18 time saving tips for busy mums: how to save 15 hours a week or more

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What would you do if you had more time each week?

One of the biggest issues I hear mums mention is they don’t have enough time to do everything. What if you could have an extra 15 hours a week, what would you do with that time?

A recent study in the US showed mums work the average of 2.5 full-time jobs, or 98 hours a week! Working as well as parenting, doing the house stuff and trying to keep a life I love has meant I created ways to use my time wisely, outsource tasks and reduce my workload.

I mentioned in my 12 week healthy, wealthy and wise challenge that my habits had slipped. I achieved a lot between 2011 and 2014 (I went from homeless single mother to multiple international award-winning CEO, author, speaker and consultant, which you can read about here if you want).

Then 2015 hit. I spent most of that year having major health issues including paralysis, a cancer scare, a few surgical procedures and life spiralled downwards. I still managed to be named one of 15 women to watch for 2015, be nominated for other awards, be awarded an international award and kept my company going. Life was no longer going as planned though. Most of my daily good habits, the ones which saw me reach the success I had, stopped.

I was bedridden, in pain and could not be bothered. My good habits were replaced with bad ones, one, in particular, was watching TV. I was wasting my time.

It’s taken me a while to get back into my good habits fully, but I’m there now. Here are my top tips to have more time.

1.) Stop watching TV!
Time saved: 15 hours

Or at the very least, reduce how much you watch. According to research, the average Australian spend 2hours and 39minutes watching TV per day. That is nearly 20 hours a week!  A poll of The Thrifty Issue Facebook group members showed most watch more than 10 hours a week.

What could you achieve if you had 15 hours a week to dedicate to it?

A few years ago I decided to stop watching TV. I started with a 30-day challenge of no TV. When it came to the end of the month I realised there were no shows I missed and wanted to get back to. Once I got sick in 2015, TV crept into my life and I didn’t fully cut it off.

I’ve limited my TV watching now. I don’t binge watch Netflix. I have a show I watch with my best friend and we watch a movie on family fun night. Other than that, I avoid it completely.

I am not alone in this, rich/wealthy/successful people tend not to watch TV either.

If you stopped watching TV or limited it to a favourite show, what could you achieve that you currently don’t have time for? Could you go to the gym, find another way to make money, take a class, read those books you always meant to or finish the home renovations?

2.) Teach your kids to DIY
Time saved: 5+ hours

If your children can use an iPad or the TV remote, they can use the washing machine, dishwasher and vacuum cleaner! Teach your kids how to cook and clean, teach them to problem solve and play by themselves with Lego. Stop doing everything yourself and start teaching your children to be independent. You’d be surprised how young kids can be when they learn these skills.

Our morning routine consists of my kids getting up, getting themselves ready, packing their own lunch, school bag and anything else they need. I don’t do these things for them. After school, it’s their responsibility to get changed out of their school clothes, put them in the laundry, one of them turns the washing machine on once full and when it’s done we hang it up. They get their own snack after school and help clean when asked.

My day is not full of doing small tasks for them they can do themselves.

Do yourself and your kids a favour by teaching them life skills and getting them to contribute to running the house.

3.) Outsource where possible
Time saved: 4+ hours

List all the tasks you do, how long they take and whether they must be done by you or can be outsourced. If you can afford it, get a cleaner/ironer/gardener/someone to do these tasks.

Chances are, many of the tasks you do could be done quicker by a professional and may not cost as much as you think. Plus, with the extra time, you can either do things you enjoy or put the time into something that will bring in more money.

Think about it, if you can do something that pays you $50 per hour and you only need to pay $30 an hour to outsource something such as cleaning, you will have a clean house plus extra money in your pocket!

Besides that, how much better would you feel mentally if someone else is taking care of something such as cleaning?

4.) Get it delivered
Time saved: 2+ hours

I get virtually everything delivered now instead of packing the kids in the car and traipsing around the shops. I do go to the shops sometimes, but groceries are delivered, big items are delivered and I put off buying things at times so I can buy them at once and get them all delivered. I can shop online when it suits me. This saves hours!

5.) Routines And Automation
Time saved: 3+ hours

Get routines and make sure your kids know them too. Better still, get your kids to write their own routines with your guidance and put it up in their room.

Create a morning routine to get ready and out the door, so you don’t need to nag constantly, have another one for when you get home such as they take their shoes off, school bags go in the same spot, lunch boxes in the kitchen, get an after-school snack, do homework etc.

Routines mean we all know what is happening and when. Kids don’t need to be told repeatedly or you can have your routine written up for the family to refer to instead of you yelling trying to get everyone to hurry up.

Look at other areas of your life, where can you automate them or set routines so you don’t waste time going over the same thing? Arrange a direct debit for your bills, work out your budget, schedule any payments that need to be made to happen automatically, have a shared electronic calendar for everyone to put their appointments into, use a meal plan, simplify and automate your life.

6.) Meal Plan
Time Saved: 2+ hours

Plan your meals and shop accordingly. We eat the same things most of the time so our meals and shopping list don’t change much. Plan your meals based on the food in season, use the food you have in your cupboard and think about what you are doing during the week. For nights we will be home late I have quick meals or I have meals cooked and frozen in the freezer which we can reheat instead of getting takeaway.

By knowing what we are eating and when we save time and money plus shopping is easy (I shop online and have it delivered when it suits me now).

On top of this, if I am cooking dinner, I cook double batches of anything that will freeze well such as bolognese, lasagne, fried rice, curries, soup etc. This builds up my frozen meal supply and reduces the chance of buying takeaway or junk on nights I don’t feel like cooking.

7.) Schedule time for yourself
Time saved: Variable

“But I don’t have time to schedule time for myself!” I hear you argue. If you do not schedule time for yourself you will burn out and depending on how bad that is, it could see you extremely sick, paralysed (I was for 7 months) or worse.

Look after yourself. Change your lifestyle, get your kids to do more at home, put them in care or arrange a childcare swap with another mum. Do something to get the time you need to do what you want.

I used to throw all my spare time into work and charity projects. I got worn out, ended up paralysed, had level 10 pain which is a pain so severe you pass out because your body cannot handle it (childbirth is level 8) and multiple surgeries. I knew I needed to slow down and I didn’t. It wasn’t until I took time for myself that my body started to heal, despite doctors expectations that I would be permanently disabled.

Get up a little earlier and have time alone to meditate, shower without the kids coming in, do your hair and makeup if you want, dress in clothes you like, book a class you want to do and go do it. Book dates, nights out and holidays without your kids if you want. Work out what you want in your time, then do it.

8.) Know your style and create a ‘uniform’
Time saved: 1+ hours

It might sound boring but it makes life easy. It doesn’t mean you need to wear exactly the same thing every day, although that does make it easier and many successful, high-profile people do it, I mean know what you are wearing and don’t own clothes you don’t wear.

Have a session with a personal stylist, find what looks good on you, brands you like and what you feel comfortable in. Create a wardrobe based around this and pick your outfits ahead of time.

For me, I love brands similar to Cue. I like their quality and professional look. I like 1950s style clothing as well. I lean towards pencil skirts and dresses. My wardrobe can easily be mixed to create a variety of outfits, however, I usually know what I am wearing a week in advance and don’t need to think about it. No mornings are spent deciding what to wear or trying on multiple outfits.

9.) Stockpile and buy items on sale
Time saved: 1+ hours

I live in a tiny 2 bedroom unit but I still stockpile certain items and buy them on sale. I rarely run out of items we need and I don’t have to duck down to the shops, saving me time and money.

10.) Cook double batches
Time saved: 2+ hours

I harp on about this a lot because it’s easy and effective. It takes me virtually no extra time to chop a few more veggies and cook twice as much dinner so we can have the same meal later without me spending 30 to 60 minutes cooking plus prevents buying takeaway on nights I don’t feel like cooking.

Food this is easy to do with includes bolognese, lasagne, curry, stew, pizza bases, pasta bake, chilli etc.

11.) Use your commute
Time saved: 5+ hours

A commute doesn’t need to be wasted time. Listen to podcasts or audiobooks. If you are on public transport you can read, do your shopping list, order the groceries online, pay bills and anything else you can do online can be done from your phone. If you wanted you could do online surveys with Swagbucks or Octopus Group and make money in your commute.
Use that time for things you don’t want to do in your free time.

My commute is only small, walking my daughters to and from school because I work from home. If I work in an office doing consulting or have to travel, I still utilise the commute. I love having that 20 minutes to tune out and focus on something I enjoy such as a podcast or book.

12.) Get organised
Time saved: 2+ hours

“A place for everything and everything in its place!”
I used to roll my eyes at that and lived in this chaotic but ‘organised’ mess. I’d spend 10 minutes or more every morning searching for my keys, glasses, handbag and shoes! Now I have a magnetic hook on my fridge for my keys, shoes are taken off at the front door and put in our wardrobes, my handbags have a spot and my glasses sit on the windowsill in my bedroom or on my desk.

Get your house, your car, your office, everywhere organised and save yourself hours each month!

13.) Dressing gown
Time saved: 1 hour

Get a dressing gown and wear it over your clothes when getting ready in the morning so kids don’t mess it up. It saves time having to change but remember to take it off just before you leave. Much like the ‘pinny’ or apron our grandmothers had. On that, if you don’t use an apron when cooking etc. Get one! It’ll save your clothes.

14.) Get things ready the night before
Time saved: 2 hours

My kids know that when they get home from school they need to get changed and get everything ready for school the next day.

Every evening I write out my list for the next day and get everything ready so it’s simply a matter of getting up and going in the morning. It reduces indecision in the morning and stressing over having to iron that shirt or being unable to find what you need.

15.) Colour code the family
Time saved: 1 hour

Each family member gets a colour, items such as toothbrushes, towels, hairbrush etc are all this colour. You’ll easily know who has left what where (unless a sibling has used it). This saves time trying to work out who left that wet towel on the floor.

16.) Have duplicates

Time saved: 30 minutes
Have more than one of items you use regularly or your kids walk off with and don’t return such as scissors, tape and pens. Keep them in a few places like the kitchen drawer, a desk drawer and your bedroom. This saves time because you aren’t constantly searching for them.

17.) Keep a time diary then eliminate time-wasting habits
Time saved: 3+ hours

It might shock you when you do it, but it’s a great exercise. Start tracking how long you spend on different tasks so you can identify and eliminate your time wasters. There are apps you can get to time how long you spend on things online and you can keep notes in your calendar for other things.

18.) Learn to say NO!
Time saved: 4+ hours

You don’t need to be the one doing everything. Being asked to do something does not mean you have to say yes. Learn to say no to things you don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do and take control of your time again.

All these time-saving tips can easily save you over 15 hours a week. Some take a little time to implement or get the kids used to them but it will provide so much relief once you have it sorted.

What time-saving tips would you add?

 

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