Updated 03 July 2013

18 quick shortcuts

There's so much to do you feel as if you are being pulled in five different directions. Where will you find more time? Here's how to simplify your life.

There are just not enough hours in the day and you feel as if you are being pulled in five different directions. Where will you find more time? Here's how to simplify your life. Here are some ideas:

Plan ahead. Try to avoid making three separate trips to the chemist, the video shop and the supermarket. If you know you have to organise someone to pick up your child on Thursday from soccer practise, don’t leave it until Wednesday night to do something about it.

Stay out of office politics. Your life is full and busy and you simply don’t have time to get worked up about what the secretary does in her two-hour lunch breaks or whether Ms A or Ms B should get the promotion. This is emotionally draining and takes your attention off your work. Just don't go there.

Do online banking. This is quick and easy. Gone are the days of going to pay bills, or posting stuff. Debit orders can also save you a huge amount of trouble. Just watch out for phisihing scammers who want to clear out your bank account. if you don't want to, remember that you can pay bills at the supermarket.

Make lists. It is much easier to work your way through a list than to try and remember frantically what the last two things were you had to do while you are stuck in the traffic or working to deadline at the office.

Do things immediately. The telephone call to the insurance company, the principal of the school or the medical scheme ends up taking you ten minutes – after you spent three days agonising about it.

Buy household necessities in bulk. This will avoid desperate trips to the 24-hour-shop (read expensive) at midnight to buy toiletpaper, babyfood, catfood, tampons, bread, milk or headache tablets.

Choose a safe hiding place. Choose one place where you hide things (cash, your credit card, your digital camera etc.) in your home: behind a particular bookcase, in a specific tin, or whatever. Never tell anyone about it. But once you start hiding things in different places, you could spend all day looking for them.

List children's activities. Put a copy of this on the fridge and carry one with you. Between karate, soccer, swimming lessons and netball, it is easy to get confused.

Write down important telephone numbers. Storing them in your cellphone is not a good idea. If it gets stolen, you could be stranded and might never be able to get hold of your friend in Pofadder, or your good business contact in Newcastle, again. Store the numbers online if you don't want the hassle of writing them down.

Get more helping hands. Make permanent arrangements with domestic workers and babysitters. This cuts out the possibilities of confusion and chaos. In this way, you know exactly what to expect and you can plan ahead.

Be pro-active about health. Take a good multivitamin, get flu shots before the winter and try and have a standing arrangement with someone who could look after your children if they are ill. Don’t wait until a condition gets serious before you do something about it. It often costs a lot more to intervene at a later stage of an illness.

Get a tax consultant. It will cost you a couple of hundred, but could save you thousands. It also cuts out the aggravation of trying to figure out the form and trying to get it in on time. Even the online form, though much easier to fill in than the paper one, still takes time. If you have more than one source of income and lots of deductions, things can get very complicated. Make it someone else's problem.

Learn to say ‘No’. If you try and do too much, you will end up suffering from burnout and you will be of no use to anyone. Furthermore you will not be pleasant company. People will not dislike you for saying ‘No’ – they will rather respect you for your honesty.

Prioritise. So often we become bogged down with the small things, that we lose sight of the bigger picture. We rush off to buy dog food, get caught in the traffic and then cannot make that all-important call, because office hours are over. Decide on one or two things that need to be done on a particular day - and do them first.

Plan your relaxation time. Unless this fits in somewhere in your day, you will be unable to continue functioning on the long run. You will start suffering from stress, look older and start suffering from all sorts of stress-related conditions, such as insomnia or skin problems.

Delegate some household chores. Husbands and children will generally do as little in and around the house as you are prepared to let them. Have a family meeting and ask for their input and ideas – your family will more likely co-operate if they were instrumental in deciding who does what.

Don’t take on the problems of others. Most of us should get an honorary PHD in ‘Lying awake about someone else’s problems’. If you are not causing the problem, there is little you can do to change it. While a certain measure of concern is in order, anxiety attacks about things beyond your sphere of control cannot have any positive spinoffs for you. On the contrary.

Hook those keys. Think about it. How much time do you spend looking for your missing car keys and house keys? Having a hook at the front door where you can hang them, sorts this out.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated February 2013)


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