Saving Time by Running Errands Efficiently

by Count On Me 4 All

Our home has become an empty nest with our youngest of two kids having headed off to college this past fall. We miss them both of our kids dreadfully yet it has also become obvious what a help they were when they were living at home. The place we see it the most is in the number of errands one or both of them would run for us on a daily basis.

Now with both kids living at college, the errands back at home seem to be never-ending. We run to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, purchase dog food for sweet Buddy, and return home, only to discover that the pile of library books are due today and have to be returned.   The list of errands seems to go on and on. There has got to be a better way!

The following is a good article from the Readers Digest website to make the running of our many errands more efficient and effective. The ideas presented will help you get you through your errands faster, easier and with less stress.

13 Tips to Get Your Errands Done Quicker

Errands stress you out and suck you dry of energy. They also eat up hours that would be better spent exercising, relaxing, cooking, having fun – the healthy stuff of life. So the goal here is to get you through your errands faster, easier and with less stress. Just be sure to use the time you gain wisely.

  1. Group your errands. This is a golden rule: Never run a single errand at a time. You’ll save time, gas, energy and stress hormones by grouping your errands into batches. If you have to drop a child at a piano lesson, you can also go via the bank and deposit a check, pop into the supermarket for milk and bread or pick up the dry-cleaning. Plus: How to Run Errands With Your Kids
  2. Run your errands at quiet times. In other words, not at the weekend (when the vast majority of people run their errands). Instead, make sure your drycleaner, bank, doctor, supermarket, etc., are near work so you can take care of these mundane tasks on your way into or out of work, or during your lunch hour. You’ll avoid the packed shops and heavy traffic at the weekends, and have those two days just for you and your family. One of the best times to grocery shop? After dinner, when the children are in bed. One parent stays at home and one goes to the supermarket. You’ll be in and out in half the time it takes with children in tow.
  3. Create an errand center in your house. This is where library books that need to be returned, the dry-cleaningthat needs to be dropped off, or the packages that need to be mailed, all live. Everything in one place (ideally near the door you use most often) will make it easier to run “bulk” errands. Another option: keep these things in your car, in the passenger seat. They’ll be a visual reminder of all you need to do.
  4. Keep an errand list with you at all 
times. This includes both the ordinary errands that must be done (dry-cleaning, library, post office), but also those little things you keep forgetting (pick up socks for the six year old, make vet appointment for the dog, find organic potting compost). Use a sturdy notebook that you carry with you at all times, and make sure the rest of your family knows where it is so they can add things to the list.
  5. Buy in bulk. The less often you have to go shopping for mundane items such as toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, cat litter, toothpaste, deodorant, tampons, etc., the less time you’ll spend running errands. Storage space tight? Most of these items will fit under the bed quite nicely.
  6. Always include a little fun. List all the things you find joyful. Maybe it’s reading a novel, writing in your diary or hitting a few golf balls on a spring afternoon. Now, plan to include one of these items in any extended errand run. Take a novel with you as you head to the post office; you can read it waiting in line. Carry your diary in your glove compartment – jot down a few lines as you’re waiting for the car to be washed. Or ride your bike to the shops, then take a spin around a local park or nearby countryside.
  7. Keep your grocery list on the
computer. Most weeks, you’re buying the same things anyway; having a master list on your computer makes it easy to add and subtract items. Organize the list in the same order as the shop you usually use. So, for instance, if the produce section is the first area you see, fruit and vegetables should be first on your list. Hit the print button and off you go!
  8. Use the internet for as many
 errands as possible. These days, you can bank online, order office supplies, buy garden perennials, shop for shoes and do your grocery shopping online. The internet, used sensibly, can save you hours of time and immeasurable stress. Worried about giving a credit card number over the internet? If the website uses a secured server, then it is safer than giving your credit card over the phone and, in some cases, using it at a shop.
  9. Keep an “errand bag” in the car at 
all times. This includes such things as bills that need to be paid, stationery and envelopes for writing letters (yes, letters!), pens, an envelope of coupons, your calendar, magazines that you haven’t read and a good book. Then whenever you’re sitting in a waiting room, stuck in traffic, waiting for a child’s over-long football practice to end, you can also be completing other tasks on your list and/or catching up on your reading.
  10. Keep a cooler and a basket in your 
trunk. The cooler is to keep frozen and cold foods cold while you run errands; the basket is so you can carry bags into the house without making umpteen trips.
  11. Buy yourself a treat. Your children aren’t the only ones who need a little motivation during errand running. So make sure you add one more item to your list – something nice for you. It could be flowers, a scented bath soap, an imported brand of beer or a fancy cheese.
  12. Alternate tasks with your neighbors
or children’s friends. For instance, one week you do the grocery shopping for your neighbor; the next week, she does it for you. Or she watches your children while you do the errands for both families (or vice versa). Another option: do errands with a friend. Not only will you benefit from the social support, but your children might just be better behaved if there’s another adult there.
  13. If you’re a dad, run errands with
your child. An American study has found that children who clean, cook and do household errands with their fathers are better behaved and have more friends. An added bonus: the wives of these men find them more sexually attractive.