Tips for Moms: How To Get Things Done

By February 4, 2013Be Productive

Photo Credit: Theogeo

(If you liked the Meal Planning Boot Camp and the John Maxwell book, I think you’ll love this series on getting things done. I have two speaking engagements coming up in the next two weeks so, in order to focus on my preparation, I’m sharing some great posts from the past that I hope will encourage and motivate you. I’ll be checking in on the comments, so feel free to offer ideas and ask questions! You’re awesome…you know that, right?)

Have you tried to buy a toothbrush lately?

Overload.

Compact? Full size? Soft? Medium? Gum and cheek cleaners? Red? Blue? Straight bristles? Staggered bristles? Powered? Manual?

I literally stared at the wall of toothbrushes for 10 minutes.

Finally, I slapped myself and yelled, “It’s a TOOTHBRUSH!!!!!” I grabbed the closest one and ran to the checkout line.

Or something like that.

But you know what? If the store had only 1 lonely, boring toothbrush, I would have been perfectly happy.

And I would have 10 minutes of my life back.

The Problem With Too Many Options

Photo Credit: Rutlo

Decision making isn’t just about choosing the option we want, but also eliminating the options we don’t want.

Therefore more options we have, the harder it is to make a decision.

As moms, we don’t have a boss telling us exactly what we need to do. (Technically) we can do anything we want, anyway we want to, at anytime.

And we not only have to make decision for ourselves, what we do and how we spend our time, but we also need to help our children make those decisions as well.

Constant decision making is draining.

It’s one thing to start the day feeling like anything is possible, but it’s quite another to feel like you’re staring at an endless array of options.

And once you pick and complete your first task, then you have to face that huge wall of options….again. Except now you’re more tired and less focused than you were before. Rinse. Repeat. All day long.

The Humble To Do List

Photo Credit: notahipster

That is why I am learning to truly make my to do list the hub of everything I do.

When I am full of energy and vision I fill and organize my to do list.

Then in the middle of the day when I am drained and I have email that needs replying, dinner that needs making, and a thousand other things calling my name, I can see my list and KNOW what is important.

A simple to do list keeps me focused, on course and less likely to give up (i.e. sit on the couch with a tub of ice cream and the Food Network. Or maybe that’s just me.).

To Be Continued…

In the part 2, I’ll get super practical and show you how to keep your to do list simple and do-able. I’ll also share my favorite programs and apps that help me get things done. I’ll even giveaway a few of those apps! Stay tuned.

Please share your thoughts: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how much you should do, could do or just want to do? How do you respond?

Update: Read The Rest of the Series…

1. Tips for Moms: How To Get Things Done
2. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 2
3. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 3
4. Mom Tips: Routines vs Tasks โ€“ Why You Need To Know The Difference
5. How To Be Awesome

(originally posted 3-13-11)

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46 Comments

  • Avatar Anna says:

    Thank you for being so helpful and encouraging. I love your blog and am really really looking forward to the rest of this series.

    I’ve wearily arrived at the end of my first trimester with my second pregnancy. I’m still taking anti-nausea medication and my house is in disarray. I’m tempted to be really discouraged, but I know what I need to do is pull out my home notebook, refresh those lists, and set out simple daily goals again. When I know I’m taking bites out of the elephant every day, the whole thing doesn’t seem so daunting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Avatar Hannah says:

    I need these posts! I felt the same way recently, buying toothbrushes, and I often stare at blank pages, as floods of thoughts rush in my head as what to put on my lists and where and how. I lack focus.

    Anxiously awaiting part 2.

    Thank you!

  • Avatar Anna says:

    I can relate. I like to have options, but constantly making decisions can wear you out. When in the US, I tend to buy certain brands of things just so I don’t have to make a decisions. I’m also easily distracted, so that makes it even worse.
    For my time, I need to have a basic outline of a schedule to keep me on track, and I tend to do best if I have a list of things to do.

  • Avatar Katie says:

    Decision making IS draining! Especially with young kids because it’s all. Day. Long. I’m bringing back my to do lists! It’s almost like you can go in auto pilot in a good way. I’m looking forward to this series!!

  • Avatar Miranda H. says:

    I like this post thank you so much for sharing i await part 2 eagerly!

  • Avatar Marleah says:

    Wanting to sit on the couch with a tub of ice cream and the Food Network is not just you. ๐Ÿ™‚ I frequently spend my evenings this way after the to-do list is done…or not so done, depending on how needy my kids were throughout the day.

    Honestly, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by decisions, I’m learning that the most important thing to do is pray to God for strength and peace. I get overwhelmed so easily, especially when I’m trying to get things done and my kids just keep calling for me. The only thing I can do in those situations is go to God, and trust that He is the one getting me through the day.

    Looking forward to Part 2!

  • The decisions that we are faced with every day ARE overwhelming! It has been joked in the past about people who are set in their ways. In some ways that is a good thing. If we have certain things that we always buy the same or do the same, it is one less decision we have to make.
    Now on the fipside, we need some flexibility in our lives, but I think that both can have their place in making life a little simpler for us moms!
    Bernice

  • Avatar Christine says:

    Yes, I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to do! The not-so-important things sometimes jump up to be noticed, and the important things fall by the wayside. I am a definite list girl, but when the list never really shrinks, just trades items done for items undone, it can be discouraging. Love this post!

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Christine,
      Yes! Too often the unimportant things put on the mask of urgency and distract us from the truly important things that need to be done.

  • Very true! I’ve had to start writing stuff down more at home and at work. I’m a piler not a filer, so I’ve started putting Post-Its on every paper before I “pile” it so when I look through, my notes are right there in front of me in bright pink.

    Another great thing about lists (TO-DO, menus, cleaning chores) is that if someone wants to help out (or needs to!) they can go to the list and see it, do it, and mark it off. Hubby is great for picking up the list and just quietly doing one thing and marking it off for me if he has a moment. And it’s much easier on my nerves than someone following me around going “what can I do? what can I do?”

  • Avatar Lara says:

    Kat…I’m totally tracking with you! I avoid restaurants that have what I consider to be a menu with too many options! I like to keep things simple! My mantra is “A simple life is a wonderful life!” I’m looking forward to part 2 when you give us some practicals that help you! Also, as far as the apps, I still have an old flip phone that is probably 10 years old. It works perfectly fine. I haven’t upgraded to the new iPhone’s or whatever those are simply because I want to keep my life as simple as possible. But I’m almost wondering if I should upgrade…because maybe in doing so it would make my life easier???!!! I’m just not excited about paying the data charges just to have that type of phone.

  • Avatar Lisa H says:

    This is great..can’t wait for part 2. As a homeschool mama, sometimes i find the options of how to spend our days are limitless (which is great but also overwhelming at the same time). I’m looking forward to seeing what practical tools you might highlight. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Avatar Courtney says:

    Yes! Completely agree – To Do List is the way to go. Otherwise I’m standing in the middle of the room, surrounding by 800 things that need to be done, with no clue where to start. To Do list is a must. Can’t wait to read more!

  • Avatar Rachael says:

    YES! Your words were, I think I can honestly say, exactly my words for word. My 3 year old, homeschooling, housekeeping, preparing, reading how to homestead, Reading how to garden and all THOSE details, but most importantly getting up early enough to read GOD’S word!
    But my list goes on and on with all so many choices and options. I am a researcher and a past driven perfectionist, so I have the drill in my veins and have to talk “TAME” to myself on a daily basis, minute by minute. GIVE ME YOUR LIST!!!!!!!! HELP!!!!!!

  • I use lists too. I prioritize and remember what Elizabeth Elliot said, “Just do the next thing.” instead of looking at the entire list.I try to do the most unpleasant task first or asap during the day. I try to arrange similar tasks together – like phone calls, answering email etc.

    I’ve been reading about how multi-tasking wastes time because you are constantly shifting your focus, so I’m trying to do one job at a time.

    I also try to redeem the time during my day. I just finished cleaning all the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen in my “spare” moments – boiling water for tea, waiting for the oven to preheat, dishes to cool off before emptying the dishwasher, or washer/dryer to finish. I just started at one end and did what I could during those waiting moments.

    Looking forward to more ideas from you.
    Phyllis

  • Avatar Tashena says:

    Oh my, Kat! How do you always know exactly what it is I’m talking to the Lord about?!?!?!?!?!? You are ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! I can’t say enough good things about you and your site! I love all the info and if I could only tell you how PERFECTLY and REMARKABLE this post’s timing is…
    God sure is good!

    With 2 children and a good-size house to clean, I often feel behind. Not sure if the pressure is internal guilt, ya know, or pressure I think Hubby puts off – but has no idea he is. :/
    Whatever the source, the pressure is there to always DO MORE, DO IT FASTER, DO IT BETTER, SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS INSTEAD, SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT FIRST… Balancing child-rearing and a big house just isn’t my forte. ๐Ÿ™

    Hope to glean much more great info in the upcoming posts!!!

    In Christ’s Love, Tashena

  • Avatar charlotte says:

    how funny! just read your post after crossing off 80% of my to do list! i like making my to-do list the night before… that way when i wake up the next day, i already have a mental visual of what needs to be done.

    started making to-do lists when i heard someone said that at least 80% of your to-do list will get done for the day.

    the thing i notice about me, though, i have to be good & consistent at making daily to-do lists… not just when it’s busy & because family is coming to town! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Avatar Almut says:

    I totally agree: a to-do list is a must. I also use the FlyLady routines in the morning, after coming home, before and after dinner. I follow the FlyLady housecleaning methods, too. It has revolutionized my life. I have a list of 7 must-do things every day on a post-it note by the kitchen sink. I gave up my cell phone 2 years ago and it has really given me a lot of peace. Keep up the great posts here!

  • So true! I got overwhelmed the other night and my hubby said “shorten your to do list” It was so simple yet brilliant!

  • Avatar Lara says:

    I wrote about the to-do list thing last week. Too often I put things on my list that just don’t need to be there. I want His list for my day.

  • Avatar Kara says:

    Love this post! NEED my to-do list.
    Okay…some may think this is strange…but I also include these items on every single daily to-do list…and have for probably the last 5 years.

    ~Bible study
    ~read with kids (and I mean just-for-fun reading)
    ~game (what our sons would choose)
    ~puzzle (what our oldest daughter enjoys doing)
    ~call/write __________ (I just leave it blank to see who God wants me to call/write)

    It’s a bit random and I’m clearly aware that except for time in the Word, they don’t HAVE to happen daily, but it keeps me mentally aware of how many days have gone by without those taking place (things that actually when I step back are meaningful to me in the big picture of life).

  • Yes! Daily decision making is draining because there are so many options. I look forward to your practical tips. Someone relayed a story to me of an American who lived overseas who came back to visit the USA and commented that we seem to be persecuted by choices. One of the reasons that I shop at the grocery store that I do — it is a smaller store with less choices with discount prices. I love that. So I am looking forward to your practical tips about managing the rest of my day. One thing someone else said (Leila on the blog Like Mother, Like Daughter) ….make it a habit, not a decision.

  • Avatar Sandra says:

    I always have these grand plans, I can’t help it it’s the dreamer in me. I am learning to stick to the plan (to do list) and do what I can then maybe my dreams will become a reality.

    Looking forward to part two!

  • Avatar Rebecca says:

    Printing this one! THANK YOU ๐Ÿ™‚

  • We think small and we make Him small and His world small, and He is anything but that.
    My favorite part. Beautiful post

  • Avatar Nellie Dee says:

    Love this post. I usually pray for help and wisdom, but also try to wait as long as possible before going to the store. Less trips saves a lot of time as well as stress. Love your writing and your blog. This is my first visit. Think I’ll follow.

  • Avatar Kris M says:

    I read an awesome book called “Eat Your Frog” and it had a AHA! phrase that changed my life. “You will never have enough time to get everything done, you can only hope to get the IMPORTANT thing taken care of.” It took the weight of the world of my shoulders and now, my to do list has the IMPORTANT thing up top and and then everything else prioritized.

    That and trying to get up 15 minutes earlier……

  • Avatar Audra Marie says:

    I will eagerly be awaiting the next post. I need to get a better handle on my days. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Do I get overwhelmed? Oh my word, YES. I get sooo easily distracted that I will start a task, go off on ten different tangents, and finally get back to that task hours later…or not at all. Then I’m full of “mom guilt.” Yuck! A to-do list is paramount for me or I will be eating that ice cream and watching the tube, too. I also make a note of how long each task should take (e.g., feed cats – 10 minutes, make & eat breakfast – 30 minutes, etc.). With the list it’s a great reminder. My problem is I’m not consistent in using it every day…yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • […] Inspired to Action – Tips for Moms: How to Get Things Done (part 1) […]

  • Avatar Ruth says:

    I love that i am not the only one who makes lists. In fact, I have to make a detailed list for my daughter with ADHD. Her list must be detailed in order for her to actually do the jobs. For her “clean her room” is an overwhelming job and it leads to arguments and frustration on all parts. But a detailed list shows her what needs to be done and what I expect when I say “clean your room” I am having to make these lists for all her jobs, but it is helping me to focus on what is important. I usually write a few and then throw them out, but I just took some clear page protectors and put the page inside it. Now I have a dry erase board and can use any short of washable markers on it. Why didn’t I think of this before?

  • […] 1. Tips for Moms: How To Get Things Done 2. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 2 3. Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 3 4. Mom Tips: Routines vs Tasks โ€“ Why You Need To Know The Difference 5. How To Be Awesome /* Share it! Pin ItEmail 74 Comments […]

  • I relate to this! I did my grocery shopping online last night & it took me two hours because I spent so much time looking at all the options! If I take kids with me to the supermarket, I don’t have time to weigh up the pros and cons of each product – I just grab and run!

    I find to-do lists really helpful in the day. Also, making day-plans for my kids. That way, when I run out of steam in the afternoon, I can check our plan for activities to do.

  • Avatar Angelue' says:

    I can’t wait to read more. This meets right where I am…wanting to do more, knowing I can do more, and then the challenge of doing it!

  • Avatar Lisa says:

    Hi kat,
    I loved the thing about the toothbrush. I feel overwhelmed by having so much time I don’t know what to do with it all and get nothing done as a result. I look forward to your tips about a to-do list. I have never been good at those.

  • […] just read this great series by Kat at Inspired to Action and you should, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ She speaks of lists and routines vs tasks and […]

  • This is so true. It’s one of the many reasons I love shopping at smaller stores like Trader Joe’s. Need a can of tomatoes? Oh. There it is! I don’t have to look at a wall of options (do I want steam-packed? seasoning added? is one on sale?). I just grab the only option and go.

    It’s a good reminder for life, especially for those of us who tend to be overwhelmed by options. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

  • Avatar Lisa says:

    I find myself getting frustrated and irritable to where I loose my cool and start taking it out on my family! I have been praying about it and getting up early with HelloMornings and that has helped me a lot with making list and planing. I still feel that I am constantly in the kitchen and it never seems to stay clean and I feel that is where all my energy goes to so this is very helpful for me to keep on what is important.

  • Avatar Julie says:

    I so need this. I struggle with being overwhelmed and I get distracted easily. I tend to shut down when I feel like it is all just too much.

  • Avatar Catherine says:

    Hi Kat! This post caught my eye. I’m a Brit but have been living in a remote part of Russia for 11 years now. Whenever we go back home our first trip to the supermarket is always quite traumatic. I literally feel lost, overwhelmed and a little nauseated at the amount of choice there is! I’m all for limiting the decisions that need to be made ๐Ÿ™‚

  • […] Tips for Moms: How to Get Things Done […]