Save Time When Running Errands

Don't spend time spinning your wheels when you have a list of things to do. Get organized and save time in getting more done.

Errands are part of a busy schedule. There are always needs for a stop at the store, a drive-through bank visit, or a prescription pickup. That is why it is important to map your route when heading out to do a list of chores. You don't have to write them down as long as you have a pretty good idea in your head.

Go to the furthest destination first. That way you'll have a straight shot through traffic and lights to get where you're going, saving time and gas. Drive the most direct route unless there is likely to be a congested traffic area that will slow you down, and should be avoided. If you are going to an unfamiliar area, you may want to call ahead for directions to make sure you don't get lost and to check traffic conditions, as well as the best time to arrive when business is slow.

In planning the return trip after the first errand is done, envision a circle so that your next point will be the second furthest away since you've already reached the most distant. Make a broad loop that will encompass all of the remaining stops, and then hit them one by one, as though playing pinball.

For a speedier trip, keep a bag of needed items by the door so you won't forget it when you leave to begin your errands. The bag might contain clothes for the thrift store, a wadded spring jacket for the dry cleaner's, grocery coupons for the store, and an empty prescription bottle that needs to be refilled.

Plan to do your errands at one time during the week when your schedule is less strained. In anticipation for the day, fill your car's gas tank, pack the trunk with things to take or drop off, and mark the time on your calendar so nothing else can get scheduled then. Arrange everything you need so you can knock out those errands, one right after the other. Make a list to take with you if you are concerned about forgetting something.

Don't get discouraged if your trip has to be cancelled. Sickness or weather can affect the best-laid plans, so either designate a "rain date" or wait until another convenient slot in your schedule opens up. Getting stressed out over a schedule delay can be worse than the actual postponement. Relax and read a book with a nice cup of tea instead.

Stick a coat in the back seat and a snack in your purse as well as a can of juice or pop in the cup holder. That way you'll be ready for hunger or cold that can threaten to interfere with your trip and won't have to cancel or make unexpected stops after you've begun.

Errands may not seem like important tasks in the overall scheme of daily life. But without them, we would have to learn to get along without some pretty essential facts of life. Schedule these small but significant chores at your leisure before they divert your attention from something else if neglected.

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