even planning on having a baby next year. Just because it is easier to get distracted and to procrastinate then to really focus on our task at hand.

Social media notifications gave me the same excitement as email until I decided to really be honest with how much time I was spending here.

Today, no notifications, social media is checked once a night and so far I haven’t missed anything important happening online. My friends and family know never to expect an immediate response from me on SM and call instead if something is urgent.
Time Saved Each Day : 60 Minutes 

7. Cheat a little

Now maybe you’re a Mum who loves when the school bake sale is announced or maybe you’re a little like me and break out in hives when you hear the news. The good news is – it’s okay to cheat a little. Purchase those ready made buns from the supermarket. It’s not “The Great Bake Off” and you’re still supporting the school.

Invited for lunch and want to bring a starter or dessert? Save your time and bring one from the supermarket luxury section.

Stressed about finding the time to iron or clean your bathrooms? How about hiring a cleaner? It doesn’t have to be every week but why not every two weeks? I never thought I would hire someone to clean my house, but it is one of the best things I ever did. For me having a free Saturday to spend time with family and friends was worth cutting back on luxuries to pay the cost of weekly cleaning instead.
Time Saved Each Day : 45 Minutes 

8. Reduce After School Activities

I’m not sure how many after school activities are the right number to have but I do know you should limit it to what’s best for your family life. Constantly we compare ourselves to other families and think that we’re not doing enough. At one point we had football, swimming, hurling and rugby to attend each week. Every weekend was booked and most evenings too. I was exhausted and as it turns out so were my children. Children take part in lots of activities during school already so I decided one after school activity a week was enough for us. We all love having our evenings back!
Time Saved Each Day : 60 Minutes 

9. Shorten Meetings

Meetings – they simply are the number 1 drain of your time in the office. Don’t schedule in a meeting for an hour. Try scheduling for 30 minutes instead, with a clear agenda sent out ahead and everyone on your team will thank you for it. We will always use the time allocated for a meeting but by condensing this time you force everyone to focus and the outcome will be the same if not better.
Time Saved Each Day : Sometimes up to 2 Hours

10. Work from home one day a week

I have recommended this to everyone on my team for as long as I can remember. Being in the office can subject you to constant interruptions from other colleagues. Even taking five minutes to answer a question will take your brain up to 25 minutes to really get back into the zone of what you were first working on. Choose one day a week to work from home on those topics which require your most brain power and concentration. Start at the same time you would normally begin your commute. Turn off your notifications and finish for the day once you have those tasks complete. You’ll be surprised to find yourself actually finishing 2-3 hours earlier and with no commute home to face you’ll have a lovely early afternoon to yourself.
Time Saved Each Day : 45 Minutes 

The point is not to save all of this time unless you have a plan for how to use it. Otherwise you experience no benefit and old habits quickly fall back in.

Always wanted to learn an extra language? Do an evening course? Increase your fitness level? Spend more time with family and friends?

Write out three things you would love to do if you only had more time. Then gradually add each tip above into your daily life and use that newly created time to start one of those three things. Book a slot into your calendar each day, not only as a reminder but as proof that you are now committed to also spending your time here too. 

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Have a great day!

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