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Do you remember what it's like to just lie down on the couch and watch TV, without a care in the world?
Like many working moms, I feel guilty not doing anything productive with my 'free' time. If I'm watching Netflix, I'm usually also putting away laundry, washing dishes, or exercising. And, if I'm not doing those things, I'm thinking about doing them!
As a doctor, blogger and mom, I know what it's like to feel short on time, all of the time.
In this post, I'll share my time-saving and productivity tricks to make the most of your time.
1. Don't Wash Your Hair Everyday
My hairstylist warned that daily washing was stripping away my hair's natural oils, leaving it dull and dry. I've since cut down to washing every other day.
Along with healthier-looking hair, I have more time: each day I omit shampooing, conditioning, and drying, I save about 30 minutes. So, if I'm washing my hair three times a week instead of seven, that's two hours saved per week!
Granted, there are some between-wash days where my hair looks oily or flat. The fix? Dry shampoo to sop up the oil and add volume!
My current go-to dry shampoo is this powder one by Verb ($14.13, Amazon.com):
It has a barely-there, clean fragrance, and adds a good amount of volume at the scalp---the perfect remedy for post-workout, flat, sweaty hair! I remember using dry shampoo more than regular shampoo the first six months after my son was born.
If you've read my 'New Mom's Survival Kit' post, you'll know I consider dry shampoo an essential in those early postpartum days!
Another hair-related efficiency tip: shower in the evening. This cuts way down on the time it takes to get ready in the morning. For me, this means an extra half hour of sleep. (If you've read my Leesa mattress review post, you'll know how important sleep is to me!)
2. Adopt A Weekday Capsule Wardrobe (aka Work Uniform)
Think of decision-making as just another time-consuming task. I used to find that outfit selection alone could take upwards of ten minutes.
I've since decluttered my closet and drastically reduced my work wardrobe.
I kept only the pieces that I feel comfortable and confident wearing. I now have just a handful of shirts, skirts, blazers and 'dressy' jeans to choose from each morning. I'll have more on my capsule work wardrobe in a future post!
If a capsule wardrobe's not for you, consider setting out your work outfit the night before to save time the next morning. You can do the same with your kids' clothes.
There are even hanging closet organizers ($11.99, Amazon.com) that allow you to plan a whole week's worth of kids' clothes at once.
3. Adopt A Weekday Capsule Makeup Kit
I'm the kind of weirdo who doesn't leave the house (let alone answer the door) without makeup on. I also really enjoy playing with different kinds of makeup---when I have the time.
On weekday mornings, however, I limit the myself to just one of each type of cosmetic (one eyeshadow palette, one lipstick, etc.). As with clothing, eliminating makeup decision-making saves time.
My entire makeup routine takes just five to ten minutes (depending on the amount of help my son needs with his morning routine).
As you can see above, my weekday capsule makeup kit contains just eight items. The fewer products you use, the more time you'll save. Unless you're a Kardashian, you can probably do without highlighting and contouring on weekday mornings...
4. Have A Designated Spot For Your Out-the-Door Essentials
Parking your keys, wallet, headphones, transit pass (and any other things you can't leave home without) in the same place each day will save time otherwise spent frantically searching for these things on your way out.
The best way to do this is with a purse organizer insert in which you can transport your belongings, en masse, from one purse to another. This also ensures that nothing gets left behind in your 'other' purse.
Purse Organizer ($8.99, Amazon.com).
Felt Purse Organizer ($24.69, Amazon.ca).
Within my purse organizer, there's a designated spot for each item. After using one for a few days, you'll be able to fish your keys out of your purse without even looking!
For more on this, check out my post on how to use a purse organizer to declutter your handbag.
Wherever possible, automate. For us, this includes everything from automatic pre-payments from our account for recurring bills to programming our Roomba to vacuum while we're at work.
iRobot Roomba 690 ($299, Amazon.com).
You can even automate things like the delivery of groceries and household goods. Amazon has a 'Subscribe & Save' service, which allows you to customize what’s delivered to your home at set intervals (i.e. monthly deliveries of diapers, detergent, paper towels, etc.). This also saves you money, as there's a discount on items purchased via subscription.
Guess what, Canadian friends? The Subscribe & Save service is also available on Amazon.ca! This is something I'm excited to try!
6. Multitask Strategically
It may go without saying that accomplishing two tasks at once saves time. However, this is only the case if you can do so efficiently.
The key is to make sure that neither task requires a lot of concentration; the time it takes to complete both tasks simultaneously should be less than that required to do each separately.
Some good pairings include: returning calls or listening to podcasts/eBooks while putting away laundry, washing the dishes, or walking the dog. Bad combos: attempting to read or write while doing anything involving your kids.
You can also get things done on your commute. I take public transit to work; during the ride, I catch up on medical journals and podcasts, as well as write blog posts on my phone (Wix offers a user-friendly app that allows you to edit your blog on a mobile device).
I recommend Wix to anyone interested in starting a blog or website. Especially, if like me, you don't know how to code. It's intuitive and user-friendly for even the most tech un-savvy!