Everyday Shortcuts

*Organize an All-in-One Planner* Avoid the stress and wasted time of forgetting things until the last minute by keeping everything in one place. Buy a weekly calendar and start by marking down all of the most important things--birthdays, holidays, and big church events you know of. When the kids start school each year, look at their schedules and write down semester and term deadlines, main school events, and sports schedules. Then record events as they come up so that you don't have to waste time every day trying to remember what you need to do. Whenever bills come, mark their due dates a few days in advance to make sure it gets paid on time. *Create a Beauty Station* Mornings can be hectic for young girls, and for the mothers of young girls. If you could keep track of the time spent running around looking for hairbrushes, barrettes, hair bands, and makeup each morning, you'd be astounded. The solution to this enormous waste of time? Place a mirror and a small basket near the front or garage door. In the basket, keep all of the bands, barrettes, brushes, and makeup you or your girls may need. When it is time to go, instead of running around the house frantically make last minute touches, you can simply go to the door, touch yourself up, and you're on your way. All of your daughters will appreciate the station! *Conquer Clutter* Every night before going to bed, take fifteen minutes as a family to walk through the house together and put everything away. All family members should help and pay special attention to collecting their belongings to take back to their rooms. With everyone pitching in, it will only take a few minutes to have the house tidy every night, as opposed to the alternative of spending the entire morning sorting and carrying the clutter alone. *Start a Gift Box* Whenever you go shopping, keep your eyes open for good deals on things that would make nice Christmas, wedding, or birthday gifts. Keep a gift box in your house. When a special occasion comes along, and is accidentally forgotten until the last minute, you won't need to squeeze in time to frantically speed to the store and search for a gift! *Workout to Your Favorite TV Show* This could be the most entertaining multi-tasking you'll do all day. Instead of sitting down to watch your favorite show, create a workout routine that lasts about the same amount of time as the TV program. This way you won't have to schedule time later to get your exercise, and it will put the term couch-potato to shame. *Utilize Recipe Chain Letters* You've probably seen at least ten of these pass through your e-mail inbox in the past year, and they deserve more credit than they've received. Sometimes it can be time consuming to search through recipe books looking for meals that your family might enjoy that are also easy and fast to make. Type up an easy recipe that's popular with your family, and send it out to all of your friends with a note asking them to send their favorites back to you. This way, you can quickly and easily collect recipes that are easy and family-friendly! *Minimize Garbage Trips* While preparing a meal, keep a big bowl near you on the counter. Put all of your chopping, cutting, and peeling excess into it. At the end of your preparation, you've saved yourself countless small trips to the garbage and several minutes worth of time. *Quickly Blend Breakfast* Pre-chop some fruit (or buy a mix of frozen smoothie fruits), and put milk, yogurt, and your fruit in a blender pitcher, and store it in the refrigerator overnight. When you wake up, put some ice in the pitcher, place the pitcher on the blender, and you and your breakfast are ready to go! *Take Care of Yourself* Are you eating balanced meals throughout the day? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you feel healthy? Fatigue and drowsiness are two of the main contributors to wasted time. When we are tired, we take twice as long to accomplish tasks--that is, if we have the energy to attempt them! Take the time to make sure you are healthy. Regular exercise, while helping your body by making it stronger and fitter, also contributes to better and more regular sleep. Also, consider eating at least five small, balanced meals every two to three hours throughout the day. The key here is five _small_ meals. This will keep up your metabolism, and give you the energy that you need to accomplish everything you need to--without wasting time on fatigue. *Teach Your Kids How to Deep Clean* Make one of the weekly chores for each child a "deep clean" item, such as cleaning the toilet or mopping the floor. Then, make a chore belt for each child, a small handyman's belt outfitted with rags, spray cleaners, and anything else they might need. Check up on their deep cleaning and let them know what they need to do again and what they did well. It may be time consuming initially, but in the long run, you will save time, and your children will gain a sense of responsibility. *Say No Once in a While* You can't do everything that everyone asks you to do. If a neighbor invites your family to her daughter's dance recital, and you don't want to go, just say no. You aren't expected to do everything that everyone asks of you. You need to be realistic with your own time. Help others whenever you can, but cut out the unnecessary time commitments to friends and neighbors. You can be polite and friendly, and say "no, thank you" at the same time.
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