Content Updated October 3, 2007
Shop when the stores are least crowded.
During regular business hours 9am to 5pm and after 9pm are when most people are doing other things, like working or sleeping. Avoid shopping between 4pm and 8pm because that’s when everybody shops after they get off of work. Try to find a 24-hour store, so you can shop in the middle of the night if that fits your schedule best.
Shop online or via catalog.
The money you save in shipping costs are often worth the cost of your time. Shopping on the Internet is also great because you have a wider selection, bigger discounts, and product guides and reviews to help you find the best product for your needs. You can even go grocery shopping over the Internet and have it delivered to your door or ready for pickup at the store. (I have organic fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, and free-range eggs delivered to my door from a local company that only delivers. The food is fresh, local, healthy, and eliminates those frequent trips to the grocery store to pick up such perishable items.)
Cook in bulk.
It takes the same amount of time to cook one chicken as it does to cook two. One you eat tonight, the other you eat tomorrow in a quicker recipe. Make big batches of food and freeze what you won’t eat tonight. If you freeze your leftovers in individual containers (one container per serving), you’ll have your own single serve microwave dinners for those nights when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook.
Call ahead to get on the list.
Whether it’s you’re walk-in hair salon or a restaurant, if you know that you’ll have to put your name on a list, call just before you get in your car to leave. When you get there, you’ll probably be next.
Read menus while you wait.
If you’re waiting for a seat, grab a menu and figure out what you want. As soon as you’re seated, you can order right away and get your food faster. Many restaurants actually have their menus online, so you can print it out and decide what you want on the way there.
Put your VCR and DVR to work or subscribe to a service like Tivo.
You can record your shows whenever they’re on, then watch them when you have time. By fast forwarding through commercials, you can save 15 minutes on a 60 minute show, and use those 15 minutes to do something else.
Stock up on items you use frequently.
Reduce the number of trips you need to make to the store by buying extra of things you go through quickly. Many perishable items can be frozen until you need them (if you’re freezer is big enough) and non-perishable items can be stocked where they’re needed.
Use the automated-timers on your appliances.
If you coffee maker has a timer, set it to have your coffee brewing while your alarm clock is going off. If your bread maker has a timer, set it to have your bread ready when you need it. There are even some recipes you can put in your oven before you go to bed, set your oven timer, and have it ready to eat when you wake up (be sure you don’t use recipes that contain ingredients that may cause food poisoning if left un-refrigerated or you can invest in one of those new oven / refrigerator which actually keeps your food cold until it’s time to cook it).
Get directions from the Internet.
I love online maps because I just put in my address and my destination and *poof* I have directions and a map. I always keep a map in my car as well, but this really saves me the time of having to plan out my route.
Exercise at home alone or with your neighbors or friends.
No drive to the gym, no membership fees, no self-consciousness, and if your friends are there it doubles as a social event. Set up specific times or just exercise throughout the day during commercials and such.
Use the post office online.
Buy a postage scale. Then go to http://www.usps.com/ and buy stamps (even have them sent to your house automatically each month), calculate postage, even print out shipping labels have your regular postal carrier come to your door to pick up your packages. You can also change your address, put a hold on your mail, etc. You can even upload a document and address list from your computer, have them print out the document and mail it to everyone on your list (great for businesses and family newsletters).
Use the DMV online.
It’s amazing how much you can do online to avoid those DMV offices. Look yours up to learn more.
Get tax information online.
Go to http://www.irs.gov/ and get your tax forms, booklets, and answers to your questions to help you save time during tax season.
It’s really just being able to scan documents for important information. You don’t actually read every word.