A week or two ago I was late on my Time and Balance post because I was practicing what I am going to share on today. I had recently cleaned out our pantry and I was tired of looking at the sad, empty shelves, so I restocked. The extra time to plan that shopping trip and get all those groceries ate into my writing time, but it was worth it! It’s so satisfying now to go downstairs and see those shelves full of staples, ready to be used this winter when the weather is cold and going to the grocery store sounds like an even bigger chore than normal!
So, today let’s talk about doing things in bulk and multitasking some of our chores and activities!
Do Things In Bulk
Whether it is meal planning, schedule arranging, or emailing, with many things in life, it often only takes a few moments of extra time to accomplish twice as much work. As much and as often as I am able, I like to do things in bulk.
Each week, I make a menu and grocery shop with a list. I try to run errands only once a week. When you have to take children along, this can be challenging, as you all wear out very quickly. I will go on two separate days if necessary, but I desperately try to avoid running errands every day. I have learned from personal experience this is not only taxing on the schedule and sense of peace and order in the home, it’s also taxing on the budget. It makes sense: the more often I go out, the more money I am likely to spend on incidentals like coffees or cokes or fast food or treats for the kids. And then there’s the time spent: just a quick trip to the nearest grocery store will require me to spend a minimum of ten minutes in the car doing nothing but driving or waiting. And I live in town. Very close to a grocery store. For those that live farther away, the “empty time” is even greater.
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, I like to keep a well-stocked pantry. This is helpful for a number of reasons. If I come to a week that is just too busy, a well-stocked pantry will buy me a couple of extra days before I have to go to the grocery store. When the weather is bad, a well-stocked pantry is a huge blessing. There were many snowy nights last winter that I was so thankful to be able to just walk downstairs and grab soup ingredients off my shelf, even though I was over-due to hit the grocery store. Also, a well-stocked pantry will prevent those frantic runs out at dinnertime when I realize I forgot to pick up a can of chicken broth or cream of mushroom soup.
A well-stocked freezer is equally beneficial, be it stocked with meats and frozen veggies or stocked with meals. Freezer meals are a great way to save time and money in the long run. There are many websites and cookbooks available to get a person started, and during the busy seasons of life, freezer meals have been indispensable to me. They save us from hitting the drive-thru too often and they save me the stress of having to make dinner at 7 at night.
A great way to do freezer meals, or at least to get started, is to be in a freezer meal group. I’ve done this a couple of times, with a group of usually four ladies together. We would make quadruple batches of two dishes, keep one of each for myself and then share the others. There are some issues with this – I know we found out that we are far pickier eaters than we thought we were. And so many children have food allergies today, it can get tricky making it work. But it’s worth a shot if you have some ladies with similar sized families and you want to give it a try!
One of my favorite ways to get meals into the freezer is to simply make double (or triple) of a freezer-friendly dish and before I even serve my family I put half of it in the freezer. Before you know it, you’ve got a nicely stocked freezer for when you need it.
Computer work is another great thing to do in bulk. Whether it be searching for various information, blogging, or emailing, I find I am likely to spend roughly the same amount of time to sit down to do one thing as I am to do a dozen by the time I get distracted by things like Facebook and reading other blogs. I get email on my phone, so I am able to read and respond to important ones quickly, but if you’re like me, most of your email is junk that just needs to be deleted or it is non-urgent and can wait until a set aside time to be replied to.
Whenever possible, I like to do multiple things at once. There are countless examples of this – listen to books on tape while driving (not practical if you have children in the car, unless you like to listen to children’s books, but still a good idea), run errands while your kids are at their activities (don’t just sit there for that hour and a half – knock out a short errand or zip through the grocery store!), take a date night with your spouse while the kids are at an activity such as Awana or other club type events, and many more that I’m sure you can think of.
I also like to combine exercise with time with friends. I have maintained two running partners over the past year. This has encouraged me to get out and get the exercise I need while providing thirty minutes to an hour of free “therapy” two to three times a week. I have kept (somewhat) in shape and deepened friendships that are very important to me at the same time.
As I mentioned previously, I make schedules and lists for many things. I plan out our school year in most of one sitting. I sit down once a week to make any necessary adjustments to that schedule, but the bulk of my planning was done in July. I typically sit down on Saturday or Sunday afternoon to plan out our week in the home (I often do this while I wait for Emma at riding lessons on Saturday mornings) – whether that’s appointments, or chores, or errands, I list them all out in my planner and try to make a manageable schedule for the week, remembering to leave room to flex and bend, knowing that life will not happen just the way I put it on paper.
We all have limited time, but we also all have the same number of hours in a day. I know there are many ways that I can do a better job of making the most of each one. There are most certainly times for rest, but in our current media-saturated culture, it is easy to lose a lot of time and not even realize it. I think we must guard against the things that will steal away our time and redeem it for His glory.
What about you? What tips do you have for making the most of the moments and using them wisely?
Now go on – get off your computer and go do something with your day! 😉
For His Glory ~