For many years during my career in public relations, I tried to
pack way too many errands and activities into my mornings, lunch
hours and evenings. When a work schedule is fairly inflexible, it
is incredibly challenging to meet the needs of home, family,
friends and self on basically just weekends and holidays. I
received several speeding tickets over the years while trying to do
errands and maybe sneak in a manicure and eat a Power Bar, all in
the allotted lunch hour. I’d return to work frazzled, with an
expensive ticket and higher auto insurance, but my nails looked

I now know that there is no such thing as a Superman or
Superwoman, one who keeps every hair in place, brings home the
bacon, puts a healthy dinner on the table, and has a great romantic
relationship and well-adjusted kids. What everybody wants to know
is, “How do I balance all these expectations?”

First, get very comfortable with the fact that everything takes
longer than you think it will. A run to the store does not take
just 10 minutes. Neither does picking up the dry cleaning, going to
the post office or a phone call to your mother. Build in a nice
cushion to all of your errands and tasks. If you think it’s going
to take 10 minutes, double or triple that. You will be amazed at
the peace of mind and feeling of space and generosity this will
give you. You will finally make full stops at stop signs and will
find yourself letting people with only one or two items cut ahead
of you in line at the grocery store. 

What do you do with all the tasks left undone while you are
leisurely accomplishing less? First, it’s important to remember
that you won’t be hassling with the mishaps (like tickets and
fender-benders) that occur with rushing everything. Next, you can
get creative about delegating and even eliminating or cutting back
on some of your to-dos.

For example, what about dinner? The Superwoman might pre-make a
week’s worth of dinners on Sunday to have ready in the fridge. The
reality-check question is, “What could I order-in a few nights a
week that is reasonably healthy and won’t break the bank?” My
super-productive sister, who lives in Los Angeles, gets huge
take-out salads or other healthy fare for her family almost every
night. That takes care of grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning
the kitchen in one fell swoop. She had me fooled into thinking she
was a Superwoman until she let me in on this secret. Maybe dinner
is, budget willing, the One Big Thing you could cross off your
to-do list.

Here are some other ideas:

• E-mail and online networking can be huge time-suckers.  Have
you ever had the feeling, “Where did the morning go?” because you
got in to work and immediately looked at your e-mail? David Allen,
author of “Getting Things Done,” has some great tips on handling
e-mail effectively, as does Julie Morgenstern, who even titled one
of her books, “Never Answer E-mail in the Morning.”

• Use a dry-cleaning service that picks up and delivers.

• Stop the ironing! Start purchasing clothing that is guaranteed
to be wrinkle-free. Empty the dryer and fold clothes right away to
prevent wrinkles.  

• Give the children chores appropriate to their ages and
abilities. Yes, I’ve heard that the Japanese believe that the only
job a child should have is his schoolwork, but we’re in a recession
and everybody’s working two jobs these days. Junior can make his
own bed.

• Order stamps online.

• Use a digital video recorder (DVR) to record your favorite TV
shows so that you can watch them when it’s convenient for you and
fast forward through the commercials. Save prime time for more
important tasks.

• Develop morning and evening routines that allow you to look
and feel your best. The old advice, “lay out the next day’s clothes
each night,” is tried and true. You might want to eat the same
breakfast every day during the week so that having the refrigerator
stocked for it is effortless. If you take a lunch to work, make it
the night before. Brainstorm other things you could do to make
mornings and evenings serene.

• Don’t over-exercise. Figure out what the minimum is to keep
your body in shape and somewhat challenged. You might need the help
of a trainer to get you dialed in. Remember, an hour workout really
takes two or more if you have to drive to a gym, change and

That said, can you exercise at home? If you can, it is a huge
time and money saver. A couple good workout DVDs and a mat and
you’re good to go, with no car time or worries about matching your
jog bra to your tights. And you’ll never forget your sneakers.

There are many, many ways we can refine our daily routines to
allow us to live in the moment during each of our activities and
stop all the rushing around.  I’d love to hear what your favorite
time-savers are. Please e-mail me at