6 Easy Ways to Get Extra Free Time This Week

save time in daily life

Save Time in Daily Life

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.
Michael Landon

How would your life improve if you just had a little more time?

Would you learn a new skill? Take time to have a picnic in the park with a loved one? Play with your dog more? The possibilities are endless.

There are plenty of ways to shave 10 minutes off here and 20 minutes off there throughout each day.  Here are my favorite ways to create an extra hour of free time per day. That’s an extra 7 hours each week!

Cut Your “Food Time”

I have to admit it, I can’t stand to cook. It takes me forever to figure out what to make, gather the ingredients, and then cook it. Eating it seems to take about 2 minutes, but then washing dishes and cleaning up afterward takes forever….

With a little bit of planning and a few helpful tools, though, I’ve managed to save several hours a week with these meal-prep tips. See if they work for you:

  • Sign up for a ready-to-go meal planning service like eatthismuch.com or emeals.com and get a week’s worth of meal plans made for you in a couple minutes. I’ve used both, and they’re both useful, but I currently use eatthismuch.com.These services are AWESOME because you don’t have to wake up every day and ponder “What should I eat today?”. It’s already laid out for you.Eat This Much is so customizable. I’m a vegetarian, and I want my daily diet to consist of 45% protein, 35% carbs, and 20% fat. No problem! I just put that in and it generates a meal plan for me, complete with a printable grocery list and recipes. I can also set a daily budget. I can say “I don’t want to spend more than $10 a day on food”, and it makes me a weekly menu to fit that. If you don’t like a food they give you, you can substitute it with one click. So easy.

  • Make food once a week. Sometimes I do this, but I have several friends who do it religiously. Plan your week’s meals, then make them all on Sunday. Voila – you have food ready to go for the week and you don’t have to cook for the next 7 days.How you do it depends on what your diet consists of. If you’re a meat eater and want a hearty, warm meal, you can put pack the ingredients for meals in a Ziploc bag. When the day comes, simply dump it in a slow cooker or instant pot and cook it without any effort on your part.

  • My body-building friend eats nearly the same thing every day – grilled chicken, a serving of veggies, and a carb like quinoa at every meal. On Sundays, he cooks the chicken, divides it into individual servings, and stores it in the fridge, along with his veggies and carbs. Then he simply grabs the bag on his way to work at the gym where he pops it in the microwave at mealtime.

  • Another friend is into freezer meals. She gathers 3 friends once a month, and they cook a month’s worth of food on the 1st of every month. Since they do it together, it’s a fun, social get-together. They put them in meal-size packages and freeze them. For example, if she makes soup (which freezes well), she pours it into ice cube trays so that whenever she has soup, she takes just as much as she needs and warms it up in the microwave. Some foods don’t freeze well, though, so there’s a little bit of a learning curve. There are plenty of books to help, like The Healthy Make-Ahead Cookbook. This way, she only does cooking and meal-prep once a month!

  • If you have a dishwasher, clean up takes a lot less time for you than it does for me. If you don’t (like me!), consider outsourcing! My neighborhood kids are happy to get $15 a week to come and do my dishes!

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Time Added: 7 hours a week (on average, I save an hour a day with these techniques)


Reduce exercise time with HIIT

Everyone knows you’re supposed to exercise for a zillion different health reasons, but it takes so much time! I used to do 30 minutes of cardio and at least another 30 minutes of weight training a day. Then I read scientific articles about the benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and cut my exercise time in half!

When you do cardio, you burn maybe 200 calories for a 30-minute session, but as soon as you stop exercising, the calorie burn also stops. But HIIT has been shown to burn more calories and to continue burning calories and fat for up to 48 hours after you quit exercising.

You don’t need 30 minutes, either. A 2013 study showed that sedentary guys who did HIIT workouts for 12 minutes 3 times a week had the same benefits as those who did cycling for 40-60 minutes 5 times a week.

There are so many ways to incorporate HIIT that you won’t get bored, either. You can run, bike, swim, join a class, do calisthenics, and so on. All it takes it some short, intense intervals, and you can include those no matter which activity you choose.

I recommend this incredible book: High Intensity Interval Training for Women. It has lots of ready-to-go workout plans with plenty of easy-to-read charts and pictures.

Time Added: 2.7 hours per week (i.e., instead of exercising 40 min 5 times a week, you do 3 12-min. HIIT sessions per week).

Quit Hitting Snooze

This one is so old and so simple, yet so effective!

The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.

Philip Doddridge

Wake up a half hour (or even an hour!) earlier every day to effortlessly add more time to your life. I know, it’s hard enough to wake up when the alarm goes off, but it becomes easy and automatic if you do it consistently for a couple of weeks.

If you want to sleep less, try the Uberman schedule for polyphasic sleep.

Time Added: 3.5 – 7 hours per week

Use Time Trackers

Use a time trackerIt’s amazing how much time I waste and don’t even realize it. That’s where time trackers are amazingly helpful. If you know exactly how you spent your time, you cut out all those wasted minutes (and hours).

Seriously, how many times have you gotten to the end of the day and thought, “Wow. Where did the time go? I didn’t accomplish anything!”. That’s why taking the time to notice precisely how your time gets spent is so important. Too much gets wasted!

You can always get more money, but time is the most precious commodity we have. Your time is not infinite, and you never know when it’ll run out forever. Maximize your time!

increase productivity with top tracker

Top Tracker Screenshot

I work online, so I use a free Windows time tracker called Top Tracker. It tracks how much time I spend on a task, but it also detects when it thinks I’m not working on that task. A popup will appear and ask if I’m actually working on what I’m supposed to be working on because it saw that I accessed Facebook or was idle for too long. It also takes periodic screenshots.

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time doctor to increase productivity

Time Doctor screenshot

Another excellent, feature-rich time tracker is Time Doctor. It’s especially great if you use it for work or need to track a team, but it’s also good for personal use.

It takes screenshots periodically to track where you’re spending your time online. It tracks the time you spend chatting with others, which websites are getting visited and for how long, and provides easy-to-read reports to go back and see where you could do better. If you’re a freelancer, you can track time spent on a project (with screenshots) so it makes billing clients easy and verifiable. You can use it with the mobile app, the Chrome extension, or with the computer program. If you’re using it for work purposes, it has payroll and billing features built-in. Very cool! This one costs $9.99/month, but the increase in productivity is worth more than that (in my opinion!).

There are other time-tracking apps for your computer or your smartphone. Try them out, see which one works best for you, and you’ll be amazed to find out how much wasted time you can free up in a day!

Time Added: 10.5 hours per week (Since I started tracking my time, I saved an average of 1.5 hours per day)

Are you ready for the grand total?

Drum roll, please…..

If you incorporate these few tips into your daily routine, you could potentially add a whopping 27.2 hours of extra time to your life per week!!!  That’s like getting an 8-day week, every week!!! (That’s an extra 1,414 hours or an extra 59 days per year!).

What are your favorite ways to save time? Let me know in the comments!

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.

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Michele Swensen is a writer and web designer who loves learning, animals, writing, reading, and playing the piano. She’s a member of Mensa and a college graduate.
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