If you're busy and overwhelmed, join the club. Most of us juggle a job, family, friends, hobbies, chores and probably too much more even to mention.
How to squeeze it all in? You might not be able to fix your work schedule, but there are lots of little tricks to speed up or automate the mundane parts of life, and in many cases you can save money too.
Make Technology Work for You
Some times it seems we are slaves to our computers. Well, it should be the other way around. Try these technology tips to make your life easier:
1. DIRECT DEPOSIT YOUR PAYCHECK. Why waste time and gas to go to the bank? Your pay will get into your bank account faster, with automatic deposit. And remember, the sooner it's in your account, the sooner it starts earning interest too.
2. USE DROPBOX for storing files so that you always have access to them wherever you have an internet connection. It's a simple, free program that will display a folder on your computer. Put files in that folder and they'll automatically sync to an online account, and to any other computers where you also install Dropbox.
3. GET A SMARTPHONE (such as an iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Palm). Set up your email and calendars to sync with your computers, and you'll always have easy access to all your contacts and appointments. Plus, smartphones can go on the internet and use apps, so you can get directions, check movie times, shop, and do numerous other tasks on the go.
4. GET FIREFOX AND INSTALL THEIR "ADD-ONS" to enjoy convenient features such as Firefox sync, which will automatically sync your passwords and bookmarks among all your computers. So if you find a cool website at work, you won't have to look for it all over again at home, it'll be in your bookmarks folder.
5. USE GOOGLE VOICE. Google voice will transcribe your voicemails into text, so you can quickly see why someone called you, without even hearing their message.
6. INSTALL GOOGLE TOOLBAR into your browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox). Google Toolbar allows you to enjoy buttons for jumping to your favorite features and functions, such as news, maps, spell check, and my favorite, Autofill, which lets you save your name, address and phone number and insert into web forms with one click.
7. USE AUTOMATED ELECTRONIC TOLL COLLECTION. For example, EZ Pass is used in 14 states in the Eastern U.S., FastTrak is in California, etc. You get a device that goes inside your car, register an account and set up a credit card for billing, and then when you drive through the special toll booths, your account is automatically charged. No more sitting in backed-up traffic lines to pay cash tolls.
8. USE USPS ONLINE. Go to USPS online to print postage and buy stamps, and arrange package pickups without having to wait in line at the post office.
9. GROCERY DELIVERY can actually save money (or at least pay for itself), if you're usually tempted to buy unnecessary items at the supermarket. When you order online, you're more likely to get only what you really need. So, look for your favorite grocery store's website and try it out. This is truly great for winter weather; no more bundling up and braving icy parking lots.
Non-electronic Problem solvers
Okay, what about those time-sucking chores like ironing, clothes buying and such? Here's some help:
10. BUY IN BULK, especially for items that require a trip out of your way. Maybe there's that special gourmet shop that carries the handmade Italian pasta that you love, or perhaps you really like the store brand items at Target, but you don't live close by. Plan out a list and stock up to save trips.
11. PURCHASE GOOD CLOTHING ITEMS IN MULTIPLE COLORS. Most retailers have stopped carrying the same item for more than a season or two. So, chances are, that perfectly fitting, well-made shirt you love, might not be available next year. Stock up now and buy that same shirt in several different shades before it's gone. Then you'll have it to go with every outfit.
12. BUY NO-IRON OR KNIT CLOTHING TO AVOID IRONING. I rarely iron anymore. Most items come out pretty well in the dryer. Just make sure to remove them quickly and hang them up right away. In some cases, I just take an item out of the washer and hang it straight up to air-dry.
Photo credit via Flickr