It seems that there are always more errands to run - something else to purchase or return, another place to stop into. Just when you catch up and feel a brief reprieve, it starts all over again. Organizing errands to make the most of your time and minimize travel helps keep errands from sucking up your weekends and free time.
Here are five tips to keep errands from running you:
#1 GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD
Whenever you have that "I need to... " thought, immediately get it out of your head and onto paper or into an electronic system that you regularly review and take action on. There's no reason for errand thoughts to be taking up brain space or energy that can be more productively directed elsewhere. Apps like Evernote, Any.do and Out Of Milk are wonderful places to keep shopping lists and errand reminders. Good 'ol pen and paper also works. No matter what system you use, the key is to ensure everything is in one place and is reviewed regularly - at least weekly - to create an errand plan.
#2 PLOT YOUR COURSE
When reviewing your errand list, plot a course geographically based on the time you have. Be realistic about the time each stop will take and number each stop on your list to minimize decision making once you're on the road. Also consider if one stop is dependent on another when defining the order. If you're going to be in a specific area of town on a given day, consider what tasks nearby can be completed. And remember that places like grocery stores and banks are everywhere. Is it possible to stop in on your way to pick up the kids or dog? Be intentional and plan ahead.
#3 USE AN ACTION BAG/BIN
Place a reusable bag or decorative bin near the house door to hold any and all items that need to go with you to accomplish errands. The book you need to return? The receipt that the PTA needs for reimbursement? Store it there until you're on your errand run.
#4 KEEP COUPONS IN THE GLOVE BOX
Store all coupons in an envelope or folder in the glove box of your car. That way you'll never be without them when you need them.
#5 LET YOUR FINGERS DO THE WORK
With the multitude of online shopping platforms, there's no need to leave the house to obtain many useful items. Save drive time and gas money by doing your shopping online for anything that doesn't need to be seen, felt, touched, or tasted before purchasing.
But beware - this can be an incredible time suck, and before you know it, five minutes searching for a new sweater has become an hour putting together a brand new outfit. Set a timer before you start, and stick to it!
With some planning and organization, errand running can be a breeze and free up your time to pursue the things you love to do.