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8 Ways to Save Time at Home

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4 Time-Wasters to Give Up

5. Stock Up on Replacements

Remember the last time you dashed to the store because you ran out of an essential, like toilet paper or coffee filters? Chances are, you made a single trip and stood in line buying one or two items because you needed them immediately. Laura Stack, author of Find More Time, says that you can eliminate these time-wasting trips with one simple rule: Instead of buying coffee after you run out, buy two bags at a time, so you always have a replacement bag on hand.

"When I open a new bag of cat litter, that's when I write on my list that I need more," says Stack. This list is magnetized to the refrigerator door so that everyone in her family can do the same. "My kids know that if they want something, they have to put it on the list. As we say in my house, 'if it's not on the list, it doesn't exist,'" says Stack.

6. Record Your Favorite Television Shows

Studies of television-viewing habits show that men watch an average of 2.7 hours of television a day, and women watch an average of 2.3 hours a day, or over 16 hours a week! So Stack asks her clients to consider what would happen if they reduced their TV-viewing by five hours a week. "That's eleven days a year -- think of what you could do with eleven extra days!" she says. The best way to reduce your time in front of the tube is to choose which shows you want to watch ahead of time, and then record them. This eliminates random flipping around, and it means you won't have to watch commercials -- the ultimate time-suck.

7. Make Your Kids Self-Sufficient

If you have young children, Stack suggests setting up the kitchen so that they can help themselves when they want breakfast or a snack. Put all the kids' plates, bowls, and utensils on a low shelf or draw that they can easily reach, and pour milk into small, easy-pour containers. Keep the refrigerator stocked with healthy, easy-to-serve snacks like cheese sticks and applesauce. "Then they are less dependent on you, and you don't have to drop everything each time they want a snack," says Stack. Making them more autonomous can also increase their confidence. "We just told my 5-year-old that he's old enough to take his own baths. At first he said, 'No, I want you to do it!' But now that he's bathing himself, he's really proud of himself."

8. Divide Decisions

Stack says that her husband refuses to answer when friends or family inquire about getting together. "He just says my wife is the social coordinator. You'll have to ask her," she says. If you're fortunate enough to have a partner you love and trust, then divide up the family decisions. If your husband is the family chef, let him decide what you'll eat. You can pay him back by making the decisions about the car insurance and mutual funds. "Be okay with not having your hands in every pot," says Stack. After all, your hammock is waiting.

Originally published on, August 2006.


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