One of my friends recently took on a new part-time job; it’s not a permanent thing, but it helps her get her foot in the door in the particular field in which she wants to eventually work. A couple of extra shifts a week though meant drastically reorganizing her well-crafted schedule so much so that all of her routines were thrown off balance. When I asked her how her weekend was the other day, she was responded with the usual complaint that she never felt she had enough time to herself. “I spend most of my time off doing chores and running errands,” she complained. “I’m always popping out to do one thing or another and it’s starting to get to the point where I feel like I’m a jack-in-the-box.”
Have you experienced this too? Girl (guy), I know the feeling. As a freelancer my schedule is all over the place and I’ve had jobs where I’ve found myself working at all sorts of strange hours while still trying to have a life. It’s sad that so much of what should be vital personal time is eaten up by mundane daily tasks, but I do have some tricks for taking back that me-time. One of them is trying to running my errands more effectively.
Running “errands”- going to the post office, marketing, picking up and dropping off gift items, donations, prescriptions, dry cleaning- all of these things are necessary evils in order for our lives to run smoothly. But if I left the house every time I needed something, or every time another task popped up, I’d be leaving the house constantly. There’s nothing fun or productive about it.
That’s why I keep track of all of my errands in an ongoing list I have stashed at the back of my agenda and try to group similar tasks to suit my needs and my schedule. I work a lot from home, so I try to save my errands for times when I’m already out of the house so I don’t have to make special trips for specific items. Where possible I try to delegate my tasks or incorporate them into a dog walk. (That is, of course, providing the errand in question is dog-friendly. My dog has been known to shoplift. I wish I that was joke.) As a last resort I will put aside a chunk of time to complete my errands and plan the most straightforward route ahead of time.
A little bit of preparation can help you fit these pesky tasks into your schedule in a painless way, but a little behind-the-scenes work can help as well. I always like to make sure my bag is packed ahead of time and I always try to make sure I pack whatever I need to complete any errands I might do on my outing.
And if there’s one rule that I live by, it’s: never, ever leave the house without a list. (Anyone who has wandered around the grocery store after work starving knows what I’m talking about.) The key to running your errands more effectively is to make sure you’re prepared and there’s nothing more productive than a list that’s able to keep track of what you’re doing, where you’re going, and what you need in order to do it.
Who knows? You might even make you enjoy getting out of the house for once.
Is there one errand that you absolutely hate doing? Mine is going to the post office. I’d love to hear yours when you drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more suggestions on how to organize yourself, get yourself over to my Busy page.