Rushing Around: 3 Considerable Costs of Not Planning Your Route
Rushing around is typical for busy moms. We jump in the car and charge off to run errands – usually on a timeline that is too tight to complete it all. But, if you don’t take two minutes to think things through it could actually cost you more in the end.
I’m not talking about the chance that you may end up on a collision course with another frazzled driver (although that may happen too – so be safe out there!). What I’m suggesting is that in your hurry to get things done, you may be increasing the cost of your errands. If you don’t plan your route, your errands will cost you more time, cost you more money and cost the environment.
Cost You More Time
You know you have at least a dozen places you need to go and they are scattered about town so you pick one and head in that direction. After completing that errand, you hop back in the car and proceed to the next destination.
However, ask yourself: have you doubled back at all? Did you pass one of the destinations on your list in favour of going somewhere else first? If so, this could cost you a few extra minutes as you double back through traffic. I’ve done this countless times without even realizing it. Looking back, I wasted a lot of time sitting at the same red light during one of my outings.
Have you had to make a left turn out of a busy plaza when if you had approached from a different direction you could’ve made a right turn to your next destination instead? I hate making left turns out of plazas, especially in high traffic areas or during rush hour! All I can think about is how much time I’m wasting sitting there waiting to turn, or I get road rage that another car is driving too fast or too slow. I am tempted to hit the gas to make the turn when there is a small break in traffic increasing my likelihood of a collision. This frustration alone is what led me to start planning my route more carefully. But, then I got thinking about how much money my unorganized errands were costing me.
Cost You More Money
Aside from the increased likelihood of a collision I just mentioned, not planning your route can also cost you more money. Doubling back and zigzagging all over town will definitely use more gas! With gas over $1 per litre (yes I am Canadian!) who has the money to waste a half a tank running errands all over town?! This includes driving around looking for the cheapest gas prices. Am I the only one who sees the irony here – you drive around looking to save a couple cents per litre, but have probably used up enough gas searching to offset any savings you may have found.
Not having a plan also increases the likelihood that you will make a random stop for an impulse purchase. Driving by Home Sense – oh I could use a new vase to match my spring throw pillows – don’t! This will derail you from your errands. You will get stuck wandering up and down the aisles and buying more than that item that wasn’t even on your list of errands to begin with. This random stop has now cost you more money (& more precious time that may lead to you not getting another errand complete).
I’m not much of a collector. I don’t own twenty pairs of shoes, several jackets, a dozen purses, throw pillows for every season and recently I am leaning towards a more minimalist lifestyle, but my weakness is the dollar store (organization items, little craft items for the kids and stationary). I always think of something I need to pop in for and 30 minutes and $40 later I emerge behind on my errands and poorer. Most of the stuff I don’t actually need, they’re just impulse purchases which end up stuck in a drawer or closet somewhere or cluttering a table or shelf! Now I plan when I go to a dollar store, not just pop in every time I am running errands. I arrive with a list and just grab what is on that list. Occasionally I still do wander the aisles and inevitably I purchase something not on my list, but I am really working on this and getting better every trip!
Cost the Environment
Not planning your route and using more gas will cost the environment as your emissions are higher. Even an eco-friendly car still leaves a carbon footprint every time it is driven. Consider planning your route and reducing your carbon footprint.
What about all that stuff you just bought that you don’t really need? Where is it going to end up? Likely in a landfill somewhere when you eventually purge it realizing you never used it and it is now expired or no longer functional.
This is not something I had thought much about before having kids. I grew up being environmentally conscious and sorting and recycling everything that could go into the multiple bins, turning off water and lights not in use, using reusable bags, containers and water bottles. But, I had not thought of how my errands and spending habits contributed to the environmental problems.
Now with two little girls to consider, I often think about what the world will be like for them as they grow up. We all want our children to grow up in a healthy, pollution free environment – not one with water too polluted to swim in, or increased smog advisories that regularly keep them indoors. As landfills expand their sites and urban sprawl continues our children may end up living in sub-divisions next to our waste. I know this is the case for Niagara-on-the-Lake residents who purchased in the sub-division near Walker Industries and Niagara College students who live in residence. I’m sure there are many other examples in our cities and I am now reflecting more carefully on how my every day actions, such as running a quick errand, might also impact the environment my children will grow up in.
It’s funny how becoming a mom has made me look at so many things in a different light.
How to Plan Your Route
So how do you plan your route?
Start off by quickly picturing all the places you need to go and their location in the city. Then section your errand list into quadrants. Is it possible to get to all these places in the amount of time you have? If not, pick one quadrant with the most important errand on it and start there. Complete all the errands in that area first before moving on to the next quadrant.
When considering all the places you need to go, quickly review all the possible exits in your head. Is there a route you can take that uses more right turns than left? Is there a route that has less traffic? No construction? Even if it is more kilometers (or miles), it may actually be faster if there are less cars.
Stick to your route (unless there is some detour you cannot avoid – no crashing through construction or police barriers!) and do not deviate to pick up that one other impulse item.
No added food stops – billboards and marketing pray on busy moms who are running errands and haven’t eaten yet. If you know you are heading out at a meal time try to grab a snack to toss in your purse (trail mix, apples, and protein bars are great for this). Taking an extra 3 or 4 minutes to pour yourself a bottle of water (into your reusable water bottle of course) and grab a quick piece of fruit or other snack will save you the time of stopping somewhere else. Even the fastest drive thru’s take more than 4 minutes.
No grab and go food? Plan where you can grab something at one of the stops you are already making. Heading to Walmart? Grab a bottle of water or apple before you leave the store to avoid stopping somewhere else.
My mom used to plan her errand route when I was a child. As a single mom money and time were tight. With no family in town, she had to bring us with her to run errands and knew she had limited time before we got whiny. I never thought about this until I became a busy working mom myself – always pressed for time and frequently running low on cash (daycare is expensive!). It’s such a simple way to alter my lifestyle to gain more time and money – both hot commodities for a working parent!
Give it a try, plan your route this week even if it’s just a couple of errands and let me know what your result was!