We all want to get more done in a day. While everyone seems to have advice about efficiency there are a few themes that seem to pop up over and over. Here are 11 of the ones I see the most and why they make sense.

11. Have Clear goals

Obviously it’s hard to hit a target you don’t have. When you look for it aimlessness can happen more than you think. How often do you wake up and do the first thing you usually do, then the second. Before long you look at your calendar and mindlessly obey. Do you know why you are doing the things? Are they just what you have always done? What are your priorities? Until you know what you want your relationship with your family to look like, or where you want your career to go, you can’t get there. (1) You definitely won’t be able to get there fast.

10. Delegate

Yes, this is for you with control issues, Can we be honest, though, who doesn’t have some issues with control. Even slobs tend to like their trash pile just so. Sometimes I really do need to let the kids completely clean the kitchen. The job won’t be perfect, but it does a few things. I can have time to do things they can’t, or that I have more intense control pangs about. Cleaning teaches them to clean, and to appreciate having things clean. It may even help them appreciate all the other cleaning I do. Maybe that is taking it too far.

Not everything deserves your touch. (2) You may need to find an app to keep track of some things for you. I hear personal assistants can be reasonably priced. It may even be possible that what you are doing doesn’t need to be done. Whatever the case it is worth considering that you, personally shouldn’t be doing it all.(3)

9. Time Limits

I love this tip. It has been the basis for my house cleaning for a while. Know the kitchen needs cleaning can be too

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intimidating. Imagine finally fishing the last crumb from the silverware drawer only to turn around to find your 14 year old just sprayed something on the ceiling. Detailed cleaning can be a modern version of hell. But if I set a timer to it, for say, 10 minutes I think, Hey, I have 10 minutes. Every time I have cleaned for 10 minutes I am always amazed at how much better things look in just that short amount of time.

Another reason time limits work is that it can ease the pressure of finding a way to fit everything else in. The task “clean kitchen” could last all day, heck, it could last all week. Meanwhile the rest of the house would become a complete cesspool. I have noticed that cleaning, like many tasks we hate to do, tends to fill up the time we allow for it. (4) Knowing I only have to invest 10 minutes in a job gives me the assurance that there is light at the end. I will be able to make dinner, and read with my second graders. (5) 

8. Do the Most Important Thing First

This tip comes with a plethora of slogans and abbreviations. But I promise I will not make you eat any frogs over the course of this tip. (6) All I will say is that thing that is stressing you out, or that really important presentation should take center stage immediately. (7) Get it over with. Don’t fool yourself with too much prep. Your pencils can get sharpened later, or hey, you could let someone else do that (see Delegating). The first focus of your day should be your most important (or dreadful) task.

7. Organize

I know this was not what you wanted to hear. Really, though being able to find the paper so you could call the Doctor would

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be pretty useful. Organizing can pertain to more than the things in your house. It can also pertain to your schedule and your lists. (8) Grouping errands together by location can help you find time to squeeze those in.  The store that sells the sesame flavored seaweed snacks for you kids is on the way back from your meeting across town. Why not stop by when it is on the way rather than run out when your kids are already begging.(9) You could save time and be less stressed.

You can organize the things on your calendar to coincide with your life goals rather than just with what people ask you to do. Organizing is destined to make you more efficient no matter what kind of organizing you embark on. (10)

6. Have a buffer

This is a hard lesson to learn. My rainbow colored schedules rarely take into account how long it takes to move from making dinner in the kitchen to reading with kids on the living room couch. You would be amazed what a journey that is. Out of necessity I have to give myself 30 minutes for the 15 minute drive to school, but that is typically as far as my buffer system goes. Every change of gears takes time. (11) Often it takes more time than you think. The flip side of allowing yourself a buffer is avoiding those transitions. Stay in the kitchen as long as you can. When you are done with cleaning, make some meals, pack some lunches. Do it all before you need to make that sluggish trod to the activity in the next room.

5. Don’t Multitask

This is not a competition. You can’t win by conference call-dog-jogging. Apparently while we think we are doing an amazing amount of things simultaneously, the truth isn’t as amazing. We are actually switching our attention very quickly among all of the things we are doing. (12) Remember those buffers? Well we don’t seamlessly hop from one activity to the next. Our eyes need a minute to focus on the new activity before being whisked to the next. The result is doing a less accurate, less efficient job of all of the activities we are attempting to smush together. (13) Just don’t do it.

4. Eliminate Distractions

You moms of littles want to smack me right now, don’t you. I get it. There are some stages of life where distractions are just how life is going to go.(14) My youngest are eight and I still find that if I need to concentrate I really need to leave the house.

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That means the cleaning is pretty much never going to be without interruption, well, unless I put cartoons on for 10 minutes. If you can find a way avoiding that switch of attention from one task to another can mean that more gets done. Make the most of any stretches of quiet you can to focus on just a few things. (15) You’ll be glad you did.

3. Time Audit

Welcome to the food journal of efficiency. It seems it might be possible to find an app to help you with this, which might take some pain out of it. Sometimes it takes facing the truth of how we spend our time to really understand how to use it better. (16) The concept is simple. Just write down what you do all day and for how long. You may find an unknowing time-suck. Hopefully it will be one that is easy to get rid of.

2. Say No

Aren’t there some great bumper stickers out there that tell us to say “Yes” to life? For time management’s sake the actual answer is NO. One thing that can help you with this is remember what is really important to you. Are you working toward that promotion? You can analyze the tasks you take on based on how much they are contributing to that goal. Do you want to collect experiences? Then allow time for that archery class you have been wanting to take. When the school asks yet again for brownies and you are not gunning for teacher’s pet. It is ok to pass that one by. (17)

1. Plan Ahead.

Don’t go into the grocery store without a list and don’t think you are going to manage time well without a plan. (18)

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Sometimes it can seem like a waste to grab a coffee and your calendar, but experts agree this is the number one thing you can do to make the most of your week. There are plenty of books, articles and fun colorful printables to give you a format that works for you. It doesn’t matter if your plan is to watch Netflix and relax, or work hard on your current project. (19) The main point is just to do it. Not every plan will work. If you make a plan while ignoring some of the other principles listed above it just won’t go as smoothly. Just don’t give up.


  1. Polevoi, Lee. “8 Tips for Effective Time Management.” quickbooks.intuit, 2018, quickbooks.intuit.com/r/employees/8-tips-for-effective-time-management/.
  2. Mccord, Sara. “3 Times You Shouldn’t Delegate (and 3 You Really Should).” The Muse, 2018, www.themuse.com/advice/3-times-you-shouldnt-delegate-and-3-you-really-should.
  3. Rampton, John. “Manipulate Time With These Powerful 20 Time Management Tips.” Forbes, 1 May 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2018/05/01/manipulate-time-with-these-powerful-20-time-management-tips/#ea87f2457ab4.
  4. Hook, Joshua. “Why It’s Important to Set a Time Limit for Your Tasks.” Joshua Hook, 19 Oct. 2018, www.joshuanhook.com/set-a-time-limit/.
  5. Chua, Celestine. “20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity.” Lifehack, 8 June 2018, www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/20-quick-tips-for-better-time-management.html.
  6. O’Toole, Garson. “Eat a Live Frog Every Morning, and Nothing Worse Will Happen to You the Rest of the Day.” Quote Investigator, 3 Apr. 2013, quoteinvestigator.com/2013/04/03/eat-frog/.

  7. Adams, R.L. “15 Time Management Tips for Achieving Your Goals.” Entrepreneur, www.entrepreneur.com/article/299336.
  8. Wolch, Marisa. “Benefits of Keeping Organized At Work.” Monster, 2018, www.monster.ca/career-advice/article/benefits-of-keeping-organized-at-work.
  9. McNeely, Lauren. ” 10 Tips for Mastering Time Management at Work.” Lucid Chart, 11 Apr. 2017, www.lucidchart.com/blog/time-management-at-work.
  10. Tracy, Brian. “Time Management Tips That Will Make You A Productivity Master.” Brian Tracy, www.briantracy.com/blog/time-management/time-management-tips/.
  11. Bates, Jordan. “Work Smarter, Not Harder: 21 Time Management Tips to Hack Productivity.” Refine the Mind, 20 Jan. 2013, www.refinethemind.com/21-time-management-tips/.
  12. “12 Time Management Tips to Achieve Your Goals By Working Less.” Proof Hub, 16 Feb. 2018, www.proofhub.com/articles/time-management-tips-for-work.
  13. Bradberry, Travis. “Why Smart People Don’t Multitask.” Forbes, Feb. 2017, www.entrepreneur.com/article/288829.
  14. Daniels, Natasha. “It is possible to be a good parent and get things done….” anxious toddlers, www.anxioustoddlers.com/good-parent/#.XBN5cBNKgUt.
  15. Arvidsson, Norman. ” 7 Ways to Improve Your Time Management Skills.” Recruiter, 15 Apr. 2016, www.recruiter.com/i/7-ways-busy-to-improve-your-time-management-skills/.
  16. Casey, John. “6 Tips for Better Time Management.” Web MD, 24 July 2006, www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/time-management-tips#1.
  17. Pham, CamMi. “7 Things to Start Being More Productive, Today.” Medium, 29 Apr. 2014, medium.com/s/story/7-things-you-need-to-stop-doing-to-be-more-productive-backed-by-science-a988c17383a6.
  18. Ward, Susan. “11 Time Management Tips That Work.” The Balance smb, 21 Aug. 2018, www.thebalancesmb.com/time-management-tips-2947336.
  19. MacLellan, Lila. “Time-management tips from the productivity expert who trains Google executives.” quartz at work, 21 Nov. 2018, qz.com/work/1470338/time-management-tips-from-a-google-productivity-expert/.

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