Time Saving Tips

This is probably a typical morning at your house: pouring milk into cereal bowls, quickly packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into lunch bags, picking out your kids' outfits, dropping them off at school and finally, when you're driving in the car and a solid 20 minutes from your home, realizing that you forgot your cell phone. If you're reading this and nodding your head in agreement, then you're desperately in need of some simple household hints that will shave precious minutes off your errand time. Jamie Novak, author of 1,000 Best Quick and Easy Time-Saving Strategies, has 10 hints that will make chores like laundry, meal preparation and even grocery shopping quick, manageable and even a little fun!

Tie up loose ends at the end of the day. Let your kids pick out their school clothes before they go to bed. Charge up your cell phone, get your pocket book organized and check the family calendar. By getting things done in the evening, you'll sleep more soundly at night and the morning rush will go more smoothly.

Stagger wake-up times. Get the younger ones up first, since they need more individualized attention and help getting dressed and brushing their teeth and hair. Let the older ones get up a little later, and this way when everyone gets to the breakfast table, they will all be ready to eat. Who knows, you may even get some quality breakfast conversation!

Keep checklists around the house. Put one on the back of the bathroom door to remind kids to brush their teeth and comb their hair until they've mastered their routines. If your child can't read, try posting pictures of a toothbrush and hairbrush instead.

Set five realistic tasks for the day. Take care of things you absolutely must do. Return a library book or go to a doctor's appointment. Once you've accomplished those things, you can say, "I'm ahead."

Double up on appointments whenever you can. When you're taking your kids to the doctor or even to get a haircut, try to double up. Get the haircuts done at the same time, but by different stylists. Schedule back-to-back appointments with the doctor and dentist.

Before you run your errands, make a call. Call the store to make sure they have the item you need and find out where it's located. Ask if they can keep it behind the cash register for you, and get the employee's name. This will spare you the walk up and down the aisles looking for your item.

Shop at off-peak hours, without kids if possible. Shop on a weekday night after 8pm; the shelves will be fully stocked, you'll get a close parking space and you'll buy fewer impulse items because the kids won't be with you.

When it makes sense to double up on a task, do it! When you're making dinner and waiting for the pasta to cook, try to make your kids' lunches for the next day. After all, the food is out. And this way you'll only have one cleanup, as opposed to two!

Whenever possible, make double portions and freeze dishes like a lasagna, ziti or stew. On those busy days, just pop it in the microwave -- and dinner is served.

Create a Lost and Found. Every house needs one, whether it's a basket, drawer or a container. When a family member finds something stray on a countertop he or she can toss it in the "lost and found." It's a great way to clean up, and it's the first place you'll look for a missing item, instead of spending time searching for it.