Imagine a large bowl brimming with eggs. In your mind’s eye, does the bowl look full? Pour a few cups of rice into the bowl. The rice fills in some of the empty space between each egg. Now, add some sugar. It’s easy to visualize the empty space in the bowl quickly disappearing.
In this demonstration, each egg represents a task that requires a large amount of time. The rice illustrates what we can do with smaller blocks of time, and the sugar represents our spare minutes and seconds. We can utilize smaller periods of time to knock out small chores, like straightening up a cluttered drawer.
We all have days in which we panic or mourn at day’s end. We wonder how time slipped away and why we couldn’t have accomplished more. Some of our more infamous time-eating activities are things we can’t seem to do without. Wiling away the minutes and hours with social media, reality TV, video games and online shopping can be relaxing, entertaining and unwinding. I like certain reality TV shows just as much as the next girl, but let's face it — those activities are OK in small doses, but otherwise pretty significant time wasters.
How can we get our collective acts together and make the most of each day? When our lives are busy and each moment counts, it can be helpful to remember the rice and sugar and implement some of the following strategies.
1. Make a to-do list
Sounds simple, and many of us already do this. The delight in marking that check by the finished task is a great motivation. To-do lists keep you on track and free your mind from obsessing over the small stuff.
2. Prep the night before
Making school and work lunches and laying out clothes the night before saves valuable minutes in the morning. Better to start your day feeling somewhat organized!
3. Cook for leftovers
Double your barbeque pork or chili dinner recipe to freeze or refrigerate the leftovers for another meal. Or, cook and cube a few extra chicken breasts to use later in the week in another recipe. You’ll be glad to save time on a future busy weeknight.
4. Consolidate your errands
Plan to visit the post office when you have to drop by the nearby grocery store. Hitting area stores at once will save on gas, as well as time. Also, keep a running shopping list posted on your fridge of things you need. That way you can grab it and go when you’re walking out the door.
5. Multitask during TV time
TV watching is usually mindless, right? Why not knit, fold laundry or stretch during your favorite show? Unless you’re too tired and comfy to move more than your fingers over the remote, use this time to work on a hobby or something productive.
So many families think they need to schedule their lives to the minute. If you’re a parent, consider cutting out an extraneous activity or two. Is it really in your kid’s best interest to be involved in four different extracurricular activities at the same time? How are all of the lessons, sports, and clubs affecting your family life and your kid’s grades?
7. Where’s the chocolate?
As you plan your day, always strive to fit in some type of reward or motivation for yourself. For example, make good use of your time during the morning and afternoon, then set aside an hour in the evening to indulge in a book, bath, calorie-laden treat or favorite show. That reward, whatever and whenever it is, will be an incentive to carry you through your day.