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May
21
2013

Time management for dummies: Errands and family to-dos

in Nonfiction Writing, Time Management

Photo by bluedaisy on www.sxc.hu

Photo by bluedaisy on www.sxc.hu

Toilet paper. Milk. Laundry detergent. Bread. Dry cleaning. Bank deposit. Every week the to-dos and errands seem to grow. In this installment of Time Management for Dummies, I’ll look at how I schedule my week to account for time spent on errands and family to-dos. The next two parts in the series will focus on my calendar organizers and the emergency stash that helps maintain my sanity.

When we look back at the lists I discussed last week, you’ll remember that I have a white board with my chores for each day laid out. On that same board, I also write my errands. For instance, I go to the store about every 3 days to get fresh fruits and veggies. I plan my menu accordingly. If I’m cooking tacos on Thursday, I’ll plan a grocery trip that allows for me to buy fresh tortillas on that day. Knowing that I’ll be at the store, I’ll schedule other errands that same day.

Grouping my errands

I know that I can check my P.O. box, drop off my dry cleaning, get gas, and grab a gallon of milk in one easy loop. Those errands go much better together than hitting three different parts of town and wasting half my day on the road.

I’ll also keep an ongoing list of grocery needs so I don’t have to spend 20 minutes looking through cabinets to find what I’m low on. I just jot down laundry detergent and paper towels when I see that I’m low. I maintain the list on my smart phone so I can add to it whenever the shortage strikes or when a child mentions the need for a new pencil at school. Although it may seem crazy to some people, this level of planning and organization makes me feel more in control over my and my family’s time.

Less surprises = Less stress

Timing my errands

I also try to plan my errands at logical points in my day. Some things are easy to have a kid tag along (like driving through the bank or dry cleaner), and some things are much easier alone (like the grocery store). Being “stuck” with a 9:00 PM milk errand with your child after a late soccer game on Wednesday may be avoidable if you plan your errands. There will always be small uh-ohs, but I have found that most are avoidable if I plan accordingly.

Disclaimer: Single parenting is a whole other animal. I’d probably be even crazier with lists if I was trying to juggle it all like these amazing people are. I’ll never judge you for being at Walmart at 10:00 PM with your kid in PJs asleep on your shoulder while you try to grab some peanut butter for their school lunch. The truth is that you can only do what you can do. I think the more you have on your plate, the more time management is required, but everyone’s situation is unique. Single parenting just adds a whole other level of complication.

Your turn

What works for you? Do you plan your errands or just go as they pop up? How does that work for you? Comment below!

Next in the series:

The next two installments of Time Management for Dummies will focus on my calendar organizers and the emergency stash that helps maintain my sanity. Subscribe to my blog to have new posts sent to your inbox. I’m currently offering a FREE gift to new subscribers! I hope you’ll consider joining.

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