How to use time efficiently.

Have you had one of those days where time gets away from you? Before you know it, it’s time to wind down before bed, but the dishes are still in the sink, or there’s still a load of laundry in the dryer, waiting to be taken out and folded. Where did the day go?

Do you feel bad that you didn’t get much done? Wish you had a better way to use your time efficiently?

Now, we all need times to veg, relax, watch the afternoon sun make shadows across the yard, and listen to the birds chirp happily in the trees. Especially after a day at work and then making dinner and cleaning up, right? You need some down time. The trick is to plan it. If your weekends are drifting into the ‘can’t get anything done’ routine, then it’s time for a better plan.

First, know that action leads to action. Inaction leads to inaction. In other words, once you sit down, you may be done for the night. Or is that just me? Especially the older you get, or the more active your job. So if you have something to do after work, it may work best to get it done right away, then plan to relax.

And for those workers who are sitting all day, especially if your work is kind of, well, monotonous, you may find yourself slipping into never never land. Zoning out. So when you get home, or on weekends, your mind is used to zoning out. You need to nudge it into first gear.

In order to use your time efficiently, you need a game plan. You need to know what you need to do and when you need to do it. Make a list.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

List out all your to-do’s for the weekend, for an example. But to use time efficiently, you need to know how long the task is going to take, how immediate the need is, and if there are related tasks that can be done at the same time.

Then, once you’ve listed everything you need to do this weekend, think about you for a minute. How busy do you want to be? (Hint: it’s no crime to say ‘no’ if you don’t want to run into town for someone, and would rather sit outside on a beautiful summer day. And no, you don’t have to explain.)

Do you have more energy in the morning or afternoon? Schedule high energy tasks like housework and yard work then. Got errands to run? Group them together by location, and schedule them for times of the day when you’ll get a boost by getting out of the house. Meeting someone for lunch? Plan to run your errands before or after that, instead of making another trip out later.

Let’s make a sample list of to-do’s.

  • Mop the kitchen floor
  • run to the grocery store
  • stop by Mom’s and help her get something out of the attic
  • clean up the flowerbed by the front door
  • clean the trash out of the car
  • brush the dog
  • cook dinner
  • reconcile the checkbook
  • get birdseed
  • clean out the birdfeeder and birdbath
  • and on and on

This is just a partial list of what you have to do this weekend. And it’s a lot. So how to get it done and still find some time to relax?

Make note of how long things will take. Jot it down next to each item. When you have time to spare, look at your list and find something to fit. Got 15 minutes? Pick up what’s laying around the living room and put it away. Got 30 minutes? Get the vacuum out.

Schedule your time, as loosely or as closely as you like, but write it down and refer to it often. Mark things off, move things around as needed, but keep your schedule on paper, not in your head.

You may like a loose schedule. Work with morning – afternoon – evening. Like this – Morning: mop, vacuum, dust, dinner in crockpot. Afternoon: meet friend for lunch, run errands. Evening: dinner, finances/filing, walk dog, read.

Photo by Breakingpic on

Maybe you prefer a tight schedule. Then block off hours or partial hours for your tasks.

Here’s some tips to use your time efficiently.

  • Group trips together – is there a grocery store near your Mom’s house? If so, try to do both at once. She may even enjoy going along. Can you get birdseed there? Great!
  • Do physical tasks when you have the most energy. Mop the floor in the morning if that’s when you feel energetic. Who wants to come home from running errands to mop the floor? Right? Get it done before you head out.
  • Schedule work around the weather. If it’s supposed to rain Sunday, clean out the car on Saturday. If it’s supposed to be a hot day, weed early enough or late enough in the day so it’s more comfortable. Then plan your relaxing during the heat of the day. Sit out on the shaded patio with a cold drink and a good book.
  • Do sit down chores when you need a break between physical chores, or later in the day when you’re winding down. Go thru your checkbook or brush the dog later in the day, when you need a break.
  • Schedule in quick chores between longer ones. Need to run errands? Then you have a family dinner to go to? Don’t pace the floor wondering what to do with yourself in between. You need time to get ready and time to get there, so figure how much time that leaves you to spare. Look at your to-do list for a quick 15 or 30 minute task you can do in between.
  • Schedule your down time. Need an hour to hang by the pool on Sunday? Need 2 hours to read your new book? Put it in your schedule.
  • Try for a good mix of chores and fun for a more pleasurable day.
  • Don’t schedule all your chores for Saturday. You’ll dread it and be exhausted. Spread your chores out during the week.
  • Get the dreaded difficult chores out of the way early in the day. Then it’s all uphill from there.
  • Schedule some excursions in there too. Everyone needs a day, or even a weekend, to get away and relax. If you can’t get away for a long weekend right now, maybe a day trip is enough, just so you don’t have to look at everything that needs done. Who can relax when you’re staring at the weeds in the flowerbed, the grass that needs cut, the dog hair on the sofa, etc. Plan a little fun. And take Rover along. He’ll enjoy the time away too.
Photo via Pixabay

Another way to get more done is to schedule routine housekeeping chores for during the week. Try to fit in one chore a night. One night vacuum. One night dust. One night pull weeds out of the front flowerbed. Or do a load of laundry a night. Whatever works for you. You still have time to relax or work on a hobby, but you’re getting your chores done too. And not leaving it all for the weekend.

So, there’s lots of ways to use your time more effectively. Plan your work, and work your plan, as they say.

So, how do you get the most of your time?

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