How to Schedule Your Errands ... Backwards | Giftie Etcetera: How to Schedule Your Errands ... Backwards

Monday, October 5, 2015

How to Schedule Your Errands ... Backwards

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Last week, I ran out of gas. As I rolled up to the gas pump, running on fumes and a prayer, I stared at the little EMPTY sign on my gas tank.

The computer in my car does this neat little thing where it tells you estimated miles of driving that you have left.

Mine said (smugly, I swear), "0 miles."

I was relieved as I finally and miraculously cruised on fumes up to the gas tank, especially since my baby nephew was snoozing in the back seat, blissfully unaware that we had almost gotten stranded on the side of a busy road.

Of course that particular gas tank was having problems with its credit card reader, because that was exactly how my week had gone.

It was my own fault. I had driven to the bank, then back across town to the YMCA, then back to the bank, then to the store (where I forgot to get the most important thing on my list). I ran out of time to get gas, so went to carpool and took my chances that I could make it to the gas station in time.

planner, errands, schedule, day-timer, inserts,

Apparently, I couldn't.

I considered whether I could push my car to the next gas tank, about two yards away. After all, I've been working out.


No. I couldn't push the car. So I said a "Hail Mary," held my breath, and turned the key.

My car rolled forward, two yards and one inch, and stopped.

My credit card worked this time! I avoided the "call of shame" to my husband. I didn't have to wake the sleeping baby. I was okay.

But I knew it was my own fault, for not planning ahead with errands. This week, I am fixing that issue!

Schedule Errands in Groups

One way to make a forward-thinking plan (and avoid my particular brand of humiliation) is to schedule errands in groups, either on a designated errand day or after work. If you are going to drive the car anyway, you might as well do several stops and save lots of other, unnecessary trips.

Bonus - it's better for the environment and your budget to drive less!

Enter Time Sensitive Appointments First

Start with a hourly schedule.

I use a Day-Timer Hot List, but I have really tiny handwriting. Any blank paper would do.

Add in anything that is time sensitive.

Examples: carpool, work hours, meetings, doctor appointments, meals that you are cooking and serving

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Schedule in Backwards in Geographic Order

The order in which you schedule errands matters.

Group trips with geographical locations in common together. Then, consider the locations of your timed appointments and schedule groupings of errands accordingly.

For example, some trips might be in the suburbs, while others are downtown. It's seems obvious that you would travel to the downtown areas when you were going to be downtown anyway. So if you are going to be downtown at 4 p.m., schedule downtown errands either right before or after your meeting.

TIP: As you schedule an errand, put a dot in the center of its task entry, to show that you scheduled the task.

(I also use arrows for things deferred, x for things deleted, @ for things delegated, and check for things done.)

Also, highlight so you know that the errand is taken care of when it is put on the schedule.

planner, errands, schedule, day-timer, inserts,

Prep in Advance with an Errands Tote

I like this one, which comes in several colors:

Go through your list and make sure you have all your papers needed and throw any errand items (like the shirt to drop at the dry cleaners or snacks and water for yourself) in the tote bag.

TIP: Don't forget to put "get gas" on the schedule. 


Some of you have asked about my gorgeous, cream-colored, and scratchy textured inserts. Orange Circle Paris inserts fit a Franklin Covey compact planner perfectly and are inexpensive, but:

a) you'll need a hole punch, since they are bound inserts and will need to be pulled apart - a very easy task - and hole punched, and

b) they span from now through December 2016, so you want to purchase them right away before they are outdated or run out.


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Unknown said...

I fret over the gas gauge if it is anywhere near 1/4 tank. Our truck doesn't actually hold that much gas, and the few times it has gotten to 1/4 of a tank, it always seems to go that last quarter faster than the other three! I've chanced the gas twice - once on a 6 hour round trip, with the hopes of making it to the station across the street from the house (which turned out just fine) and another when the gas gauge was on but only when going down hill (ha!). Just this morning, I should have gotten gas, but couldn't be bothered - and I will have another errand to do later in the week that takes me close to the gas station, so it can be done before the weekend!

SoCal Karma said...

Very interesting post.I grew up in a rural area in Virginia. Lots of country roads and whatnot. When you get to 1/4 tank of gas, fill up. Never go below. Things happen. This little rule has saved my bacon several times over the decades. When stationed in Minot, ND as the weather rolled to winter, my command stressed repeatedly the necessity of watching your gas. Stationed in rural Mississippi one thing you did not want to do was run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

I group my errands as well. Saves time and gas. I look at where I need to go then work my way around. Usually I start at the furthest point and work my way in. One thing to consider is traffic. You do not want to get caught on the freeway during rush hour in Southern California!

Carla said...

Agreed. Unfortunately, rush hour in SoCal is pretty much round-the-clock. If I'm in a a well traveled area, I'm good at 1/4 tank. If travelling cross country (especially through the desert) my inner gas-meter screams NOW at 1/2 tank. No matter where, dear old SO waits for the gas light to go on before he does anything about it. Ugh. Drives this planner-girl bonkers.

Anna said...

I like to keep at least 1/4 tank, too. I like to group errands, too, but sometimes, I have to space them out for my own sanity (whether it's that I reach my limit or smaller people with me might be reaching their limit.) On the plus side, this has encouraged me to be more purposeful. I'm less tempted to go out for a few things from the store, but more likely to wait until it can be combined with other things. I've also learned after unpacking groceries or shopping to put the recycled bags back in the car. Cuts down on one thing for getting ready the next time.

Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond said...

Oh it is so frustrating running out of gas but you are SOOO ORGANIZED! Thanks for sharing some useful tips with us at #AnythingGoes. See you next week!

Anonymous said...

Funny post! So glad you made it without the call to hubby. Yay! Quick question - would you still recommend the compact if you didn't have small handwriting. I've had the Franklin Compact size because it is so portable, but a larger classic size appeals to me for that reason. Yet, that seems crazy to tote around. Just wondering your thoughts. :) CC in VA

Giftie Etcetera said...

Some people just can't do a compact. I have a small handwriting, but I get that! If you do go classic, though, keep it light (maybe a month's worth of pages and some future pages), and have big enough bags!