Studies show that we waste as many as 21.8 hours per week on stuff that doesn’t matter, including writing low-value emails and dealing with routine interruptions. But reconfiguring your workday and lifestyle to be waste-free is an excellent way to keep your brain clear so you do your best work and optimize your time so you have more free time for things you enjoy. Here are a few tasks for useful time each day as well as some tips for what to do instead.
What You Do: Cook Elaborate Meals
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans spend an average of 37 minutes per day prepping, serving and cleaning up food, and that number is even higher for those who have specialized dietary needs. Though this doesn’t sound like much, that actually translates to nearly four and a half hours per week. Think of all the things you could do with an extra four and a half hours!
What to Do Instead: Order Healthy Meals
Looking for a solution for all that time wasted in the kitchen? Order premade meals that you simply heat and eat. The beauty of these services is that they eliminate all grocery shopping, prepping and cooking while catering to your specific dietary needs. For example, you can choose from low-fat, gluten-free or low-FODMAP meal delivery options to help you optimize every meal and minimize preparations. What is FODMAP? It’s a framework for identifying and eliminating potentially disruptive sugars from your diet that can help you feel better and live your life with more energy.
What You Do: Plan Your Outfits
Whether you’re scrambling in the morning or spending hours after work strategizing outfits for the weekend, the result is the same: lots of time wasted. The tasks for useful time is that looking nice or conveying who you want to be through fashion can be a rewarding but time-consuming task. Luckily, there are some things you can do to look perfectly polished and put together without wrecking your room or wasting valuable time.
What to Do Instead: Create a Capsule Wardrobe
Have you ever considered taking a minimalist mindset with a capsule wardrobe? The capsule wardrobe approach involves reducing your closet to under 40 pieces of clothing, all of which are interchangeable and work well when paired together. By populating your closet with neutral, seasonless staples, you can easily put together nice-looking outfits with minimal stress or time.
What You Do: Worry About Tomorrow
It’s hard not to obsess over all the things you have on the agenda tomorrow, next week or even next year. But remember that anything that isn’t happening right now is just a distraction and can take away from the joy of the moment. The fact of the matter is that worrying isn’t just unproductive or a waste of time, it’s also keeping you in a pattern of negative thought that may be contributing to feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.
What to Do Instead: Focus on Mindfulness
If you want to learn how to live in the now, seek out practices and strategies that focus on mindfulness, such as mindfulness meditation and talk therapy. This can help you decrease stress and anxiety while zeroing in on the current task or activity at hand. In other words, it can help you start thinking about today rather than tomorrow, which will undoubtedly help you thrive on a day-to-day basis.
What You Do: Drive All Over Town
The average American spends 18 days driving per year and over eight hours driving per week! If you have a long commute or live somewhere with heavy traffic, those numbers may be even higher. In other words, some of us spend more time with our cars than we do with our family and friends!
What to Do Instead: Shop Online and Optimize Drive Time
There are two things you can do to minimize drive time each week. First, consider switching to delivery services wherever possible, especially when shopping for groceries and clothing. This can help you save time driving while also cutting off time spent waiting in line, finding parking and browsing the aisles.
Second, make sure you’re optimizing your drive time as much as possible by using it as time to decompress, learn or catch up with friends. Blasting some good music, listening to an audiobook or talking to friends on the phone (hands-free of course) can help you de-stress, making the commute a bit more valuable.
What You Do: Deep Cleaning
If your cleaning habits involve deep cleaning every nook and cranny of your home after a period of months letting it pile up with dirt, grime and stuff, it may be time to reconsider the way you maintain your household! The fact of the matter is that spending full weekends deep cleaning your house simply wouldn’t be necessary if you instead spent time maintaining it on a routine basis.
What to Do Instead: Create a System of Maintenance
In addition to monthly and bi-monthly cleaning tasks for useful time, you want to make sure you focus on smaller jobs that need to be done daily, weekly and bi-weekly. You never want to allow certain tasks to linger undone for too long, or else the time commitment you’ll need to make to get them sparkling will be double or triple. Some examples of tasks for useful time to maintenance weekly or daily include washing dishes, cleaning the cat’s litter box, doing laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen and cleaning your car.
Making Worthwhile Changes
There are so many excellent ways to optimize and maximize your free time, whether it means getting on a weekly cleaning schedule or utilizing time-saving services to help you get things done. When you’ve got a bit of free time to do the things you love, you’ll feel happier, healthier and all-around more organized, so these time-saving changes are well worth it in the end.