In the past, at various jobs, I had to do time studies. You know where you write down everything you do at a certain hour. Employers use these to write job descriptions, analyze cost effectiveness, streamline job responsibilities, etc. I thought they were just checking up on us - micromanaging our days. So, I did what any good employee would do. I completed the time study according to what I was suppose to be doing, at least for the days we were required to fill out the forms. It was accurate for those days. Not exactly the method we were suppose to use, nor was it entirely helpful for management.
Since that time, I like to think I've matured. Yet, if I were to do a time study today, I'm pretty sure I'd employ the same mentality - all to look good for that one day.
So instead of doing a 'spot check' of one day, I needed to look over the bulk of my days. I wanted to gauge how much of my time was spent reflecting my priorities. Instead of taking just one day, I looked at the week or month as a whole. This created a more accurate depiction and helped me to know how I am truly spending my time.
It wasn't pretty.
Many changes were, and are still, needed.
Some of the changes I have implemented:
- decreased computer time - To be successful at this I decreased blog reading, email communication, and facebook usage for this blog. I wrote less for online sites, including this blog.
- gotten rid of excess stuff - I have heard that the stuff you own really owns you and your time. It is true. The more you own, the more you have to clean, take care of, repair, etc.
- established or created better boundaries - Saying no isn't easy and it sure doesn't make you the most popular person on the block, but it does allow for time to be regained.
- stopped some extra activities - Going along with the saying no, I stopped a few extra activities. By removing just one extra activity, there was a tremendous impact on time.
These changes creates some excess time. From experience I knew if I didn't fill my excess time with something, even purposeful rest, the extra time would get eaten away by other less than worthy activities. And really, I wanted some extra time so I could be a better wife, momma, and homemaker. These are the areas I say are a priority but don't seem to always be fleshed out in my time.
What I have done with some of my reclaimed time:
- increased home cooked items - I may not thoroughly enjoy baking and cooking, but I do love the people I bake and cook for, and they love homemade treats. So, I have learned to make from scratch bread, cinnamon rolls, barbeque sauce, pancakes, and more from scratch.
- increased our garden (which I was able to grow completely from seeds this year, since I had the time) - Fresh vegetables and herbs from our yard not only help us save money, but help us eat more healthful foods. It is a win-win thing.
- taken better care for our home - Though keeping an orderly and clean home has always been a priority, I haven't always done all the things to maintain our home that I should. Now with more time, I have been able to routinely incorporate larger home maintenance projects, like washing curtains, with ease.
- gone somewhere, done something spontaneously - Before even playing a game with my children seemed to need an appointment. Sad, I know. Now, with more flexible time, we can, on a whim, go to the park or pool, create a masterpiece of sidewalk chalk art, or take a bike ride.
Looking for some ideas to help free up your time?
10 ways we are using in our household to reclaim time.
- say no - Just because a multitude of activities and events are available, it doesn't mean you need to attend every single one. Most things can fall into the good or better category. Saying no to the good or better things, helps free up time to say yes to the best things.
- double up chores - Whenever possible combine chores and errands.
- get help, don't do it all - A family lives together, and a family should work together to help maintain that home. We have implemented a family clean time. Once a week, we all pitch in and do a large scale cleaning of the household. We each have daily chores we do independently to help the household run smoothly, too.
- have routines for household things - Implementing a schedule or routine for cleaning, meals, and home maintenance makes it easy to know what was done when and what needs to be done soon. It also spaces it out to make it more manageable.
- plan an errand route or day - Doing errands is one of my least favorite things. I detest it, but it is necessary. Approximately, once a week, I do errands. All errands are saved for this time, unless it is an emergency. I plan out a route which makes the errands easier to complete.
- make lists of needs and wants - This saves a great deal of time shopping and doing errands. Generally, we shop for needs once a week and wants are purchased about once every three months.
- keep organized - Use lists for items needed and wanted. Calendars are necessary for appointments, activities, and events. Organize your shelves and closets to better see what you have.
- own less stuff - The less stuff you have the less you need to take care of.
- be less high maintenance - Simplify your hairstyle, wardrobes, and beauty routine. If it takes 1/2 hour to put on your face, then you are using 3 1/2 hours per week or 182 1/2 hours per year.
- become regulars - Shopping at the same store saves time. Lists can be created in order of isles for grocery stores. Frequent shopper cards can help save money.
Frugality of time can be summed up in one word for me: simplify.
Someone else once said "Live simply to simply live." It has become a mantra of sorts around here. I want to enjoy the time I have with my husband and children. I don't want to be running around from here to there never fully accomplishing what is really important to me. So, I join the ranks of those trying to live more purposefully so I can live out my purpose more effectively.