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Back-to-School Time Saving Hacks

By: Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

According to a recent report, U.S. adults working an average of 47 hours per week struggle to establish a work-life balance. When the kids are headed back to school, managing time can be especially challenging for busy parents. Thankfully, small changes in the daily routine can make great time-savers and help moms and dads stay ahead of schedule.

Morning Hacks
Though not everyone considers themselves a morning person, early risers tend to be more proactive and are better at anticipating problems and planning. Productive mornings set the tone for productive days.
  • Stay Away from Screens: For some, checking social media, phones and other screens first thing in the morning is a normal routine. However, ignoring these devices will save time and help avoid unnecessary stress at the start of the day. Excessive technology use has been linked to fatigue, mental health issues, and sleeping problems.
  • Plan Ahead: Each morning, prioritize tasks and determine what needs to get done when. List-making helps to organize thoughts, ease stress and show progress throughout the day. Teaching the kids how to get ready, creating a reward system or putting up a chore board to remind family members of their responsibilities can also save time and hassle.
  • Stop with the Snooze Button: Believe it or not, hitting the snooze button does more harm than good. Every time we hit reset, the sleep cycle starts again, leaving an individual feeling more tired than before. Americans today get 40 percent less sleep than the body needs to function at its optimal level, so it’s best to get up with the first alarm.

Afternoon Hacks
Whether you’re at work or home, staying focused and energized throughout the day can sometimes be difficult. Unproductive afternoons often lead to late-night stress and can disturb sleeping patterns.
  • Curb the Caffeine: Coffee, energy drinks and pop provide short-term energy often followed by an afternoon crash. Seeking alternatives like tea can provide sustained energy with no mental or physical crash during a busy day. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated with water all day long.
  • Take Breaks: Chronic stress at work and home takes a toll on the mind and body in a way that can deter from getting things done. Taking breaks throughout the day to go for a walk, meditate, get outside or eat a snack helps fuel the body and brain to get things done.
  • Get Moving: For some, fitting a workout into a busy day can seem impossible. High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, is a timely way to fit in a great workout. Better yet, research shows that interval training is more effective for weight loss and strength conditioning in 15-20 minutes. Everyone can benefit from a walk, whether that be for a half hour once a day or two 15 minute walks throughout the day.

Nighttime Hacks
Preparing for the day ahead is one of the most effective time savers
  • Batch Cook: Choose a day to meal plan for the week to save time, money and avoid excess food waste. After deciding the menu, create a grocery list and dedicate a few hours to preparing ingredients or batch cooking meals that make it easy for the family to feed themselves during busy times of the day/week. 
  • Prepare for Tomorrow: A rushed, chaotic start to the day sets a mood of stress and impulsivity, which can impact kids and parents. To make morning routines run smoother, pack bags, cars, lunches, etc. the night before. Prepare a healthy breakfast, such as an easy egg recipe, overnight oats or smoothie so that meal prep isn’t a hassle when everyone is trying to get out the door. 
  • Ditch the Devices: The artificial blue light emitted from electronic devices activates neurons within the brain that cause a person to feel awake. Putting away devices at least one hour before bed allows time to wind down. For many, it’s easy to get caught up in social media and spend unnecessary hours scrolling; however, getting proper rest recharges the mind and body for the day ahead.
A Healthier Michigan
Author: A Healthier Michigan

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