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We know that stress is a major contributor to many serious health problems. We also know that stress is often caused by having to much to do and not enough time to do it in. More than half (65 %) of Australians say they are so busy they can’t make time for themselves at least once a day.
Does this sound familiar?
Are you constantly running to catch a train (literally or figuratively) with little time to stop and smell the roses? It’s time for a major change, and fast, because if you can’t take at least some time to enjoy life, then, really, what’s the point?
We all have responsibilities, of course, including some that are fixed in the overall equation of your day – like working or cleaning or paying bills. But with some creative tweaks you can carve out more time for yourself by saving time on chores and other daily necessities of living. This makes more room for those activities which nourish you and reduce your stress load.
10 Top Time Savers
1. Escape the Cult of Busy
You probably aren’t as busy as you think you are. In fact, if you log how much time you spend doing various activities throughout your day, you’ll probably find extra time you didn’t know you had (like time wasted surfing the Web or watching TV). Instead of saying you “don’t have time” for the things you’d like to do – like exercise, travel or cook more – rephrase it as “exercising (for example) is a priority” for me. Make the items in your day that you really want to do a priority, and you’ll probably get them done.
2. Fit in a Workout on Any Schedule
Think you don’t have time to workout? Think again. It doesn’t take hours a day to get in shape. If you have 20 minutes, you can fit in a workout if you use high-intensity interval training. And you can even do it right in your own home, using your own bodyweight as your “gym.” Best of all, excercise is a fantastic stress buster, flooding you with feel-good hormones and giving you more energy to make it through all the events of your day.
3. Keep Your Home Clean
This doesn’t mean you have to become a neat freak, just spend 15 minutes a day tidying up and cleaning. You’ll be shocked at how much you can get done in just 15 minutes, especially if you stick to this every day. It may be unrealistic to think you’ll keep your home spotless, but a good goal is to keep your home in a “20-minutes-to-clean state.” This way, you’ll have time to quickly make your home company-ready if an unexpected visitor drops by (and even if you don’t have 20 minutes warning, your home will still be presentable).
4. Sleep Better
High-quality sleep is essential to good health and staying productive throughout your day. If you feel fatigued in the morning, it could mean that you need to sleep better, not necessarily longer (say for six hours instead of eight). One of the best solutions? Sleep in complete darkness, as even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of cancer-fighting melatonin and mood-boosting serotonin. You can find more sleep tips here.
5. Try Stress-Free Shopping
For items you buy at the grocery store, try getting your groceries online using automated delivery options that allow you to get non-perishables delivered once every month (or whatever frequency you would like). Be sure you also plan your meals ahead of time, so you only have to go shopping once to get a week (or more) worth of food for your meals. By shopping at food coops or farmer’s markets, you can also turn your shopping into an enjoyable social event while getting the highest quality food possible.
6. Prepare Better Food in Less Time
Spending some time in the kitchen (you, a loved one or someone you hire) is a necessity for optimal health. If you feel too busy to cook, try using cooking methods that allow you to prepare wholesome meals with little or no prep time, such as using a slow cooker. Fermented foods can also be made in large batches and enjoyed for weeks. You can also eat more raw foods and eliminate cooking for certain meals altogether.
7. Speed Through Clothing-Related Chores
Cut down on laundry by washing your clothes less often – you can often wear a shirt more than once, and jeans multiple times, before doing the wash. Save time on sorting by keeping two hampers in your bedroom, one for whites and one for colors. Another laundry trick is to put a sheet of aluminum foil under the ironing board cover; this reflected heat will take the wrinkles out of both sides of a piece of clothing at once, so you only have to iron one side.
8. Learn to Read Faster
Whether you’re reading for work, school or pleasure, you can read faster by not saying words in your head and becoming adept at skimming (or even skipping entire chapters you don’t need to read).
9. Improve Your Long Commute and Traveling
Make sure you’re taking the best, most efficient route to work. While you’re on the road, listen to podcasts, audio books or use a voice recorder to compile your to-do list for the day. You can even learn a new skill, such as practicing a new language. Also when traveling, make sure you combine places you need to go that are close as this will radically increase your efficiency. Rather than making two or more trips, combine them into one.
10. Pay Your Bills Automatically
Set up your bills to be paid automatically so you don’t waste time paying bills every month. Direct debit services are a great way to minimize the thought and time it takes to keep on top of admin.
De-Cluttering Your Mind Is One of the Best Time-Saving Tools There Is
A cluttered home may make you uneasy, but a cluttered mind is a major detriment to reaching your full potential. Imagine, for a second, the relief and the pure joy you would feel if you knew that everything in your life was in its place, and all was well. In addition to the time-saving tips above, a clear mind allows you to focus, be mindful and speed through any given task at hand. Yet, many of us hold in our minds an obscene amount of information, such as:
- Regrets from our past, feelings of guilt, worries and other negative emotions
- Daily tasks that need to be done
- Long-term projects yet to be completed
- Reminders for your spouse, kids and other family members
- Goals and dreams
- Deadlines for work, bills, taxes and more
One of our top recommendations for clearing these types of mind clutter is to read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Here’s the key: this system is not only about being productive. It’s about being productive in a way that keeps your mind calm. Other simple solutions include:
- Write down the thoughts in your head (use a to-do list, a journal, a checklist, whatever works for you)
- Skip the multi-tasking and focus on just one task at a time
- The KEY to success of his program is to be diligent about doing your weekly review and going over all your projects and accumulated items in your inbox and calendar. This is absolutely critical.
- Cut down on your daily “musts,” focusing only on the few most important, essential items
- Take a walk: the physical activity and time outdoors will help clear your mind
- Slow down: if you tend to rush through your day, make it a point to focus on each activity that comes up at your own, non-hurried pace
If you need more help getting on top of your stress, find out what what we can do for you here.