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Some Lifestyle Changes I Have Had To Make // Time Saving and Efficiency Tips

Recently, my working hours have been slightly increased and coupled with more activities to juggle with, I often find myself hard pressed for time. I try to take my not-so-little baby girl {ok, toddler girl} to activities like library storytime or playgroup and the thing about these activities is – I have to be there with her from start to finish. So no running off for an hour or two to do my own things!

I have been trying to find multiple ways to be more efficient with my daily life and have been reading up on lifestyle organization tips etc. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day yet so many things to do {my work, lunches to be packed, laundry to be done, meals to be cooked, kids to send to and from school/activities, struggling to keep up with content for my blog, social media, not forgetting the important things in life such as just enjoying time with my family and having a good ol’ chat with my mum over the phone etc, etc,etc.}

Here are some of the tips I have learned or even improvised for myself recently.

1. Prepare brekkie the night before.

I am not a morning person. I am more of a night owl and often go to bed around midnight or later. If my daughter has to get to school by 9, the earliest I am out of bed is probably 8 {that is, if I even have the luxury of the option and no work commitments that require me to get up earlier}. Realizing that I’m a happier and more functional person at night, I now prepare brekkie the night before instead of casually thrown together cereal brekkies every single day for my family. Nothing wrong with cereals but I do think my kids find it boring, yet I am not ever in the mood for pancakes or even porridge making in the mornings when I can barely open my eyes.

Thank you, Overnight Oats. You have made our lives so much happier.
I now make Overnight Oats and alternate them with cereals/wheat bix on different days.
It’s so portable, my husband grabs a jar and goes to work with it and has colleagues gawking and asking “Did your wife make you this at 5am this morning?!” and telling him he’s so lucky to have a wife like me! {I can never let them know it is so super easy to make and I do it the night before.}
The great thing about overnight oats is you can put different healthy things in each time. One day it’s mashed banana with berries, another day it’s strawberries with yoghurt, another day it’s a bunch of different stuff. Very healthy, looks appetizing, keeps everyone happy and keeps mum out of the guilt gutter. Takes me all but probably 4 minutes to muck around with before bed. Winner.

2. Meal Prep

I used to come home from grocery shopping and dump everything in the fridge/freezer. Throughout the week, I find it such a chore to take stuff out one by one, whip the chopping board out etc. especially when I’m hard pressed for time and really just want a quick meal. Often times, we resort to fast food or just end up munching on food that’s probably more suitable as snacks. Hardly filling or nutritious.

I really have to thank The Organised Housewife. Reading Katrina’s blog has really inspired me to clean up my house, declutter, organise and I definitely got the meal prepping thing from her. You need to visit Katrina’s blog; as I have been repeating to my mum, friends and even my husband. {When my husband complements my super organised fridge, I say Thank The Organised Housewife Blog.}

When I come home from grocery shopping, I whip out the chopping board and spend about 15 minutes getting everything chopped and stored in individual containers. Now, throughout the week, I have veggies and meat all ready to go. Celery is chopped up in one, broccoli in another, cauliflower in another. Cooking is no longer such a chore. It’s just get out from fridge and fry/grill/steam/boil and season. So super easy and time-saving.

3. Online Grocery Shopping Woolies / Coles (For Free!)

It seems like in my little country town, I am one of the few people who knew about the online grocery shopping service. I was even told that by the counter lady at Woolies. When I told a couple of my friends, they were surprised and even asked me to go over to their homes to show them how to do it on the internet.

I’m not talking about Free Delivery for orders above $300. For a small family like mine, we rarely hit $300/week to qualify for free delivery and I wouldn’t have enough space in the fridge anyway. The online grocery shopping I’m referring to here is a free Click & Collect service. Absolutely free, no minimum spending from Woolies/Coles. I haven’t tried the one at Coles because the one in my town does not offer it; only Woolies does and I only shop with them now.

Basically, I order everything online the night before, select a time you want to collect, pay with my credit card and go down to the shops. They get their personal shopper to pack your order for you and when you collect, they wheel it out in a trolley. All done. No queues, no 60-minute grocery trip while wrestling a bored toddler – it even feels like VIP service. I grab my pre-packed trolley, load into the car, drive home – 15 minutes. Done. My friend thanked me for introducing her to the service because she had a family of 5 and she said she used to spend hours each week on grocery shopping alone.

Another good thing is that you can browse products that are on Special for the week very easily with the click of a button. Or search quickly for things that you would have trouble finding in real life through the aisles {I had to buy Garam Masala for a recipe last week. No idea what it was. Typed it in, viola!} Sometimes, Woolies even sends me emails that offer Free Home Delivery with a minimum spend of just $30. Those weeks are all the more sweeter.

Laundry

Our electricity plan runs on a peak/off-peak basis so I always try to do laundry during off-peak. But as you might know, damned off-peak hour starts at 10pm. Doesn’t work for me. What I do is get my laundry in the washing machine, put it on a night cycle setting where it washes the clothes while I sleep but holds the last rinse cycle {so your clothes aren’t wrinkly or stinky by the morning}. When I wake up, I just have to drain the water. Laundry ‘done’ in minutes. Ready to hang out.

Meal Plan

 Image Credit

I used to dread meal times every single day. It was always this dreadful cloud hanging at the back of my head: what am I going to cook today? What ingredients do I have or do I have to pop down to the shops, again? Brain space wasted, time wasted deliberating over it, inefficient and sometimes, fast food ends up being the quick answer again.

I spent 30 minutes one night a couple of months back, vaguely listing out meals I knew off the top of my head. Then, I sorted them into a 2-week rotating schedule. Now, I know what I’m cooking everyday. I’m able to get the ingredients out of the freezer the night before. I don’t drag my feet anymore. Plus, we don’t end up having butter chicken 3 nights in a row because mummy has no inspiration, no motivation and just doesn’t know what to cook.

Along the way, I’ve added a recipe here and there to my list so I can add on to my meal plan.

Wake Up Earlier

Perhaps the most obvious yet difficult tip. I know I said I’m not a morning person. However, there have been days when I have set my alarm for 5am or 6am and gotten up to start my day. I’m not talking about the infant-waking-you-at-5-am days. I am thankfully past that stage. I’m talking about the even-though-there’s-no-reason-to-be-up-at-5-you-get-up-at-5 days.

Without saying, it is a huge struggle. Especially in winter where people prefer the comforting warmth of blankets to the wretched, stinging cold. I try to turn on the tv, make myself a cuppa to wake myself up. I can never do this for too many days in a row – greatest record is 4 days. But the days that I do, I end up being really thankful for the magical extra hours that seem to appear in my day. Definitely a lot more gets done, especially with no screaming kids.

I’m not the most organized person but since we only have 24 hours a day, I figured I wanted to make the most of it. I have to say, I feel so much better about my life in general. My family is eating better which makes me feel better, my family is happier that I’m cooking different foods {baking cupcakes one day, frying salt and pepper squid another and fresh winter vegetable or mushroom soup cooked from scratch, no cans… accomplishment for a mum who used to hate any kitchen business} I feel like I am happier with things being more organized and that, in turn, frees up more time and brain space {as I call it} for other tasks. Less stress = happy days.

linking up at essentiallyjess for ibot!


What time-saving tips do you practise for better efficiency? Do share with fellow multi-tasking parents :)

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Mandy Webb

Freelance writer and Mum of 2 who loves penning my musings, documenting my journey through motherhood and life while indulging in my love for beauty and wellness! I believe in mums looking after themselves, inside and out... not only because we deserve it, but also because it helps us to be our best selves for our families. Read more about my story here

16 comments

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  1. Nanny Shecando 30 June, 2014 at 23:57 Reply

    I’m so with you on this, finding ways to do things easier and quicker so that we can be more productive with our precious little time is definitely the key to achieving more with less. I’ve recently discovered the wonders of ordering groceries online to be delivered from Harris Farm and it truly is the best thing ever (well for me)! It saves me so much time, and it’s such a simply yet effective service. Thanks for sharing these tips! #teamIBOT xx

    • Mandy W 1 July, 2014 at 07:43 Reply

      Yay another big fan of online groceries!! I find that grocery shopping can be one of the most time consuming chores. I’m happy that I can shave time off it x

  2. Eleise Hale 1 July, 2014 at 03:54 Reply

    Some of those tips have made such a difference to me too. Getting up earlier is so important because then I go to bed earlier when I am doing nothing. I also cut up the meat and certain vegetables like celery so it is ready to go. Meal planning 5 days a week also saves time and trips to the supermarket. Great tips!

  3. Abigail Reese 1 July, 2014 at 05:27 Reply

    Does chopping up some vegetables such as carrots make them go all funny and dry over time?

    Also, the thing I found about shopping online for groceries that are not on special at woolies or coles is that it tends to be a bit more expensive than the shelf price in store.

    • Mandy W 1 July, 2014 at 07:41 Reply

      Hey Abi! I chop the veggies up and store them in air tight containers in the fridge. It lasts me quite a few days and then we finish them. I’m not sure how long you can store them like that before they go funny but so far all good. Hmm interesting you brought up about online shopping. I haven’t actually compared dollar for dollar, I just go off my head and know the prices roughly. In fact, most times I actually gain! Cause I might pay for perhaps 2.5kg of meat but when I collect, they give me perhaps 3.3kg probably because they don’t want to waste too much time weighing the exact amount.

  4. Janet Camilleri 1 July, 2014 at 08:13 Reply

    I love Tip 2! I’ve been doing that with celery (because it lasts much longer when in containers) and have been finding we eat it as a snack (with peanut butter) much more often now it’s so convenient. Will have to try it with my other vegies – thanks for passing on the idea!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

    • Mandy W 1 July, 2014 at 11:23 Reply

      Hi Janet! I definitely love how much more convenient it is. I used to have a bunch of fresh celery just sitting in the fridge untouched just because of being too lazy/busy to whip it out and chop it up each time. Now, it’s all ready to go xx

    • Mandy W 1 July, 2014 at 11:26 Reply

      Hi Amy! I love using chia in the overnight oats but haven’t tried the puddings. Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check it out xx

  5. Stephanie Jefferson 1 July, 2014 at 13:16 Reply

    Good on you Mandy for making the changes to make life less stressful! I started being meal planning earnestly this year when I started uni, which helps save time, and stress too! There is one thing I cannot do is to use online grocery shopping. I enjoy it too much! That being said, I am currently working on using up all the items in my pantry, so shopping is online might be a good idea!

  6. MITCH 1 July, 2014 at 17:59 Reply

    I do online shopping a lot but never tried the online grocery shopping. I don’t think we even have that kind of service in Jakarta -_- or maybe we have but I just have never heard about it. Wakeup earlier sounds really difficult to me as well, it’s just something that every mom must do T.T Motherhood is tough.
    Thanks for sharing!

    xx
    http://felishmichelle.blogspot.com

  7. Living Serenely 14 July, 2014 at 06:00 Reply

    Fantastic tips! Time is such a precious commodity for us busy mums, every extra minute you can save goes a long way. I like the idea of overnight oats… will have to hunt around for the recipe, though. But it doesn’t sound too difficult from what I gather. And I definitely agree with the meal planning. My husband never gets what a TREMENDOUS chore it is to think of what to feed the family, 3 times a day, 7 days a week, day in day out. My hubby is always asking me “What’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner today?”. When I remark I have no idea and how difficult it is to think what to prepare… he’ll just reply “Oh, I’ll eat anything”. If only it were that simple.

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