Let me just start out by saying, that if you ask my mother how I am at time management, she’ll laugh hysterically (the phrase “habitually tardy” comes to mind). But as a first-time renter, it’s been a great background for the on-going struggle to manage my time well. Between taking care of the apartment, working full time, and attending a local university part time, there never seems to be enough time to get it all done. So if you’ve ever had to shop for groceries at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night, or are just looking for some pointers, read on.
Prioritize. Not according to what the internet tells you, but what works best for you. Yes, in an ideal world we’d all vacuum on a weekly basis, and there would be fresh hand towels for each visitor. But that’s not realistic. Decide what absolutely has to be done first, and then work from there. You might not finish everything, but at least you won’t have forgotten grocery shopping because you were too busy dusting the light fixtures.
Be flexible. Speaking of scheduling… You may REALLY like Saturdays to be laundry day. You might be so used to it, that the idea of folding shirts on any other day nauseates you. But sometimes, it’s just not going to happen. Allow yourself a back-up day in case plans go awry. I have two days a week that I reserve for schoolwork… some weeks I use both of them, some weeks I spend a day binge-watching The Gilmore Girls.
Cleaning. We also have an unspoken “cleaning day” in our apartment. For us, it’s Saturday afternoon. We try to clean a little throughout the week, as well, so as to avoid making the weekend too busy. This also gets the dirty work out of the way, leaving Sunday for relaxation.
Laundry. If possible, get an apartment with a washer/dryer. Yes, you may be looking at increased rent. In the long run, though, I’ve found the extra cash per month to be worth it. Think of how many hours you spend doing laundry. In our building, there are two washers and dryers. Meaning that, if you’re lucky enough to be the only one in need of clean socks, you can only do two loads simultaneously. In addition, unless you *really* trust your neighbors, you’ll be babysitting your clothes the entire time. By having a unit in your living space, you don’t have to run on someone else’s schedule, and you can work on something else… like that pesky vacuuming.
If you don’t have your own washer/dryer or convenient laundry facilities in your building, and you work late hours and go to school, your best bet for having laundry done may be to use your local laudromat’s bulk wash&fold service. It will cost more than doing your own laundry, maybe $1 or so a pound, but will give you time for more important things.
Plan ahead. Two days a week I go from work immediately to school, making meals other than drive-through difficult to pull off. I find that when I spend time putting together a lunch the night before, I remember to pack snacks for the commute, as well. Some professors will even allow students to bring their dinner to class, so bringing an additional sandwich and a granola bar is oftentimes beneficial.
Communicate with your significant other/roommate. Personally, I’d rather share chores with my boyfriend, because that works for us. Oftentimes I’ll cook dinner because he works later, and he’ll do the dishes afterwards, to balance it out. But when I have a paper due, or upcoming finals, we have this agreement that I get to focus on school. While I lucked out, chances are that unless you have the roommate from hell, they’ll be pretty understanding, too. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Just make sure to reciprocate the favor when they need it.
We live in a busy world, and most of us don’t stand still for very long. But with a little strategizing, we can at least navigate it a bit more smoothly.
Our contributing blogger, Lindsay Sowers, is a 31-year old who recently moved into her first apartment with her boyfriend, who is also a first-timer on the renting scene. She works full-time, attends, and commutes to, a local university part time, and is trying to fit all of it into a 24/7 schedule.