My Secret to Getting More Done

If you have a daily schedule, and have no problems sticking to it, this article is not for you!

This is for those of us who find sticking to a set schedule challenging.

Not that I don’t have a schedule, because I do, I like to at least aim for something, but more often than not, I find myself wandering off of it.  If I’m extra tired, or one of the kids is sick, if I’m sick, if we have doctor’s appointments, if the moon is full, etc…you know how it is. 😛
My #1 way I get more done is to Focus!

Close up view of washed fresh clean clothes neatly folded and stacked in a rustic wicker laundry basket with a handwritten label saying - clean - attached to the side isolated on white

You know in real estate, you always hear “location” is everything. Location, Location, Location… And as far as getting more done during the day, I have to say “focus” is everything. So, Focus, Focus, Focus!

For the purpose of this article, this is how I’m defining and using the word, “focus:”

Divide chores/activities you want to accomplish into 15 minute segments, and then do that 15 minute chore/activity from start to finish, without getting sidetracked by something else (unless it’s an emergency).

As wives and mothers, we naturally have to wear so many different hats,
teacher
doctor
housekeeper
chef
chauffeur
accountant
psychiatrist
sweetheart
handyman (be able to fix toilets, computers, appliances…)
so multitasking is just par for the course.  We obviously have lots of different types of jobs to do.
So when I say focus, I mean once you start a task, keep at it till it’s done. If one of your children needs you during that time, attend to them, but then come back and finish what you started.

Many times in the past (and even now sometimes), I would start folding a load of laundry in the morning, and at dinner time, that same load of laundry was still partially folded and sitting on the couch.

My Secret to Getting More Done, Joyful Homemaking

Because, I would start folding, and then realize I hadn’t gotten any meat out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, then noticed a popsicle stain on the carpet, then the dvd player wasn’t working for one of the kids, and I couldn’t find the cleaner disk, and while I was looking for that, somebody needed a diaper change, and the phone rang, and, and, and… you know how it goes, right!?
I started getting really frustrated that I couldn’t seem to get the simplest of tasks done before my hubby got home for dinner, and there would be laundry and toys everywhere, and if anyone came to the door, I panicked because everything was in disarray.

Open dishwasher with clean utensils in it

I didn’t really have a specific “light bulb” moment, but I started telling myself, that

it didn’t have to be all or nothing

when it came to my home.  My perfectionistic personality was telling me that, but it wasn’t healthy, and I would just tend to want to give up, sit on the couch and read a book, because it was futile anyway.
Even my parents’ generation proclaimed, “If you can’t do a job right, don’t do it at all,” and in some ways, I disagree with that.

For instance, should you not do any dishes, because the groceries still aren’t put away, or any laundry because there are toys everywhere, and the house is still going to be cluttered, so what’s the use, and it’s just all overwhelming anyway…?
No. No. No.

This is where the focus comes in.  Do SOMETHING. Do a load of laundry, fold it and put it away, and don’t get distracted till you’re done.
I’m not saying if there’s an emergency, and your child needs you, ignore them, I’m talking about everything else that we get sidetracked with, thinking it needs our immediate attention.

Yes, even if you’ve still got 200 other things that need to be cleaned.

It’s not in vain.

You’ll feel so good accomplishing and finishing a task, plus it seems to be a catalyst for getting other things done too, like, ok, I got that done, what else can I do in 10 or 15 minutes time, if I just focus and do a job from start to finish…how about the dishes, or a quick dusting, or sweeping or vacuuming.
In you mind, break chores up into 10-15 minutes sections, so you can finish it in that amount of time.  If you want to keep going, great, but I think it’s helpful for some of us to know that, ok, if I want to stop in 15 minutes, I can.

For instance, in 15 minutes I can either:
clean the toilets in 2 bathrooms
–scrub the tub and shower
–clean the counters and sinks in 2 bathrooms
–load the dishwasher and wipe down the counters
–put away the school books and sweep the floor
–dust and vacuum the living room
–fold and put away a load of laundry
–clear the clutter from 2 areas
Think how much better things would look with just those tasks!

If you’re wondering where a good place to start is, when you have lots of household chores that need to get done,

the first household tasks I focus on getting to each day are dishes and laundry,

otherwise things can fall apart quickly. Family members don’t have clean clothing they need, and it’s difficult to prepare meals in a messy kitchen…  Then with leftover time I can prioritize the rest of my chores and activities as I go.

Focusing is also wonderful when applied to time with your children as well, and being fully in the moment.
I’ve been a mother for the last 20 years, and unfortunately many times, I’ve found that I spent more time making excuses as to why I didn’t have time to “play, color, read…” with one of my children, than it would actually take to sit down, do their chosen activity, focus, have fun, and make a memory.
I’m not saying only spend 15 minutes doing an activity with your children.  I’m saying, that even when your days are full of  “to do’s,” stop once in a while during the day, and completely

focus on being mentally present with your kids,

and purpose in your mind to stick with it for at least 15 minutes. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate activity, how about just putting together a puzzle with them, snuggling on the couch talking, taking them outside and swinging on the swing, or shooting a basketball, or drawing with chalk on the driveway for 15 minutes.
I’ve always enjoyed reading to my kids (I even used to read to my mom while she cleaned), so each year we pick out books to read, and I read a chapter a day.  I’ve learned even if the house is cluttered, it won’t do any harm to stop what I’m doing, cuddle on the couch, and read to them for 15 minutes.
Do you see the benefit?  For some of us, if we don’t focus and purpose to do it, another day slips by.
The older I get, the more I realize I need to seize the moments!

Of course there are still chores to be done, and loved ones to be fed, and dinner time has always been a challenge, since that seems to be

the crescendo of the day.

That’s why I advocate menu planning so much on here, because that time of day goes 10x’s smoother when that’s taken care of.
But if I’m looking around that last hour before my husband’s going to walk through the door, and there’s chaos and clutter, in my mind I break the hour down into 15 minute segments, and prioritize what needs to get done, and get the kids involved too.
I’ll say to myself, before he gets home I want to have that load of laundry on the couch folded and put away, the shoes in the entry put away or tidied up, the coffee table cleaned off, the school books put away, or whatever… and it’s amazing what you can get done with a little Focus.

You know how it is when company is coming over,

and you seem to get so much more done in a much shorter amount of time, same concept, it’s the focus and the urgency behind it.  When you say to yourself, I’m getting  XYZ done in 15 minutes, you’re creating your own urgency!  🙂

The 15 minute focus can also apply to when you need some personal time throughout the day to calm down, relax, pray, read your Bible, have a cup of tea, clear your head…That’s very important and necessary too!

This strategy is so helpful when your current life experiences, energy level or whatever, make sticking to a schedule really challenging, because you can still makes lots of productive headway each day, get things done, have that sense of accomplishment, and meet the most important needs of those around you as well.

Now let’s see what I can go and get done in 15 minutes!  🙂

For tips on having more time available, be sure to check out my article on Helping Manage Our Time:

12 ways to save time

12 Ways to Save Time

and do you think it’s easier to make money, or save money?

make more money or save money

All jobs have associated costs with them; is it better to work an extra job,
or save the money you already have coming in?  Check out this post on Making Money or Saving Money, Plus 25 Practical Ways to Save!

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15 Comments

  1. September 23, 2015 / 8:54 am

    I love this post! Those short tasks on my list, done from start to finish make a huge difference! My first two tasks are to “get technology on my side!” That would be start the Dishwasher and run a load of laundry!

    • Margo
      Author
      September 23, 2015 / 3:46 pm

      You go girl! 🙂

  2. September 23, 2015 / 9:48 am

    These are excellent tips! Once I started timing myself, it surprised me how quickly a task can be accomplished.

    • Margo
      Author
      September 23, 2015 / 3:45 pm

      I know, right! It’s motivating! 🙂

  3. Michelle @ Moms Are Frugal
    September 23, 2015 / 5:48 pm

    Focus is definitely a great idea when trying to finish housework. As I was reading your post I realized that my laundry is still unfinished, the counters still had the dishes and the kids kept asking me to help them with various requests. Focus would at least let me get the dishes done!

    • Margo
      Author
      September 23, 2015 / 10:40 pm

      I can relate! Being a mom is a juggling act! 🙂

  4. Kristen
    October 24, 2016 / 9:14 am

    Great post!

    • Margo
      Author
      October 24, 2016 / 11:27 am

      Thanks!

  5. October 24, 2016 / 10:03 am

    I like your tip on focusing and finishing one task first! I needed that.

    • Margo
      Author
      October 24, 2016 / 11:28 am

      I’m always reminding myself too!

  6. October 24, 2016 / 10:46 am

    YES! Love the example with when company is coming — so so true! My mom always told me, when I’d get stressed out about cleaning, to just set a 15 minute timer and do whatever I can in that time. Then let it go!

    Love this 🙂

    • Margo
      Author
      October 24, 2016 / 11:30 am

      I love using timers! I use one sometimes to watch my time online. 😛

  7. November 3, 2016 / 10:02 am

    If only I could go fifteen minutes without an emergency! My 2-year-olld is a wild one and climinbing on and grabbing things she shouldn’t ALL THE TIME!
    One thing I have noticed perfectionist have a tendency to do is fold and put away one load of laundry at a time. I do 5 loads and then start folding sitting in front of the TV with a good show and don’t stop all afternoon except to go collect more loads as they finish and to keep the toddler from severely injuring herself.. Then all the kids get home and put away their own gigantic pile. I just do the toddler’s and me and hubby’s. Putting away laundry multiple times is an inefficient waste of time.

  8. November 3, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    Very valid points. I also focus on one thing at a time, that way your not splitting your energy.

  9. November 3, 2016 / 5:46 pm

    How did you know I have laundry sitting there waiting to be put away and my dishwasher to put on – this is great advice Margo

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