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15 hacks that make running errands so much better

15 hacks that make running errands so much better

Run errands during the week

More than 90 per cent of people do errands on the weekends, meaning shops will be packed and traffic will be a nightmare. Running errands on a weeknight will get you in and out in half the time. Once the kids are in bed, have one parent stay home while the other drives to the shops. You’ll miss the crowds and keep your weekend free for fun and family.

Turn on a podcast

Radio music – and its deejays and commercials – can get intense. Switch off the FM and plug in your phone so you can listen to a podcast or audiobook. You’ll be more relaxed, and the time will fly as you get engrossed in the story.

Make the most of your time

Never run out for just one task. Save time, petrol, and stress by getting more than one thing done when you’re out of the house. After dropping your child off at soccer practice, drop off your dry cleaning or pick up the milk from the supermarket.

Set up an errand centre in your home

Keeping all the objects you’ll need to complete your errands – packages to be mailed, dry cleaning to be delivered, library books to be returned – in one place will make it easy to get out the door when you get the chance. Designate a space by the door or in your car as a visual reminder of what needs to get done.

Buy in bulk

Picking up big batches of items like toilet paper, dog food, and tampons means fewer trips to the supermarket and less time running errands. Plus, you save money by buying bulk packages or stocking up while the items are on sale.

Use long lines for ‘me time’

Instead of griping about how long your wait to the cash register is, think of it as a few peaceful moments to yourself. Close your eyes (don’t be self-conscious!) and imagine yourself sitting on a quiet beach or getting a massage. Take several deep breaths while you mentally escape to that place. You’ll be much more relaxed, and you can wait in line with less frustration.

Practice mindfulness

Performing a ‘walking meditation’ while you shop will keep you engaged with your task instead of letting your mind wander to other stressors. By the end of your trip, you’ll have more energy and less frustration. Pay attention to the bright colours of the produce, the scents wafting from the bakery, and the feeling of each step you take.

Do someone else’s errands

If you have an elderly neighbour or know a mother with young kids, offer to add some of their tasks to your to-do list. Studies have shown that helping others can reduce stress.

Tune out

Instead of drowning out your thoughts with music, keep the radio off when you’re driving and allow your own thoughts to come to you. The stimuli of everyday life can be overwhelming, so this is your chance to recharge your energy in the silence.

Keep a grocery list on your phone

You probably buy the same things on most of your grocery runs. Instead of writing a new list every week, keep an ongoing list on your phone, which makes it easy to add and remove items. Organise your list in the order you’ll find them at the supermarket. For instance, if you start near the produce section, write the fruits and vegetables first.

Reward yourself

To keep yourself motivated while you’re out, add a little luxury to your shopping list. Treat yourself with nice bath soap, a bouquet of flowers, or your favourite craft beer.

Keep an ongoing errands list

Write down your usual tasks, along with the ones you keep forgetting to do, like buying socks for your child or making a vet appointment for the dog, in a notepad. Carry it with you so you don’t miss anything when you’re out. When you’re home, stash it where the rest of your family can access it and jot down their needs.

Buy online as much as possible

The possibilities are endless: order groceries, buy stamps, cash checks, and renew library books online. Giving your credit card number over a secured server is safer than stating your number over the phone, and sometimes safer than handing your card over at a store.

Alternate tasks with your neighbour

Make a deal with your neighbours in which you do the grocery shopping one week, and they take care of it the next. You can watch each other’s kids when it’s your turn to stay home, and both of you will make fewer trips to the supermarket. Or plan to go grocery shopping with a friend. You’ll have more fun with the social support, and your kids might behave better with someone else present.

Have dad run errands with the kids

Kids who cook, clean, and run errands with their dads have more friends and are better behaved, according to a University of California study. Make sure your partner (or you, if you’re a dad) takes the kids along every now and then. As a bonus, wives of men who do chores with their kids find their husbands more attractive.

Written by the Reader’s Digest Editors. This article first appeared on Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.