WORK, meals, chores . . . our weekly routines can feel overwhelming.
Thankfully, “Batch Lady” Suzanne Mulholland can help.
Every Saturday, the Fabulous columnist shares her recipes for time-saving batch meals.
But her skills don’t stop at food. Suzanne says: “So many of us have hundreds of things whizzing around our heads.
“Batching is arranging them into sets you can do together.
"Changing small things about mundane tasks can have a major effect.
“It’s simple, saves time and money and gives you headspace.”
Here, Suzanne reveals her top tips to “batch your life” by grouping tasks . . .
Plan weekly wardrobe
DECIDING what to wear each day seems easy enough.
But if you have just ten minutes before getting the kids ready, it can actually be rushed and stressful.
So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, why not treat yourself to 20 minutes of your own time and get ahead?
Head upstairs and have a think about what you have coming up for each day of that coming week.
Select an outfit for each of the days, even if it is just leggings and gym gear for some of them.
In a very short time, you will find that you no longer have to stress as you jump out of bed in the morning.
Can’t remember that nice outfit you wore last week but which made you feel great?
Simply snap a quick mirror photo of you dressed each morning.
Then, on a Sunday if you are struggling for ideas, you can simply scroll back on outfits you liked wearing the week before.
Doing this will help you feel ahead of the game and should make your mornings less frantic.
Bulk-buy gifts and cards
LAST-MINUTE gift-buying can be expensive, as well as stressful and time-consuming.
Make a list of all the birthdays you ought to know, then at the start of each month – or just after pay day – buy all the cards and presents in a single trip.
Buying cards and wrapping paper in bulk, like I have here, left, is so much cheaper than buying them individually from a corner shop.
Wrap, label and even write the cards so they are ready to be handed out when needed.
If you have kids constantly going to class parties, ask them to write a list of all the boys and girls, then allocate a cost for each child.
Your children can choose an item for the boys and another for the girls.
Buy these in bulk and keep them in a cupboard so you simply “grab and go” for each party, without having to constantly worry about the invites that come through the door.
Bills in car boot
ARGH! No one likes going through their bills . . . and this job often gets put to one side until it mounts up.
Why not spend 30 minutes putting them all together in a folder?
Make a front page with a list of all bills and paperwork, with their due dates.
Add a plastic wallet containing some stamps, paper and envelopes to the folder.
Then look at your usual week and see when you might have some spare time.
For example, I always have one hour on a Monday night while my kids play hockey.
I keep this folder in the boot of the car then “batch” all my household bills and paperwork into this free period before posting them on the way home from hockey.
As bills and paperwork come in through the letterbox, I add them to the folder and leave it until the following Monday.
Another top tip is to sit down once every three months and look at what bills you can add to standing orders so they are automatically paid in smaller amounts.
File emails at set time
WITH emails and phone messages flooding in all the time, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. So batch them.
Use your inbox only for anything that NEEDS to be done.
All other correspondence can be moved into folders, even if they are just to keep for reference.
Set up separate email folders for work, home life and school so they are easy to find.
Use the first 30 minutes of each working day to run through emails.
File as many as possible and answer the easy ones.
Click the “unsubscribe” box for emails from companies you do not wish to hear from so you receive less unwanted mail.
Designate fixed times when you clear your inbox – say, after lunch and 30 minutes before the end of the working day. Less stress all round.
I CAN hear the sceptical laughter already!
But busy weeks often mean we never get to spend quality time with our partners.
Booking in a time each week can work wonders for couples.
Choose one night a week when you both make an effort to eat and chat together.
Earmark the same night each week as “our night”.
Give the kids an early supper and send them to play in their bedrooms so you can be on your own.
Dedicating this time and making it part of your meal planning will instantly put some romance back into your life.
Keep the kids' kit in car
SWIMMING, PE, football, hockey . . . the list of kits needed throughout the week can seem endless.
Take 30 minutes and ask the whole family to look at what uniforms they need for the week ahead.
Consider picking up some cheap drawstring bags from a pound shop so each kit can have its own bag.
Then get everyone to put the bags they need in the car on a Sunday night, so only one evening is spent organising.
At the end of the week, you can take out all of the bags and wash everything together.
Afterwards, get everyone to refill their bags so the kits don’t disappear upstairs.
Not enough time to do some exercise yourself?
Use the time when you are waiting for kids to finish clubs to meet a friend at the club and go for a run and a chat.
Freeze food for free night
TRYING to give the family a balanced diet on a budget and without spending hours every night cooking and washing up is tricky.
But by “batching”, these problems disappear.
Write a plan for the week. Look at which nights you are busy or home late and which nights you have more time.
On the nights you are busy, plan easy meals such as pizza and pesto pasta. On quiet nights, make a spag bol or a curry and double the amount.
Freeze the extra portion so you can use it on a busy night the following week.
It will only take an additional five minutes on the night of cooking, yet gives you a whole night off the next week.
If you want to be super-organised, spend one hour on a Sunday cooking a few meals and making some healthy lunches for the week ahead.
Did you know you can freeze sandwiches?
Choose time for chores
IT is straightforward to batch chores such as laundry, vacuuming and cleaning.
Dedicate a particular time in the week to do each, so you don’t need to think about it for the rest of the week.
If you put on a clothes wash every day, get into a routine of when that will be.
For example, I do a wash after dinner and hang it up before bed.
That way it is easy to get a good rotation going and I don’t end up with piles of dirty washing.
Start allocating some of the work to the rest of the family. Youngsters can easily hoover, mop and clean the bathroom
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