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How to Cut Down on Your Errands

Would you like to reduce your weekend errands so that you have more time for your family or friends?  Do you have a list of errands that you just wish someone else could do for you?  Better yet, would you like to find a simpler way to organize your errands? 

I hate errands. Actually if I'm honest, I really don't hate them. I just don't like it when they take up time that I'd rather spend doing something of more value.  Stuff like being with Cary and the kids or working at school.

There are usually two kinds of errands:

 

  • those you can complete on your way to something else
  • those that take up dedicated, focused energy

 

It's the second kind that usually gets in the way. These errands are unique and time consuming. We tend to put them off because we either don't know how to tackle them or find them unpleasant.

I experience this about every three months. I blame the oil change light in my Toyota but really the blame falls on my shoulders.

For whatever reason, I haven't mastered the concept of the oil change. I get it done but typically about a thousand miles over when I should. I have a ton of excuses but most of them are lame (the garage is far from work, forgetfulness, the non-urgency of the task, etc.).

Besides the inconvenience of errands like an oil change, they typically don't produce a high level of joy or satisfaction. I mean, who truly loves another trip to Doug's Auto Garage?  

So what to do?

This week we're inviting all readers (and listeners of the podcast) to take part in a reduction of errands.  My kids think that this is totally nerdy but they actually are the ones who benefit the most from me doing less errands on the weekend.  

Who really wants to spend 30-40% of their free time running errands? I know that I don't so here are some suggestions that can reduce your errands by 25% or more:

 

  1. Hire a personal assistant: if your errands are digital (preparing taxes, scanning documents, etc.), why not hire a Virtual Assistant? With resources like ODesk.com or Elance.com, you can find a "V.A." in about 15 minutes at very low cost. If your errands are geographically dependent, you can find help through a resource like CraigsList.com or through word of mouth. Some might object that spending the money to have someone pick up your dry cleaning is wasteful but ask yourself, "What is my time really worth?" Hiring someone might free you up to spend time on better things.  Mike Hyatt has a solid resource on the reasons for going V.A. in order to save you personal time on tasks.  You may also be able to find a neighbor, a retired person or just someone looking for a few hours a week who could help you.
  2. Buy more gift cards: think of all of the time that you spend trying to find that "perfect gift" for someone's birthday. I suggest skipping this and just buying a gift card or a gift certificate. This might not work for every situation but it is a super option more often than not. Best of all, it will save you a ton of time.  I have a wedding coming up and while I wouldn't recommend a gift card in that situation, I'll be giving cash for sure.
  3. Simplify your yard: look at it this way- you could spend two hours mowing your lawn or you could install some ornamental grasses and perennial flowers that require no maintenance and still look nice. The result- you only have to mow for one hour a week, saving you 40 hours a year. Now that's a trade-off worth making.  The less maintenance, the better.
  4. Simplify your wardrobe: most of us only need 5-10 different outfits for work and about the same for casual wear. Start by weeding out old stuff that you haven't worn in years. Then settle on a few brands that you like and invest in quality items. I like Joseph A. Bank for my dress clothes and Timberland for my casual clothes. This has saved me so much time and stress in that I don't have to shop for new items nearly as often because both brands design clothes to last for years.
  5. Just don't do them: when all else fails, skip the errands. There is a cost to this for sure but you might actually get away with not doing some of the things that you dread and are taking up your valuable personal time.  Use caution with this one but always ask yourself, "Do I really need to do that errand?"

 

What can you do this week to cut down on errands?

 

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