How to Get More Done

I am a very busy lady. I am always having people tell me that they don’t know how I get everything done that I do. I homeschool my children. I manage a family of six, cooking dinner almost every night and keeping the house decently clean. I help with our farm and garden in the summer. I make special gifts for people, especially around Christmas. Over the years, I have developed several techniques for making the most of my time.

1. Prioritize. What is most important to you? Can you not think if your house is messy? Is it most important to enjoy your children’s athletic events? In our house, resting in the evenings and eating dinner together is a priority. Therefore, all decisions that we make are made in light of our need for rejuvenation at the end of a long day. Most evenings we make an effort to be at home by seven. On mornings after I was out the evening before, I feel tired and distracted. In your family your priorities may be different, but whatever they are, stick to them. Making an exception every now and then is okay, but you should not sign up for long-term commitments that will violate your priorities. It will never be a good trade.

2. Make Lists. If I don’t have a list, I forget everything. I have to-do lists, grocery lists, and lists of e-mails I need to send. Not only do I make lists, but I also organize my lists. The most vital things to do are at the top of my to-do list. I also group together my chores by the amount of time it takes to complete them. This way I can take an hour or two and knock a whole bunch of items off of my list. Or if I have odd moments, like when I am waiting for my iron to heat, I can easily find a small chore to complete. Sorting my chores keeps me from being overwhelmed by the number of things I have to get done each day.

Even my grocery list is sorted. I organize my list by what I need at a particular store. I also group together things by their location in the store. This keeps me from wandering all over the store, wasting time and money as I pick up things that are not on the list.

3. Delegate.
My children have been taught from the time they were very small that they are expected to pitch in. I am not terribly picky about their bedrooms, but I do expect them to help with farm chores, the dishes, laundry, and cleaning the common areas of the house. When I am in a hurry, I can give each child a task or two to complete, and in no time, my house looks better. Just having clutter cleaned up makes me feel better.

4. Identify time-wasters. I seldom watch television during the day. In fact, the only time I watch it is at night with the family. Many times, I will only watch TV if I am doing something else productive, like folding laundry, exercising, or embroidering. But I have to be careful to watch the clock when I am on the internet. I can waste a lot of time clicking on interesting links, so I have to be very conscious of my time while I am on the computer. I sometimes use a kitchen timer to help me monitor my time online.

5. Embrace the seasons of life. Right now my youngest child is four years old. But when I had toddlers and infants, my expectation of what I could accomplish was significantly less. It is okay to give yourself a break when you are facing illness, caring for little ones, or have a busy period. Just do the best that you can and be glad for what you can accomplish.

I also embrace seasonal changes. I do much more cooking, baking, arts and crafts, and sewing in the winter. Come spring and summer, my focus is gardening and farming. This rhythm gives my life a variety that I love. When we school, we try to get as much done as possible in the cold months, so that we can enjoy the outdoors when nice weather comes.

6. View work as a blessing. Attitude is everything. You will get much more accomplished if you look at your to-do list as a good thing. Your dirty dishes represent the fact that your family is blessed to have plenty of food. Aren’t you glad that you have a washing machine to clean your clothing for you? Be thankful that you are healthy enough to care for all the many things that you have to manage.

7. Live healthily. Make sure that you are eating as healthy as possible and getting enough rest. If your body is worn down, every task you have to do will be an enormous effort. Make sure you are getting the emotional support that you need, so you have a healthy mind as well.

8. Take days off for resting.
At my house, Sunday is a day for rest and worship. I do cook, do dishes, and sometimes a few other chores, but I only do what I feel like doing. I give myself permission to relax and get away from my lists for one single day. After a long and busy week, I feel like I have earned a little down time.

I don’t feel like I am an amazing, super-woman. I have just created methods to make the most of my time. Please remember that my life is not yours. Everyone has different responsibilities and different values. Use the tips that might apply to your life, but don’t knock yourself out trying to be like me. Learn what works for your lifestyle and implement those ideas.

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