How to Save Time: Tips for Making the Most of 15 Minutes
Juggling school, work, and family obligations can be a dizzying endeavor, especially when it comes to carving out dedicated study times throughout the week. Once the evening hits, it's easy for lots of small tasks and errands to get in the way of more important, time-consuming tasks. That's why it's important to know how to save time by making the most of the few short, unexpected calm periods you get throughout the day, be it in between work and class, over lunch, or before the kids get home from school.
While it can be tempting to take these moments to relax and rest (and that can be a good thing too sometimes), learning to use brief breaks to take care of small daily and weekly tasks can help prevent them from piling up and taking away large chunks of study time later in the day.
Below we offer some tips and quick tasks that can be taken care of when you have 15 minutes or so to spare.
Get whatever you can ready the night before.
Taking a few minutes before bed to prep for the next day can end up saving you some time in the morning, resulting in a quicker start to the day and less stress before you head out the door.
Try out the following each night:
- Pack lunch(es) for the next day
- Lay out the next day's clothes
- Pack up all work or school materials and put your bags by the door
It can also be a significant time-saver to make a few big batches of food over the weekend, then divide them into resealable containers you can quickly grab for lunches throughout the week. Try whipping up a casserole dish of baked oatmeal for a quick re-heated breakfast each morning.
Divide housecleaning into many small, short tasks.
Cleaning the whole house can easily become a huge time-sink, and trying to study surrounded by clutter can make it difficult to concentrate. Try knocking out simple housecleaning tasks here and there throughout the day whenever you have a few minutes. For instance, 5-10 minutes is plenty of time to do one of the following:
- Take out the trash
- Load the dishwasher
- Vacuum or dust one room
- Start a load of laundry
Sometimes when you get a quick break, you just need to relax and unwind for a few minutes—but be aware of simple, low-concentration tasks you can pair with more relaxing activities to maximize your time.
- Fold laundry or pay online bills while you take a break to watch a TV episode (and DVR so you can skip commercials when possible)
- Put trash and recyclables by the door so you can take them out when you leave for class or to run errands
- Leave a few minutes early when heading to work so you can get gas on the way
Find ways to easily stay organized.
If you can get into habits that help you stay organized, you can cut down on time spent picking up messy rooms or looking around for important items—which can also alleviate small but unnecessary bouts of daily stress. Make sure everything has a specific place, and make it a habit to always put things back where they belong.
- Put a basket or tray by the door for keys, work badges, wallets and clutches, etc
- Use organizers in your office and closet to create dedicated spaces for important items
- When making food, clean dishes as you go rather than all at once after the meal
There are a number of quick, miscellaneous tasks you can whittle off your to-do list whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Take care of these first so you don't get bogged down later.
- Check email and respond to those that can be resolved quickly—this keeps your inbox less cluttered so you'll have fewer possible distractions later.
- Check your recent notifications and upcoming course tasks in the CTU Mobile app so you can plan your readings, homework, and studying later in the day.
Looking for more ways to make the most efficient use of your limited time while in school? Check out our 5 study tips for college students.