10 Minutes To A Great Day

By | Be Productive | 10 Comments


Everyone wants to have a great day, but how do we do it? Here is a simple recipe.

Step 1 (5 minutes): Read and Pray

Start off with time with Jesus. Read this and thank Him for the gifts in your life. Ask for wisdom as you look to the day ahead.

Step 2 (5 minutes): Decide What Great Looks Like

1. What would a successful day today look like? (cleaning out the closet, playing with your kids, finishing a project)

2. Pick one.

Imagine what would make you lay your head down at night thinking, “Wow. That was a great day.” You can probably make a long list of things that would take less than an hour or two.

Step 3: Go Do It

The entire day is ahead of you. Do the amazing and don’t get sidetracked by the mundane. Yes, it’s important to do dishes, but not at the expense of making memories with your children or doing something truly meaningful.

For every distraction that arises, ask yourself if it is more important than your goal. If the answer is no, it can wait.

Now, go be awesome!

What is ONE thing that would make today great for you? Click here to share and get started!

Mom Tips: Routines vs Tasks – Why You Need To Know The Difference

By | Be Productive | 75 Comments


I recently cut my to do list in half, stopped feeling guilty all the time and started getting more important things done.

How? I finally learned the difference between a routine and a task.

What Is a Routine

A routine is something that is going to happen again and again.

Whether you like it or not, you will always have laundry to do, dishes to wash and a floor to mop.

There will always be trash to take out, dinner to cook and rooms to clean.

Routines are maintenance items. They don’t necessarily take us to a goal, but they make the journey much more pleasant if we do them in a timely manner.

They also tend to scream louder the longer we procrastinate them.

The laundry pile grows bigger, the trash can overflows, the crumbs on your floor start sticking to your feet.

Eventually, they are unavoidable.

What Are Tasks?

Tasks are breadcrumbs on the unbeaten trail to a goal.

They do not scream or yell. In fact the more we ignore them, the quieter they call until they are drowned out in a life consumed with maintenance and mediocrity.

Tasks are the roads that take us off the roundabout of routine.

How To Manage Routines

We’ve already discussed how to manage to do’s, so now let’s talk about managing routines.

The MOST important point is that routines have no place on your long term to do list.

They will just clutter it up, leaving you feeling guilty that you didn’t mop this week or last and deflating you of any motivation to work on anything important.

You can list your routines on a piece of paper in your journal, Home Management Notebook or on your fridge.

I keep my routines in an app called HomeRoutines . I also keep a printed copy in my personal notebook.

Simple Yet Revolutionary

I had no idea how revolutionary doing this would be. It allows me to keep my ideal before me without overwhelming me when I don’t live up to it.

I loathe having unfinished things on my to do list and when I used to keep my routines there I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the list and the fact that there were always leftovers from day to day.

It felt defeating to have to delete them and even more defeating to see them pile up.

No Longer Defeated

Now I glance at them throughout the day, do what I can and start tomorrow fresh – regardless of what I did or did not do today.

As a result, my important tasks are front and center in my todo list. There are only a few so I feel inspired to tackle them and rejoice in a page full of checked off items.

Question

Are routines overwhelming you and crowding your to do list?

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 – Why You Need To Know The Difference
5. How To Be Awesome

Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 3

By | Be Productive | 99 Comments

First Things First: Where To Keep Your To Do List

The first thing you need to do when planning your list is to decide where to keep it. A few options are:

1. A small notebook – It’s small, portable and you probably already have one somewhere in your house.
2. Index cards – Index cards and a binder clip are another great way to manage your task list. They are especially cool because you can rearrange them and sort them.
3. Your hand – don’t laugh. I’ve done this.
4. Computer – This is a great way to manage your to do list. You can use a full powered program and arrange and edit to your hearts content.
5. Phone – You can keep a simple list on your phone or you can use an app that syncs with your desktop.

The key to finding the perfect system is to not be afraid to try and try again to see what works for you.

My tool of choice: I use an app called Things. I’ve used it for several years and simply love it. I have it on my Mac and my phone. 

How To Manage a To Do List

1. Brain Dump
Trying to constantly remember things you need to do is stressful, so I HIGHLY recommend getting things out of your brain and onto paper (or into your phone) asap.

2. Delegate and Delete
As often as possible (preferably each day) go through your inbox and decide what really needs to be done and assign it to a time frame or project. Don’t be afraid to delete things that no longer seem as important as they did when you first thought of them.

3. Chunk
This is a vital step. I used to write down things in my to do list that I could never accomplish in one sitting. For example:

Bad To do: “Organize Photos”

That’s akin to putting “Explain Time Space Continuum To My 3 Year Old” on your list. It’s not exactly a one step process. It is a project, NOT a task.

It is KEY to “chunk” big projects down into 5-10 minute tasks:

– download pictures from camera
– List events.
– Star printable photos.
– Rinse and repeat for each month.

This makes it SO much easier and doable.

4. Tag
I tag my to do items based on type (errand, email, writing, computer, project, phone etc.)

That way, when I’m planning an errand run, have time to make phone calls, or sit down at the computer I can quickly see all the tasks of that type I need to do.

I also like to tag them based on how much time I think they’ll take. This has been key for me, because if I only have 5 minutes or 30 minutes, I can quickly see what I can accomplish in that time frame.

Obviously, tagging is only practical if you keep your to do list on the computer in some sort of program that makes it simple to do. It sounds a bit overboard, but I’ve found it to be very helpful.

5. Daily
Every day I pick 3 tasks that I want to do. When I sit down to my computer, this list keeps me from randomly wandering around the Internet. 

Which of course has never happened. (ahem…)

I try to keep my list simple and doable. It gets messy and cluttered sometimes, but having a system helps me to get back on track quickly.

Maintenance vs. Accomplishment

If your To Do list is aligned with your mission statement and goals, completing your tasks each day is like following the yellow brick road to your dreams.

And that, my friends, is the cheesiest sentence I’ve ever written. Thank you, thank you very much.

Still, it’s true though. We could spend our whole lives just maintaining things. We could fill and complete our to do lists each day and never accomplish much.

But if we make sure our daily tasks are always leading us to our destination, there is so much joy in the journey and in the knowledge of our purpose.

To Do List Testimony

Awhile back I thought it would be a good idea to start 1000 gifts journals with my daughters.  Like many good ideas it could have just floundered in my head (where many good ideas have gone to die).

But it lined up with my mission statement and goals so I assigned a day to get it done. When it came up on my list, I bought the journals.

And now? My girls and I write together in our journals before bed. A treasure in the making.

Next Week: Routines

Next week we’ll talk about routines, which are crucially DIFFERENT from to do items and can overwhelm you if you put them on your task list.

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 – Why You Need To Know The Difference
5. How To Be Awesome

Mom Tips: How To Get Things Done, Pt. 2

By | Be Productive | 61 Comments

A Little Story About a Doll…

This past year, my 6 year old saved her money for a relatively expensive item: An American Girl Doll.

She worked hard doing little chores and saving her allowance. After many months, she finally had enough. So our entire family had a special night out for her. We went to the American Girl store, she picked out her doll and we all ate at the restaurant.

She was so proud. We were so proud.

She just as easily could have blown all that money on the Target $1 section. She could have a collection of broken toys that she cares nothing about. She could have spent all that money on candy and after 5 minutes of chewing have nothing to show for all her hard work.

But instead, our entire family has a memory and she has a doll she loves that she could very well pass on to her own children someday.

A testament of her hard work and perseverance toward a goal.

What This Story Has To Do With To Do Lists

Photo Credit

Most people use a to do list to get things done, but having a to do list without having a goal is like driving without a destination. It uses up your energy and you never get anywhere.

There is an infinite amount of stuff we can put on our to do list, but our goal isn’t just to do stuff. Our goal is to fulfill Gods purpose for us.

So before we talk about how to use our to do lists let’s quickly discuss mission statements and goals.

Yay! Aren’t you so excited?!

1. Mission Statements

Moms need mission statements just as much as businesses do. We could spend 100% of our time cleaning up messes and never teach kindness or how to make a mean grilled cheese sandwich.

Just as with money, you can spend time or invest it.

If you have a mission statement, you know where to invest your time.

If you don’t have a Mission Statement yet, I encourage you to download the free eBook – Mission Statements for Moms and write your first draft. You can (and should) tweak it later, but for now, just get something down on paper.

2. Yearly Goals

Based on your mission statement, what are your goals for this year? Just outline one goal for each section of your statement. It is vital that you keep things focused and simple.

You can think of Mission Statements, Goals and To Do Lists like an ever narrowing funnel, taking broad hopes and channeling them into small doable tasks.

3. Pareto’s Principle

There is an economic idea called Pareto’s Principle. It states that 20 percent of a country’s citizens provide 80 percent of it’s income.

This law has popularly been applied to productivity. 20 percent of what you do provides 80 percent of the results.

The Framework For a To Do List

What mission statements and goals do is provide a framework for your to do lists to help you identify that 20 percent so that you’re not spending you day doing the 80 percent things that have little return.

Having a clear purpose narrows your focus and only allows those tasks that will be stepping stones to your goals.

The majority of your tasks should correlate back to one of these life vision elements. If a task doesn’t correlate back, you should seriously question whether it actually needs to be on your list.

Coming Up…

Come back on Wednesday when we’ll talk about the nitty gritty details of to do lists.

Riveting like the Dewey Decimal system, I know. But do try to get some sleep between now and then. Mmmmk?

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 – Why You Need To Know The Difference
5. How To Be Awesome