The truth is we really can buy more time.

Unfortunately it’s not like going to the store, taking a package of hours off the shelf and heading to the check-out. It takes thought as well as a small up-front investment of time, but it is achievable and very worth it. To buy more time, the key is to identify regular time-sucks. The best ones to start with are those that also cause stress.

Here’s an example from my own life – I’m a career mom with a house, two kids and a husband. My days are jammed packed. I don’t have much time to spend beyond the everyday essentials of eating, working and sleeping. I would love to buy more time. The motivation came recently, when frustration with the state of my 7 year-old daughter’s room peaked. She constantly had clothes strewn about the floor and spilling into the hall. This caused a cycle of mess, frustration, stress, conflict, unhappiness, and time loss. Even though it required an upfront investment of my precious time, I knew I needed to tackle it head-on.

She was simply overwhelmed with clothes.

After stepping back to analyze the situation, I realized she was overwhelmed by how much clothing she had. Between gifts and generous hand-me downs from friends there was too much to organize and manage. She didn’t need it all and she definitely wasn’t wearing it all. Yet, it was spilling out onto the floor and clean clothes were even unnecessarily laundered. It led to battles over bedroom tidy-ups and extra work for me.

I decided to invest part of my Saturday working with her to pare down her clothes to a manageable wardrobe. In addition to basics like socks and underwear, we selected eight outfits for cooler temperatures, some athletic wear, a couple of bathing suits and a sun-shirt to go into the current wardrobe. A couple back-ups along with eight outfits for warmer weather were placed in a box to store away until needed. The rest was given away. Here are some additional tips on how to pare down your kids’ wardrobes.

By the end of our process I was beat. We had spent 3.5 hours sorting, paring down and organizing her clothes. But, I started to reap the benefits immediately— including a windfall of time, every single day. I also had more energy to enjoy that time and less strain between my daughter and I.

Here are the benefits that came from this upfront investment of time:

  1. Anticipated: My daughter is now able to manage her clothes effectively. The floor of her room and the hall outside her room is no longer littered with her clothes.
  2. Anticipated: I spend less time policing bedroom clean-ups and working through the negative emotion which they generated, saving me time and preserving my energy.
  3. Unanticipated: My daughter spends a lot less time getting dressed in the morning, which has eliminated another source of stress in my life and dare I say, even allows us to sleep a little longer.
  4. Unanticipated: I have less laundry. The weekly room clean-ups that generated extra work because unworn clothes ended up in the laundry are no more!

We all have things in our routines that eat up time and cause a lot of stress. We may accept them thinking it’s easier to plow through it. There’s often relationship strain mixed in, or it just feels too big to tackle. Trust me when I say the effort invested to buy more time is worth it!

If you are interested in “buying more time” there are things you can do.

Start by reflecting on typical days to figure out where you spend stressful time, like hunting for personal belongings in the morning or arguing with family members over clutter. Or ask yourself ‘what do I hate cleaning or maintaining most’? Then tackle it one thing at a time, like I did with my daughter’s clothes. Remember, that investment immediately bought me more time and energy.

Once you become more aware, I bet you’ll spot many small changes that can simplify your life. But if you don’t know where to start, I am happy to help.