I have many passions in life, and many need a lot of time. I happen to have that when I need it. Of course, if you’re crazy like me and your single dream in life is to be laser-focused on being the most efficient version of your self, it’s easier. But it doesn’t have to be that hard if you aren’t either.
I’ve often been asked to share a “secret” to having the time for everything that I do: write, teach, manage a small coffee shop, all the while taking care of my husband, two kids and our home. And I do all of that myself without outsourcing the cleaning or cooking. If you’re surprised then maybe you’ll benefit from my experience.
Here goes: my three steps to carving several hours from your day – every day! When you start, these may seem overwhelming, but trust me: if you stick with it for a month, these will become second nature to you.
Note: I will NOT cover motivation here. You need strong motivation to teach yourself to be more effective. I will try to write a guide on personal motivation later, but for now the easiest way to be more motivated is to visualize all the things that you will be able to do when you have more free time. Try this list of 36 things to do from Insider for example.
Step 1: Plan and limit your work
- Make a list of tasks you are going to do today. Plan how much focused time you will spend on them.
- Choose priority tasks: 2-3 tasks that are more important. You will do them today. The other tasks are optional.
- Work fast and do not add extra tasks as you go. For example, if you planned to cook three dishes in an hour but then you decided to cook four, you can only do that inside that one hour. Value your time.
- Learn to stop. When your planned time is up – stop. You have other great things to do.
Step 2: Plan and limit your cooking time
- Have a menu. Check your fridge and pantry and then plan the menu for the next week (not the current week) and make a list of everything you need to buy, including snacks. That way, you will be able to buy everything you need.
- Make a list with the minimum set of ingredients that you need to have at hand – up to 10 items. Make sure that you always have those. For example, you can put down salt, oil, sugar, pepper, rice, pasta, potatoes, onions and carrots. If you have those, you won’t go hungry.
- Leave room for improvisation. If you realize that an ingredient was eaten or you forgot to buy it, don’t panic and run to the store, try and cook the dish without it or think what else you can cook from what you have left.
- Think through your sequence of actions:
- Wash everything that needs washing, together
- Set and forget everything that does not require your supervision (start boiling the rice, start the toaster oven program etc.)
- Combine similar actions from several recipes if you can (for example, you can fry onions for soup and for the roast).
In other words, try to do what you planned more effectively.
- Teach yourself to pre-make and store batches. For example, instead of making a batch of meatballs or roasted veggies, make two and freeze the other one. You can prepare and freeze meats, veggies, dough and many other things in ziploc bags. Pro tip: label the bag with what it is (you’d think it would be clear what it is but it’s not many times) and the cooking date.
Step 3: Optimize your cleaning
- Optimize your belongings:
- Separate all the items in your house into categories.
- For each category, choose a place of storage.
- Fill every place of storage with things from that category.
- Take all that’s left and trash it. Ruthlessly.
- Optimize your space. Choose an approach to organize your space, – thankfully, there are many, like, for example, KonMari. Keep the things where you use them.
- Plan tasks that you need to do:
- Once a day
- Once a week
- Once a month
Decide how much time you are going to spend on each of them. Every day, do the tasks that you need to do for that day and add 1-2 things from the once a week list and once a month list. Make corrections if you realize that your house is not clean enough, or you spend more time than you planned.
- Invest in tools. Treat them as assets that will make your life easier: dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, toaster ovens etc. Choose to spend a little bit more money to save a lot of your time.
In a nutshell, that’s it. I’ll try to cover motivation next time.
Love you all! Stay safe.