OK, after my last post about batching and about not checking your email first thing in the morning I hope you are reading this about noon or so and that you have already accomplished something big off your never ending list (I call it The Scroll)
Last week one of our readers forwarded an excellent article about decision making and if you do not have time to read the whole seven page article I will summarize for you….
Making decisions wears us out. After having to make lots of hard decisions we we begin to lose focus and are easily influenced. Eating helps a lot. So if you are going to a parole hearing (and I hope you are not) its is WAY better to get the judge first thing in the morning or right after lunch, otherwise the judge will be tired of thinking and will just lock you up!
But seriously, having this knowledge can be very helpful. Have you ever heard the phrase “Plan the work and then work the plan”? Why does this help so much? Because it takes all the decisions and moves them to a controlled environment. For example if you make a list of all the things you need to do today, and take some time to realistically set times etc., then the rest of the day you can just pretty much coast. Just follow the list like a robot. You do not have to make any important decisions. Trust yourself and do what you planned. Don’t allow yourself to start questioning the list. Because the “you” that made the list, early in the day, was a better decision maker than the “you” now in the afternoon. Just do it.
Why is this important for resilience? Well I’m glad you asked. Because to be resilient you need multiple income streams. You need to be able to manage various businesses and projects and investments and when you don’t have a job, like me, sometimes things can get out of hand. There is no one telling me what to do, when to be where, what to prioritize etc, which is awesome, until you spend too much time putting everything off until you have walls of tasks raining down on your head and you feel totally overwhelmed and out of control. I speak from experience.
So if you are going to get out of the rat race and become a resilient family you NEED to have superior time management skills. And since I am very lazy I have been working on this for a very long time. Here is a great example of a tactic that helps me MASSIVELY, and I understand it better now that I read the decision making article. The NY Times article mentions grocery stores as being places where a lot of decision fatigue can happen. So I found a way to take away that stress, as well as save money and make me and my family more healthy! Dude! How awesome is that? Save money, save time, reduce stress, make my family healthier and reduce decision fatigue! And guess what? I’m going to give this to you for FREE!! But being the lazy guy I am, I’m going to cut and paste it from an article I wrote for another blog a some time ago….(I know! I’m so slack!)
To make changes in our lives, and to become resilient, what families need most is time. With more free time you can create passive streams of income, hang out with the family, and most importantly THINK. BUT how do you get this extra time? Start with small steps. Remember that every small step we take can have huge consequences. Remember the butterfly flapping its wings in China thing. By taking one step we do two things. First we define a direction. We can’t take a step without first choosing a direction. This is massive. Once we start on the path to increasing our free time inertia will be working for us instead of against us. We will want to do more of it. The second thing we do is create the opportunity for a snowball effect. If we create an extra hour per week, and we use a little of that time to create more time, and a little of that time to create more time pretty soon we are feeling like we have plenty of time in our lives. This sense of abundance then can carry over to our financial life. We can use the sense of abundance and the free time to create passive income streams, which is pretty fun I gotta say.
So to the tactic already:
Well a few years ago I was looking over our visa bill, never a fun task, and I noticed that we had gone to the grocery store about 22 times!!! In a month! Well it takes no genius to realize that that is a huge waste of time! Whether it is me or my wife going, it is a bad idea. So I decided to do something about it. As a systems type of guy I made a spreadsheet for menus and shopping but it was way too complicated and my wife hated it, and I really did not like it either. But I kept refining it till I came up with something that works.
And here it is for you:
Of course you will have to modify it for your family.
What I learned through a lot of trial and error is that it was a huge waste of time to try and plan for breakfasts and lunches. That made the creating of the menu too much of a task, and so it did not get done. What is best is to just have all the usual staples for breakfast and lunch around so you can do what you want. So I made a list of all these staple products and put them at the bottom of the sheet. So when it is time to do the weekly shopping here is what you do.
1. Write down what you want for dinner each night and put any special ingredients needed on the lists at the bottom of the page. These would be things that are not the usual staples.
2. Go around the kitchen and cross off what you already have. So instead of having to write down what you need, which involves a lot of thinking, all you have to do is cross off what you already have. Mayo, got it, Mustard got it. So cross off what you have around the house and what is left is the shopping list.
This takes very little thought and saves a ton of time and mental effort. Also by seeing the weeks dinners in advance you can see any bad habits creeping in and correct them. Hmm? maybe red meat every night is not such a good idea. Hmm? We better have some vegetables in every meal.
I feel like I really need to do a little video, demonstrating this so you can see how simple it is. It takes way more time to write this than it does to shop for a family of four for a week. The list/menu then sits on the fridge where everyone knows what is going to be for dinner. Also if there are some needed items that are not staples (hey we are out of cinnamon) we can just add it to next weeks list. There are so many benefits from this one small step it is amazing.
- The kids know how to set the table without me telling them. Bowls or plates? Forks, or spoons, or chopsticks?
- It allows the family to regularly sit around the table together.
- It saves many hours a week from having to go to the store for forgotten items.
- It helps us eat healthier meals
- It saves time in the grocery store because I have the staples list organized by section of the store. So all the produce parts are together etc. This keeps me from zigzagging all over the store.
- It saves money. Grocery bills are less, we eat out less, we save money in gas driving to the store, When one of our staples is on sale I can buy a lot. And I don’t shop without a purpose and buy a bunch of random stuff.
- I create good will with my wife by doing all the shopping.
So I obviously highly recommend doing this. Print out the sheet and alter it to suit your needs. Remember that the first few times you do it it will seem awkward. You will need to rearrange the lists and add things and subtract things. But after a very short time I assure you, you will not want to go back. I can’t imagine having to figure out what we want to eat at the last minute every night again.