A long, long time ago someone in our family told me that, “You can get anywhere in Louisville in 15 minutes.” For years, I lived with that fallacy until I realized I was always running late to places, even when I left on time. I started timing myself getting to places and realized it often took me, along with all the children at least 15 minutes just to get everyone out the door. Furthermore, there are many, many places in this town that take me 40 minutes driving time to get there. I seriously dislike being late. I hate making people wait needlessly for me, so I decided I would make an effort to always be on time. But what that really means is that I really have to be a little early. That is why I came up with my 15-minute rule. First, I decided that I would try to leave a 15 minute margin in my day- I would make it an effort to leave 15 minutes early for any appointment. Then, if any emergency, large or small, occurs, I have a little time to deal with it.
This may seem counter-intuitive. It may seem like it would TAKE time instead of spend time, but in fact, I could stop forgetting things because I was too rushed, I do not have to spend time apologizing for being late, and I try to take care of a few tasks if I do arrive early somewhere, such as answer a couple of emails on my phone, change a baby’s diaper, clean any trash and “stuff” that gets inside our car. I can also stop at a nearby gas station and fill up the tank if I am running really early. With a fifteen passenger van, that is not a quick task!
So, when can you add a little margin to your day, and “save” some time?
In the last month alone I have had many of these small emergencies that would have caused me to be late, but due to my 15 minutes, it was no problem at all.
Here are some recent examples:
As I was leaving to take Sarah to a service project, I changed Rebecca’s diaper, buckled her in the car seat, and she immediately made a diaper that required unbuckling, changing her diaper, changing her clothes, and re-buckling her in the car seat. 8 minutes. I was still able to get out the door on time.
Another instance happened when I was all alone. I was on the way to my six week check-up appointment and grabbed a cup of tea from my kitchen to take with me. Of course, I spilled the tea upon entering the car, and had to stop, run inside and go get towels to clean it up. Then, I cleaned up, changed clothes, and still got out of my driveway on time. Although it was not fun to spill tea everywhere, it did not cause me to be late or rushed for the rest of my day.
Our family was on the way to church and we got a phone call that our oldest, married and pregnant daughter had passed out. We changed directions and went to her house. I was able to check on her, call the doctor, decide on a course of action, then the family got back in the van and headed on to church. We did end up being two or three minutes late.
Sometimes, the fifteen minute margin is not quite enough and I may still end up a few minutes late someplace. Something I came to grips with years ago is that being on time is not worth driving fast or dangerously. It is better to be a few minutes late than to endanger our family or other drivers with risky driving.
Another idea that goes along with this is to think about other margins that are good and healthy to have. I try to keep my car above a quarter of a tank of gas, I try to keep a certain amount of money in the bank account, and I try to have at least one meal that I can make at all times from just what I have in the pantry. These are not big things, but they do provide a little relief in case I do make a mistake or have something happen that changes my plans for the day.
Looking for more ways to save time? http://www.homemaking911.com/2013/07/20/52-ways-to-save-time-have-your-staples-delivered/