Those big, blue puppy dog eyes and the toothy grin that says, “Mom, will you play with me?” get me every. single. time. But my mind is swimming with the “to-do” list: what about dinner that needs to be cooked, laundry that needs to be folded, and of course the usual routines that have to happen to prepare for the next day?
“They can wait,” I tell myself. I need to be present to remember these moments. These moments when they are small will fly by all too quickly.
Living in the moment requires the rest of life’s obligations to sometimes take a backseat, but at the same time, they still need to get done. This is where managing your time efficiently and wisely becomes super important.
I have been using some specific tools and following time saving tips to simplify my life.
As a mom, we often feel like we wear 5 million hats that might topple over any minute. We have to clean, make dinner, do the laundry, help with homework and run errands on top of an already hectic schedule . The list never ends. I totally get it. How do working moms do it? The overwhelm is undeniable at times. Trust me, I sometimes wish there was that 25th hour in the day too.
Here’s the thing…
People who succeed with simplifying their life, do two things very well: they make a plan, and they create a system to help them carry out that plan. Making the plan is the easy part because we’re all great at making lists. The hardest part is following through on the plan.
The tools you use go hand in hand with making a plan AND carrying out the plan. I’m here to help you with both. I have found several little “life hacks” which have helped tremendously with simplifying my life.
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Here are my top 6 tools and time saving tips that can help simplify your life too:
#1 Create a Simple Meal Plan
Our lives revolve around food because that is what sustains us. So, we should be creating meals that will benefit not only our families but our bodies too. Most of the time this means that we should prepare a meal at home.
I know what you’re thinking…who has time to cook? But I’ve found that when I simplify our meals and eat at home, it usually takes less time than going out to eat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still really nice to go out to eat occasionally, but it’s not the norm for us.
My biggest time saving tip is to simplify mealtime. Creating a simple meal plan can work wonders for your dinner routine. I plan and shop for 2 weeks worth of meals. We do the same items for breakfast and lunch each day, so dinner is usually all I have to plan.
Meal planning also takes the guess work out of the ago-old question, “what’s for dinner, mom?” I just look at my planned list and make that meal for dinner. If I’m really ahead of the game, I’ll even write down what meals we are having on which days. Most of the time it doesn’t happen that way though, so I just choose the night before on what sounds good for the next night.
It’s amazing how much time and money you save by meal planning instead of wasting time trying to decide what to cook for dinner.
Want a free meal planning worksheet? Grab the printable pack for this post by clicking here:
#2 Budget with an App
Staying on top of your finances by following a budget will simplify your life in more ways than one. A budget 1) helps you keep track of your spending, and 2) it reduces the stress because you are able to very clearly see where you might need to make some adjustments to your spending.
The easiest way to start a budget is to use the Mint app. This app saves my husband and I so much time in tracking our budget. You connect all the accounts that you want to be included in your budget. Set your budget categories and the amounts. Then voila, you can track how much you have spent in each category through the phone app or website in minutes.
I’ve already written a whole post on the Mint app, so you can check out the full tutorial on how to set up a budget using Mint here in this post. The Mint app really is one of my favorite time saving tips because I’m not having to manually keep track of where my family is spending money.
#3 Clean with Less
Our cleaning routine is pretty quick and painless around here because we pick up throughout the week, so all we really have to do is dust, vacuum, wipe counters and toilets. All in all it takes us about an hour to do the whole house. I say “us” because keeping the house clean is a family affair since we all do it together.
When it comes to cleaning products, I do like to use things that aren’t harmful to my family. Believe it or not, I usually just use a Norwex cloth and hot water. Yep, a single cloth and water. That’s it.
If you haven’t ever heard of Norwex, you need to check them out. Their goal is to “radically reduce chemicals in our homes.” Their microfiber cloths have a special ingredient that kills bacteria, so they are safe to use anywhere.
Using Norwex has made my cleaning routine simpler because I am pulling out less supplies and not using harsh chemicals all over my home.
Remember, this post is about time saving tips, so every little minute that you can save adds up in the end.
To help you save time cleaning, I have included a guide with the printable pack that has several tips and tricks for cleaning with common household ingredients that you probably have in your pantry right now. I even include a recipe for a homemade multi-purpose cleaner for those stubborn messes. You can grab the pack for FREE by clicking the button below:
#4 Declutter that Inbox
Do you feel like checking your email is such a chore? Research shows that people spend several hours a day wading through their email inbox. All those coupons you signed up for or store reward programs can really clutter your inbox. I found a great FREE tool that will help declutter that inbox in no time. It’s called Unroll.me.
You simply put in your email address to create an account, and it scans your email for any subscriptions that you signed up to receive. You can choose which emails to keep, unsubscribe or add to a “rollup”.
The “rollup” is amazing! When you select a particular email to be added to your “rollup” list, it creates a running record of all those emails. Then each day a Daily Rollup is created and emailed to you or you can view it in your account.
In the grid-view, it almost looks like a Pinterest feed. It’s a summarization of all those emails on one screen, so you can pick and choose which emails to read or unsubscribe from.
Unroll.me is one of my very favorite time saving tips that is so easy to get started. It has really simplified my email reading. It’s free, so it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
#5 Use a Spiral
I LOVE these little Five Star spirals! They don’t have to be just for kids and school use either. The Five Star spirals have been around a long time and for good reason. These spirals were my favorite when I was a kid because they always held up so well, and the plastic cover helped the pages stay nice and neat.
Now as a mom, one of my time saving tips is to always write down something when you think of it sooner rather than later. We’ve all had that moment when you walk into a store or a room in your house and think “Why did I come in here?”
The Five Star notebooks I use have a fabric-type cover over the spiral, so it doesn’t get caught on anything, especially in your purse. They’ve included an elastic loop for a pen or pencil too.
Tabs with pockets divide the notebook into a couple sections which make it super easy to organize your notes into two large topics, if needed. I use the pockets on the tab dividers to store coupons or loose leaf notes that I want to hang onto.
There are actually two sizes of notebooks that I use: 9.5in x 6in and 5in x 6in. The smallest notebook is the perfect size for my purse, so I can use it on the go while I’m running errands. The larger notebook I leave at home for whenever I’m working on a project and want to write down my thoughts or take notes from a blog post or video. They are the perfect note-taking tool for my busy life.
#6 Wear an Apple Watch or Similar Device
Most of the time saving tips on this list are free or just a few dollars, but this tip is on the more expensive side. I had to include it in this list because it has saved me more time than the cost of the watch itself. Time is money, right? We are all extremely busy, so we are talking about simplifying and being more productive even if it means adding in technology.
I am still learning all the ins-and-outs of everything that the Apple watch can accomplish, but it has simplified my life quite a bit. Most of the time I can even leave my phone in one place and not touch it for hours because my watch can do everything I need it to from reading/answering texts and phone calls to checking my calendar of to-dos.
The watch face is super customizable, and I chose the modular mode because I can see 6 different things with one glance at the face. I have it set so I can see the day/date, time, calendar, temperature, activity level, and timer. I use the timer all the time: when I’m cooking, blogging, setting time limits for my kids, you name it. It’s so much easier than using another timer such as the microwave or your phone.
Do you have a ton of reward-type cards in your wallet? I did too, but now I have them on my watch. I use the Target Cartwheel one a lot. Once at the register, I tap the app on my watch and it brings up the barcode for my Cartwheel account. The cashier scans my watch and that’s it; saves me time and money. You can also pay with your watch at any location that accepts Apple Pay. No need to even get your wallet out.
Even though the Apple watch is a higher-priced item, the time it saves me checking and replying to text messages and phone calls alone is so worth it. This post is about simplifying life as a busy mom, right? Cell phones can be such time wasters, and the Apple watch helps with that too. The watch will even help you destress when you use the Breathe app by having you go through a breathing exercise while it reads your heart rate.
One last thing I did want to mention is that you do have to have an iPhone to use the Apple watch. While I can’t speak for any other smartwatches out there, I do know that there are several other smartwatches that can perform similar functions.
There you have it. Six time saving tips and tools that I use to simplify my life. It all boils down to having more time to spend with your loved ones and doing the things you enjoy. I heard a great quote on a movie once that I think sums up the simple life perfectly:
“You can’t live today in the past because then your future will look just the same as it did yesterday. You can’t live in the future either because then today will pass you by. The only way to be truly happy is to connect with the present, connect with the moment.”
By simplifying life and being more productive with less clutter, we can do just that “connect with the moment.”
I encourage you to start simplifying by choosing one of the above tools or time saving tips to start right now. You can always add more later, but the most important part is to take the first step.
You can take the first step now by grabbing the FREE printable pack that includes a 2-week meal planning worksheet, a budget worksheet and a cleaning tips reference guide. Grab it by clicking the button below:
Let me know in the comments which of these time saving tips you’re going to start using today.
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