I’m not too big on small time-savers. To me, it’s silly to think about a device that will let you core a pineapple faster if, for instance, you’re in the wrong job or your family members hate each other. Get the big things right first: meaningful work, happy home. Then you can either deal with you inefficient pineapple cutting issue, or not.
That said, though, I’ve been thinking about transitions lately. One of the places we do lose time is when it gets away from us between activities. Add small children to the mix and things can get a little crazier. Just ask my husband about this. On Saturday, I had a conference, so I elected to just leave in the morning (he was planning to take the kids to the zoo and a birthday party in Westchester). We don’t own a car, so he was going to rent one. Of course, we later realized that normally when we go pick up a car from Hertz, there are two of us, so someone can stay with the kids and the car seats, or we can divvy these up, while the other person gets the car. Since I’d left, he had to haul two kids and two car seats down the street to the car rental place. It’s no surprise they forgot the present (and came back for it, thus stretching out the transition to an even more excruciating length). It’s a lot to think through, especially if you are not the party who often thinks through these things on other days.
One good approach for logistics is to arrange your life so you don’t have to think through transitions every single time. For instance, if you have to remember every single morning what you need to walk out the door, you’ll invariably forget things. So move it from a conscious choice to a habit: keys in purse (or in tray by your wallet), cell phone in charger right by the door, kids’ shoes in cubbies in a similar spot. Do not switch purses or computer bags under some misguided notion that fashion dictates it. That’s just asking for trouble.
Likewise, if you’re trying to exercise more, it’s probably worth having bags with exercise clothes/shoes anywhere you might possibly feel like exercising: in your car, in your desk, in a special spot right by your bed so you can roll out and put them on. You never want to let yourself think “Oh, I’d exercise if only I had my shoes!”
We are no longer packing lunches, mercifully. Jasper (almost 4) decided he was willing to eat his preschool lunch, or enough of it to make it to snack time. But when we were, this was the same thing every day: tortilla, fruit cup, box of raisins and cheese stick. Throw one of each in 5 Ziploc bags on Sunday night and pull a lunch out every morning. No thought required. (Yes, I realize it’s incredibly boring to eat the same thing every day, but I was fine with boredom inducing him to eat the school’s hot lunch).
What transitions have you managed to streamline? How much time does that save? The goal is that, if it takes everyone less time to get ready in the morning, you can spend some of that time doing fun stuff: lingering over breakfast, reading or playing together, instead of rushing around like chickens with your heads cut off, or parents whose spouses have walked blithely out the door for their conferences.