Do you need your week to just be a little easier? Did your magic fairy up and quit?

When you’re staring down a busy week filled with lots of shifts, family obligations, meals to make, and a living area that needs to be kept somewhat clean, a magic fairy sometimes seems like the only reasonable solution for getting everything done. But there’s hope – a little bit of advance planning can make a world of difference. In fact, streamlining the essentials can actually free up a little bit of time so you can enjoy an extra cup of coffee or even a movie!

Try these five tips and see if you are a little less harried by Friday.

1. Plan Your Meals

Sit down once a week and plan out at least five of your largest meals. Planning to have tacos on Monday, chicken soup on Tuesday, pork roast and rice on Wednesday, and salads and sandwiches on Thursday can give your week an incredible amount of order. Make sure you’ve got all the ingredients on hand (on-the-way-home supermarket runs defeat the plan-ahead purpose) and prep as many things as you can. Not having to think about what you’re having for dinner lets you spend your energy on just getting home and throwing it all together.

2. Pack Up Snacks

Packing your own lunch is sometimes tough enough, but when you do it for other family members, it can be a big hassle when you’re trying to get out the door on time. Just as you might plan your dinners, plan ahead as much as you can for lunches. Grab a bag of pretzels and divide it into containers or zip-top sandwich bags so they can be popped into a lunch bag. Do the same thing for cookies or granola bars or even some fruits and vegetables. Better yet, assign this task to a family member! Mornings will be less of a mad rush when there’s less to assemble.

See also
Inclusion, Part 1: Your Role in an Inclusive Work Environment

3. Corral the Clothes

Whatever you wear to work, make sure you have several days worth of outfits planned and ready to wear before your week starts. Plan to have everything washed, paired up, and ready to grab and put on. Five days of outfits that are ready get rid of the standing in front of the closet daze. Before you plan it all out, give a quick check to the week’s weather so you’re aware of any huge temperature fluctuations that might impact your comfort. Planning ahead won’t help you at all if you slip into your favorite wool turtleneck on the one day the temperature rockets to an unseasonable 90 degrees.

4. Check the Calendar

As easy as it sounds, during an especially busy time, it’s easy to miss that you booked two appointments at the same time. Or, worse yet, you have an appointment you forgot about. Compare your calendar to everyone else in the house so you’re all on the same page and know where to be.

5. Fit in Exercise

We all know it – in the middle of a crazy week, your workout is one of the first things sacrificed. If your week looks particularly awful, figure out times when you can even squeeze in a few 15-minute walks. Dropping off the kids for softball? Take 15 minutes to walk around the parking lot or a nearby field before heading home. Running errands? Do a few extra laps around the mall. Keep an extra pair of sneakers in the car so you can use them if you get the chance. No matter what you do, it will feel better than nothing at all.

See also
Inclusion, Part 2: Changing the Culture

Getting everything in order is a huge time saver, but it’s also a sanity saver. Rushing around gets your day off to a bad start and keeps you in perpetual stress overload. Taking the extra time to get those mundane, but necessary, tasks out of the way can really make a big difference in freeing up time every day and improving your outlook.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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