For many of us, “free time” is a little bit like a missing sock–we know it’s around somewhere, but we can never seem to find it. Add up the time most of us spend commuting, working, doing household chores, and putting in extra hours to get ahead (or, in some cases, catch up), there never seems to be free time during the week. Fortunately, there are some small tips we can each follow to build more free time into the week.
Quit commuting. Technology gives us the ability to stay connected 24/7 from almost anywhere in the world. Of course, this can have negative consequences–but it can also open up opportunities for flexible work schedules. If your work can be done remotely (and chances are that some or maybe all of it can be), you may want to consider asking your boss for an alternative schedule. Those who work from home, even once or twice a week, can save precious time that would otherwise be spent battling traffic on the morning commute. If you work from home, you can get up earlier and finish earlier, and even use your lunch break to catch up on laundry and other household chores.
Even if you can’t work remotely, a flexible work schedule (such as working four ten hour days or starting your day at 7:00 am instead of 9:00 am) can have a big impact on how you spend your time. If quitting your commute isn’t an option, find ways to make the most of that time by listening to audio books or practicing a new language. If you take public transit, you can even use that time to meditate, draw, or catch up on emails.
Plan out your meals ahead of time. A productive weekend can make all the difference for the week ahead. Instead of sleeping in late and binging on Netflix, use your weekend productively to save time during the week. A great way to do this is by planning out your meals ahead of time. Invest in a slow cooker and cook a large batch of chili, shredded chicken, or soup that will last all week.
An otherwise lazy Sunday afternoon can be put to great use by preparing lunch items that you can pack throughout the work week. You can make a large bowl of salad (fruit salad, pasta salad, etc) and pack portions to take to work each day. A quick and simple breakfast can be made with Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and topped with fruit, nuts, or granola. By preparing your meals ahead of time, you can save critical time during work and in the evenings when you get home.
Reconsider how you spend your time. Many of us feel like we have no free time, but the reality is that many of us “waste” valuable time that could otherwise be used productively. Do you come home and crash in front of the computer for 20 (or 60?) minutes before starting dinner? Do you spend 40 minutes getting ready for bed when you could realistically cut your bedtime routine in half? Do you spend 10 minutes scrolling through Instagram each morning before getting ready? Take a close look at how you spend your time and identify ways to slim down time-sucks that don’t add value to your day.
Time is one of those things we’re all searching for more of, and while we can’t actually add more hours to the day, we can take a few simple steps to save time throughout the week and put those extra hours to good use.
What are your favorite time-saving tips? Share them below!