Last week, I shared smartphone apps that help you save cash. I’ll be leapfrogging those money saving ideas with tips to help you find a little extra time in your day. Because let’s face it, until the Earth slows down and takes more than 24 hours to spin around, you just can’t do it all. This week, I’ll show you how to use a kitchen timer to find that elusive 25th hour and possibly save that last little bit of non-gray hair on your head.
FIND THE 25TH HOUR
Have you ever been on Facebook or reading a book on your iPad, only to look at the clock and wonder where the time went? Don’t fib. Of course you have.These time suckers might seem like a great way to unwind, but dealing with a sink full of dirty dishes, mounds of dirty laundry and toy-littered house at the last minute will completely undo any relaxed feelings you may have after vegging out.
No matter how long you stall, the dishes won’t find their own way to the dishwasher, the clothes won’t wash themselves and the toys won’t jump into the toy bin by themselves (except for maybe that creepy doll with a missing arm that seems to always.be.watching.you). Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t relax. I’m saying take an honest look at your day (set a timer to see how long things actually take) to identify activities that you spend inordinate amounts of time doing and come up with a creative way to limit it.
GO AHEAD. UNWIND
Need to relax after a long day of screaming kids and pissed-off bosses? Go ahead. Surf the net. Zone out in front of the TV. Kick your husband’s ass in Words with Friends. But do it with purpose. Don’t get caught up in the cycle of playing games, surfing Facebook, looking through pages and and pages of IaCan Has Cheezburger (yes, I know it’s hilarious), or watching rerun after rerun of a show that hasn’t been on in 10 years.
To ensure you don’t get sucked into this time warp, set the kitchen timer. Whether it’s five minutes or half an hour later, when the timer goes off you’ll feel more rested and have more energy to tackle the rest of the day, instead of turning into a blubbering mess on the floor.
It’s amazing what you can get done in five minutes. Really. If you have 20 to 30 minutes before you have to start dinner or start getting the kids ready for bed or drag yourself into bed, grab the kitchen timer and set it for five minutes. Spend just five minutes in each room picking up toys and rogue socks, putting couch cushions back where they belong, wiping off surfaces and putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Try it. You’ll be surprised what you can do. And you’ll feel a lot better the next day when you’re not tripping over toys or staring at last night’s dinner-encrusted pans.
GIVE ‘EM FIVE
Can’t get anything done because your kids are stalling at bedtime or won’t get out of the bathtub? Say it with me…set the timer! No need to yell or nag. Give them five more minutes of playtime (or TV or whatever) and then it’s off to the next task.
Now I don’t have older kids who have any concept of time, so I can’t say for sure if this will work. However, parenting experts say you can tame temper tantrums and avoid the whiny “just five more minutes” requests by telling kids how much time they have left, and giving them a visual representation of that time. Teaching them time-management skills can instill a little bit of responsibility in their choices (or so they say).
DO IT AT BEDTIME
No, not that. Well you can do that if you want (although you might not need five minutes). What I actually mean is this: give each kid five minutes on the timer to make sure they have everything they’ll need for the next day. They can lay out their clothes (including socks and underwear), put all their books and papers in their backpack and then put it by the door, and ask you to sign that permission slip that was due YESTERDAY.
And you should do the same. No more frustrated run around the house looking for socks because your kid is down to his last two (one red and one blue) while you’re trying to get breakfast, put on your makeup and look for the library book that is due. No more scribbling your name on the test you need to sign as the bus is coming down the street. And no more screaming “but I don’t WANNA wear THAT!”
Now breathe. Got any great time-saving tips yourself? Share them in a comment!
I’ll be back in two weeks to show you how to save some more precious, precious time. Next week: no more sobbing over the electric bill.
While you’re here, if you haven’t done so yet, share the title of your child’s favorite book for a chance to win a copy of I Love You, Good Night. I’ll announce the winner February 1st.