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My Top 3 Tips for Getting Stuff Done

 Conquer your to-do list with these 3 simple tips! These are amazingly practical ideas for how to be more productive. A must read!

Feeling like you’re always behind, stuck going around and around in circles, and never really getting anywhere or finishing anything? Here are three of my top tips for getting stuff done:

1. Keep Your To-Do List Short

You need a plan for your day, otherwise, you’ll most likely just end up running in circles. However, if you try to bite off more than you can chew in a day’s time, you’ll end up overwhelmed from the get-go.

Set yourself up for success by creating a short to do list for each day. I suggest no more than 5-7 items on your list.

It’s better to only plan to do four things and to actually accomplish three of them, then to make a list of 47 to-do items, and a only get a few bits and pieces of some of them done.

2. Make Your Daily Goals Measurable

When you make your to-do list, be realistic. Don’t write down “Clear out clutter in the whole house” or “Clean house” or “Find a new job.”

Break things down into bite-sized, manageable pieces and be specific. For instance, instead of writing down “Clear out the clutter in the whole house.” Set a goal to spend 30 minutes clearing out the clutter in one room. Instead of attempting to clean the whole house, make a goal to vacuum two rooms, do a load of laundry, and clean the toilets.

Not only are specific, measurable goals much more concrete, they are also much more manageable. The thought of cleaning the whole house is overwhelming, but knowing you just have to vacuum two rooms, finish a load of laundry, and clean two toilets is much more achievable. Plus, when you set measurable goals, you know when they are accomplished.

3. Use Your Minutes Wisely

If you want to have more productivity and efficiency in your life, you need to become the master of your minutes. If you find yourself with a short two-minute window of time, don’t just twiddle your thumbs. Do something. I’m always surprised at how much can be accomplished in a few minutes’ of time.

Things You Can Accomplish When You Have 2-3 Minutes’ of Free Time:

::Write a short thank you note or email.

::Clean the sink or toilet in the bathroom.

::Switch a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer.

::Pull out dinner from the freezer.

::Make a healthful snack to munch on instead of grazing on high-calorie, low-nutrition snacks.

::Take your vitamins and drink a glass of water.

::Do 25 sit-ups.

::Do a quick clean up of a room.

::Read a short story to a child.

::Text your husband to tell him you love him and appreciate him.

::Read 2 pages of the book you’re currently reading.

::Make a quick phone call.

I’m sure you all could come up with a thousand other ideas for how to wisely use the little cracks up time that pop up throughout the day. Don’t let those little time slots slip by unproductively–it’s amazing how much they can add up in your favor!


Want some practical help with setting up your day for success? Be sure to grab a copy of my brand-new online course, Make Over Your Mornings.

This 14-day online course includes videos, a workbook, and step-by-step projects and is designed to help you revolutionize your productivity, streamline your routines, invest your time in things that truly matter, and find more joy and peace in the process.

If you’ve ever wished that you could figure out how to get more done, have more organization in your life, and find time to spend on things you love, the Make Over Your Mornings Course is for you. Find out more about it here.

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  • Jen says:

    Don’t forget to schedule in a few minutes of downtime. By setting aside just 10 minutes in the afternoon before I pick the kids up, I’m able to recharge by sitting quietly, breathing deeply, and just being still. Sometimes I meditate, sometimes I just sit. It makes a huge difference as I tackle the next 7 hours of my day!

    • Crystal says:

      I’m pretty sure that I don’t know how to just sit… maybe I should try that sometime?! 🙂

      However, I’ve found that planning in downtime/margin time during the day is hugely beneficial. And yes, being type A, I have to plan for it! 🙂

      Being intentional, focused, and productive most of the day allows me to be able to enjoy downtime more, as I’m not worrying about all the things I *should* be doing and can just enjoy extra snuggling time with my children, or playing a game, or watching them play, reading a good book, or hanging out with my husband, etc.

  • Valerie says:

    I often find myself wasting time on the computer. I sit down with good intentions of just looking up a recipe and before you know it an hour has passed. So now I don’t sit in my desk chair. I stand and the computer, quickly check what I needed to find and after standing there for five minutes, I move onto my tasks that need attention.

    • Marianne says:

      That’s a good idea! I have the exact same problem!! I am going to try that right away tomorrow when I just need to do something quickly. I’m just going to push the computer chair right in under the desk so I won’t even be tempted to sit down for a minute!

    • I was going to say the same thing: Don’t sit down!

      I also sometimes time myself with the computer, or give myself time periods where I am not allowed to look at the computer. Today I even posted my computer time schedule on Facebook in order to have accountability!

    • Jen says:

      I keep a pad of paper out and jot down things I need to look up on the computer. That way I know what I got on for and can stay on track a little easier. 🙂 Setting a 10 min timer also helps. Most everything can be found online within 10 minutes….except Pinterest browsing. 🙂

      • Courtney says:

        I always stand at the computer. That doesn’t help me. What did help was installing “LeechBlock” on Firefox. It’s nice because you can set up a different filter depending on the time of day, or depending on how long you’ve been on. You can also just time block certain sites, or everything. Now, if I’ve been on for an hour during my productive morning time, I get that nice little reminder saying “This site will be blocked in 1 minute”. Plus, if it’s legitimate that I’m spending that much time, I can cancel it. But since that defeats the purpose, it takes a lot more than just one button push to cancel.

  • Stef Layton says:

    consolidate – make that phone call AND fold laundry! Also I keep a broom & cleaning supplies in both bathrooms so I’m not going back and forth. And we’re teaching our kids never to walk thru the house with empty hands (that’s an old waitress habit of mine).

    * really agree with your short list, I get to making a long list and feel bad I have to always move stuff to the next day.

    • Crystal says:

      Love the consolidate tip!

    • Christy says:

      I never go downstairs or upstairs without something in my hand that belongs in the other half of the house. And when I get to the other floor, it goes in its spot, not just anywhere. My 4 year old really messes up the backseat of the car. Everytime we get home from somewhere, which is 2-3 times a day, he has to bring 2 things inside from the car that don’t belong and put them in their correct places, even if that means the trash can (wrappers). It really helps. Sometimes it helps so much that there is nothing left for him to bring in. Then we have to remember to keep looking each time before it builds up again!

      • Michelle says:

        I love this. I think I’m going to even have to try it just by myself! I have a long commute to work and sometimes it looks like I live in my car. I easily get overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning out the car, but take two things out is doable! Thanks for the tip.

  • Victoria says:

    My biggest tip, is using the down minutes in dinner prep to pick up the house for the day. I grab a empty grocery sack in one hand, and throw out paper trash, as I go from room to room. Of course, you have to be mindful about the diner that is on the stove, cause otherwise this could lead to a burnt dinner. However, I have learned to prevent that by setting the timer function on my i-touch to go off every few minutes as a reminder to check on dinner. By the time dinner is served 50 to 80 percent of the downstairs floor is picked up for the day.

  • Laura says:

    Two things that have helped me : always make the bed (the room just feels cleaner and more under control) and never go up the stairs empty handed. There’s always something that needs to go up (or down, for that matter!)

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve gotten really bad about consistently making our bed recently. I need to get back into that habit. Thank you for the motivation!

    • Yes – I agree on making the bed! I always make our bed – that is a priority. My husband used to think it was silly, but it really just makes a big difference in setting the tone of the day.

      However…part of the reason I make the bed is because I need my blankets back!! 🙂

  • Amy Lauren says:

    I’ve started doing a few things around the house while my coffee brews, it’s just the perfect amount of time to put away the dishes from last night, gather up trash to take out, etc. Really helps with my morning routine!

  • Sometimes I create my list based on time periods. For example:
    Tidy, Sweep, Dinner in crock pot, start laundry
    Update blog, read Bible, 15 minutes paperwork, finish dinner, babysit grandkids
    Tidy, plan tomorrow, quilt 2 squares

  • Laura says:

    Help! I have a 2year old and a 7 month old and i feel like my day is spent on cleaning up after the 2 year old and breast feeding my 7mo old. I feel horrible that I don’t get to spend the quality time I want to with each because I feel I am always cleaning. I was laid off 3 months ago and I dont feel like I have the swing of being a stay at home mom. My days are flying by … and all I do is clean! Reader suggestions???? Thanks!

    • Crystal says:

      I wrote a post that might be an encouragement to you called “How Can I Be Organized When I Have a Nursing Baby and a Toddler”:

    • Christy says:

      You’re breastfeeding–that ties you down a lot. I am a working mom, but I do know that even on days I am home, I never seem to get it all cleaned up. When I breastfed, I tried to do things on the computer like paying bills, checking e-mail. That freed up the times I wasn’t attached to do other things. Of course, I made sure to have a few relaxing feeding each day where I wasn’t multi-tasking. I have decided to do what I can when I can (even in 2 minute spurts like Crystal says) and accept what it is. Fly lady has helped a lot–it is never going to be perfect! Hang in there!

    • Anne says:

      You need to listen to Betty Jean Robinson’s song, “Babies Don’t Keep”. My pastor sang it at all three of my baby dedications and the line that always rang in my head was, “Housework be silent, chores wait in line….”

      • lily says:

        This is a poem my mom (and her friends) knew and shared with us – although we only knew the third verse (when I searched I found the whole thing!).

        Song for a Fifth Child
        by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

        Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
        Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
        Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
        Sew on a button and make up a bed.
        Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
        She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

        Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
        (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
        Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
        (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
        The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
        And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
        But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
        Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
        (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

        The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
        For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
        So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
        I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

    • Heather says:

      Cut back on cleaning – which means you have to lower your standards. Your house will probably be less clean now that you are not working outside, ironically, because the three of you are home all day to mess it up!

      With toddlers just aim to maybe tidy up once at the end of the day, instead of constantly picking up toys all day long. If you do it after he is in bed, it will last longer too! And breastfeeding is quality time – that’s all my babies ever wanted to do with me for the first year! After they were weaned, then they got interested in other things. However, I found nursing time was also a good time to read books to the toddler – so then you are accomplishing several important things at once – all while sitting down.

      Also, quality time is somewhat overrated – there’s been a lot of studies on this in recent years. Kids like quantity, so don’t feel bad. It won’t kill them to see their mother clean!

      • Wendy says:

        I was going to say the exact same thing. As long as you are there in the house with them, they feel like you are spending time with them. They’re too young to know the difference.

    • Amy Reynolds says:

      Cherish this time! One day, the two year old won’t need you to clean up after him, and the baby won’t need you to feed him. The days do fly! They are only little once. A little clutter, a little dust…who cares! Don’t compare yourself to those of us with older kids who are capable of not only doing some things for themselves, but even helping with our chores. (My twelve year old is responsible for unloading the dishwasher in the morning. My four year old cares for the dog. That gives me two extra sets of hands!)

    • Karla says:

      The time you breast feed your child is so short. Just enjoy it! I miss those days so much.

      • Courtney says:

        You can also have the two year old help. It’s not perfect, but it helps. My toddler “helped” move the laundry from where I fold to his bed in his room yesterday (first time!). Granted I had to refold a little, but I don’t worry about perfect folds. The only person in his drawers are me, dad, and him, so it doesn’t matter. And while I was putting away the first part, he brought in the next part. Sure it only saved me about 2 minutes, but that was two minutes that we spent playing trains.
        And seriously, if anyone comments on the state of your house, tell them you’d be happy to have their help, can they run the vacuum for you?

    • Amie says:

      Don’t worry about the house. Put your kids first, it’s okay. 🙂 I had a two year-old, a breastfeeding baby, a full-time job and commuted 2 hours to and from work. I felt like I was always nursing, pumping, cleaning, shopping and/or organizing coupons, and working. I let my husband help with dinner, encouraged my two year-old to help out – which made him feel important, and just cherished my time with my baby. We went to more out-of -the-package side dishes, frozen veggies, and a piece of meat – style dinners. It helped us get through that time. I also used a few hours on the weekend to do some freezer cooking and did cook once & eat twice meals. I let the housework slide a lot and didn’t invite anyone who was judgmental over (AKA my in-laws. lol.). I also nursed/pumped while reading the boys stories or checking my email. On days when I was off, I’d get extra rest by side nursing while my two year-old napped. These are special years – enjoy them!

    • Susan says:

      If you really need a clean space to think straight, it can help to have one area that you keep clean so that you feel more okay with other areas not being clean. Also, if you’re feeling you need to do everything yourself, remember you have been working all day until your husband gets home. After my husband got home and on the weekends, we always split the childcare/cleaning.

      It can also help to set goals and not try to surpass them–like vacuum once a week or sweep twice a week. Sure it may get dirty more frequently, but don’t try to keep it pristine all the time.

      Another important rule is: if it’s not dirty, don’t clean it. If it’s not dusty yet, if the bathrooms don’t need cleaning yet, don’t clean them.

      Big laundry baskets to throw toys/clutter into so they can be distributed to other rooms or put away later can be a huge help. It clears the clutter if you need it without taking a lot of time.

      Mostly you do want to put every minute you can toward holding them–they grow too fast!

    • Wendy says:

      Just enjoy those babies. They grow so fast. One thing I did when my kids were small was confining them to one or 2 rooms. Don’t let them have the run of your house. You’ll never get the mess under control. I used to do something I called the 5:00 clean up, where I put them in front of the TV for 30 min. and picked up the 2 rooms they had the run of during the day. Break down the other rooms into small managable jobs you can do while the nap—(wipe down bathrooms on Mon.; mop on Tues; etc…..) Sure my house wasn’t all clean at once, but looking back 12 years later, it really didn’t matter and my kids have no idea how much time I spent interacting with them on any given day. All they remember is that I was home with them.

    • Leighann says:

      I’m with the other posters who said cut down on cleaning.

      That mess isn’t going anywhere. Set aside time on weekends and have your partner help you clean up. Lower your clean standards. Don’t beat yourself up.

      You are never, ever going to look back, when those children are graduating high school or college, and think “Man, I wish I had spent more time sweeping my floor and less time holding them.” Trust me on this.

    • Michelle says:

      Laura, my first and second were 21 mths apart and I call those the “crazy years”. They passed in a blur of exhaustion, besides the adjustment of being a mom to two little ones. Now that I look back, it was just a short season in my life (I know it doesn’t feel short when you’re in the thick of it). The season will change before you know it. Be gentle on yourself. The precious early years with your babies go by so very quickly.

  • Allison jones says:

    Top tips for time managment
    Get load of dishes washing before bed
    Do a quick ten min pickup before bed
    Take a moment for Money Saving Mom to get thatend of day boost of encourgment full of helpful ideas and support!
    I have found so much helpful info here. Thanks for such a great variety of information and encourgment

  • This is all so true. I also like to start with the most important thing (for me it’s packing my gym bag and lunch for the next day since that absolutely must be done before I go to bed). Also, I work full time with a long commute plus I workout at the work gym, so I’m gone about 13 hrs/day. Therefore, I only put 1-2 items on my to do list each day. (And if I cook a dinner rather than heating up leftovers that counts as one of the items.) If I try to accomplish anything else, I only set myself up for frustration because I can’t get it done, or I stay up way too late trying to get it all done and set myself up for failure the next day because I’m exhausted.

  • Rae says:

    We have a two-story house. I NEVER go up or down the stairs without something in my hands…..don’t waste trips. My favorite thing to do is set a timer for 10-15 minutes and see how much I can get done in that time. I call that my clutter buster time.

  • Linda Walshs says:

    Love it, I have a list but my problem is sticking to it. I have list, planners etc..I need discipline to work on it. 🙂 But I am trying and some weeks it works and doesn’t. Thanks for the inspiration

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, lists and planners don’t work if you don’t follow them! Have you tried an accountability partner? Sometimes that’s highly motivational!

    • Lea Stormhammer says:

      I found that a shorter list helps me to do this. I would make lists with 20-30-or more things on it and then get frustrated because things weren’t getting done. I still have fairly long to-do lists, but I try to keep them in 3 categories: work, school and home. Work and school have the items that have to finished or worked on that day (that’s where the bulk of my list is) and then home usually has one or two things. It’s made it easier to stick to. I also star or highlist the “must dos”, which helps me focus.

      I guess what I’m trying to say, is that for me the long list made it hard to focus and it was easy to do other things since I “knew” I wouldn’t get everything done anyway.

      Hope that’s helpful!

  • Erica says:

    I make to-do lists as well, but will make one short term and one long term list on a dry erase board on our refrigerator. Then when I have a weekend free I can pick one of the bigger projects off the list (i.e. clean out the garage) and get the satisfaction of erasing it from my ever shrinking list!

  • kassandra says:

    Give myself a treat if I accomplish my to-do list…. a nap, a bubble bath…. guilt-free computer time…. 🙂

  • Heather says:

    If I tried to read 2 pages of my current book, it would guarantee me getting nothing else on my list done!
    I have to make myself not read until the evening.

  • I love your 2-3 minute list!

  • Marie says:

    I’m not a big T.V. watcher but if I know there will be something on T.V. that I want to watch I will plan laundry for that day. I can do the folding while I am watching T.V. I drives me crazy to sit idle in front of the T.V.

  • Amanda Collins says:

    Hi you all, I love all of these ideas. Since I have been goal setting and meny planning. Things are more orangized. Hope to start a new goal very soon. Exercise! god bless, Amanda

  • amy says:

    Be sure to stop at some point. Some nights its so easy to keep going. If I don’t stop, I’m up too late, tired the next day and then progress grinds to a halt. I like to give myself at least 1/2 hour to an hour of me time, not doing work every night just so I sleep at a decent hour and get better sleep because I’m not all wound up.

    • Christy says:

      I set time limits. I am a teacher. I decide what time I am going to leave school each day (dismissal is 2:10, I can technically leave at 2:35). Most days I choose 3 or 3:30 but during busy times I may stay until 4 one day. When that time comes, I leave. After kids go to bed, I also set time limits–15 minutes cleaning up/working on household tasks (paying bills, etc.), 15 minutes down time, 15 minutes doing schoolwork, 15 minutes cleaning up/working on household tasks, 15 minutes doing schoolwork, 15 minutes down time. I also get up at 5 each morning, wake kids up at 6. So between 5 and 6, I eat, feed dogs and let them out, unload dishwasher, start a load of laundry, get dressed for the day, make bed, then have another time limit–do what I can do until 6–even if I only have 2 minutes and only hang up 3 shirts from that basket of laundry–every little bit helps. Setting time frames forces me to prioritize and forces me to stop at some point. I have learned from Fly Lady to accept that it will never be perfect and to be happy with what I can get done in these little increments. Also grab a few minutes here and there while kids are playing in afternoons or 4 year old is willing to help!

  • Melissa says:

    How does your to do list fit in with your daily planner that you use? I have copied that and remember you had many different sections, like what to clean, what to blog, etc. I am just not naturally organized and am baffled by what you would write on the to do list, and on the planner. It seems that I do more than 7 things a day… when you add in all the meals, reading the Bible, homeschooling, reading to the kids, clean up from meals, answering emails, laundry, pick up, cleaning, etc.

  • Julie H says:

    Most of the time while my 3yo is playing in the bath I can get the toilet and sink clean along with wiping down the bathroom floor and emptying the bathroom trash.

    I also find if I make the bed before leaving my room in the morning it’s not hanging over my head all day and I feel like I’ve already accomplished something before my day has really started!

    Since I’m not a morning person, if I don’t have breakfast items ready to go in the freezer, I’ll mix up the dry ingredients {like pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc} the night before and leave covered on the counter. That way, I only need to add the wet ingredients and breakfast comes together quickly.

    And this seems so obvious but until I started putting into practice, I was wasting so much time and energy—put things away right after using them! This is especially helpful in the kitchen…who wants a cluttered counter top when it’s time to prepare a meal?

    • Amie says:

      I love your tip for the bathroom! I never thought of that. With all the time I spend in there waiting for my boys to finish their bath, I never thought to clean it. Great idea!!!

    • Marisa says:

      I love the idea to have the dry ingredients ready the night before. That would save so much time in the morning. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post, Crystal! You are right on in making a plan.
    1. In using time wisely, I always start with a plan. If you don’t know where you’re going, then you may or may not get there. The plan can be 2-3 items or 10 items.
    2. Do the next thing. When you finish one task, move to the next. The next might be downtime with little one or answering the phone.
    3. Encourage help. My girls love to help sort, match, and fold the laundry; set the table; and sit in my lap. Allowing them to help gets the task complete while sharing special time with them.
    4. Write down your ideas. As you are vacuuming and you get that thought to call your friend, blog post topic idea, or schedule an appointment, jot it down. I keep a small journal in my purse to track my random thoughts since I’ll forget in about 2 minutes about that brilliant idea.
    5. Rest. Give yourself time to unwind, reflect, and think. My special time is soaking in the bathtub. I am alone in the quiet to rest and think before planning tomorrow’s adventures.
    With a plan of attack, you can do the next thing, encourage help, write down your thoughts, and rest. The plan may not be executed perfectly, but you won’t end the day where you started.
    Take baby steps while using time wisely. Happy planning!

  • Amber says:

    I make weekly plans of major projects I want to tackle and I try to fit one in each day. With my small children, I can work around them better with a list to choose from and what fits based on temperment, etc. I do try to do the least desirable things first. Thanks for this post, Crystal!

  • Erica S. says:

    I am a coupon clipper, though not an avid one, but in getting multiple copies from friends, the time to clip is hard to find. So, now I’ve “gone mobile”. When my husband drives, I clip and sort coupons. Someone may have touched on this already and it’s not really an in-home time saver, but maybe it can inspire someone else.

  • chantel says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I tried to enter your giveaway for your previous post and it states that the memory for the entries have been exceeded. Any other way to enter?

  • SHADZ says:

    I have nothing on topic to add as I am just commenting to marvel at your penmanship! You have impeccable handwriting! Even the way you form your lower case R’s is pretty. My mother says my writing looks like a cockroach got in ink. 🙁

  • Laura says:

    Thank you ladies for all the ideas and advice on how to manage my day, but still enjoying my kids! I need to remember to breathe, slow down and enjoy my kids! 🙂

  • alysha says:

    Wow. I remember saying in my young 20s that “teachers and mothers are constantly rising in my esteem.” It was true then and truer now. I have a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a 4 month breastfeeding infant. I actually got a lot done today: made breakfast smoothies, washed all laundry (but I didn’t get it folded), made lunch, made monster cookies ( delicious!), had a little family afternoon sauna where all 3 kids got washed, and made a roast dinner with salad. I even got my kitchen cleaned up. The problem with a day like today is I couldn’t keep my temper with my kids. I get so task oriented, that I get frustrated at their attitudes, messes, and neediness. It feels like such a catch 22… I will either feel guilty for lack of accomplishment, or lack of patience. I’m going to end this day in prayer and maybe God can just give me superpowers for tomorrow.

    • Brenda says:

      I keep a to-do list on the computer so everytime I sit down and get distracted looking at websites I see what I’m supposed to be doing. I also made a super simple cleaning schedule so I only have to focus on one thing a day plus general tidying up. It has worked so far this week.
      Monday-clean kitchen
      Tuesday-garbage and bathrooms
      Thursday-tidy (I work)

    • Andrea says:

      Finding balance is difficult! I’ve been a mom for almost 18 years and there are days when I still try to do too much. Hang in there.

    • Marisa says:

      I know just what you mean! I feel guilty all too often – either I didn’t accomplish much or I didn’t spend enough time with my kids. The sad thing is that spending time with my children is accomplishing much, in fact, it’s the most important thing I can accomplish! I have to remind myself of this daily.

  • Heather says:

    I get the most done in the morning before the family gets up. It is my time to make the coffee, unload the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, make the lunchs ( I like to do it in the morning for some reason) get the kids up, and then make a hot meal for my family. Thanks for all the great tips and I am going to implment some tomorrow. Tonight I am getting out of the chair.

  • Nicole says:

    The one thing that helps me most to finish my “To Do” List is to do my most dreaded tasks first. It also saves me from having my least favorite tasks hanging over my head day after day.

  • Kim says:

    To-Do Lists. But with the grace to know that somethings are not necessary today. By writing it all down, I don’t feel like I am forgetting anything and I have the ability to re-evaluate if necessary.

    Also I use the 5-minute timer quite often. 5 minutes – what can I pick up, put away, etc. Amazing how much you can actually get done in 5 minutes.

    If I feel like a room is overwhelming in the tasks that need done, I start in one corner and work my way around the room instead of flitting back and forth throughout the room. It really does work.

  • Brooke says:

    Set a timer. I am much more productive if I know I am working within a time frame. Time doesn’t seem to pass me by that way. 🙂

  • I love the idea of only putting 5 -7 items on your list to where you don’t feel over whelmed. Sometimes my list gets longer than my day.

  • As a mother of 3 small children, I have to realize too that taking time for them when they need it IS being productive, even if I’m not getting to everything on “my list”. It’s so easy to get focused on crossing everything off, that too often I find myself telling them “not right now.” I’ve taken to using my timer for their benefit and mine. If they’re wanting mommy’s attention, I set the timer for 10 minutes, and tell them I will read them a book, etc. when they hear the timer go off. They calm down and listen for the timer, and I have ten minutes of intense work time. It works out very well!

  • What works for me is to do the ONE item on my list that I hate the most, first!

    If I get that out of the way first thing, before all else.. then I won’t play around on the computer procrastinating, trying to avoid doing it.. LOL

    dee 🙂

  • Shelly says:

    I have found by writing a list of what has to be done for the day helps me keep on top of what I need to do. If I don’t write it down I will forget soemthing. I do this for our homeschool and our home management. So as the day goes on I can see I am making progress and have time to do other fun things at the end of the day. I think the most important thing to remember is to do what works best for you as that will be different for each person or family.

  • Paula says:

    I am a master at time-wasting. I’ve been feeling behind on everything lately and that there just wasn’t enough time to keep up between my part-time job, kids’ activities and everything that needs to be done around the house. This week, I sat down and wrote out everything that needs to be done daily and weekly, including things like getting dressed, eating meals, etc. When I really looked at that, I could see that I should actually have plenty of time in the day, I’ve just been wasting it. I’ve made myself a scheduled plan of what needs to get done during the day, including a block of time for weekly chores. Knowing that I will have free time now makes it easier for me to put off getting on the computer or picking up a book because I know I’ll have time for it when everything is done. Getting up just a half-hour earlier in the morning has been a big help, too. My new schedule allows me to have a 30-minute workout, get one or two housekeeping chores done, have breakfast with the kids and still have some free computer time before taking my youngest to school and I go to work.

    • Crystal L. says:

      Hi Paula,

      I’m a chronic time waster too. It’s kind of a catch-22 because the more I know I need to get things done, the more procastinate-y I become. Then the anxiety keeps on multiplying until I feel totally out of control. I have a really compulsive personality so the computer is a huge issue. I’ll randomly be thinking of something entirely useless, like what a word means in Spanish or what year a movie was made, and I have an uncontrollable urge to look it up on the Internet. This usually leads to a rabbithole of Wikipedia entries until it’s forty-five minutes later and I’m reading about something totally offbase. I’m taking online courses right now as well so that contributes to the random reasearch/time wasting. I know I’m using it as a coping mechanism to not have to deal with my anxiety, but it doesn’t make it any easier to stop.

      I really like your plan. I’m going to try to use your method of writing down everything I need to get done in a day – I did a time budget before, so I know I should have plenty of time to do everything and still have free time. Thanks for your suggestion! Sometimes I feel like such a newb at this time management thing that most tips seem way beyond my comprehension level right now. 🙂

  • sara says:

    This is a pretty motivated group, so my tip may not apply, but- I am training myself out of a pretty serious case of couch-potato-itis. I never got anything done during the week, because I’d come home from work, flip on the TV to decompress, and then sit. on my butt. all. night. (An embarrassing TV addiction.) So my new rule is no TV at all until 8 pm. This is the first week, but it is going really well! Last night I exercised, emptied/ filled/ ran the dishwasher, and made a nice dinner of roasted vegetables. The night before, I made a simplified King Cake for Mardi Gras. I’m looking forward to being more ENGAGED with my life instead of tuning out.

  • I am a born list-maker, so I LOVE this! I definitely find my daily lists to be the most helpful because they focus on a specific time frame whereas my long-term lists tend to be more vague and have a “when I get around to it” feel.

  • My favorite thing to do is a 5-minute clean-up with my kids. We set the microwave timer for 5 minutes and work together to clean the living room (our most lives-in, played-in space). My 7, 4 and 1 year-olds all help. I give then one task at a time (take your boots to your closet, put those books back on the shelf, etc) while I’m also picking things up or dusting. They have started to know what to do without my asking, and we almost always finish before the 5 minutes is up! Its perfect while dinner is in the oven. If their rooms are messy we then repeat it and I help my 4yo with his room and my 7yo knows what to do at this point. I get a clean house FAST and I like to think I’m teaching my kiddos how to break a large goal into smaller tasks, too! 🙂

  • Leighann says:

    I’ve got a good question.

    How do you stay organized, on-task, and accomplish goals when you have a really bad illness, say something that isn’t curable? I have something that makes me tired all the time. I have no energy. Most days, changing from pajamas into regular clothes is an accomplishment. Yes, I am under a physician’s care, but there isn’t anything they can do.

    Suggestions for ways to deal with something like that?

    • Lyn says:

      Leighann, I have chronic illness as well and have been sick for about 18 years now. Young people never seem to think such things will or could happen to them. Burning the candle at both ends all the time is a recipe for difficult health down the road.

      Since you are where you are at and cannot change that (which I totally understand and empathize), my advice to you would be to do do things in small increments. Depending on your energy level (which probably varies each day as mine does), you cannot plan far ahead and you have to take each day as it comes.

      FlyLady is helpful, but her regular plan does not suit chronically-ill people. However, you can modify things and create your own plan. You can set a timer to swish the toilet and wipe the bathroom counter, and maybe starting a laundry load (this takes 5 minutes or less). Perhaps you can then sit down and do a small task for another 5-10 minutes. Then after that, take a little break for yourself – a cup of tea or 5-10 minutes of computer time for example. If you need more rest time, then you need to take that, no need to push.

      I truly feel for you and know the challenges that come with having health issues. My other advice to you would be to not compare yourself to other women – especially those who are healthy. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Can’t be done. People don’t generally know what something is like unless they have been in the same shoes themselves.

      Also, celebrate the small things that you can accomplish each day. If you have people in your life that you can get help from or delegate more difficult things to, then that is a big help. My husband helps with difficult chores that are painful for me to do. Lastly, if you have a really bad day, focus on the basics of having healthy food to eat, clean dishes, and a load of laundry done. If you keep up on these basic things, life will be easier for you.

      Feel free to visit me. I’ll answer any questions you have the best I can. Hope this helps.

  • Jan says:

    I am so bad about writing things down because sometimes i feel like i don’t even have time to make a list! I started a new routine at the beginning of the year- every Sunday night after the kiddo is in bed I write out the week in my journal- what’s going on each day- what meal is for dinner- what tasks I need my husband to do and about 5-7 tasks I need to get done for the week. A lot of this is paperwork I have to fill out- I feel like i am constantly drowning is paperwork- my kiddo has a medical need that requires constant paperwork to be filled out for a state program. Plus I work outside the home. Every Sunday night I then have a weekly “briefing” with the hubby about the upcoming week.

  • Elizabeth M. says:

    I love these tips!!!
    I’ve also learned to use phone time to my advantage (especially if I’m on hold). I wash counters, fold laundry, wash some dishes, sort through mail, cut out coupon, tidy my dresser top and tons of other little jobs.
    I agree, it’s amazing what you can get done in just a few minutes.
    My only disagreement is where you said to read two pages of a book you’re reading. I can never, ever stop reading after two pages 🙂

  • Jamie says:

    Loving all of theses tips..I have been a stay at home mom for ten years , until June 2010. I now work a part time job nights and most weekends 🙁 I’m a momma of 4. 12,8,6 and almost 3 yr old..I get so consumed with constant cleaning, and not particularly loving how my hubby does thingsWe can’t live in a mess..but obsessive cleaning ( plus it never ALL gets done) leaves my feeling so guilty.I desire more quality time with my hubby and children! HELP 🙂

  • Danielle says:

    One of my grad school professors urged us to stop making “to-do” lists, because they just stress people out. Instead, he suggested making “today” lists…they’re a lot shorter and simpler, and it’s easier to get the items accomplished. Part of the satsifaction of list-making for me is being able to cross off the items when I’m finished. Since I’ve begun making “today” lists instead, I’ve felt a lot less overwhelmed and less guilty about things left hanging over my head. Plus, it’s helped me make my goals a lot SMARTer, which is best. 🙂

    • Crystal L. says:

      Oh, I like the sounds of a today list! I’m one of those people who procrastination is usually a result of anxiety and anxiety is a result of procrastination. So is there a difference between the two besides the name? Would a today list have items like getting dressed and whatnot?

  • Cecilia Bee says:

    I have a small calendar on my fridge with tasks to do during the day (on top of making beds, cleaning dishes, etc). There are usually 3-4 tasks. It’s a monthly calendar, so I know that on Monday it’s everyone’s bedsheets, one persons complete bedding, and de-cluttering bedrooms. Some tasks I alternate between weeks. For example, I have four large closest and each week I have a different closet scheduled. It helps me do everything without waiting until things look messy. When everything written is done, it’s me time to play with the kids, knit or read. It’s my reward. Plus if I see that something was missing in my calendar or needed to be done more often, I plan the next month accordingly.

  • Kristin says:

    I was raised to be a list-maker and am a born multi-tasker and perfectionist. Once my kids cam along, however, I quickly realized that perfectionism is not possible – all it does is wear me out and make me cranky. 🙂 Now I try to focus on the essentials, like cooking, washed clothes (but not necessarily folded and put away), and clean dishes. The other nice-but-not necessary things like vaccuming and dusting, I get around to when I have both the time and energy needed. Also, something I just started last week, is to designate one day a week (mine is Thursdays, as my catch-up day, where I plan to do all those little tasks that I haven’t had time for-makung calls, balancing checkbook, putting away remaining laundry, etc.

    Also, ALYSHA, I discovered something about myself lomg ago: I have to have a short nap every day, or I am a screaming monster by 6 pm! I’s so tempting to try to use naptime as an excuse to cross things off my list, but everyone suffers at the end of the day because Mommy is exhausted and super-crabby. God just did not bless me.with vast reserves of patience and this is my only solution! I hope this helps!

    • Crystal L. says:

      I need a nap during the day too! lol. I always want to stay up later otherwise I feel like I have no time with my husband. Taking a nap when my toddler does is how I compromise. 🙂

  • Kristin says:

    ALSO, my official catch-up day is also officially left-over night and officially plop-the-kids-in-front-of-tv-as-needed day. 🙂

  • Connie Carmichael says:

    I don’t make to do list. I make and accomplishment list. When I get something done I write it down and by the end of the day I am astonished to see all I did get done. I think this works best for me. With a to do list it makes me feel like if I didn’t get to it that I was a failure so with an accomplishment list I feel so joyous at my success at the end of the day.
    I have 9 people in my house, so I know even on the days I don’t get a big accomplishment list done I know they are fed, happy, and taken care of even if I had a slack off of the usual get it done day.

  • Connie Carmichael says:

    I don’t make to do list. I make an accomplishment list. When I get something done I write it down and by the end of the day I am astonished to see all I did get done. I think this works best for me. With a to do list it makes me feel like if I didn’t get to it that I was a failure so with an accomplishment list I feel so joyous at my success at the end of the day.
    I have 9 people in my house, so I know even on the days I don’t get a big accomplishment list done I know they are fed, happy, and taken care of even if I had a slack off of the usual get it done day.

  • If I dread doing something, like cleaning the bathrooms or the kitchen, I’ll set my kitchen timer. I tell myself that 10 minutes isn’t that long and challenge myself to get as much done as I can. When the timer goes off, I can stop. It looks better than it did before. Of course, I usually keep going until it’s clean because getting started was the hardest part. So, I guess you could add an extra 5 or 10 minutes to that.

    • Christina says:

      That’s a great one!! I usually tell myself it’ll only take 10-15 mins to do the dishes.. Get them done and then I’m allowed to watch my tv show.. Which ever one I’ve taped from the night before when I didn’t have time to watch 🙂 no lazing around after the kids are in bed until I’ve finished my chores lol

  • Elizabeth says:

    I love getting things done while on the phone. It’s a great time to put away dishes wipe down the bathroom, do a quick clean up, fold laundry and dust!! Then you don’t even realize you are doing such a boring task!

    • Pat says:

      The only problem with this comment is – if I am on the other end of your call, I resent it that a person cannot devote a few minutes of their time to visit with me on the phone. If you are doing other things, your attention is not on our conversation. Call me back when you have a few minutes to devote to me. I just terminated a phone call with a friend who was walking around outside while trying to talk to me. The phone was cutting in and out and I could not make sense of what was being said.

  • Mary says:

    One of my favorite “two minute” jobs is cleaning just one shelf of my refrigerator. I always clean one shelf every day (Monday is the top shelf, Tuesday is the next shelf, etc.) All the leftovers get eaten and I don’t have to clean moldy yuck that stayed there too long!

  • These are great tips! I would add to:

    1. Keep your inbox at zero
    2. Use your off time (driving, showering) to brainstorm ideas
    3. Have a protein shake for breakfast/lunch – it’s quick and easy
    4. ABC – always be cleaning. As you walk through the house, clean as you go.
    5. Only read an email once and take action. Don’t continue to open and close it.

    Hope that helps!

    • Oh yeah, and the email app for your iPhone SPARK – it’s amazing! It keeps all of your email accounts in one place and you can easily swipe to delete messages. Super efficient in it’s design!

  • Mel says:

    Great ideas . If u find yourself with a few spare minutes sit and breath… Too often we run around accomplishing many things but forget about ourselves…

  • Jessi says:

    This post paired with the 4 week challenge really got me going! I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting or why I was unproductive until now! I started today and am using an hourly to do list/planner and have gotten so much accomplished. Thinking about how long it takes to do things and remembering that I can get things done in two minutes really helps! Thank you!

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