Do you feel like you spend the majority of your free time running errands? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, most Americans spend about an hour a day buying the stuff we need to keep our household running. Here are 6 hacks that’ll help make running errands easier. Or at least make them more enjoyable while you’re doing them.

1. Plot your errands before you go

Nothing is more maddening than having to double back to hit the dry cleaners because you forgot about that shirt that’s waiting to be picked up. Before you head out on a day of errands, spend a few minutes going over everything you need to do in each part of town so you can create a route that saves both time and gas.

If your errands include gathering perishables, pack a cooler in your car. That way, you can grab things when it’s convenient for you and not have to worry about spoilage.

If you frequently forget items once you’re out, find a shopping list app that you like. Many can even organize your coupons to help you save some cash.

2. Keep returns visible

You know the feeling: you’re at an appointment across town, which happens to be right next to that shoe store where you need to return the sandals that didn’t go with your new dress. Hooray! You can swing by and return them on the spot … if only they were actually with you. Ugh. One way to avoid this: keep your returns, library books, and dry cleaning by the front door of your home. That way, they’ll be both a good reminder and easily accessible as you head out. (Just note the expiration date of any receipts.)

3. Call first

Was your laptop supposed to be repaired by Friday at noon? Before you head out at 11:40, make a quick call to confirm it’s ready. And that no one’s heading out for lunch. It’s also smart to verify the item you’re looking for is in stock. For example, if you need a specific watch battery, call to see if it’s there before wasting time and gas heading over.

4. Make appointments

Why wait in line if you don’t have to? Call the vacuum repair store and find out if they’ll see you at a certain time. It doesn’t hurt to ask and find out.

And if you can’t make an appointment, at least find the best times to avoid a certain spot. For example, the DMV is often best on midweek mornings in the middle of the month. And nabbing the first appointment with your doctor or dentist often yields the shortest wait since their schedule hasn’t yet been thrown off by other tardy patients.

5. Make your waiting time more palatable

Waiting in line’s inevitable, so at least make it enjoyable. Bring along a book or magazine or download reading material to your phone. Or spark up a conversation with the person in front of you.

Same goes for getting stuck in traffic: An interesting podcast or a great playlist can make the commute pass in no time.

6. Outsource them

Sometimes it’s well worth paying someone else to do the errands. Look into food delivery apps or your grocery store’s own proprietary service to deliver your faves for a nominal fee. Or post your request on a task service app where someone can take it over for you.

Another option is hiring a responsible neighbor teen. You can ask around the neighborhood or post your request on your town’s social networking page. Or trade duties with a neighbor or friend, especially if there are just a few things you need at the organic grocer, for example. She hits it one week, you get her items the next.

Errands may be a necessary evil, but car trouble doesn’t have to be. Make sure that you’ve got the car insurance you need. And then check off that errand. It’s one that’ll make your other errands go smoothly.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.