15 Seemingly Weird Ways to Save Time & Money!

15 Seemingly Weird Ways to Save Time & Money!

When it comes to saving time and money, everyone has their own little rituals and tricks that work for them. Whether you clip coupons to save money or pre-pack your gym bag and keep it by the door to save time, you’ve surely got a couple of these rituals yourself. Surely everyone shares some of these habits – they’re pretty commonplace.

What about the more fringe time or money savers, though? I’m not talking about re-using paper towels or renting your dog out as a clown (talk about frugal horror stories!), but what about never buying kids’ clothing from department stores? Ever considered raising worms to recycle your produce and make some top-quality fertilizer? Does it get weirder? Read on to find out some of our best-kept secrets for saving time and money and please note that the links below may be affiliate links, which means I could earn commission should you click through to make a purchase.

Unique and Interesting Ways to Save Your Family Money

Interesting ways to save money

Create an easy meal plan

Creating a meal plan is of course one the best ways to save time and money, but you can take it one step further by stacking the meals together so that one rolls into another. Monday evening roast a whole chicken with potatoes and onions, maybe some carrots and then use the leftovers. How, you might ask? Simple! Prep the leftover meat for enchiladas or fajitas the next day, and then take the leftovers and make bone broth. With a little pasta and some veggies, that’s 3 meals from one chicken.

Meal plan stacking is taking one great meal that has leftovers and making another great meal from them. Did you have shrimp tacos for dinner Tuesday? Make gumbo on Wednesday. Big pot roast with tons of leftovers? Toss it into the crock pot with some adobe seasoning and peppers, and have carnitas the next night. It will save you money and time AND be delicious!

Vinegar Uses

Vinegar has literally dozens of household uses, and at about $2/gallon, it is one of the best investments you can keep under your sink.

vinegar bottle aldi

Of course you can use vinegar in cooking but if you take an empty spray bottle and fill it with 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water and add some citrus peel or tea tree oil, you’ll have a cheap, incredibly effective cleaner and disinfectant. Most of what you’d buy in the store is about 5% acetic acid (white vinegar), which will kill most germs, but if you really want to be sure, you can look for something a bit more powerful. Health food and green living stores will often sell stronger vinegar.

Cleaning fruit with vinegar is also a great way to remove the waxy grossness from apples and a lot of the pesticide residue from both apples and strawberries. Considering both the aforementioned fruits routinely make it on the dirty dozen list for most contaminated foods, giving them a quick wash in a 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar solution can really decrease the pesticides your family ingests. Vinegar will also help your strawberries stay fresh longer!

Invest in a Water Cooler

We bought a water cooler when we had our son because we wanted an easy source of distilled water. Flash forward four years and we’re still using it daily.

We did the math and the water cooler was cheaper over the expected two years of needing bottles than filters for a faucet-mounted system. The trick is after using the jugs (we bought them at Lowes), instead of swapping them out for new filled ones ( at $6.99/apiece!) we disinfect them with vinegar and refill them at about .25c/gallon at a local grocery store.

The cooler we bought also has a tap for hot water, which makes it great when I’m in need of my daily matcha tea fix or just a nice cup of chamomile before bed!

Make Notes on Your Food

This one sounds ridiculous, but consider the number of times you look at something in the fridge and simply can’t remember when you cooked/opened/bought it. We realized we were throwing out stuff that might still be good, so we bought a Sharpie specifically for the kitchen. We glued a magnet to it so it sticks to the fridge and whenever we have leftovers or open a container, we date it. This makes sure we know when things are still good and when we should actually toss them.

Because my husband follows a keto diet, we also tend to have at least three containers of heavy cream in our fridge at any given time. It can be incredibly frustrating to have to open two containers only to realize its the third one that’s already open. It’s a simple thing, but marking the cap with an “O” really helps save time each and every day!

Vermiculture – Yes, We’re Talking Worm Farming!

If you’re unfamiliar with vermiculture, you’re likely not alone. It’s a fancy word for “worm farming” and it’s a really interesting way to reduce your food waste. It’s surprisingly simple to raise worms, and though they’re not cute and cuddly, they DO provide some fantastic benefits for growing your own garden.

Essentially the worms break down organic waste like apple cores, vegetable scraps, etc. into nutrient-rich castings which you can use as a fertilizer. They also produce a sort of waste fluid called “worm tea” that is a wonderful addition to plants, making them healthier and more vibrant.

blonde boy smiling brown hair girl smiling worm farm

We set up our worm farm using a couple totes, but you can also buy relatively inexpensive ones online if you don’t have the desire to DIY. 

If you DO want to DIY, you’ll want to check out this post on how to start your own worm farm.

Vermiculture is great because it helps you reduce your food waste while also making your garden significantly healthier, and if you don’t already garden, it’s a nice extra bit of encouragement.

Toilet Paper Tube Projects

Got some kids stuck in the house all day with nothing to do? Toss some art supplies at them and give them toilet paper tubes!

Ok, maybe that alone won’t help, but toilet paper tubes are very versatile pieces of cardboard. Some ideas include:

Poke two holes in the top (opposite each other) and run a string or piece of yarn through them. Smear peanut butter around the outside of the tube and then roll them in birdseed, and voila! You have a quick, simple bird feeder that will absolutely attract some feathered friends to your yard.

Decorate the outside of one by gluing on a strip of leftover fabric and use it to hold your excess extension cords, or when you store them!

Fold the undersides in at one end and fill them with soil, and use them as seed starters in the late winter to get a jump start on that garden!

Stuff them with dryer lint to use as campfire starters!

Use your imagination for a variety of artistic endeavors – their shape lends itself well to making candle holders, for instance. With some interesting decorations you can have a spooky candle holder for Halloween, a cheery one for Christmas, or a turkey for Thanksgiving. Of course use battery operated candles!

Encourage your children to use their imaginations and you’ll be surprised at what they’ll come up with. My kids love to create monsters with lots of googly eyes, of course!

Garage Sales

As long as we’ve had kids, we have been very intentional about buying presents and clothing ahead of time. Every time we’re at a garage sale, if we see something that will fit them, we typically pick it up if the price is right. I’m honestly not sure if our kids have ever had brand-new shoes, and that’s 100% fine with us.

If you have kids, trust me – you will WANT to sell all the clothes you get, and you’ll feel WAY less bad about selling them for .50c apiece if you bought them for .50c apiece.

garage sale

The “Present Tote”

Another way we make use of garage sales though is by taking a look at what toys and games our kids might eventually like. When they’re really little this is especially easy, but basically just buy up any cool toys or games you see that are super cheap, and store them in a “future presents tote“. For instance, we found about $50 of Play-doh toys and accessories for $5 a garage sale, and it happens that our kids love the stuff. Boom, big Christmas gift, bought and paid-for.

While you shouldn’t just buy anything all the time “because it’s on sale”, if you get a really good bargain on something you know your children will love, it will save you money in the long run. 

Multitasking Hurts

The single biggest time saver (and mind saver) you can invest your energy in is to avoid multitasking. Multitasking simply doesn’t work! There may be a few exceptions to the rule, but we’re essentially single-core processing units; undivided attention to a single task proves much better results than trying to do multiple things at once. Not only will you have better results, you’ll also get it done faster and more accurately, and then you can move onto the next task with undivided attention!

Make Use of In-Store Pick-Up

This one is two-fold — first of all, using in-store pick-up will help you avoid impulse purchases while also better ensuring you don’t forget something on your list because you’re too busy minding the kids to remember you need dish soap. It’s also a huge time saver, but did you know it can also save you money? Whenever you do in-store pick-up, check with Ebates first and you may very well earn a percentage back on your purchases (meaning FREE money!!)

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Using Gift Cards through Ebates

Speaking of Ebates, this is a great way to stack up your savings.

If you know ahead of time that you’ll be shopping at a certain retailer, be on the lookout for discounted gift cards through sites like Raise.com. Even if you don’t do a lot of online shopping, be sure to check out Raise.com – if you know you spend money on a regular basis somewhere (like a certain gas station!), why not buy gift cards for yourself and save even more?

For example, I recently purchased a $50 Sears Gift Card for $41.90. Then I made a purchase through Ebates for $53, using mainly that gift card and earning myself a nice $4.24 back. So instead of spending the full $53, I’m actually only looking at a total deficit of $37.66 – a savings of nearly 30% and that’s just on one purchase!

Sign up via my referral link for Ebates and you’ll earn an extra $10 back on your first purchase! Worried about a catch? There is NONE! Check out my Ebates review to learn more.

Use Bubble Wrap on Windows

Seems silly, yeah? Heh or maybe you’re like me and think it just seems fun! When I first heard about this trick, I was skeptical. I’m a fan of using shrinkwrap packs to insulate my home against the winter cold, but when you have bubblewrap for free thanks to holiday packages, I figured I’d give it a shot…and it worked! Click to learn more about how to use bubblewrap on your windows as insulation.

Winterize Your Home: The Bubblewrap Method

Winterize Your Home: The Bubblewrap Method

No Inside-Out Clothing!

This one might seem a little neurotic but I consistently demand that no one throw inside out clothing into the wash. While it might only take two seconds to flip the clothing right-side out, those seconds certainly add up when you have to do it as you’re folding an entire load. Make laundry easier by asking your family to right their clothing before it goes into the wash.

Six Smart Tricks to Tackling Laundry, Make Doing Laundry Easier and Faster, Do Laundry Quicker, Spend less time doing laundry!

Click to read more laundry hacks!

Sell-By Dates

It’s not secret that we love Aldi, and one of the things we love is that they drastically mark down their meat when it’s close to the “sell-by” date. Without getting into food waste politics and such, I will say that food doesn’t magically become inedible when it’s passed it’s “sell-by” date.

When you see great prices on food at your grocer, pick it up and freeze it, or work it into your current meal plan. Obviously use common sense when it comes to food, but don’t consider food automatically spoiled just because it’s 12 hours past the sell-by date.


Invest in Amazon Prime

One of the best ways to save time and money is to shop online. I do believe in shopping local whenever possible (particularly at our Farmer’s Markets) but I’m a work-at-home mom with two very young children – I’m lucky if I remember to brush my hair every day, let alone have the stamina to leave the house. Amazon’s reach is wide, and it makes getting what we need fast and affordable. Prime does that to the next level – offering free 2-day shipping on almost anything you buy from Amazon is a huge deal. The price is $99/year if you elect to enroll annually, or $12.99/month, and while that might seem steep, it does offer a great amount of discounts, including the free 2-day shipping which will pay for itself. You can check it out for yourself with this free 30-day trial!

 

What are some weird ways YOU save time and/or money?

Comment below and let me know!

Why I’m Not a Multitasking Momma

Why I’m Not a Multitasking Momma

Is it possible to stop multitasking and get more done? Well, as a work-at-home mom with two preschoolers, this may come as a shock to you but —

I don’t believe in multitasking!

Insanity, right? But as a mom and as an efficiency strategist, I want to share with you why I think we need to stop seeing “ability to multitask” as a strength, because frankly…

Multitasking is impossible.

When you think of multitasking as more than just “chewing gum and walking at the same time”, you’ll quickly realize it’s not actually multitasking at all, but task-switching. And when you’re asking your brain to CONSTANTLY switch gears, it’s no wonder you’re exhausted all the time and feel like you’re getting nothing accomplished.

There are certainly times in which you can do two tasks at one time – checking e-mail while jogging on the treadmill, for example – but even that only goes so far. If you had an important e-mail to write out, you’d almost certainly wait until you were done exercising. It’s the same reason you turn down your radio when you’re driving and think you may be lost; your brain can only stretch so far when attempting to do more than one thing at a time.

Multitasking is not efficient.

It’s also important to note that multitasking is also incredibly inefficient; the more you try to “multitask”, the more apt you are to make mistakes.

How many times have you accidentally used baking powder instead of baking soda because you were trying to make muffins while checking your child’s homework and also writing out a grocery list? Or how many times have you misplaced your keys because as you come into the house you’ve suddenly got three people wanting ten different things? It’s not just the stress that makes you feel frazzled, but it’s your inability to break the multitasking habit.

Speaking of stress, though…

Multitasking is stressful!

Multitasking stresses you out, not just from the mistakes you made, but also going back to one of my original points: you’re exhausting yourself and your brain.

When you try to multitask, you use up what’s called your “working memory”, your auditory and visual-spatial memory. Because of this, you’re basically bottlenecking your thought processes, but rather than filtering them through one at a time, you’re trying to jam them through all at once – hence the stress.

Along those same lines, just as you’re more apt to make mistakes, you’re more apt to inadvertently ignore other things going around you when you try to multitask.

For example, I originally fleshed out this idea of banning multitasking while on a walk with my son. Do you remember the viral video a few years ago about counting basketballs and in the middle of it, a gorilla walked by and almost all of us missed it? It’s because our brains were so focused on the basketballs that we missed the “beauty” of the gorilla.

So likewise, when you’re looking down at your phone while waiting for a bus, you may miss the love of your life walk by. Or maybe you’re watching TV while reading this post, and you’re losing out not only on some productivity tips, but you’re wasting your time by even trying to process what it is I’ve written.

Should we stop multitasking altogether?

Despite everything I’ve said, I don’t mean that you should stop multitasking all together, because let’s face it – there are times when multitasking is a MUST (whether we like or not!)

Take this morning, for example:

Kids woke up when I did at 7am and I offered them 30 minutes of “tablet time” in exchange for the freedom to knock out a few e-mails to my clients.

They agreed to it…until 7:10am when I heard “MOMMMMM! I’m STARRRRRVING!” (This comes from my oh-so-dramatic 4 year old son.)

“Okay, bud,” I responded, “Do you want some cereal?”

“Hmmmmmm….how about french toast?” he said with his signature charming smile.

“No,” the 3 year old piped in, “Pancakes!”

Oy…

So now instead of writing that email, I had to settle a debate between the children regarding which kind of breakfast bread they wished to consume.

(Spoiler: We settled on french toast with the promise of pancakes tomorrow.)

brown hair toddler reading a book

My daughter doesn’t take my multitasking advice; she prefers a bit of light reading with her breakfast…

And of course as I started to make french toast, I realized I should also feed the dog and the cat. Oh and finish up some dishes. Oh and see if dinner requires any early prep work today. Oh and….

My e-mails!!

So rather than trying to juggle it all at once, I took a breath, grabbed my headphones, and used voice-to-text to map them out while the smell of butter and cinnamon filled the early morning air.

And as I was talking out my e-mails over the sound of egg-battered bread hitting the skillet, I found myself smiling. Because even though life is often a bit chaotic, it’s exactly what I’ve always wanted.

I’m my own boss (if we don’t count those two little ones who call me “mom”) and I get to spend my days not only living out my own dreams, but helping others do the same. All at my own pace, by my own choosing.

So do we multitask…or no?

If you’re like I was a few months ago, maybe the thought of not multitasking has never even crossed your mind. Or maybe you read this post and thought “DON’T multitask? HA! Yeah right…” But why not give it a shot?

I challenge you to try going just ONE day — it’s only 24 hours! — without multitasking. Meaning no podcast playing while you drive to work. No Facebook scrolling in the bathroom (gross). No folding laundry while watching TV. Only single-tasking allowed!

I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how difficult it is. Our brains have been trained to want to multitask, no matter how harmful it may be to do so. It’s like when you try to quit sugar – you don’t realize just how addicted you are to it until you try to stop.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a toddler eager to serve me some play-doh cupcakes. 😉

blonde toddler holding playdoh

Oh but before I go – what do you think…

Will you try to quit multitasking for a day? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Affirmations 101: Your Guide to Happier Thoughts

Affirmations 101: Your Guide to Happier Thoughts

Do you consider yourself a smooth talker? Or do you stumble over your words, your brain moving faster than your mouth?

Either way – what if I told you that you could talk your way into a healthier, wealthier, overall happier life? Sounds like crazy voodoo or maybe just hippy hullabaloo right? Fortunately I have science on my side as I tell you – affirmations DO work.

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is simply a statement or declaration that something is valid and true.

Let’s say that when you pass by the hallway mirror on your way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, you notice out loud, “My hair is a mess!”

Or perhaps when you are loading up the family car with groceries, you might mutter, “I spend a small fortune every week feeding these kids!”

You may not know it, but those are affirmations, albeit negative ones. An example of a positive affirmation is something like “I deserve to be happy!”

How do affirmations work?

It starts by becoming more mindful of your words, thoughts, and actions. When you catch yourself thinking or saying something negative, stop yourself. Find a way to put a positive spin on it, even when you don’t want to.

As you train your brain to be positive through your affirmations, it will become natural, and it will influence your life in all areas, including your thoughts. You will begin to manifest in your life what you envision to be true in your life, and you give affirmation to what you believe to be true.

Developing your own affirmations may feel uncomfortable at first, but as soon as you get used to the idea of speaking out positive truth, it will be a natural part of your daily routine.

When you catch a glimpse of that unruly hair, quickly exclaim, “I have such beautiful, healthy hair.”

And as you stock your kitchen, “I am so blessed to be able to provide so well for my family!”

Depending on what you hope to accomplish through positive affirmations, you will be able to tailor the phrases to benefit you individually. Identifying where you have weakness in thought patterns is a great place to start. If you are hard on yourself in a particular area, or if you are struggling with something specific, combat the tendency to be critical of yourself by immediately telling yourself what you would like to see, as though it has already happened that way.

You are amazing!

A big part of using positive affirmations is choosing to believe you are significant and you are valuable. You will be amazed at how dramatically this alone will change your life. If you are reminding yourself all day how valuable you are, your decisions will be made through a different lens, your reactions to negative circumstance will not be made out of fear, and you will develop a deeper sense of security in your emotional and physical well-being.

You may have read it, but a couple years ago I wrote a post on how I lived to blog, but I was scared it wouldn’t amount to anything. Regardless of that fear, I kept telling myself I was going to make it happen – I would find my freedom, quit my job, and be the work-at-home mom I’d always wanted to be.

And guess what?

It happened. In fact, just two months after writing that post, I was making more than enough money to quit my job and now work from home as a professional blogger and efficiency strategist, helping other bloggers master the art of bringing in profits without pressure.

So when doing your own affirmations, think of it as a narrator in your life, reading the script as you live it out. If the script says that you are successful and happy, you act out the narrative believing that it is true, before it happens. You tell yourself what to believe, so that it will happen.

If you still need more convincing, take eight minutes to watch this video (I PROMISE you, it’s worth it):

Tips on positivity

There are a few helpful things to keep in mind as you start on your journey towards a positive, healthy lifestyle full of new words, phrases and initially awkward declarations.

First, be grateful for who you are and what you can accomplish.

Second, don’t ever compare yourself to others.

Finally, don’t judge yourself or others.

As you implement these simple guidelines, you will be successfully affirming yourself with positivity in no time. You can begin using your positive affirmations to influence outcomes in all kinds of situations.

You listen to yourself more than you think! (And so do your kids!)

Usually what comes out of your mouth is a good indicator of what you believe. And guess what? If you’re saying it, your kids are hearing it. So even if you’re only directing negative self-talk at yourself, you’re still teaching your children that it’s okay to disrespect yourself and your surroundings in such a way.

If you believe you are not good enough, you will voice that in a number of ways, and in turn, you’ll produce less than stellar results. You can use positive affirmation to turn the tables, change your mind about what you believe and get positive results. After practicing positive affirmations regularly, your thought patterns will change and you will discover that your beliefs now have changed. The affirmations that are released from your mouth will now appropriately indicate your beliefs, and will be manifested in your life.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Usually what comes out of your mouth is a good indicator of what you believe. #affirmations #positivethinking” quote=”Usually what comes out of your mouth is a good indicator of what you believe.”]

Remember that positive affirmations are a tool to re-train your mind into believing what you are telling it to believe. When you are speaking, pay attention to the words. Convince yourself that what you are saying is true. Believe that you are who you say you are through your affirmations.

Don’t have time for affirmations?

That was always my excuse – “ugh! It’s just so hard to remember!” or “There’s no time in the mornings!”

Sound familiar?

Yeah, thought so. That’s why I made it a habit to do affirmations WITH my children. If you struggle to believe in the power of affirmations, make it a point to include your children and watch as positive thinking becomes a family habit. There’s little better you can teach your children than to think positive.

[clickToTweet tweet=”There’s little better you can teach your children than to think positive.” quote=”There’s little better you can teach your children than to think positive.”]

Here are a few examples of positive affirmations to influence your day:

  • I trust myself to make great choices
  • I am unique and significant
  • I am totally capable of providing well for my family
  • I was made to experience life abundantly
  • I was created to be healthy and whole
  • I am a source of great comfort, peace and joy for my family
  • I am creative and resourceful
  • I attract interesting people and amazing opportunities, because I am interesting and amazing
  • I am calm and relaxed when I interact with others
  • I study and comprehend what I read easily
  • I am surrounded by love
  • I have the means to experience life as I choose
  • My body is healthy and functioning as it should

As you habitually remind yourself of all that you are through positive affirmations, you will achieve far greater success in your life — physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and financially.

You will thrive in your abundantly blessed life, and everyone around you will want to know your secret.

Do you have any experience with positive affirmations? I’d love to hear about your successes!

5 Minute Tricks to Boost Your Productivity

5 Minute Tricks to Boost Your Productivity

When it comes to time management, one of the trickiest things to try and overcome is the anxiety that follows along your list of priorities and tasks. The more you have to do, the more likely you are to feel anxious. The more anxious you feel, the more likely you will be to hide away from your responsibilities. The more you hide, the more you’ll have to do.

It’s cyclical and it sucks. But it’s important to know you’re not alone and that you DO have the ability to do something about it.

So today we’ve got Enozia from Beauty Junction Online to talk to us about overcoming anxiety and boosting productivity.

5 Ways to Lessen Anxiety and Boost Productivity

Anxiety and stress can prove to be an inseparable part of our lives, and more and more studies are confirming the fact that anxiety can, in many ways, impact overall health of an individual. If you’re someone who’s more likely to be anxious and stressed easily, read on and discover some quick tips and tricks that could help you tackle it better.

Lessen Anxiety with Essential Oils

While lavender and peppermint oils are well known for their calming and soothing properties, there’s another, seemingly underrated essential oil that works wonders when it comes to boosting mood and tackling anxiety naturally- orange oil. Natural health enthusiasts using orange essential oil for hair and skin health, and also for several health disorders.

Boost Productivity with a Deep Breath

Deep breathing is one of the simplest ways to stay calm and be less stressed. Make it a point to practise deep breathing exercises everyday and as often as you can. This has double the number of benefits- physical and mental.

Mindfulness to the Rescue

Mindfulness meditative practices have become really popular today, and they are centered around focusing on the present, and on one single aspect/activity to stay more in control of your emotions. Look up some good mindfulness meditative exercises, and the next time you feel an anxiety attack come up, know that those would come handy!

Relax with Pets

Don’t underestimate the power of the cute little fluffy beings when it comes to busting stress and anxiety. If you don’t have a pet yet, consider adopting one- they’re linked to less stress levels and a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. Need an instant anxiety buster in a cute package? YouTube to the rescue!

Focus on the Bigger Picture

Setbacks and hurdles are a part of life, and if you’re someone who likes being in control, changes could be nothing less than crippling for you. In such a scenario, the best ever solution is to look at the bigger picture and how you could be benefited from, or could experience from the setback- always look at the bigger picture!

Take the Time to Visualize

Calming, relaxing mental images are an excellent way to get back in the ‘good zone’ almost instantly. Make it a point to practice getting yourself into a calming place where you feel most at home mentally- and imagine yourself in that very place every time you feel anxious or stressed.

Follow these quick tips and tricks the next time you feel anxiety beginning to surface and you’re sure to overcome it!

About the Author: Enozia Vakil runs Beauty Junction Online, your daily dose of beauty, luxury and lifestyle.

What do YOU do to overcome anxiety when it comes to battling overwhelm?

What Poor Time Management is Truly Costing You

What Poor Time Management is Truly Costing You

Last night, you spent a little too much time on Facebook, so you had to stay up late to finish prepping for the next day. When you finally did get to bed, you were so frazzled by all you had to get done that it took you forty-five minutes to fall asleep, despite being exhausted. Your alarm sounds, despite you feeling as though you’d JUST fallen asleep, so you hit the snooze button over and over. Suddenly you’re ten minutes behind schedule, there’s no time for breakfast, and you are C-R-A-N-K-Y!

Once again your boss notices you stroll in late. Your stomach sinks and you worry about your next performance review. You’re hungry and stressed and it’s hard to focus on your email in-box. You really need to eat something, so you go to the break room and get some chips out of the snack machine and a cup of black coffee. Ugh, you wish you could eat healthier…

You decide to work through lunch to impress your boss, but you miss hanging out with your coworkers. Later you find out they planned a get-together for later in the week, which they forgot to tell you about. Then, since you’re at your desk anyway, your boss gives you extra work. And so the cycle continues.

Everyone gets exactly 24 hours a day, not a minute more or less, no matter who you are. So how do some people manage to accomplish a lot more than others with the same number of hours—and with less stress, too? Effective time management!

What Is Effective Time Management?

Effective time management is set of guidelines or habits that you can use to make the absolute most of the limited amount of time you have. Having great time management strategies can make the difference between having a life filled with stress, confusion, late fees and disappointments, and one filled with friends, family, money and leisure.

Accomplishing More

Getting more done is the obvious benefit of time management. There’s probably no one out there who wouldn’t want to add a few more accomplishments to their life list, whether in the realm of work, hobbies, or family. The less time you waste, the more time for the important stuff. Similarly, if you use your hours more effectively, you’ll discover that you have more time to do what you want to do, instead of what you have to do.

Better Health

Stress, skimping on sleep, eating on the go and other characteristics of the terminally time-constrained are all very bad for your physical and mental well-being. Using your time well and handing in a report when it’s due leaves you feeling calmer, lets you get to bed on time and maybe even allows some time for working up a sweat at the gym.

Better Relationships

Everyone has one: the friend or relative is who reliably 20 minutes late to everything (lookin’ at you, Mom!) If you’re that person, you know that your relationships suffer. Friends stop asking you for coffee, your spouse gets annoyed, and your kids get a reputation for never being anywhere on time. If you’re up late finishing your work or spending weekends catching up, you miss valuable time with your family and friends, too.

More Opportunities

Effective time management can lead to opportunities in several different ways. A reputation for promptness is definitely an asset when annual review time rolls around—and you can be sure the person who never finishes projects on time is not going to be first in line for a promotion. Also, when you’re feeling hurried and stressed, you can develop tunnel vision and not even see a great opportunity when it’s staring you in the face. Lastly, when you develop a reputation for efficiency and getting things done, people will come to you with new opportunities.

Time & Money

It really is true that time is money. Wasted time translates into stress which translates into poorer job performance and possibly lost income. Furthermore, rushed work can mean jobs filled with expensive mistakes. A fast food meal eaten on the fly—because you’re late once again—is more expensive than a thoughtfully prepared bag lunch. If you’re more mindful of the ties between time and money, you’re less likely to waste either.

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Strategies for Effective Time Management

You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional planner or a personal assistant to find ways to manage your time better (though you could…). There are a number of simple strategies you can use that will put you on the road to time management effectiveness.

Schedule an Hour Dedicated to Planning Each Week

Make an appointment with yourself to plan your coming week. Friday is a great day to do this if that’s an option, because then you have your whole weekend to enjoy life without stressing about Money. Personally, I do most of my planning/prep work on Sundays because that’s what works for my schedule. Whatever day you do it, you’ll want to think about your short-term and long-term goals and plan to make progress—even just a little—on each one every week. Make it pleasant for yourself, too: settle in with a nice cup of coffee, tea, whatever you fancy and listen to your favorite music while you plan these out. Soon you’ll find this planning session is something you look forward to doing versus something you have to do.

Track Your Energy

Everyone’s energy levels rise and fall throughout the day. Spend a day or two taking quick notes on when you feel clearest and most energized, and then plan your most difficult tasks for those times. Trying to do difficult tasks when you’re drained is a recipe for procrastination. You should also be sure to build in short rest breaks every hour or two. Use these times to get a breath of fresh air or take a quick walk. This will prevent the burnout that can happen after a few hours of uninterrupted concentration.

Take Advantage of Technology—But Don’t Overdo It

There are tons of calendar apps, note-taking programs, and organizational aids available for your phone and laptop. It can be tempting to try all the latest, hottest gizmos that promise to save you time and keep your stuff in order. However, they can also be a time suck as you have to relearn each new app and reenter your information. They can also scatter your focus. Limit what you use and don’t be afraid to go old school! You are MUCH more likely to remember something if you physically write it so try to balance between apps and physical to-do lists. For me, I use my Outlook calendar when it comes to scheduling clients but everything else is written out by hand and it makes such a difference.

Time management doesn’t have to be a dreadful, boring, annoying process. Once you acknowledge what time management is truly costing you in terms of money, stress, and lost joy, you will want to work out a plan that brings balance back to your life and I am always happy to help! In the meantime, I’d love to know…

Where do you struggle the most when it comes to time management? How are you currently tracking all that you need to do?