Nine months ago, I wrote a couple of blog posts that were a bit different from what I usually write. In the meantime I have received good feedback on the posts and therefore decided to write this follow-up. So here it goes: 5 more tips to optimize your time.
One thing I won’t compromise on is making tasty and healthy food myself. I know that a lot of time could be saved by buying prefabricated food for me and my family, but I simply don’t do it. Pretty much all of our food is made from scratch, which can quickly become a time robber. To be able to produce great homemade food without using up multiple hours every day, I practice three things:
- Cook for multiple days: When doing a dish, make sure to prepare enough food for two or even three days. Most food tastes just as good the second day.
- Cook for your freezer: My freezer is always filled with partial made ingredients like tomato sauce and meat balls. I make 3 liters of tomato sauce once in a while using this recipe (in Danish). I also make both boiled and fried meat balls using my favorite kitchen gadget, the Meat Baller.
- Freeze uneaten food: Always freeze leftovers (not the food you’ve already put on your plate but couldn’t eat, but the uneaten food from your pans and pots). Once in a while we eat stuff from the freezer for the entire week. Someone always wrinkle their nose when told this, but remember this is well-prepared and delicious food and not a machined pizza.
Work from home or work on your way to work
When I talk to some of my friends living in bigger cities or other countries I feel gifted. I “only” use about an hour to go to work every day. You may use more than that, but no matter if you’re using 30 minutes or 3 hours a day, you could probably use that time for something else other than transport. When working from home I save 1 hour of transport and because I usually eat my lunch at home while working in front of the computer, working from home gives me around 1½ hours extra each day. Sometimes this time ends up in my employer’s wallet, and sometimes I stop early and do personal stuff if I gain any hours.
Another approach is to use public transportation instead of driving to work yourself. Even though it’s not comfy to work with a laptop on the bus, it’s amazing what you can achieve during a 45 minutes bus ride.
Listen and even watch shows and movies on double speed
A lot of people laughed at me during the last couple of years when I told them about listening to podcasts and watching shows on double speed. I first got introduced to listening to podcasts on double speed in a great podcast for entrepreneurs called Startups For The Rest Of Us. Please don’t laugh. Try it and I can almost promise you that you will never listen to slow motion (1x) again. After falling in love with listening to podcasts in double speed, I started wondering if the idea could be transferred to other platforms like television. If you really want more time, simply don’t watch TV at all, but if you like to catch a numbers of weekly shows like me, night after night quickly disappears in front of the TV. Watching movies and shows on double speed really didn’t word for me, but I found out that speeding up a show to 1.5x or maybe even 1.6x speed makes it possible to understand what’s going on and still be entertaining. You’d probably don’t want to do this with your favorite shows like Dexter and Breaking Bad, but slow-paced shows only get better when watching them on 1.5x speed. Watching your shows like this means that you can catch a 50 minute show in about 30 minutes.
Automate repeating tasks
Before having children I never really thought too much about how I used my spare time and night after night quickly disappeared without any visible results. I didn’t see anything wrong in using time on manual tasks which could have been automated. Today I try automating as much as possible. I could probably automate even more, but this is what I’ve done so far:
- Automatic backup: Once in a while I did a manual backup by copying files to an external hard drive. A lot of people use their NAS for backup, but having a dedicated and always-on server in the house always made a NAS redundant for me and my family. Backing up files is boring and you can easily forget to do it on a regular basis. I signed up for automated backup in the cloud at Mozy a couple of years ago and this year I changed to Backblaze which offers unlimited space. All I had to do was to install their client and the software automatically backs up my entire PC. Simple, easy, and time saving.
- Automatic picture synchronization: Another task that I would do on a regular basis was to copy files from my digital camera to my PC. We take a lot of pictures of the kids and therefore need to empty the memory card quite often. I bought an Eye-Fi SD Card two years ago and it has become one of the three loves of my life. The Eye-Fi card slips into any SD port (in this case my camera) and automatically syncs the pictures on the phone with my PC through Wi-Fi. That’s right! That small card contains not only 4GB of space but also a Wi-Fi chip. When I get near my wireless network, the pictures are automatically copied to my PC, which again is backed up with Backblaze. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
Buy a robot (or two)
Let’s admit it. Physical work isn’t fun for nerds like me. Mowing the lawn or vacuuming is some of the most boring stuff I can come up with. Being the man of the house, I’m responsible for lawn mowing, which I why I bought that robot first. Unfortunately I ended up buying a robot with a defective battery, which took a long time to discover. Luckily the robot now works like a charm and runs every day. When my wife got pregnant in the spring, she was ordered not to vacuum and we got ourselves a nice vacuum robot from E.ziclean. People typically go for the Roomba 581, but I got the E.ziclean for half the usual price and the machine actually runs pretty good. I can’t stress this is enough: robots are a great way for you to shift more focus away from those weekly boring tasks. I’m looking for more robots, but can’t really decide on what to automate next. Any ideas would be appreciated.