7 Ways to Manage Errands Better

7 Ways to Manage Errands Better

When it comes to running errands, a little advanced planning can save you a lot of time.


You’ve likely witnessed this scene more times than you could count: Mom’s trying to grocery shop with a crying toddler (or two) in tow. Pushing a cart that’s half full of fruit and diapers, while two blonde boys struggle to climb in attempt to claim the single front seat. Maybe you’ve even tried this feat—only to realize how much more you’d accomplish if you could escape sans kids to knock out that list of errands.

So how can we make running errands just a little less painful? Here are a few helpful ways to inform your next outing of to-dos.

Batch ‘em up
Before you make your great escape, make sure you’ve thought carefully about the list of what you want to accomplish. Think through the order of priorities—does it make sense to hit the grocery last because you’re eggs and milk could spoil in the hot weather? Or, think about ordering your stops based on location and traffic. If possible, target one store where you can do the majority of your shopping. Remember: Time is money.

Shopping at Your Fingertips
You’ve got way too much on your plate to spend half your day running around in search of a tennis racket for your aspiring ace. Avoid multiple stops by hitting up the web to find the best prices. You may even be able to purchase the item online, but if shipping is an added cost or the item will take too long to arrive, it might pay to shop locally. And use the phone, too — call before you shop to make sure the leotard your budding ballerina needs is in stock in her size.

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Learn the Layout
If you’re combing the aisles for that bottle of conditioner, you’re only taking more time off the clock. Learn the layout of your local pharmacy and supermarket to make getting in and out a cinch. The same holds true for the mall parking lot. Learn which entrance is the quickest way in and out.

Occupy Your Kids
If you do have the kiddos along for the ride, don’t be shy about pulling out the “entertainment.” Snacks, small toys and games, books and any other favorites will help extend their stamina. Another trick: Bust out a new pack of stickers or toy for when they get a little cranky.

Calculate Drive Time
Be strategic when considering the time of departure and return. Avoid obvious hours of the day when commuters are on the road, and steer clear of school bus and garbage truck routes. Allow yourself one weekday per week to get your chores done, and an additional afternoon or morning only when something unexpected comes up. Overall, try to limit the amount of time allotted for running errands to a maximum of two to three hours at a time.

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The only part I don't agree on completely is the "try to make all your purchases in one place" tidbit. I like to coupon shop, which sometimes means going to one store to get pop, then another for shampoo/cream rinse, and yet another for milk. But that's just how couponers do it, I guess.

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