I am a firm believer that after friends + family, time is the single most valuable thing we will ever have. It’s something that once spent, we will never get back. It’s something that we will never have enough of. And when we’re super busy, it’s all the more precious.
If you’re anything like me, your morning looks a little like this: You’ve pressed snooze way too many times, but you’re still up early working on your side hustle (not as early as you had wished though), you’ve thrown a bunch of random ingredients into a blender in an effort to get something that resembles nutrition into your body, you’ve forgotten where you put those 1,349,454 things that you now suddenly need immediately, and you’re running out the door like a hooligan – only to realize you forgot to feed your cat and brush your teeth and pack a lunch and lint roll your outfit and turn off the lights.
If anyone finds a way to get more time, please let me know. But in the meantime, here are seven things that have helped to organize and simplify my life… making me feel a little more sane in the chaos.
*The title of the article says ‘women’, but I’d like to point out that all of these could be applicable to all genders.
I stopped washing my hair so often
Washing your hair is fast and easy. Drying it is not. Even if you’re like me, blessed with non-frizzy, straight, easily manageable locks, drying a mop of wet hair still takes way too much time. Think about it this way; If you wash your hair every day, and at a conservative estimate, you spend 30 minutes a day drying and styling it, that’s 3.5 hours a week.
I now only wash my hair twice a week. Was that gross at first? Totally. Grease city. But now? Now I’m grateful. My scalp has adjusted relatively well, and on days when I absolutely need it, dry shampoo is my saviour.
By cutting this down, I save at least 2 hours a week, or 104 hours in a year. ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR HOURS. That’s a lot of exercise, or sleep, or hustling, or socializing, or learning, or cleaning your apartment that you keep saying you’re too busy to clean. You get the idea.
I started wearing a backpack
Sure I may get mistaken as a student multiple times a day. And yes, I’ll admit it does make me feel a little child-like. But it’s worth it.
I wish I had started using a backpack a long time ago instead of lugging a heavy and massive handbag (to tote my laptop and a bazillion other things) to work every day. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked…
My shoulder doesn’t get sore, and I no longer get crazy knots in my neck. Both of my hands are free at all times without having to worry about balancing bag handles on one shoulder, and it’s perfect to use for stopping at the grocery store on the way home and stocking up without having to juggle a bunch of bags on public transit.
Do I recommend wearing a backpack to an important meeting? Probably not. Would I recommend using one in a practical day-to-day sense? Definitely.
I differentiate my keys
House keys, mail keys, storage keys, work keys, bathroom keys, random keys we don’t even remember what they’re for keys. And they’re all silver. How ’bout that.
Do yourself a favour and take 5 minutes and differentiate your keys. You can do this easily by painting the tops of them with different colours of nail polish, or well, paint.
I know that fumbling for your keys and trying the wrong one may take only a minute out of your day. But that’s 7 minutes a week, or just over 6 hours in a year. Spent fumbling with your keys. You’re welcome.
I work out at home, for free
Going to the gym takes time, and effort. And usually, it also requires money. What doesn’t require money or travel time? Working out in the comfort of your own home.
Sure getting out of the house or apartment is much needed sometimes, but when you’re trying to save time and be as efficient as possible, you can get a great workout where you already are. All it takes is clearing a spot on your floor, laying down your mat, and some good old-fashioned wi-fi. There are so many online resources that provide killer workouts for FREE. Take Fitness Blender for example. Hundreds of free workouts, searchable by type, length, difficulty, etc. No more excuses.
I make my commute do double duty
At age 18, I sold my car in preparation for moving across the country and transitioning to city life. If you told me then that at age 27 I’d still be car-less, I would’ve thought you were joking.
But alas, here I am. Car-less and careless. Well, that’s not totally true. There are definitely times I miss the convenience of having a car. But for my day-to-day in the city, it is totally unnecessary, and because of it, my commuting time becomes productive time.
When I take public transit, I choose to read, to learn, to get caught up on emails, to connect with friends, to relax, to do damn well anything my heart desires.
And when I choose to bike, I get to experience the glorious feeling of whizzing past cars that are jammed in traffic, all the while squeezing a fantastic work-out into my day. This affords me to feel proud instead of guilty when I get home after a long day and don’t want to go to the gym.
In other words, if there is time you must spend doing something, try to make it productive.
I say no
And I say it a lot. My time is valuable, and so is yours. If I were to say yes to everything, I wouldn’t even have time to sleep.
I also practice this at work. You can’t say yes to everything all the time, or you end up sick, stressed, or even injured. And the only one who loses in the end, is you. Sure you may have to hustle extra here and there during busy periods, or stay late every once in a while, but saying yes to everything means you never do anything to the best of your ability and you end up feeling less fulfilled. You also end up taking time away from eating properly, exercising, and spending time with those you love. It’s a slippery slope and I would highly advise against it.
So how do you say no in your personal life without burning bridges? You remain pleasant, you explain your situation, suggest an alternative if possible, and you encourage them to keep in touch.
How do you say no at work? You remain pleasant, you explain the situation, and you help your boss figure out a solution.
If your employer is really not willing to budge or help find a solution, you ask them to prioritize for you. This way you know you are focusing on what’s most important to them, even if it means putting work that may be more enjoyable aside for a bit. If there truly is a recurring capacity issue, you need to speak to your boss, and see what the chances are of getting more help. Either expectations or resources have to change, or you need to seriously consider walking. An employer who doesn’t prioritize your health or sanity at work or home is not one you want to be working for. End of story.
I use a transit app
There is when the bus is supposed to come, and then there’s when the bus actually comes. Using an app that tracks the real-time location of said bus has completely changed my life. And that’s no exaggeration.
Instead of rushing out the door only to wait for another 10-15 minutes at the stop, I can now see where the bus is whenever I want to know, and I can plan my departure properly so that I don’t head too early or too late. Turning that waiting time into productive (and potentially warm, indoor) time.
If you’re in Vancouver, Radar is your app. If you’re in Toronto, you’ll want to check out TTC Watch for Toronto.
If you’re in another city, I’m sure a quick Google search will show you your match.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful, and they impact your life as they have mine. Have any other time-saving tips? Please leave them in a comment below! Only if you have time to, of course 😉