l The most basic step is to avoid the trip altogether.
Buy your stamps by mail instead of driving to the post office on your lunch break. Be cautious about buying nonessentials. Do you really need that dry-clean only dress, or will it just bring more trips and expense?
Or pay someone else to do the job. Maybe there's a reliable teen-ager in your neighborhood who can do errands for you, says Janice Kemmer, who runs her own consulting company, American Business Organizers, from her home in Chino, Calif.
l Shop smarter to avoid emergency trips for single items.
Example: Buy an extra bottle of shampoo. When you've used the first one, put shampoo on your list for your next trip. You'll always have a back-up. No extra trips, no waiting in line.
For meals, write down everything you use regularly. Stock up on long-lasting staples, like pasta and frozen vegetables. You should be able to limit your grocery shopping to once a week, Kemmer says.
Take advantage of the "golden hour," the first hour when business opens, says Peter Turla, author of "Time Management Made Easy" (Plume, $15.95).
An oil change at 8 a.m. may take half an hour. But in the afternoon, your wait could stretch to two hours.
Try to get the first appointment at the doctor and the dentist so you don't suffer the cumulative effects of delays. The first appointment after lunch can also work.
You don't always have to be an early-bird. Marketing consultant Robbie Motter of Sun City, Ariz., finds herself driving home at odd hours. So she'll hit the grocery store at midnight.
"They're restocking, and they have everything fresh." And there are no lines.
l Make the most of every trip.
Have a "to go" box or shelf near the door for items like library books that have to leave the house, Kemmer says. That way you won't forget anything.
Cluster your errands and do them in a logical order, says organization consultant Marla Benson, who runs her "DeClutter U" business from her home near the San Bernardino Mountains in California.
Example: You're driving into town for a 4 p.m. appointment with your tax accountant. Stop at Wal-Mart before the tax appointment to avoid the rush of people shopping after work.
l Call ahead and speak up
Call the doctor's office before you leave for your appointment and ask if the doctor is running behind schedule, says Stephanie Culp, author of "You Can Find More Time For Yourself Every Day" (Better Way Books, $12.99).
You might want to reschedule if they're way behind.
Let them know, in a nice way, if you're made to wait too long at any business, Culp says. Go elsewhere if it keeps happening.
Appointments at the DMV or reservations for dinner are easy ways to avoid a wait.
l If you must wait, make the most of your time.
Bring a file folder full of things from work you just need to read: memos, letters. Bensons suggests buying a file jacket (one of those folders closed on three sides) so things don't fall out.