HOW TO USE YOUR MINUTES WISELY!
By Diane St James, © 2002-2004
Ever wonder what happens to all your T I M E ?? It goes fast Doesn't it? Since time is so precious and always seems to be so lacking, I like to refer to it as minutes...as opposed to hours. And to many of us, the minutes just seem to whip by...
There are many articles about time management and usingit wisely, and I thought I'd provide some tips that I personally use on a daily basis. I wear many hats like a lot of parents do and I need to juggle the kids, the house, my husband's demands er..needs, my mortgage consulting website and e-zine, and the mortgage underwriting I do full time as well! Some people ask me how I do it all?
Well here are some tips, but I have my good days and bad just like everyone else.
Write a menu before going shopping. Before I'm off to use those coupons at the grocery store, I write a menu for the entire week. This is such a great time and money saver! Not only do you have an exact list of what to buy, you don't have to sit there the next day and wonder what to scrounge for dinner. If you stick to your list, it eliminates unplanned purchases too! Okay, even I buy the occasional bag of Oreos. After shopping I tear off the menu portion of my grocery list and place the 'menu' for the week on the fridge,...also avoids the constant " What's for dinner tonight?" question.. The whole family knows what's on the menu :)
2. THROW A LOAD OF LAUNDRY IN FIRST THING
In the morning, the first thing I do after taking my vitamins, and a few sips of coffee, is throw a load of laundry in. If your house is anything like mine there is ALWAYS dirty clothes to do. This way, by the time I get the kids off to school, this load is already ready for the dryer and I'm that much ahead of the game.
3. MULTI-TASK OFTEN
I like those microwaveable lunches. So, while I'm heating my lunch in the microwave, I usually have clothes in the dryer that I can check. I hang up any shirts or slacks that are half way dry, so I won't have to iron anything. I haven't had to iron anything in months! :)
4. SORT MAIL AS SOON AS YOU PICK IT UP
When the mail comes, I sort through it right away, chuck any junk mail and (try at least to) chuck any tempting catalogs. Then I immediately go to the hanging basket in the kitchen where I keep all the bills, pull out my List of Bills to pay, and add the creditor name, date due and minimum payment amount. This way I have everything in one spot and look at the list every few days to see what needs to be paid. After all, it is not good to be late paying things as it will affect your credit history and as I always preach, credit history is really important when you apply for a mortgage. I also believe in keeping my money, MY money for as long as possible, so I don't pay the bills right when I get them, but a week before they are due.
5. MAKE USE OF IDLE TIME
Here is one for when there is idle time...yes there are those occasions. There are many times when I am sitting in the car waiting to pick up one of my kids from one thing or another. I keep a small bag in the car at all times for trash, so sometimes I pick up all the tissues and candy wrappers, etc., that mysteriously accumulate. Recently I even threw a bottle of Armorall in the car and spent some time using that on the interior of the car. My dashboard gets so dusty! Sometimes people look at me like I'm crazy. So what! I sing all the while too, it doesn't bother me! Am I using my minutes wisely? You betcha!
If you don't like this idea, but still don't want to waste the minutes, you can keep a book in the car that you can catch a chapter of reading in here and there. You can even sit back, close your eyes and let all the tension drain out...until the car door opens and you hear "Hi Mom"!
6. GET YOUR KIDS TO HELP YOU
When I can, I get my kids to help with the chores. Gee, what a concept! Make them earn their allowance! They help with the dishes, setting the table, making their bed, etc. Every night before school we set out their clothes for the next day and if they are packing their lunches, that gets done ahead of time too, usually. The mornings just seem to fly way too fast to try to do everything then. If you work outside of the home, this is a good idea for adults too!
7. USE A CALENDAR OR PLANNER
Another thing I do is write EVERYTHING down on the calendar. What's everything? Appointments, birthdays, ball games, dance practices, school trips, hair appts., doctor appointments...you get the picture. This is one of the best tools for using minutes wisely. When you know pretty much what is on the schedule it helps you to plan ahead.
8. USE A SLOW COOKER
Speaking of planning ahead. There is a wonderful piece of cooking equipment that gets used at least once a week in our house. That is the Crock Pot. When I know there is an away from home function that is going to require a quick meal, there is always the fast food option, but often I use the crock pot instead.. The food tastes great and is better for you, you generally save money, and it saves waiting at the drive thru line too. There's less dishes to wash too since often the whole meal is in the pot. I make a mean Crock Pot meatloaf!
9. DO SOME TASKS WHILE WATCHING TV
Finally, the last tip I'd like to share is for sometimes when I am actually sitting in front of the TV. There are occasions when I'm not really watching what is on especially if I'm just agreeing to have the channel on something someone else wants to watch. This is a great time for writing letters, paying bills, writing up a To Do list, or balancing your checkbook, although this last one may require a bit more concentration and your calculator!
I promise you if you just put some of these time saving tips into place, you will notice a difference. Or, you can keep going day to day always in a rush and always playing catch up!
Diane St. James is a mortgage professional with over 23 years