How many times have you come home from Target, the grocery store or the mall only to realize you forgot to buy something important? Now instead of crossing something off your to-do list, you're simply adding another thing back on. In honor of National Simplify Your Life Week-- seven glorious days devoted to clearing clutter from life-- we're getting professional help to make shopping and errands run more smoothly.
How to Celebrate National Simplify Your Life Week
Life can get complicated. Challenging relationships, strained schedules and not enough down time can quickly create stress and clutter. Thankfully there is a special time of year devoted to eliminating the noise of excess. National Simplify Your Life Week falls the first seven days in August and it's a great time to focus on what's really important. Celebrate by saying "no" to excess and recalibrating your priorities.
Start with Errands
For those of us who don't have personal assistants, running errands is just a part of life. Like it or not, toothpaste doesn't just magically show up in your bathroom and the cereal box isn't perpetually full. But when it comes to wasting our precious time, errands can be one of the biggest culprits. Renee Metzler, mom and author of the new book Total Home Makeover: A 20-Day Plan to Renew Your Space and Spirit says for most families, an hour a week should be enough time to plan your errands to help them run efficiently. On Mondays she plans the family's meals, Tuesday she reviews bank accounts and Wednesday she runs errands. "[Monday is] when I sit down and create my budget meal plan, grocery list and errand list. Deskwork Day is Tuesday so that I can check the balance on my accounts to make sure I’m ready for the expense of errand day," she explains. "Completing these two activities prior to errands makes for a more efficient run." Then by Wednesday she's got her thoughts together and a plan on paper so she can run errands without forgetting anything.
Your List: Don't Leave Home Without It
Going to the grocery store without a list is just setting yourself up for failure. Even Stephen Hawking would have a tough time remembering all of the ingredients for a week's worth of meals. Plus, Metzler says if you don't have a list you're more likely to make emotional and unwise purchases. "Typically, errands are for consumable items and consumable items add no value to your current assets," explains Metzler. "That’s why planning and frugality is so important when it comes to errand day."
Tack on Extra Stops
While Wednesday may be Metzler's errand day, it's important to pick a day that works best for your schedule. Perhaps you're already driving by the grocery store on Friday when you take your daughter to dance. Or maybe you'd be less rushed on Sunday afternoon. No matter what you choose, just make sure it's a thoughtful decision. Metzler lives by her lists and has a no back-tracking rule so she doesn't waste gas when she's out and about. "For example, you might go to the post office to buy stamps, then to the grocery store and finally to the library," she says. "Put your list in logical driving order to save on gas money and time."
If you can barely get through a week without having to make repeat visits to the grocery store or Wal-Mart then this may sound a little daunting to you. But Metzler says shopping once a month can be a great way to make life less hectic. "A once-a-month errand run has its advantages," she says. "Some women like to avoid shopping either because it brings them no enjoyment or because they enjoy it a little too much and have a tendency to over-spend." You will not only save time, but also gas money. Even though you might have to grab eggs and milk at the local store, generally you will be at home more and in the stores less.
Consider Discount Markets
You may like the chandeliers and free gourmet samples at your grocery store, but chances are you're paying a price for that ambiance. If you switch to discount markets like Aldi or Save-a-Lot you can pay less for food without having to clip coupons, which is another way to simplify your life.