Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Git 'r Done

So I'm working now and even though it's a part-time job, I'm having to adjust how I do things. All appointments must be in the mornings now. Housework is a morning chore instead of dusting at 11 P.M. Two nights a week I facilitate a divorce recovery group so I don't get home until after nine o'clock. I really like having my weekends free for fun things, so I was excited when this email popped into my box -- "13 Tips to Get Your Errands Done Quicker." I love it when the Universe knows what I need and sends the answer ASAP.

So without further ado here's my paraphrased version of the email.

1. Bunch things up. This is the golden rule of errand-running, according to the article. NEVER RUN ONE ERRAND AT A TIME. You save all the way around by grouping errands together. Map out your stops and hit them in order. If you have to go to the drugstore, take the route that goes by the bank where you deposit a check and by the grocery store where you pick up milk and bread. You'll save time and gasoline, and your stress levels will be lower too.

2. Avoid rush hour. Raise your hand if you've spent a Saturday standing in check-out lines along with everyone else on the planet. Most folks run errands on the weekend, which is precisely when YOU don't want to be running yours. See if you can find a bank, grocery store, gas station, cleaners, etc either near your home or your work. Drop off your cleaning on the way to work and pick it up on the way home. Fill up your gas tank during your lunch hour. Shop for groceries after dinner. If you're single, just go. If you're married with kids, let one parent stay home while the other buys groceries. It's less crowded plus you won't have the check-out-aisle candy tantrum.

3. Designate an "Out Box." Tell everyone that all items involved with an errand should be put in one spot in the house -- library books, dry cleaning, outgoing mail, etc. If you can have this near the door you use most frequently, it helps as a visual reminder. Or you can put things on the passenger seat of your car to remind you. I have a tote by my door for this very purpose. It really helps keep me on task.

4. Make a list. And keep it with you all the time. Using a small notebook or legal pad makes this work better than trying to keep up with a single sheet of paper. Put your usual errands on the list (groceries, gasoline, mail) but also write down the less often tasks (make dentist appointment, buy three-hole-punch paper at the office supply store, return the sweater that didn't match your burgundy skirt). Having everything on one list helps facilitate #1 too. You can see mine on the right. Since I wrote this blog, I've crossed more off the list. I've also added more.

5. There's power in numbers. Toilet paper, personal care items, dog food, etc can be purchased in bulk, thereby reducing the number of times you have to go to the store to buy them. Don't have a lot of storage space? Try storing them under your bed.

6. Make it fun. Carry a novel, crossword puzzle or sodoku book with you when you run errands. You can read or work a puzzle while you wait in line.

7. Automate. Computerize your grocery list. Most people buy the same things every week, so why not have a master list on the computer? You can add or delete items easily. And you can organize it by aisles in the store to streamline your shopping.

8. Let Your Fingers Do the Walking. Do as much by phone and online as possible. Why pay for stamps when you can pay bills online or have them automatically drafted from your account? I absolutely ADORE my bank's online Bill Pay service. And ordering from various online retailers beats the heck out of driving to the mall, especially at Christmas.

9. Be a bag lady. Put a bag or tote in your car to hold note paper and a pen (how many times have you remembered something while at a stop light?), store coupons, sale flyers from your favorite stores, etc. When the coupons are handy, you're more likely to use them.

10. Chill out. Keep a cooler in your trunk. This way you can keep foods frozen and cold while you do other errands. Also put a large tote in the trunk so you can carry more inside at once. I like using the cloth shopping bags at the grocery store because the cashier will put more into them. If I buy twelve items, they'll all go in that one cloth bag. But without it, I'll come home with three or four plastic bags.

11. Remember yourself. A motivated errand runner is a happier one. ~grin~ Pick up a bouquet of flowers at the market or stop for a latte to give yourself a little treat.

12. Take turns. Do you have a neighbor you could share errands with? You could shop for groceries one week and she'd do it the next? If you have children, you could watch her kids while she tackles the supermarket and switch tasks next week. This could work with bulk buying too. Don't have room for 50 rolls of toilet paper, even using space under the bed? Maybe your neighbor would like to split the package with you.

13. Get dad involved. The article said a study showed that children who do household chores and errands with their fathers were better behaved and had more friends than children who didn't. Who doesn't want better behaved kids and for their little darlings to be well-liked? And a little bonus -- the study showed these men's wives found them to be sexier. That should be motivation for the guys to de-clutter with the kids, right?

Do you have any other tips to share? With fall in the air, I'm eager to keep my weekends as free as possible to take advantage of the cooler temps and various activities going on in the area.


Cheryl said...

I do all those things PM. I also use a sticky note with all my destinations written out which I stick to the dashboard so I won't forget where I need to go next. I hate running errands but doing the things you suggest makes it go a lot easier!

Angel said...

I can never remember to take my reusable bags into the store. I don't know why. I get to the register and think, "Crap. Where are my bags?"

I do a lot of these things already, but one of the tools I'm loving is my iPhone. Its all the little extras that help keep me organized that has me addicted.

On the Notes app, I've created lists for Christmas this year, so I always have with me what I've bought and what I need. I send reminder emails to myself from work when I remember something I just know I'll forget before I can write it on my list at home. There is even a voice memo app which I can use as a voice recorder while in the car to keep track of anything that comes to me there, including dialogue, plot, etc.

iGrocery allows you to customize a grocery list of favorites (kind of like the master list you mentioned), and you simply go through and choose things off the master list to make your weekly list. Then add anything else you've thought of. Really helpful.

As long as my battery doesn't run down... :)


Instigator said...

I need to get more of those reusable bags. I like having them but can never seem to find them when I need them.