The Secret to Getting More Done Each Day

This entry is part 13 of 22 in the series Tackling Tasks

The following post is a guest post from Tina at Mamas Like Me and is the Tackling Tasks post for the day:

I wish that I could give you more hours in the day, more energy, and less stress so that you could have the freedom to do all the things you want to in a day.  The truth is, we all have the same 24 hours and the same need to prioritize how we spend those hours.

I get it!  I’m a stay-at-home mom with all the pressures of trying to cook the meals, tend the kids, and be a great homemaker (ie: have a house that I feel good about letting people enter at a moment’s notice or at least opening the door for the UPS guy!).  I also run an in-home daycare so I know the pressures of having things that NEED to get done and having a full work-day in addition to the “mom tasks”.

Over the years, many people have asked me how I “do it all”.  Well, first let me say that I don’t.  No one does!  But, I have some tricks for managing to do more than I ever thought possible by establishing routines and learning how to make the most of my time.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of participating in Leah’s 28 Days to Hope Challenge.  I loved the community and encouragement I found in the Facebook group and I found that even though I already used most of the routines, I really craved the camaraderie of other moms and homemakers.  I shared with the group, and Leah was kind enough to ask me to share here, that one part of my morning routine was the creation of a list – a list of 5-7 simple things that I wanted to accomplish that day.  That list has revolutionized my effectiveness as a wife, mother, blogger, daycare provider, and homemaker!

I am a list-maker by nature.  Even as a child, I would create elaborate to-do lists with everything I needed or wanted to accomplish.  As an adult, I continued this practice, but found that I was often overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I needed to do.  When I pared it down to the 5-7 individual things I needed to do that day, I found I could focus on those things and not worry about the other things that could wait for another day – like my son’s Kindergarten project or the review I was supposed to write.

In order for your list to work, it has to be 3 things:

1. Short

Do NOT write down everything that you think you need to do!  In fact, if this is completely new to you, I would not write down more than 3 things to start with.  I try to stick with 5-7 for each day, no more than will fit on a post-it note – I LOVE post-it notes!  You could actually add more stress to your day if you write too many things and then become discouraged when you can’t get to all of them.

2. Manageable

Don’t set your expectations too high!  If you just had a newborn, you are not going to be able to do as much as you did before that bundle of joy came along.  In fact, go ahead and put “take a nap” on your list of things to do!  In my experience, it’s best to limit yourself to 2-3 loads of laundry a day and to realize that you are not going to scrub all of the bathrooms, do the laundry, sweep and mop the floors, and wash the windows in one day – unless you somehow manage to get rid of the kids!  I often put easy things on the list that I know I can quickly mark off, but will put off if given the chance.  These are things like making doctor’s appointments, calling the insurance company, RSVPing for events, or paying bills.  In all likelihood they’ll only take me a few minutes to do, but I could easily put them off.

3. Measurable

Make sure that there is definitely a way to cross your task off the list.  Going back to my laundry example, if I just put “Do Laundry” I would never be able to cross that off because that task is never done.  However, if I put “Do 2 loads of laundry”, then I can cross it off for the day and know that I’ll have another task of laundry to do the next day.  Along with this, don’t put “clean playroom”.  What does that mean?  Try “put away the toys”, “vacuum the playroom”, “dust”, etc.  It’s much easier to see what you’ve actually done that way.

It is a blessing to be home with my children, one that I find I enjoy more when the tasks of motherhood aren’t weighing me down.  My home is a more joyful place to be when I’m not fretting about what I still need to do – and I can focus on the things that really matter!

Tina is a former 4th grade teacher turned SAHM and daycare provider.  She blogs at Mamas Like Me where she shares crafts, recipes, and the day-to-day joys of being “Mommy” to 4 boys!

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Emily

    Yay! Great post Tina! I too love our FB group! (Thanks Leah!) I love lists and love that we continue to encourage one another to get as much done as possible. I didn’t know that you were a teacher! I taught as well! (Kindred spirits!!)

  2. Kristy

    I only write down things that I will do, but I have a separate running list of “wants to” so that I don’t feel like I am forgetting something!

  3. Lynda Way

    I write things which I am going to do within an hour or two. But if anything I found or remember important at any time, I mention it as a star mark. Thanks Tina for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Sara Nicholas

    Thanks for sharing that. I will definitely give it a try. I am the type to write a full page to do list and then give up from exhaustion halfway through. So I’m glad you brought up the point to keep it short. The tough part is going to be deciding what to put on my list……so much to choose from!

  5. Leslie

    I’m definitely guilty of putting EVERYTHING on my to-do list, including generic terms like “do laundry”. Which reminds me…I heard the dryer buzz just a few minutes ago. Thanks for the great tips!

  6. Anna Hettick

    VIsiting from Sits!!

    I love tip #3! I am constantly adding regular household chores to my daily to-do list and it’s always either getting pushed to each following day or it’s getting crossed off without being done at all. That’s a very good idea for breaking it down like that!!

  7. Rachel G

    I think writing down measurable items is a great idea–that way you can really know whether they were done or not!

  8. Nicole Burkholder

    I’ve been meaning to call our insurance company for several days and I keep forgetting about it! That’s a perfect thing for this list! I’m a list maker, too, and they tend to get LONG and complicated. Love the idea of keeping things short and measurable! Great post! Visiting from SITS Sharefest!

  9. Kita

    Great idea. I have a notebook by my desk and every night I write down 4 things that must be done that day and if I finish early then I may add something else but I do not stress or worry my nerve about what didn’t get done. Stopping over from SITS

  10. Jennice

    This post is,truly a help. I have time during my day Mom-Fri while my daughter is in school but I never know what to tackle first or what I’ll have time for. You just made things alot easier for me! #SITSsharefest

  11. Adrian

    I struggle with keeping up with the to-do list idea. I know that I do better when I have one, but it seems like even at work, I do pretty much the same things every day, so it seems pointless to put it on a list. I’ve got this great list pad though – it has 3 separate wirebound sections – one for work, one for home, and one for play. Seems like the work section goes the fastest, then the home ones, and rarely the play ones. Guess that says it all!

  12. Candi

    I love lists and schedules and I try to do it but some days I just forget and then chaos happens and I start writing them again.

    From the SITS sharefest.

  13. Tranesa Larry

    This is great advice. I have just started making list and I tend to over do it and get discourage because I get overwhelmed. I will definitely give listing another try using your tips.

    From the SITS hop.

  14. Nolie

    Coming over from SITS sharefest. What a great post. I have started a meme called Homemaker Monday to help us all become better organized and taking care of our households. Would love if you linked up this post in this weeks link up.

  15. Tahnya Kristina

    I’m guilty of putting too many things on my to do list and getting overwhelmed. It’s a good idea to keep lists small and manageable. Post its sound like the perfect size for daily lists :).

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