What Change to Your Routine Has Saved You the Most Time?

This month, readers share their best tips for streamlining hectic schedules.


Photo by Christopher Silas Neal

I separate my cutlery as I load it into the dishwasher. Forks, table knives, spoons, teaspoons, and miscellaneous items each get their own section in the basket. That way, when the cycle is done, I just grab utensils by section and put them back in the silverware drawer. It goes fast because I don’t have to do any sorting.

Denise Bate

Cornwall, Connecticut

Instead of scrambling to make dinner every night, I declared Sunday my cooking day. I spend it preparing freezer-friendly meals so that when I come home from work, I can just stick a premade dish into the oven. Now I have time to hang out with my daughters or my pets or relax with a cup of tea.

Angel Kendrick

Rochester, New York

For 10 years, I commuted to work during rush hour, suffering through a 90-minute traffic-choked drive. Then, early last year, my boss gave me permission to work from home for three hours each morning and leave for the office after rush hour, around 10 a.m. Now the trip takes half as long. As a result, I logged 150 (!) fewer hours on the road in 2011 than I did the previous year.

Darlene Bergantzel

Santa Clarita, California

I love to read, and I discovered how to do it during my busy days—by swapping my paperbacks for audiobooks. This has allowed me to be productive while I enjoy my hobby. Now I clean the house, do the laundry, and weed the flower beds as I listen to best sellers. In fact, I welcome chores. They’re a good excuse to play my latest download.

Melody Barrett-Rojas

Pasco, Washington

When the price of gas started to rise a few years back, I decided to run all my errands in one weekly trip. I make a list of where I need to go (the bank, the library, and the gas station, for example) and hit the road. I usually get everything done in a few hours, leaving myself more time to enjoy at home.

Lesley Haynes

Buffalo, New York

For years I’ve followed this rule: Don’t put it down; put it away. Even if I’m in a hurry to change my clothes, I automatically hang up the old outfit before I put on another. And when I’m cooking, all the ingredients go right back into the cabinet as soon as I’m done with them. This habit saves me tons of time, because I never have to look for things or clean up clutter.

Mimi Scribner

Minnetonka, Minnesota