Image by Sean MacEntee
I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t wish for more hours in the day. I regularly lust after a functional time turner. We all struggle with finding time and making time where there often seems to be none. Well, sadly, time turners don’t exist, and the teleportation technology that would save our commute is still a figment of our imagination. But there are things we can do to scrounge up some extra minutes in our day.
It’s no secret that I like to cook–a fortunate thing given that the food allergies in our household necessitate that most everything be from scratch. Sundays, for me, are usually spent largely in my kitchen, batch prepping stuff like homemade stock, cooking dried beans, making whatever I’m planning to eat for lunch for the week, baking GF/DF bread, and occasionally pulling together freezer meals (I keep wanting to do more of those). Even with all that, I generally cook at least 2 meals a day, every single day. Which, again, is fine, because I really enjoy cooking, and I find it to be good thinking time. This weekend I happened to make up a batch of quinoa egg mufins, adapting this recipe to better suit my tastes and allergen needs. I don’t normally make myself a breakfast ahead of time. Scrambling eggs, making an omelet, or cooking up oatmeal or grits is just part of my morning routine. I didn’t think it took much time–and in the grand scheme of things, I suppose it doesn’t. But anyway, between having made my breakfast for the week already and rotating my morning alarms back 5 minutes, I’ve found myself with fifteen extra minutes in the mornings this week.
That doesn’t sound like much. But it’s meant that I’ve been able to do a little bit of morning reading, which is both a lovely way to start the day and has led me to feeling more chill as I get to work because I’m not feeling so rushed. It’s got me thinking about what other things I could do to find an extra five minutes here or there. This isn’t a new concept for me. I long ago started planning my weekly menus to avoid the waffling time-waste of “What’s for dinner?” I wear the same jewelry every day so that I don’t have to make that decision. My makeup is fairly minimalist and takes 5 minutes. I often make crock pot meals, which saves me food prep time that otherwise would eat into my post-work writing block (though this is less a thing once it gets hot, as a lot of them are soups or stuff that are very wintery).
The thing is, people have a limited amount of mental capacity each day, and from an efficiency standpoint, it makes sense to eliminate as many decisions as you can in order to conserve that capacity for more important projects. Streamlining the things that you can makes a very big difference. If you’re feeling strapped for time (and who isn’t?), I encourage you to think about this kind of thing–actively consider how you’re allocating your mental resources. And share the things you’re doing (or want to try) in order to free up some time in YOUR life (because I could use some more inspiration in mine!).
One thing I’m doing, and this is something I learned from a friend who likes to sleep until the very last minute, is to lay out my clothes and stuff the night before. All the way to my underwear. You mention you wear the same jewelry each day. I don’t, and I have a LOT of jewelry. But I lay that out as well. I just kind of do that as I’m passing by the bedroom to the bathroom. So that decision is already made for me, and I don’t have to worry about it in the mornings. My friend goes as far as laying out her makeup and getting out her towels and wash cloth for the shower, but that takes no brains or time, really, so I don’t go that far. For her son, she actually gets all his clothes ready for the whole week and lays them out. I’m seriously thinking of at least having my clothes on hangers, in order of the days I’ll wear them, in the closet to pull out the night before each work day.
Although this wouldn’t work for everyone, I essentially wear a uniform to work. I have several button down shirts in colors that work with several pairs of pants. On Sunday, I put five “uniforms” together, and just grab a set every morning. I even put socks and underwear with each set, to spend less brain power every morning.