According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most full-time workers spend about 8.5 hours working each weekday. Coupled with the seven to nine hours of sleep we’re supposed to get—plus commuting and cooking and our many daily chores—that leaves a pretty slim window of time to do the things we want to do. However, there are some simple things that can help you shave off the most time-consuming tasks from your day so you have an extra hour or two to do what you love, whether that be reading a good book, catching up on Netflix or spending an hour in a restorative yoga class.
- Sign Up for a Meal Delivery Service—There are so many different options for meal prep and cooking that it’s one of the best ways to save time and money throughout the week, primarily if you generally cook every day. The great thing is that there are meal delivery services for every diet and preference, whether you want to lose weight or create a dietary plan that’s easier on the gut. For example, a low-FODMAP meal delivery service can help you cut out potentially triggering foods causing you to experience diarrhea and excessive gassiness. What is FODMAP? It’s a family of highly fermentable sugars found naturally in our foods, which can make you feel sick and slow you down. Following this diet can help you identify your triggers.
- Order Groceries Online—Another simple way to save yourself some time and energy throughout the week is to use the many online grocery services that have flourished in the past few years. These services allow you to fill your digital cart with your preferred food items and then either pick them up—often, without even having to get out of your car—or have them delivered to your home. This saves you time because it prevents you from having to wait in line at the store and also cuts down on getting distracted by a ton of different options while you’re shopping (don’t worry, it happens to all of us).
- Consider Meal Prepping—One more tip regarding food: consider meal prepping. When you prep your food, you make multiple meals at once for the week so you don’t have to worry about cooking or ordering after a long, busy day. Typically, meal prepping involves batch-cooking lunches and dinners on a Saturday or Sunday so you have meals available when you need them. This can save you time throughout the week and also prevent you from being tempted to order out after a tough day.
- Maintain Between Deep Cleans—One of the mistakes we often make when it comes to chores is letting things fall into disarray and then needing to spend hours every couple of months deep cleaning our entire homes. Rather than spending long stretches of time cleaning every nook and cranny on a monthly basis, deep clean every quarter or so and then maintain on a weekly basis. This means tidying up each night and doing weekly chores like vacuuming, laundry and cleaning the kitchen each week.
- Delegate to Others—If you’re a perfectionist, you may have trouble deferring to others for help at work or around the house. But leaning on the other people in your household or the services available to you is crucial to keeping things in order. It truly does take a village, so don’t be afraid to lean on those around you, even if they are professionals like a cleaning service, a dog walker or a teenager in the neighborhood looking to make some cash mowing lawns or pulling weeds.
- Learn How to Say No—On the same token, it can be hard for many people to say no to others, especially as it relates to work and family. Remember that your free time is absolutely valuable and that every second of your day doesn’t have to be accounted for in order for you to be able to turn down someone’s request. Since nearly half of all people report that they have a hard time saying no, you shouldn’t feel weak or alienated if you struggle from this, too. Just remember that your time is valuable and you are entitled to some free time, so working on saying no can serve you well.
- Practice Minimalism—While it may take some time upfront to get there, leading a more minimalist lifestyle can do wonders for your personal calendar and quest for free time. The fact of the matter is that your stuff—clothes, books, records, bicycles, boats, collections of any sort—takes maintenance, and maintenance takes time. However, some things in life, like our pets or bicycles, also bring us immense joy even if they suck up a lot of our free time. The key is to pare down on things that suck up your time and provide little in return. Make sure to go through your personal items and lifestyle on a monthly basis to determine what you can cut to eliminate some stress.
- Turn Your Phone on DND—Your phone has a handy little button called “Do Not Disturb” that exists purely to help you stay focused on tasks and activities in front of you and to prevent distractions from phone notifications. This one is especially important for people who tend to get sucked into time-wasters on their phone, whether it be friends calling to catch up or news alerts that send you down time-consuming rabbit holes. Don’t be afraid to switch on the DND button when you need to get stuff done!
The fact of the matter is that being a human involves doing a mix of things you want to do and things you have to do, and happiness comes from creating a solid balance between the two. If you find that you’re doing a bit too much of the have-to stuff, it may be time to pare down so you can fit in some of the want-tos. These are some excellent ways to do that!