Save Time Running Errands
Let’s face it, running errands is a fact of life. Someone had to run to the grocery store for food, the pharmacy for a prescription or the bank to deposit a check. But it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Here are some suggestions to help you save time and reduce stress while running errands.
Plan Your Errands
Take a few minutes before you run out the door to make sure your trip is most efficient.
- Do them during the week if you're a stay at home parent or are able to carve some time out of your day. It’ll be less busy than on the weekends.
- Go to stores that offer more than one service. You may want to consider using the pharmacy or bank at your grocery store if available. I use the pharmacy at my local Target because that’s where I do a lot of my shopping, though spending too much time in that store can be dangerous to my budget!
- Collect everything you'll need to run errands and put them in one location (purse, library books, grocery list, coupons, dry cleaning, etc.) You may even want to consider a small “errand basket” to put everything in.
Plan Your Route
Write down all the places you need to go in order unless you’re sure you can commit them to memory.
- Pick an efficient route instead of zig-zagging all over town. Think it through and write down your destinations in order. Some people recommend going to the furthest destination first and working your way back. For myself, it just depends on where I’m going. I tend to try to do things in a circle with the next closest location as the next stop. If you really want to get fancy, you can use Google to help map our your route!
- If there is a location you pass by regularly on your way somewhere, consider making a standard stop there on a regular basis. No need to go out of your way on another day.
Plan What To Bring
Before running errands, set everything together that you’re going to need on your trip out so that nothing gets forgotten.
- Bring snacks and drinks for everyone. Keep snack sized foods ready to go so all you have to do is grab something from your cabinets or fridge and go.
- Bring your essentials: purse, wallet, credit cards, checkbook, drivers license, etc.!
- Bring reading material to make use of any potential waiting time.
- Bring entertainment for the kids: books, small games, etc.
Running Errands With Kids
Well, honestly, I prefer to do my errands without the kids, mostly because it’s just faster. I can do an errand faster than it takes me to get them in and out of their car seats! But that’s not common since I’m at home with them and errands need to be done, so I take them with me. Here are a few things to make it a little more efficient.
- Run errands when the kids are rested and happy, usually mornings before lunch and nap.
- Make sure you have snacks and drinks on hand in case things go longer than expected.
- Bring their favorite snuggly friends and some toys or books to entertain them.
- Keep a small diaper bag in the car stocked with diapers, wipes and extra clothing so you don’t have to worry about packing one every time you leave the house.
- Let your kids be part of the errand trip. Let them search for items in the store, help you bag produce and help put things in the cart and onto the conveyor table at the check out.
Enjoy Running Errands
- Ah, yes, if I’m alone, I like to take my time and enjoy the quiet, or crank up some tunes which snap me out of mother mode for a bit. It’s pretty nice.
- Schedule in a treat for yourself and your kids on some of your trips out. Everyone will be a little happier knowing there is a little “prize” while they’re out getting things done.
Running Errands Online and By Mail
The internet, what a dream! I love that we have access to so much online. You can actually manage some of your errands on your computer. Here are just a few.
- Prescriptions – You can find websites in which you can get your recurrent prescriptions refilled online and have them sent to you. It’s also likely that your healthcare insurance provider has a prescription mail service for repeat prescriptions.
- Groceries – Depending on your area, you may be able to find a grocery delivery service. I know we have a couple around here. I have used one in the past a couple times and it’s definitely convenient if you want to go that route.
- Stamps – No need to run out to the post office. You can order items online to be delivered right to your mailbox. I often buy stamps this way… super convenient!
- Movies – Rent DVD’s online and receive them in your mailbox. We have used Netflix since they started and we love them! We literally mail a DVD back to them one day, they get it the next day and ship out a new one, and we receive that one the following day. Awesome service and no more worrying about driving to the local rental store to drop off movies. Plus they have great movie reviews to help you pick movies to rent.
- Banking – You can transfer money, check balances, and pay bills with your online banking account. If you have direct deposit from your employer, there should be little reason to have to go into a bank!
Other Tips for Running Errands
- Banks – For those checks you need to deposit at the bank you have a couple options. If your bank has an ATM, that’s great. But you’ll still want to grab some empty deposit envelopes to have on hand for future trips to the ATM. Have everything filled out and put in the envelope so that you don’t waste your time (and other peoples time) standing at the ATM filling out checks. Some banks also offer a deposit box just inside the door of the bank. You can grab some blank deposit slips and envelopes so that you can fill those out ahead of time. Then all you have to do is pop inside the door and drop your deposit into the drop box. If you need to speak to a teller, well, you’ll have to wait in line.
- Keep a collapsible cooler bag in your car for frozen groceries to help keep them from melting.
These tips for running errands should help things go a little easier. Be flexible too, as things can always change, and moods of kids (and parents) can change. So if it’s not absolutely critical to run an errand, it might be more enjoyable for everyone to postpone until a better time.
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