by Sarah Welch & Alicia Rockmore
Are you going around town wishing you had time to get a haircut, meet a friend for coffee, or even just read a book? Just the simple act of getting a little more organized in some areas can unlock quite a bit of ‘free’ time. Read on for some ideas on how to gain a few extra minutes for you in the day.
1. Be Email Fabulous
Setting up email filters is one of the best ways to keep from wasting precious minutes trying to sift though loads of unwanted emails just to get to your important messages. It also saves you time from unwanted, unimportant email interruptions. Also, cancel your “sign-ups” to daily emails you no longer read or care about. A good rule of thumb: if you skip over a particular blast almost 3 or more days a week, you really don’t need it clogging up your inbox. You may also want to ditch RSS feeds that you aren’t reading.
2. Ditch Perfection
Do the bed sheets really need to be tucked in perfectly when you make the bed? No. If you children make their own beds, resist the urge to remake them. Do you have to clean the whole living room before you go to bed? Probably not. Pick one or two tasks a day that soak up more time than you’d like and “imperfect” them, such as vacuuming quickly instead of making perfect lines in the carpet.
This sounds simple, but if you have a mobile device, the thought of turning it off for thirty minutes or an hour may cause a little heartburn. But we urge you to try it. Your Blackberry can wait 30 minutes. It’s not a long period of time, but it is long enough for you to regroup and figure out how to tackle the rest of your day. Even turning it on silent during your lunch break is okay. Literally, 30 minutes is not the end of the world, it’s liberating.
4. Do It Alone
Normally we don’t advise this, but if you have something you really want to get off your plate, like scrapbooking pictures or reorganizing the file cabinet, do it alone and when no one else is home if possible. Otherwise you’ll be interrupted and frustrated that a 30-60 minute task takes you all day.
5. Do It With Others
Many hands do make light work. Cleaning the garage, doing laundry, washing & drying the dishes are tasks you should try not to do alone. With your hands washing and your son’s hands rinsing, a 20 minute task can take you 5 minutes instead.
6. Stop Multi-tasking
Five years ago, multi-tasking was all the rage. Well as popular as it was in theory, multi-tasking just tacks more time on to your day. Instead, focus on one task at a time. If you were trying to do three things at once it would probably take you an extra ten minutes for each task resulting in 30 minutes of wasted time. However, if concentrate on one task, you will get it done faster and more efficiently.
7. Learn to Say No
This one’s simple. If you don’t have the time (or simply don’t want to give up your free time) to make posters for the ballet recital, that’s okay! You don’t have to do everything and saying no is a great way to get more time back in your day.
8. Get Others to Say Yes
Your kids and spouse are probably really good at finding excuses to say no. First of all use the term “would you please”. “Could you” triggers a thought process of “Well I could, but I am going to make an excuse because I don’t want to” However, the phrase “would you please” triggers that you really need and would appreciate help. Try it.
Whether it’s a chore board or having your spouse take over more errands will certainly take more tasks off your plate. Just remember to fully relinquish the task at hand. If it isn’t done exactly how you usually do it, that’s okay.
10. Stop Procrastinating
Have a vacation in two weeks? Start packing now. Does your daughter have a long school project due next month? Get cracking. When your mind is always scrambling at the last minute, even your other simple tasks become overwhelming. If you can schedule ahead, you can avoid the overwhelmed rush that wastes all of your free time.
We are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, inc., a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized and co-authors of “Everything (almost) In Its Place .” We welcome your thoughts! Please send ideas and questions to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org  or visit us at www.getbuttonedup.com 
At Mommy Tracked, we're on a mission to help our fellow busy moms get organized. Check our our Survival Guide Tool Box for free printable family calendar pages , to-do lists, meal planners and more.