5 Ways to Declutter the Weekend

time.jpgToday, Priya shares five ways to declutter the weekend:

In a lot of ways, I feel as if I'm always working for the weekend. Given the long hours I work, weekday mornings go by in a blur and, with my kids being as little as they are, it's not uncommon for them to be tucked into bed before I get home from the office. And while I daydream about weekends filled with second pots of coffee and leisurely snuggling on the couch with my kids, the reality is that weekends are also the only time I have to run all the errands that have been piling up. Which is a total bummer.

Lately, with Christine's posts on doing less as inspiration, I've been evaluating all of the things that fill my weekends that I don't consider fun and finding ways to declutter -- the goal being to spend less time on errands, household chores, and other logistical minutia, and more time having fun as a family. It's not always easy, but here are five strategies that have been paying dividends for us in a real way:

1. Embrace lists. I've always been a compulsive list maker, but a while ago, in an effort to be more laid back, I strayed from list making. However, as a working mom of two, I have found that I simply need to embrace lists because it's otherwise impossible to keep everything in my head, which then leads to anxiety about forgetting things (not to mentioned repeated trips to the same store). Keep a running list with you on paper or on your phone, jot items down as they come to you so you don't need to worry about remembering them later, and revisit the list periodically through the day to see if you can knock an item or two off if you have a spare 10-15 minutes somewhere. I also always refer to my list before I run errands in case I can take care of several errands in one neighborhood. Oh, and be sure to relish the feeling of accomplishment when you check items off!

2. Divide and conquer. And bond while you're at it. While we like to do as much as we can as a family on the weekends, Pete and I have found that dividing and conquering allows us to finish our errands more quickly, which results in more quality family time. We've also found that when we split up the chores, and each one of us takes a kid along, the one-on-one time makes even ordinary chores feel special.

3. Outsource tasks. I've been looking more into outsourcing tasks in big or small ways. Not every budget can accommodate the added expense of outsourcing, but I've been surprised by how often I can outsource something for free (or at least not much more than what I was saving in time and gas!). I love Amazon Mom's Subscribe & Save because diapers and wipes show up at my place every month without my having to think about it. Some weeks, my family would starve if it wasn't for Peapod and the free delivery service offered by our neighborhood Golden Goose Market. And I was really excited to learn about Task Rabbit through Christine. We're moving this month and I will definitely give them a try to save us some trips to IKEA! These may seem like little things, but even small time savings add up.

4. Swap tasks with friends. My friends and I often commiserate about the same errands. It finally dawned on me that we could take turns task swapping. For example, if I'm making lasagna for dinner on Saturday night, it's not much more work to make a second one simultaneously and give the second one to a friend. Then the next week, that friend will double a meal for my family. I love task swapping with friends because it not only saves time but offers a lovely point of contact.

5. Streamline your biggest time drains. Finally, I recommend identifying then streamlining your biggest household time drains. For me, dealing with mail is a huge drain. I spent a long time being completely overwhelmed by my mail but decided to tackle the problem head on. Within 15 minutes I figured out ways to opt out of receiving credit card offers and reduce other junk mail (via an app on my iPhone!). Awesome!

Are there big time drains you experience over the weekend? How have you handled them? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Image credit: Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net