A few years ago, I wrote a post on time saving hacks for training. I wanted to update it for The Courage to Tri, the message being that there are always ways to make something more time efficient. Though nowadays, I’m doing more exercising than training, and I’m trying to preserve time for writing instead of six hour bike rides, some of the tips are the same. While writing up tips I started wondering where on the scale my time saving tips fall, from things-everyone-does to extreme. How do you save time for things that are important to you?
"There are certain tasks in life that can’t be hacked. But for most everything else, there’s a solution to getting things done more efficiently. "
Stacking Time Blocks
There’s nothing as unproductive and frustrating as a meeting on one side of town, then a two hour break where you have just enough time to run home and check email for five minutes, then another drive elsewhere to an appointment. You’re stuck with a couple of hours of productive tasks that suck up eight whole hours. Because of this principle, I stack appointments whenever possible. And I try to put as many as I can on one or two days of the week and preserve the rest. If there are breaks in between I fill in with phone meetings I need to have. And I bring my laptop everywhere so I’m always ready to write or answer emails during any wait.
I enjoy meeting athletes, friends, in person. But in all the others, I try to use technology to save time—phone, text, skype for video options. If my physical presence doesn’t add value then I won’t do it. I used to feel like I had to come up with a good explanation. Now I just inform someone politely that I need to call in.
Even when Kathryn and I record podcasts we’re rarely in the same place. Instead we use zencastr and type back and forth on a google doc during the call so we can organize who. I’ve even scheduled doctor’s appointments this way. Some visits need to be in person, of course, but the ones that are a ten minute discussion with a physician can often move to the phone.
Train from Home
Group workouts are great for social reasons, but when time is tight there’s nothing like jumping on your already set up bike and knocking out a one hour workout in an actual hour. Each week I plan a few group workouts so I can see friends or get that extra motivation boost. The rest I organize with an eye for efficiency
Get Rid of Errands
Going to the pharmacy, the grocery store, or the dry cleaners are all things I’ve mostly dropped. Amazon will deliver nearly anything needed within two hours to many locations. Mail order prescriptions are a great way to save a trip to the pharmacy.
Budget allowing, lawn care and housecleaning are also good things to outsource. Using a resource like Thumbtack, I’ve found people to perform other important but non urgent, time consuming tasks like picking up junk or steam cleaning the carpets. If you’re so inclined, outsourcing meal prep is another great timesaver.
Streamline Getting Ready
Cut down on getting ready time= Embrace the locker room. Once upon a time, I hated showering at the gym. Now that I’m used to it, I enjoy it because it’s quick and easy. And I actually really love the showers at Mercer. Get some flip flops and get over it.
In the same vein, a makeup routine can take less than five minutes. For long hair a bit of dry shampoo and a bun save time after workouts. I have dried my hair out the car window but I would not recommend it.
Work to Gym Wear
Gym to work has the potential to be gross, but the opposite is perfect. A workout tank or running tights serves as a great base layer for a work outfit—or just a great outfit if you don’t work in an office.
Be prepared for any situation.
This translates to keeping (read= leaving) stuff in your car. It eventually comes in handy to have extra crap in your car. In my old job this was much more complicated because I needed a whole extra category of things in my car such as heels and dresses, etc. It always paid off though to not only have SBR equipment ready to go at all times (and extra running shoes) but a spare suit, heels and whatever else, too.
Bread and butter runs for me are usually with dogs in tow now while I catch up with podcasts at 1.5 speed. (This doesn’t work as well if you’re doing intervals!) I reserve long car rides for phone catchups.
This is probably the best time saving tip that’s changed in the last few years. I’ve practiced a lot and become much more adept at saying no. One cannot simply do everything, and I’ve found when overcommitted, I’m miserable and stressed.