Snow When To Go

The main topic of conversation around New England for the past few weeks has been, of course – SNOW! Three huge storms in as many weeks have left most of us, well… snow bound, cranky, and more than exasperated.

I got to thinking about how my patterns have been altered since the snow arrived. Instead of just jumping in the car to run to the post office or grocery store – I have hesitated. Instead, I have been saving up my non-urgent errands until I have enough reasons to leave the house to brave the cold and high snow banks.

I have worked from home for the past decade. Primarily I have loved, and taken full advantage of, the flexibility that has afforded me. And what I typically do is take every opportunity to get out of the house, even if only for a few minutes. I have been known to hop in the car just to go pick up my business related mail at the post office, and come right back home.

This isn’t very efficient and it isn’t the greatest idea considering the current weather conditions!

Call me a fair weather New Englander, but recently I have been looking for every excuse possible NOT to leave the house. Quite honestly, it’s downright dangerous– between the snow under the tires and towering snow banks at every intersection – you are taking your life in your hands.

What I have realized over the past few weeks is that efficiency has become the “name of the game.” Lately when I leave the house, it has typically been with a long list of errands to accomplish while I’m out.

Here’s the thing, this is what I should be doing all the time – snow or shine. Since the majority of my errands are not time sensitive, I am going to start designating a specific time each week to run my errands. I’ll have to experiment with whether this will be the same time/day each week, or if I just plan it out based on the week’s schedule.

Once I gave this approach more thought, I realized I could:

  • Reclaim time for other activities. Instead of taking a break from work to run an errand, I could use that time for a quick walk or to read a chapter in one of the unread books piled next to my desk.
  • Keep a running list of errands. I have started a list on my phone and add to it every time I think of something I need to take care of. It has been surprisingly easy to suppress my need for getting things done instantly, because I know it’s captured so I won’t forget.
  • Reset expectations. Instead of jumping to meet every family member’s request right away, I’m letting him or her know that the next time I run errands, I’ll take care of their request. This way when they need something, I add it to my list – or better yet, they take care of it themselves. I have also been more inclined to ask family members who are already out in the weather to pick things up on their way home.

Of course, some errands are time sensitive and must be addressed right away, but typically they are not, and can wait. Now that I have been forced (between storms) to think twice about the best time to run errands, I’ve realized that I like it much better this way.

There is a feeling of accomplishment I didn’t feel before. There are fewer interruptions in my work and daily schedule. There is the added benefit of including family members in the process. And like with any list – it always feels so good to cross things off as they are completed.

Ta Da Tip Of The Month

Resisting the urge to run errands as they arise can be a challenge for some of us. Here are a few suggestions to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

  • Keep a list on your phone or posted in a central spot in the house. If you are like me, we carry our phones around with us constantly. I find this the best place to keep a running list. I’m using the Notes app that comes standard with my iPhone. But if you prefer to use pen and paper, posting a list on the refrigerator or another central place works just as well.
  • Plan in advance. When it’s time to run your errands, be systematic about how you tackle them. For example, simply numbering each errand based on geography will reduce the possibility of back tracking. Or if you only have a short amount of time, prioritize the errands that you think will take the longest and see how many you can cross off your list within your time constraint.
  • Sit back and reflect. After a month or so, take a few moments and ask yourself – Is this new approach saving valuable time? Have you consciously made an effort use the precious “found-time” to do something else you enjoy? If the answer is yes, then keep it up!

We only have 24 hours in a day, and we all invariably have errands that need to be run each week. By grouping them together and reclaiming some spare time is just one more way of staying organized and efficient. Ta Da!

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