Take these shortcuts to save time and reduce stress and
A few tweaks in your routine-like switching the
time you do laundry or how you arrange your closet-might have a big
impact on your life. Improving your efficiency in small ways can
pay off handsomely with more free time and less stress and anxiety.
Incorporate a suggestion or two from the experts' ideas below and
relish the freedom.
Take Your Time
If you're struggling to concentrate on a project, or can't seem
to get started, set a timer for 30 minutes and commit to working
steadily on your task until it rings. "It keeps you focused and
moving," says Lorena Prime, a Boston-based productivity consultant.
Instead of using a distracting ticking kitchen timer, download a
silent one to your computer desktop. Go
to widgets.yahoo.com and search for a "generic
countdown timer" to download.
Clear Your Plate
The recipe for stress and anxiety is simple: too much to do and
not enough time to do it. When your obligations are overwhelming,
take action with what professional organizer Julie Morgenstern,
author of Time Management from the Inside Out, calls "the four
Delete things by removing them from your list,
or delay them by rescheduling at a better
time. Diminish a task by ignoring that
perfectionist drive to craft the perfect e-mail or create handmade
place cards for your holiday dinners. Or delegate
it to someone who's capable, like asking your teen to make lunch
for his little sister.
Color-Code Your Closet
Arrange your hanging clothes by category, grouping all skirts
together, all long-sleeve blouses together. Then, within each
group, arrange the items by color, says Janine Adams, owner of
Peace of Mind Organizing, in St. Louis. "It's beautiful, and I can
find things and put things away so much more easily," she says. Not
only can you reduce stress and anxiety, you can see what you own,
preventing you from duplicating items already in your wardrobe.
Reshuffle Your Shopping List
Take two minutes to rewrite your grocery list so items are
arranged in the order that you walk the aisles. Or print a list of
items you buy each week arranged in the order you shop. Make copies
and then just circle what you need.
Keep a Lid on It
Put away food-storage containers with the lids on. "I swear it
was life-changing for me," Adams says. "It takes up no more room,
and I always know where my lids are. There's no more searching, and
I never have a different number of lids and containers."
Do Laundry in Your Sleep
If you can't fit laundry into your day, do it overnight! Put a
load into the washer before bedtime and toss it into the dryer in
the morning. Carin Froehlich, author of Laundry Wisdom:
Instructions for a Greener and Cleaner Life, reminds herself to
transfer the wet load by putting a sticky note on her coffee
machine before she goes to bed.
Make Holidays Happy
If you travel over the holidays, a long haul and sky-high
airfares can wring the joy from the season. New Jersey mom Kate
Motz minimizes her holiday headaches by booking the family's annual
cross-country Christmas trip between nine and 11 months in
"That makes a big difference in the price, and it's nice having
it out of the way," says Motz, who has three children younger than
6. Buying tickets so far ahead also increases the chance that she
will be able to apply the frequent-flier miles her husband racks up
on business trips.
Ship and Handle It
Instead of hauling Christmas gifts from coast to coast, Motz
orders everything online and has all the gifts delivered to her
grandmother's home in California, where the family celebrates. She
favors retailers that offer free shipping and free
Play Your Cards Right
Motz and her husband send out about 150 holiday cards to friends
and family. She creates a photo collage using shots of her kids
stored on an Internet picture site and adds a cute message. Cards
are addressed with preprinted address labels, and a spreadsheet
helps her track recipients.