10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day

Ever feel like you are falling behind on your to-do list before you even begin? Don’t miss these 10 great tips for getting more done every single day!

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.

10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day

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 they are in your life. Life is short, and moments are precious. Don’t waste time on the things that don’t matter.

Ever feel like you are falling behind on your to-do list before you even begin? Don't miss these 10 great tips for getting more done every single day!

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 but to prioritize. Likewise, setting the timer helps accomplish tasks you might normally procrastinate on, such as 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 your 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.

Ever feel like you are falling behind on your to-do list before you even begin? Don't miss these 10 great tips for getting more done every single day!

4. Set Concrete Goals & Write Them Down

Clear and specific goals are essential to managing your time well. Break them down into long-term and short-term goals, then 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?

5. Use a 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!

Ever feel like you are falling behind on your to-do list before you even begin? Don't miss these 10 great tips for getting more done every single day!

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 & whiny 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. When my kids were really young, I would split my to-do list into things I could do with the kids or while they are awake and things I needed to accomplish while they were napping. The second they would go down for their naps, I would stop whatever awake-time task I was working on and switch to the nap-time list. It was amazing how much I could get done during that time!

Ever feel like you are falling behind on your to-do list before you even begin? Don't miss these 10 great tips for getting more done every single day!

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?

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 it’s 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.

To recap, here are the 10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day:

1. Evaluate Your Priorities
2. Set the Timer
3. Take Time to Regroup
4. Set Concrete Goals & Write Them Down
5. Use a Daily Checklist
6. Involve Your Kids
7. Divide and Conquer
8. Wake Up Early
9. Turn off Electronics
10. Give Yourself a Break


Ever feel like you are falling behind on your to-do list before you even begin? Don't miss these 10 great tips for getting more done every single day!

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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! 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 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!

  10. You really make it appear really easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I feel I’d by no means understand. It sort of feels too complex and very huge for me. I am taking a look forward to your subsequent put up, I’ll attempt to get
    the cling of it!

    1. Did you actually read her article or quickly scan the topics. It is written in a way that even the most unorganized lazy person would get motivated to change their daily habits. And done with full disclosure when she admits her own faults.

  11. Heya outstanding website! Does running a blog such as this require a
    lot of work? I’ve virtually no knowledge of programming but I had been hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyway, if you have any suggestions or techniques for new blog owners please share. I know this is off topic but I just wanted to ask. Thanks a lot!

  12. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it
    is really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate
    if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.


  13. 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?

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. I want to thank you for sharing! I was just diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder last year, and then came down with Mono this summer. Being a single mom of two including a disabled epileptic 18 month old has been very difficult and I just started a new job for the first time in two years at a child care center last month. I’ve been feeling like a failure because I wasn’t even getting the basics done any more. But the list of 6 is a great idea! When I’m home I participate in the Flylady challenge where I make a list of 6 things and she picks a number and for ten minutes we work on that item. Then she picks a new number. This would work rolling a die too! (Bonus points if my oldest had the same list just numbered different so she worked on the same task for ten mins too!)

    1. Lynet- I find it interesting and funny that you found this blog on Pinterest. Are you one of those tied to your electronics? I know I am. I work away at something for a while, get a little out of energy and decide to sit down and check Facebook or my e-reader for “just a minute”. Yeah, right! Next thing I know I should be starting supper! I find this whole post helpful. I am past the days where my kids are running around the house, but that doesn’t mean I have any more focus. When my kids were little I always made a list and my favorite part was crossing off the completed items. Then I guess I kind of outgrew that mentality. I SHOULD have stuck with it, by the looks of my house!

  17. “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 😉

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.)

    1. True words Donna! Mom of nine, 16-32 over here. Young children are physically taxing…older ones are emotionally trying. But every age is a gift from God. So very very thankful for my nine blessings, AND their wonderful Dad

  24. 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.

  25. 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 🙂

    1. 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. 😉

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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!!!

  29. 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.

  30. 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)

    1. 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.

  31. I’m also pre-law. I have 8 (eight) children, 6 grandchildren under 4 years of age, two high school seniors, three cheerleaders at three different schools and a baseball player. Two of those kiddos hold jobs down. We manage a 3K acre farm with about 500 head of cattle, we rotate our own crops to feed the beef cattle and are heavily involved in the AI of these cattle for optimal breeding. That said, English was my original major. Over the course of the advent of social media (I’m 46)….. I’ve had to learn that we are all just who we are. We are all of value regardless of our weaknesses….. in my most humble opinion, I’m grateful I stumbled upon this blog. I used to be a professional organizer by trade and I still need reminding that my overachiever needs to chill every now and again. The message concerning the grammatical errors would have only been appropriate in a private message in the world I grew up in…..and only as courtesy….not a condemnation, no matter the import of good grammar. Best practice dictates good manners trump any faux pas, especially if it takes away from the wholesome intentions of the individual. Yes, I’ve gone against best practice here….but as the Southern Lady I am, I won’t stand idly by while a good woman is scoffed at for absolutely no reason.

  32. For me, waking up earlier has always been my best approach to getting more things done. I really find myself more productive in the early morning hours than any other time of the day.

  33. Thanks for that post it notes tip that involves having only a limited amount of tasks on that. I have a habit of writing too much on my to-do list. This makes it impossible to complete everything in one day and when I don’t achieve my target, I feel miserable and disappointed. I really need to learn to make smart to-do lists that are realistic enough.
    Your tip would help. 🙂

  34. A great post Ruth, thank you. I also tend to be over-ambitious with what I can accomplish in one day, so I’ve started limitig my daily to-do list with 6-7 items only – and then it’s a bonus if I do an extra thing that wasn’t on the list for today! Helps curb the ‘Type-A’ in me 😉

  35. This all really puts it all into perspective for me… tomorrow begins my goal-setting, time managing reinvented self! Also, your free printables are the BOMB, thank you so much!

  36. Thankyou have been so down recently due 2 alot ov personal problems slongside my health thankyou for your blog it wil really help me

  37. Great post, just what I needed. Your pumping out quality work all the time definitely one of the most useful and inspiring blogs on the net!! Thanks for this post!

  38. I am a full time blogger and in my 7 years of professional life I have never achieved the real peace of mind. I know family is important but sometime i feel my work is more important than family.

    I don’t know if my thinking is right or wrong but i believe that i will find my answer one day. Anyways Thanks for this great article 🙂

  39. I have to share a story, to show our perception is not our child’s. When I was a young I experienced somewhat lazy mother, I would get up and iron my children’s. Clothes in the am for school, I always thought I was really lazy not to be prepared the night before. Years later my daughter and I were reminiscing (she is a grandmother now) about our days “on the mountain” she commented Mom you would get up and iron our clothes and they would be so warm to wait on bus, she said she appreciated that. So if you feed your kids cereal for dinner they will remember the cool mom who let them eat captain crunch instead of Brussels sprouts for dinner. The takeaway is ” don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff.”

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