10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day

10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day--great advice for how to work more efficiently and make better use of your time!I have a confession.

The list of things I want and need to do is always much longer than the list of things I actually accomplish.  I can’t do it all.  I wish I could.  I am constantly striving.  But at the end of the day, I’m usually just a girl who drops more balls than I catch.

And I’m okay with that.

Learning to balance running a home-based business with the reality of being a full-time mom is one of those thrive-or-die situations.  Either you learn to thrive or it all falls apart.

Thriving does not, of course, equal perfection.  My house is not always clean, my kids not always well-behaved, my laundry piles up, our bills are sometimes late, and occasionally we eat cold cereal for dinner.  The overachiever in me gets frustrated by these failures, but the eternal optimist keeps hoping that someday it will all come together.

Until it does, here are ten tips for squeezing the most quality time out of every day:

1.  Evaluate your priorities.

Take 10 minutes to list your priorities and to examine who or what is important to you. Keep this list in a place where you can look at it frequently, and make sure the big stuff comes first.   Think of your life as a jar you want to fill with rocks & sand. If you put the sand in first, the rocks won’t fit.  The amount of time you spend on things should be somewhat relative to how important it is in your life. Life is short and moments are precious.  Don’t waste time on the things that don’t matter.

time

2.  Set the timer.

Setting the timer can be one of the best ways to motivate yourself.  For instance, if you give yourself only 30 minutes to tidy your house, you will most likely get more cleaned in less time than if you weren’t racing against the clock.

Limiting your time on seemingly endless tasks like email and Facebook helps a lot too.  If you only have 15 minutes to sit at the computer, then you have no choice to prioritize.  Likewise, setting the timer helps accomplish tasks you might normally procrastinate, such paying the bills.  Telling yourself you only have to do it for 45 minutes is powerful motivation to get it done.

3.  Take time to regroup

Give yourself 10-15 minutes each morning to drink a cup of coffee and write down your to-do list.  Likewise, take a few minutes at the end of the day to figure out what my plan is for the next day, and perhaps complete a few quick tasks that will make your morning easier, such as picking up clutter, making lunches, or setting out clothes.  Knowing what is coming up, what you have to get done, and what you’d like to get done can help keep you focused.

4.  Set concrete goals and write them down

Clear and specific goals are essential to managing your time well.  Break them down into long-term and short-term goals, the break larger goals into manageable tasks.  All your goals should be specific enough to know when you’ve achieved them, and they should also have an end date.  Refer to your goal list often, or post it in a place you can look at it daily.  Not sure how to start?  Grab my free 11-page printable goal-setting workbook here.

I try to specific goals for myself in the following areas:  Home Improvement, Organization, Project Completion, and Family Fun.  For my weekly organization goal, I have found it really helpful to pick a week out of Organize Now!: A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life, which is set up to give me a completely organized life over the course of one year.  I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew.  This book helps break things down into manageable pieces, and has been a great resource to go back to again and again.

Organize Now!

5.  Use daily checklist.

There is something so satisfying about crossing completed items off your list.  A daily to-do list helps you stay focused in spite of the billion distractions–kids, phone calls, email, errands, runaway dogs, etc.—you encounter each day.  Try to keep your task list small enough to actually be doable.  I have personally found that a 3×3 Post-It note pad is the perfect size to keep my list manageable.  If the pad is full, that’s enough!

6.  Involve your kids.

For the longest time I was trying to accomplish things around my kids until one day it finally occurred to me to let them help.  Sure, things may take a little longer, but instead of ignoring them and saying “not right now, mommy’s busy” we are spending quality time together.

My youngest daughter loves helping unload the dishwasher, loading the washing machine, wiping the table, and picking up toys.  My oldest, on the other hand, is a big help with sorting the laundry, hanging clothes, and clipping coupons.  And they both love to help me cook.  The hour or so before mealtime used to be extremely stressful, with 2 crabby, hungry, & whiney kids who just wanted my attention.  Now they can’t wait to help me make dinner every night and instead of dreading that time of day, I cherish it.  At least some of the time.

7.  Divide and conquer.

If you have small children at home, you know how hard it can be to accomplish anything while they are awake.  I try to split my to-do list into things I can do with the kids or while they are awake and things I need to accomplish while they are napping.  The second Trouble goes down for her nap I stop whatever awake-time task I was working on and switch to the nap-time list.  Like setting the timer, knowing I am working against the clock, I can usually focus and get a lot done during that time.

8.  Wake up early.

Consider how different your life might be a year from now if you committed to waking up 30 minutes early each day and to spending that 30 minutes working towards your most important long-term goals.  How many of them would you be able to accomplish?  Countless studies have shown that almost everyone is more productive first thing in the morning. Use the peace and quiet of the early morning to complete your most important tasks and you will never regret missing that extra hour of sleep.

I am a morning person, so getting up at 5am doesn’t bother me.  And to be perfectly honest, I love the peace and quiet and alone time I get at that time of day.  I am so productive!  I figure there will be plenty of time for sleep when they’re teenagers, right?

Get more done

 9.  Turn off electronics.

This includes television, smart phones, computers, and tablets, or even video games.  We’ve become so accustomed to having an endless stream of technology at our fingertips that sometimes we forget that we don’t need to be connected all the time.

For most people, myself included, the temptation to “just quick check” something—especially after hearing that telltale ping–is often too great to resist, and before you know it, a whole hour (or more) of precious time has slipped away.  Combat this temptation by consciously scheduling technology-free times each day, then by physically logging off or shutting down the device.

10.  Give yourself a break

For me, this is the hardest part.  But I’m learning.  Luckily I have a great husband who not only helps out around the house, but helps remind me of my priorities and tells me its okay if I can’t do it all.

Because no one can do it all.  It is just not possible.  So try to relax, do what you can, take a break when you need it, and don’t get so caught up in your to-do list that you forget to take each moment as it comes.

Life is short.

Moments are precious.

Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.

Get More Done Each Day

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How do  you get more done each day?




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{ 52 comments… add one }

  • Tiffany February 16,

    I also separate my to do list into “awake” and “nap” sections! How funny!

    Right now I’m giving myself a break, and doing a little blog reading while the bunny is down. I took her to the aquarium earlier today and she wore us both out!

    Reply
  • Courtney @ Cooking Up A Family February 16,

    I love To-DO list, they really help out so much. This is such great information to really help! I put my tennis shoes on in the morning (a flylady tip) and it works wonders on motivation! I love the set your timer idea! We do that with snack time, lunch time so I dont constantly get asked when can I eat.

    Reply
  • Jessica @ These Are The Days February 17,

    Amen Sista!!! I’m totally the frustrated perfectionist who gets up at five a.m. every day, with fabulous intentions and my checklist in hand…only to feel like Debbie Downer when I don’t get it all done. I’m getting better about relaxing a bit and not expecting so much from myself. With age I’ve learned that no one is perfect, if you think they are, look under their beds or in their closets..you’ll most likely find everything shoved in there! :)

    Reply
  • Melainie February 18,

    Thanks for the tips. With a baby hanging on me it’s hard to get anything done. I’m gonna try these tips and hopefully be more productive.

    Reply
  • Galit Breen February 21,

    I can’t express how desperately I needed to read this- a perfect kick in the butt to get organized! Love It! Thank you! :)

    Reply
  • Annette June 3,

    Dear Ruth, I just have to tell you how much I love everything you have on both of your websites. I ran across some of your video’s on you tube last week. I had become very interested in trying to save alot of money with coupons like the extreme couponers do. I have just fell in love with all your saving money tips and then all your advice on organization. I think you are a genious. I know you said that there are things that you dont get done, but you are really doing a great job and you have motivated me to get organized, start a stockpile and use coupons to save as much as possible. I really feel inspired. Thank you for sharing your talents and giving the world all the wonderful advice.

    Reply
  • Georgia June 21,

    Wow, I found this site because I follow http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/, then wandered to this post. I have been studying time management for years and have read several books and this is some of the best advice I have ever read. My intense study of time management is motivated by my constant “dropping more balls than I catch” lifestyle. I think these tips will really help me with my struggle. THANKS!

    Reply
  • Lainie Anderson May 13,

    Great list, love the honesty, gonna buy that book! Weekly goals sound awesome I get lost in my monthly ones and even forget which ones I was focusing on! Thanks again, Lainie :)

    Reply
  • Nicki May 15,

    Your ideas are great!! What you said in the beginning sounds just like me!! Love the timer idea!!!

    Reply
  • Lydia May 16,

    Love this list- excellent ideas!

    I’ve found the wake up early and make a checklist to be instrumental in getting more done. Last fall I started getting up at 6 so that I have about an hour (if I’m lucky, more) before the children get up. It’s amazing what some quiet time can do for you and I feel so much more ready for my day because of the early start!

    And checklists are my sanity saver. That and my planner. I don’t think I could live without either anymore!

    I would add one more thing. Be organized. I know some of what you mentioned is related to being organized but I’m thinking keeping your house organized. I’m still working on this one but the more I “have a place for everything and put everything in it’s place” the more I get done because I’m not wasting time looking for things that I need.

    Reply
  • Jacquie@KCEdventures May 21,

    Wonderful tips! I’m also a big list-maker, paper planner person (drives my teenage son crazy but I’m so trying to get him to organize his schedule a little more). And I always tell myself that if an items makes it to my list, that alone is an accomplishment – everything will get done at some point but it doesn’t all have to be today :)

    Reply
  • trix June 10,

    Being a single working mum, after four years of trying to ‘have it all’, I’m sure that number 10 is the most important – your kids (and probably your husband) won’t notice if you get your chores done or not. I hope that what my little boy will remember when he grows up is that not that the house was clean and tidy, his clothes coordinating and ironed and I had a cordon bleu meal on the table every night, but that he had a mummy who spent lots of time with him, having fun. I’m still working on it!

    Reply
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    • June December 29,

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  • sunny June 25,

    hi! love this post. I hadn’t thought of thinking of what mattered to me (I need to figure out what I can live with around the house and what is important to me to have clean every day)….

    I love the photo but couldn’t find where the photo came from. (I like the list in the photo). Can you tell me the photo source?

    Reply
  • Dawnette Andrews July 10,

    so you named youre kids trouble and princess? really? wow different great tips ty

    Reply
  • Anonymous July 25,

    Until you have to work all day , or run your own business with staff and subcontractors, , manage budgets and demanding customers in a service based business.. AND have two children, a husband, a household, pets and extra curricular activities for the betterment of yourself, and your family, including volunteering in the community with your children… and having valuable relationships while doing all of this..don’t bother writing a blog about how to get your housework done. And your to do list of organizing cabinets and drawers at 5am. No thanks.

    Reply
    • Brandi August 2,

      I am sure that you didn’t mean that the way I read it, but your comment comes across a little harsh. I can see that you are a very busy parent, but I believe Ruth was only trying to be friendly and help. I’m not trying to be ugly here or start a comment war; I just think that we should all support one another and say things in love. I wouldn’t want my own feelings of inadequacy to color my opinion of Ruth’s posts. And believe me, there are many days I get frustrated and just don’t feel like I can get it all done, and to heck with the housework! But we are all trying to be better parents and better people. Please remember that none of us truly knows each other’s specific situations. I only know what I’m sure is a small piece of the beautiful, complex puzzle of your life (only what you posted), and likewise that’s all we really know about Ruth. I think what you meant to say was that even with these tips, some of us still just don’t have the time to implement these things and they just wouldn’t be practical specifically in our situations.

      Reply
      • Anne August 25,

        Well said, Brandi.

        Reply
        • Anonymous August 26,

          Very well said Brandi

          Reply
  • Keia Lee August 2,

    I am so excited to read this book! That is exactly what I have been looking for! I am actually a night owl but since I have a little girl now that does not sleep in I would love to become a morning person. I am seriously struggling with it though!
    Thank you for sharing all of these great tips! Oh and I found you via Sarah @ Mama’s Got It Together!
    Keia

    Reply
  • Alecia August 23,

    I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease in January of this year and that causes me to deal with fatigue and often side effects of medications. There are days I don’t get off the couch. Recently I’ve started a new plan to get things done. I create a “to do” list each day of only 6 things. These 6 things can include fixing dinner, packing lunch, doing laundry, grocery shopping. This allows me to not over exhaust myself due to my condition and it also allows me to feel productive in some way. There are times when one thing will not get done and it gets moved to the next day but I have found this to work really well. I write my six things down in a notebook in my kitchen and cross them off when I’m done. I like the act of “crossing them off” the list.

    Reply
    • Audrey Astin-Stanley July 2,

      Thanks, this is really helpful to me as I have also a similar diagnosis plus my husband is also disabled. I have been frustrated at myself when I couldn’t achieve all that I had planned.

      Reply
      • Terry October 6,

        I also have an auto-immune disease and I know what it is like to not be able to move off the sofa I have list of things to do that I never seem to get done. Good reminder,Alecia, to reduce the list to most important. Thanks.

        Reply
  • Lynet Witty September 2,

    Great, great list! I love everything on here, and by far my most favorite ones are the timer and avoiding tv. Found you through Pinterest!

    Reply
  • Jennifer Ford Berry September 3,

    One of my students sent me the link to your post. Thanks for the shout out to my book :)

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup September 5,

      You’re welcome! :-)

      Reply
  • Jacy September 6,

    “The type-A-perfectionist-overachiever in me gets frustrated by these failures, but the eternal optimist in me keeps hoping that someday it will all come together.”
    For a minute, I thought I was writing this post!! SO me, in every shape and form. Thank you for this list and sharing in my pain ;)
    Blessings,
    Jacy
    http://www.jacyleepulford.com

    Reply
    • joann woolley January 15,

      that same line got me too! it takes a lot of practice to let some things go – I suppose having kids speeded up the process for me!

      Reply
  • Karolina September 13,

    It’s the same with me, I always want to do so many things that finally I end up really frustrated. I’ll definitely try to follow your tips and reorganized my daily routine to be more satisfied with it ;) Hope it will work.

    Reply
  • treatment for facial paralysis September 24,

    Fastidious response in rsturn of this issue with genuine
    arguments and telling thhe whole thing regarding that.

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  • Mandy October 24,

    Ruth, I love your posts! I really relate to you. Sometimes I have to go back and read again certain sentences because it sounds exactly like something I would say! I especially like #1 in eternity’s vies, this one is extremely important and since we can’t do everything, it is important to take note often and remind ourselves of what things are the most important. Actually, I haven’t read past #1 and part of #2, I want to focus on one thing at a time, because sometimes I get so excited about something like this that I don’t actually do what it says! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Debra November 15,

    Thanks so much for your blog. It felt like I was reading my own. Words. It is nice to know there is someone out there just like me. I have five children ages 12 up to 19. I also thought it would get easier,wrong. Lol I also home school. Just wanted to say thanks.

    Reply
  • CONNIE December 27,

    Hello Ruth,
    I’m so glad to have discovered your blog. I ‘m sure my response to your post is not a priority, however, I must say I am finding myself agreeing to your words spoken here. Because? I do the exact same thing. I’m a type A, Make daily list, set priorities, try working on & within a time schedule. Involved my kids & still do, Use a planner, enjoy my early morning time to myself, and rarely watch tv. Only difference is that my kids are already teenagers, and yes I do get more sleep now. I am gonna give the pick only one thing in each category of the 4 mentioned; my hope is I’ll find it as rewarding as you did.
    I’ll let you know how it works for me.
    Connie

    Reply
  • joann woolley January 15,

    I just signed up for your free planning workbook – I just need some kind of system and I’m far more tactile so the online scheduling is just not cutting it. I found this via Peg sharing it on G+ and sure glad I took the time to read.

    Reply
  • Donna Slaboda January 18,

    No you will not get more sleep when they are teenagers…but if thinking that keeps you going now hold onto that thought. (Mom of 7…ages 35 to 15…22 years of waiting to hear the key in the lock late at night and being willing to hear confessions and dramatic tales that only seem to be able to be told sometime just before bedtime…you will love it.)

    Reply
  • Annie Kate January 20,

    No, when they are teens you will have different sleep issues. And if you’re going to shortchange yourself on sleep, you could lose years to illness, like I did from having overtired myself. Not exactly a productive way to live! Sleep is God’s good gift to us; enjoy it and you will be more productive in the long run!
    God bless you.

    Reply
  • Anonymous February 5,

    Some great ideas, although I like to make big daily lists by bulking them up with little jobs, or splitting one job into mor e.g. do laundry becomes wash laundry, dry laundry, put away. This way it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished even more when you are ticking then off. Also I give myself little goals to work towards e.g. I’ll do this then I can have a cup of coffee, and it makes those rubbish jobs seem faster when you have something to aim for. Thanks for your tips and hope mine help :)

    Reply
    • Becky Kay February 10,

      Hi Ruth,
      I stumbled upon your blog page – and can’t even remember from where, but I’ve been on here for a solid TWO days seeing and reading up on all the useful information. I’m a 36 yr old single mom, and a recently enrolled full time college student. Last fall, I was diagnosed with ADHD – let me tell you, after years of feeling I had my life under control, and in my own hands – - when I found out I have that, and learning how to deal with it everyday….well, it’s hard to admit, but I lost control of my life. I have to now RELY on a calendar, and a to-do list, complete with set-timers for each activity. This has been something that I’ve really had to get used to (and to be honest, I’m still not used to it), but I’m TOTALLY lost if I don’t have some sort of calendar/to-do list with me at ALL TIMES!!!! In addition to the ADHD – well, actually as a result of the medication (which works wonderfully, no more sheets of fog taking over my brain and thought process – yay!), and drinking coffee, I now not only have ADHD, but depression as well. It’s been a hard short 4 months trying to get used to the “new me”….

      I’m so thankful for your blog – I’ve already gotten many useful things from it…and the “lists” are just one of them…along with an introduction to google calendar (thank you!)….

      Thanks for all you do – not only for me, but for all these ladies on here that follow you = you’re making my (our lives) life much easier to handle…well, at times. ;)

      Reply
  • Lori February 15,

    What mom is not a full time mom?

    Reply
  • nichole February 25,

    I just love my timer! I use the pomodoro technique, where I focus on a fast for 25 minutes and the unwind for 5. Work like a charm!

    Reply
  • Grace Houle March 12,

    I loved this article. Informative and straight to the point. a’Life is short.Moments are precious. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.” Love the timer idea. It is so easy to spin my wheels on things. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    Reply
  • Anonymous May 6,

    I’ve never commented on a blog before, but this is something I’m really struggling with right now! Thanks for the helpful tips!

    Reply
  • Sherina June 10,

    Thank you!!! I already have numbers I am going to start using. I hope you don’t mind, but I really wanted to print this out for myself to visually see to do everyday, and ended up creating a 1pg pdf that all 10 fit on. It’s something I thought would benefit other entrepreneurs I know, friends, family, and followers as well so I created a post referencing your post and linking it to the pdf I made for anyone who would like to use it. You can find it at http://www.blisstherapy.org/getting-things-done
    Thank you again for the ideas!!!

    Reply
  • Kadra July 31,

    Yes! This is what I needed to hear! No mom can get it all done and often I need to hear that I can’t be perfect…and that others aren’t as well. I would add that sometimes I give myself permission to take a day completely off and not have any expectations of myself. It’s like a mini vacation…from the to do list.

    Reply
  • Gude @HodgePodgeCraft August 1,

    Great post – thank you!

    Reply
  • MowKat September 25,

    Love the website. When you read websites that are for edifying others , take it as that. If there are items that do not pertain to you or for your lifestyle at THIS moment, take what you can use and leave the rest. Negative comments are never useful with the intent to hurt the person trying to help others. The very information that you may determine to be so “terrible” may just be the information that changes the world for someone else. Spend your time being productive and correcting your own issues at hand. People that have low self-esteem have a tendency to tear others down to make themselves look/feel better. THAT DOESN’T WORK!!! Trust me we all see through it. (Food for thought)

    Reply
    • MowKat September 25,

      Just In Case….the “words of being critical” above was directed to those REPLIES to RUTH…NOT to RUTH. Again…LOVE the website and thank you for trying to help make the lives of others better.

      Reply
  • Jule M. Bawa October 4,

    Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next post thanks once again.

    Reply

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