Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Getting More Time Out of the Day

Credit: Photo by Robbert van der Steeg

It almost seems impossible right? There are only 24 hours in a day, how can you extract more time if you aren't a magician?

It's not impossible, nor is it magic, it's all about organizing your day better to run as efficiently as possible. I sometimes see families who are running from one place to the other, only finding that they have to go back to the grocery store for the 6th time that week. Not having a plan for your day can cause you lots of stress but also destroy your budget!

My simplified list includes these steps:

1. Wake up early (or try to). This gives me time before I really have to get going to stop, stretch and just enjoy the moment. I'm waking up slowly but surely and preparing my mind for the day.

2. Identify the main task for the day. For most people and most days, this is work. But for those who don't work (lucky) or if it's a day off, figuring out the important task can be tricky. It might be making a whole bunch of meals for the rest of the week, or finally tackling that project that is long overdue. Whatever it is, make sure it's the first thing on your list and you devote yourself to getting it accomplished (or to an appropriate stopping point).

3. Make a list of the things that need to be accomplished today. Now that the main task is identified, write down the other, smaller tasks that also need to be done. These can be done during breaks, or after the long day of work. Usually these are things that I've pushed off too much and need to be done, such as calling back the doctor's or depositing a check at the bank.

4. Throughout the day, making sure that my to do list is truly getting accomplished. One thing that easily happens is you know what the main task is, but you keep on pushing it further and further into the day. It's finally after lunch and you want to do the easy tasks. Keep in mind what you truly need to accomplish and dive head first into the task.

5. Unwind and prepare for tomorrow. My days do not start without at least some plans in place for the next day. It might be getting more done on a project, or just tying up some loose ends from the day before. And just like in the morning, I take a few minutes to unwind my thoughts and allow myself to fall asleep peacefully, knowing that the day is truly done.

What these steps allow me to do is plan my spending around my main activities. If work is my main attraction, I know that I'll either have to bring snacks for the day, or will have to buy something to eat. If I'm at home for the day, that means I'll probably be making something to eat or having leftovers for lunch.

Weekends are when most of the household spending occurs. A grocery list is usually laid out on the table throughout the week, gathering up items that need to be bought next time around. Also, tasks that will require a tool or object that is not in the household are listed on the back. It's almost a running tally of what will be spent. We will also plan our driving based on where we need to go and what needs to be picked up. Sometimes we will hold off on grocery shopping till later in the week because we will be in that part of the neighborhood on a certain day.

I can also plan No Spend Days (NSDs) around my plans. If I know that I'm planning on going out with friends one night, and to lunch later in the week, my NSDs are fit in between these two events, not leaving me to feel guilty about going out.

This system isn't perfect, nor is it for everyone, but it really helps me focus on what needs to be done and keeps my budget in check (or what's left of my budget...).

What are your solutions for organizing your day and making it efficient? 


  1. If I stayed off social media I would be so much more productive. Not even funny how much time I spend on blogs, ig

    1. So true! I'm in the same boat in that there are so many blogs that I want to read all the time, suddenly it's 10pm and I should have been in bed a half hour ago!

  2. I can really get behind #2. I used to make lists for my day where I'd have several things I need to do and still not enough time to do them all. When I focus on just one thing, things seem to go a lot better because I can just focus on doing a good job.

    1. In college I used to be the same way, and everything that had been done during the day usually came out to be okay because instead of focusing on the one assignment, I had tried to get everything out of the way. It definitely takes practice, but it makes for better work every day!

  3. Oh my gosh, I have the roughest time with #1. Although I totally agree making a list makes accomplishing things much easier - especially if you prioritize what needs to be done on the list.... I feel like, before you know it, the whole thing is crossed off.