When people ask me what my secret is to getting things done, I say, “Be home!” The main reason that I am able to accomplish what I do is that I am home more often than I am not.
When you’re home, you can take care of your to-do list.
You’re not too tired to work on what needs to be done because you’re exhausted from running errands. There is something about being in the car and driving around that usually leaves one feeling exhausted. I try to avoid that feeling by being home more.
Now, we all have things that we need to buy, such as food and clothing. We also have places that we need to take our children (and ourselves).
However, it is a myth that you need to leave the house every day in order to be happy. In fact, I find that I am happiest when I have crossed things off my to-do list–that aren’t errands–and that when I do run errands, I don’t always have time to get things done at home, which leads to my feeling unsatisfied with the day.
How can we spend less time away from home? Here are my five suggestions:
1. Shop less often
For food: When you go shopping and find a great deal, buy more of it so that you don’t need to go to the store as often. Buy enough eggs to last for 4-6 weeks. Buy more apples and oranges in season and keep them cool so that you can make them last longer. I bought 152 pounds of oranges and over 60 pounds of apples in December when they were on sale. (Oranges were 19 cents a pound!) By doing this, I don’t need to buy fresh fruit every week. Grow a garden to keep yourself from needing to go to the store as often. Keep a well-stocked pantry.
For clothing: Make a good list of what you need, including the number of each item. For example, you know your child needs 5 short-sleeved shirts, 5 long-sleeved shirts, 2 sweaters, a jacket, a coat, 5 pairs of shorts and 5 pairs of long pants for the year in the next size up. Rather than going to multiple stores several times, try reducing your shopping trips.
Look online for clearance deals if you’re planning on buying new. Often you can find a free shipping code, and if not, shipping may be equal to or less than the cost of gas to get to the store. Plus, you can browse multiple stores online for the best prices without having to go anywhere, and it can be done in a shorter amount of time than it would have taken you to drive somewhere.
If you plan on buying used, plan a couple of trips to the thrift store a year, rather than going every week. If you find the thrift store too expensive and prefer to shop at garage sales, try going to neighborhood garage sales to get what you need, so that you can spend less days shopping and get to more sales at once. You can also check Craig’s List for garage sales that list clothing in the sizes that you need.
For toiletries: Again, stock up when sales and coupons line up for what you need. This keeps you from needing to run to the store because you’re out of toilet paper or feminine hygiene items. Buy enough to last you for a while so that you always have what you need on hand.
2. Combine errands
One of the things that I have noticed while gardening in my front yard is how often my neighbors leave during the day. These are not people with small children, who are taking them to school or lessons. These are people whose children have grown–and yet they leave the house 5 times a day, every day.
We live close to many stores. Instead of going to one store, coming home and unloading everything, and then going to another store, combine your errands. When you do need to go to the store, plan your route so that you only have to be exhausted once. Go to the library or run an errand that doesn’t involve perishables first. Make your route using the least gas and time from there. Keep a cooler and cold bags in the car so that you can keep perishables cold in between stores. When you come home to unload, you’ll be done for the day.
Are your children involved in activities with other children who live nearby? Rather than wasting time and gas taking them to and picking them up from everything, talk to other parents about carpooling to school, youth groups, and Scouts. You’ll only have to drive sometimes, leaving you with more time to take care of your projects at home
4. Find another way
Find a music teacher who comes to your house for lessons. Have your child ride his bicycle to his friend’s house or a Scout meeting. Ask your spouse to run your errand on the way home (for example, my husband’s office is not far from the library, so he can easily return books for us without going far out of the way, saving us gas and time). Renew library books online so that you can make fewer trips to the library.
5. Be Organized
For each store at which I shop, I made a list of the items that I normally buy at that store. I then put them in the order in which I shop that store. For example, I usually shop the grocery store by first going to the produce department, then to the meat department, and then to the dairy department (I rarely purchase anything from the center aisles). By writing a list of items that I usually purchase at that store (when they on sale), I can print that list and highlight the items I’ll be buying that trip. This saves me time making a list and time walking around the store–plus, by looking at the list, I might be reminded of something else I need at that store that I would otherwise have forgotten–which keeps me from needing to return to the store for just one thing. The organized list also helps me to keep from backtracking all the way across the store for one more thing, which can shorten my shopping time by as much as 10-20 minutes.
6. Play at home
Rather than taking endless trips to the park or another place to play, find fun in your own backyard. This can be as simple as playing in the snow, watching lady bugs, catching grasshoppers, turning cartwheels, or reading a book in the shade.
If you add play equipment, your young children can easily run outside to play. Every day, someone is jumping on the in-ground trampoline, playing on the swings, or spinning on the merry-go-round at my house. Our swings are higher than the ones at the park, and no parks here have a merry-go-round. My husband and his brother built the swing set and the merry-go-round, and I’m so glad they did, as they are wonderful for keeping my children active and occupied. Once chores are done, they can easily run outside and play–while I make dinner. If the dinner is a meal that I can put in the oven and walk away from for a while, I can go outside and push them on the swings, cut something fresh from the garden, or pull a few weeds.
What tips do you have for running about less and enjoying life at home more?
Other posts in this series: