I think about time a lot.
I’m a life-long clock watcher and now, with four children and two business, I’m always thinking about how much time I have.
One of the things that’s occurred to me in the past few years is that I can use time as a tool.
Since the time is going to pass anyway, I can let time work for me with no extra effort on my part or I can ignore time and then curse myself later.
Let me share a few examples of how I try to make time my servant instead of being a slave to time.
7 ways to make time work for you
Let my ingredients defrost or soften ahead of time. I cannot tell you how many times (we’re talking probably thousands) that I’ve gone to make dinner and the meat is frozen solid, so it’s basically impossible to get dinner on the table quickly. Or I want to bake something but the recipe calls for softened butter or cream cheese and mine is a small dairy rock.
It’s been especially noticeable to me since we bought our house because this house doesn’t have a microwave. We plan to add a microwave when we update the kitchen, but for now, we’re living like pioneers, and if I haven’t planned ahead, then there is no quick way for me to soften butter or defrost a chicken breast.
Then a few months ago, I realized “If I set my butter on the counter in the morning, it’s going to be perfectly soft by the time I’m ready for it and those hours are going to pass either way.”
This was kind of a lightbulb moment for me that those hours were going to tick by regardless and they could be working in my favor or against me. It took me no more time to take out a frozen item at 8 am than it did at 5 pm, but in the former case, I wasn’t spending 20 minutes berating my chicken for being rock solid.
Keep my laundry moving. Modern laundry is so convenient, which means it’s also really easy to completely forget about your washing machine down in the basement, out of sight and out of mind. On Mondays, when I do laundry, I try really hard to move the laundry as soon as I heard the signal ring.
It’s easy for me to think, “Oh, I’ll change it later” but if I take 3 minutes switch the loads, it can spend the next hour making progress without me thinking about it at all. It’s going to take the same amount of time to switch the loads either way, so I might as well do it sooner, rather than later and let that passing time make progress on my laundry.
Run the dishwasher. I love turning on the dishwasher at night because it has plenty of time to run and then to dry so by morning, I have a whole load of clean dishes ready to be used. I feel the same about unloading the dishwasher. It might take 3 minutes, but it’s going to take 3 minutes REGARDLESS, so I might as well do it sooner rather than later and the dishwasher is ready to be filled up as needed instead of my dishes getting backed up because there is no where to put them.
Make a crockpot meal. I am the world’s biggest crockpot fan because it’s the ultimate example of letting time be on my side. 5 minutes in the morning saves me at least 30-45 minutes when dinner time rolls around and all day, as the hours ticked by, that time was being spent making my dinner. (P.S. I collected my 12 favorite crockpot recipes here).
Soak stained clothing. In my laundry post two weeks ago, I mentioned that I keep a bucket with stain remover in it and then toss stained items in as the week goes by. Then those days are spent working out really tough stains and I don’t have to think about it at all.
Order something early. Gift giving is NOT my strong point (ask anyone who knows me. . . ) and it’s so tempting for me to just put off ordering a gift as long as possible because it’s so challenging for me. And then it’s the night before . . . or day of. . . someone’s birthday and I’m scrambling and wishing I’d just done it a week earlier when I wouldn’t have to worry about shipping speeds.
Same for when we’re headed on a vacation. When we went to Hawaii, all the girls’ new swimsuits arrived the day we left. Except we left at 5 a.m. and the mail didn’t arrive until noon, so everyone just wore their too-small suits.
Charge my devices before they’re dead. For YEARS my phone was always dying until I finally got an extra charger and put it on my bedside table (I know, everyone says not to sleep with your phone in your room, but I have three separate alarms (I get up at different times on MWF, TTh, and Saturday) and it’s just super convenient to have it on my phone) and now my phone is 100% charged at the beginning of every day.
Letting something charge when you DON’T need it makes life so much better. Any time I charge my Kindle before it dies or my camera battery before I need it for a trip, I feel like an absolute rockstar.
I’d love to hear how you make time work for you – let me know in the comments!
I’m the exact same way with gifts! Thanks for sharing so I know I’m not the only one. I recently found your blog and am really enjoying it! Have a great Monday!
These are all good tips. My frequent “wish-I-had-done-it-sooner” task is making restaurant reservations. For some reason, I have often waited until too late to make reservations and then I am kicking myself when we can’t go anywhere on date night. I’ve started just making reservations when it first occurs to me, even if I am not 100% whether we will want it. Rarely the reservation time or place doesn’t work for us but more often it works great and we are so glad we made the reservation.
Thanks for sharing these Amazing tips for time working with you & not against you. I’ve struggled for YEARS on how to make time work for me. I’m late to almost everything I go to, including church & school events. I often have felt that I had more time to do something or rather something wouldn’t take as long as it usually did. My one tip that I would recommend if any one struggles like I do, is to not only use these amazing suggestions but to also be aware of the emotions we are outwardly-expressing. Those around us will tune in to our feelings which can make or break a situation. As a mom of 4 (soon to be 5) with the oldest being 6 years of age, how true this is!! Trying to get out the door is a struggle IF I let it. I’m learning to be more calm & less frustrated/angry because the kiddos will tune in to how I’m feeling. These other tips that you’ve suggested apply to so many similar situations as well. Thanks again.
We have a couple of Roombas and a Bravaa. I like starting those when we leave the house and as I’m heading to bed. That way my floors are being cleaned while I’m off doing other things.
I also like to maximize my time in the kitchen. If I’m prepping dinner or lunch, I’ll put some granola into the oven, make hard boiled eggs in the instant pot, and chop some fruit. It doesn’t really add any time to my time in the kitchen, but it pays dividends when I’m rushing to get breakfast ready or need a quick snack for the kids.
I am in shock that someone in our age range lives without a microwave! We’ve had a few go out and they always get replaced ASAP! I also sleep with my phone beside my bed, largely for alarm reasons but I’ve also trained myself not to look at it (besides hitting snooze 100xs) before getting out of bed besides on Sunday morning (and even that is iffy, depending on if we are already running late for church). So I don’t feel too bad about it!