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Time Management

Maybe you could allot a few minutes of it to make even more. Everyone has red tape to contend with: forms to be filled in, bills to pay, appointments to make, some to be dealt with on a regular basis, while others are just once or twice a year - like car registration, insurance, rates and taxes. None of these are a problem if the filing system is up to scratch, but if it is the equivalent of a kid's bedroom floor, a simple on-line payment which might have taken a couple of minutes can turn into a prolonged, stress-filled hunt just to find the statement. It isn't hard to set up a system that caters for the paperwork so that whatever is needed can be found almost immediately, dealt with, then filed away with the other past records. At least when someone claims you haven't paid a bill, you can go straight to it to prove you have; plus, that permission form for a school outing can be completed, signed and handed in by the due date without hassles. Think on it - no more tearing out your hair in a vain search for a specific piece of paper that wasn't filed appropriately when it came in and now could be anywhere. By allowing an extra minute or two at the right time, you can save much more than that later on.

As far as the home is concerned, most people prefer it to be clean and tidy; unfortunately, the time and effort required to keep it that way can often turn a good portion of the weekend into a loathsome grind, one that will probably have to be repeated in seven days. Maybe the kitchen isn't too bad, dishes and pans being washed the same day they are used; when left till later, however, not only will the washing up take longer because the food has become congealed, but unless every speck is removed, the end result could be food-poisoning which will take more time and money to fix, not to mention the discomfort. Then there are bench-tops and tables, supposedly there for the preparation of ingredients, all cleaned up or put away after use... or are they? Sometimes it's hard to even see them, because these large surfaces are a very handy spot to leave other things that have no real business being there in the first place - the mail and local newspaper, pens, numerous pairs of sunglasses, notes from school, a doctor's referral, cd's, dvd's, a mobile-phone charger... The rest of the house could be the same with stuff littered everywhere. Mess does make mess, and eventually it has to be cleaned up. That's when those mainly responsible for making it are conspicuous by their absence and not likely to resurface until everything's done and dusted. Pretty smart, eh? They've had their quality time at your expense. Maybe a tough lesson needs to be learned and the question asked: "What did your last slave die of?"

I've already touched on the subject of travel, so here's another thought: how many times have you been inconvenienced by a breakdown? They can't always be avoided, but there are occasions when a bit of consideration for your vehicle can pay dividends. When you hear a strange noise, or the car doesn't seem to drive as well as it did, get it checked, so avoiding a minor problem turning into a major one that will leave you stranded and will probably cost a good deal more. And letting the fuel run out not only wastes time borrowing a can to get the car to the closest gas station, but the residue of dirt in the bottom of the tank can easily be sucked into the system, perhaps disabling the vehicle altogether - yet another unnecessary expense!

The strain on cars and drivers can be eased by the kids having bikes, but many parents still spend quite a bit of their "free" time fixing them up, especially punctures. It's part of Mum's and Dad's job description, but so too is teaching independence and responsibility. Have them look on while you do it to show them how. Next time, watch while they do it. After that, if they get a flat tyre, they repair it, or walk! Just make sure you don't cave in when they phone from a mate's house for you to come and pick them up. You are a parent and mentor, not a taxi service!

No doubt, you can find many areas where time can be saved later by spending a few extra minutes when it really matters. All it takes is a little thought and some pre-planning. For the intelligent creatures we are, that should be a breeze. I know you are tired after a day's work, dishing up the evening meal, sorting out the kids, and whatever else seems to be your lot; but working yourself to the point of being cranky, or collapsing from exhaustion won't be doing anybody a favour, least of all yourself. A stitch in time can save nine, maybe even ninety. Couldn't you do with some of that, honestly?

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