5 Ways to Get Things Done More Efficiently

It’s taken me several months since I finished school, got married, and moved to really find a routine during the week. A general week when I was in school looked like this: several Monday, Wednesday, and Friday classes, along with a couple Tuesday and Thursday classes. Get up, go to class, eat, come home and do homework, go to Bible studies a couple days a week, and worship services on Sundays with naps in between. That was fairly straightforward, and really good for me. I had absolutely no routine last summer because I was crazy wedding planning and just doing what I needed to do on a daily scale. So, in the past few months, I’ve been trying to come up with a new routine since I’m staying at home – I make my own schedule almost completely.

Now my routine (on a good day – I’m still figuring it all out) looks something like this: get up in the morning sometime (I shoot for 8), eat, look at my planner to see what I need to do, do the things, make sure I have dinner ingredients thawed and ready, etc. I may write a specific routine post at a later date. I won’t be so vague. 😉 But, the biggest challenge I’ve found when it comes to making my own routine is because of the freedom I have that it’s so much harder to get things done. I start out super-motivated, but eventually I get tired and sit down. Then sometimes… I keep sitting, and I forget all of the things I was going to do within the next hour or so. It turns into a mess. So, I’ve come up with a few things that help me stay motivated and going without distracting me too much, in turn helping my routine stay more solid.

1 | Don’t get too comfortable.

My couch always looks terribly inviting, and it’s far too easy to sit down, get cozy, turn on the TV, and watch almost an entire season of a show. This is my biggest distraction. Once I sit down on the couch, my body recognizes the couch as a place to rest, and it slows down, making it even harder to get back up and finish what I’m doing. This, paired with TV, makes me forget everything I have to do or was doing at the time I took a short break, and I don’t have it done by the time John Mark gets home (which is a goal for me so I can actually focus on spending time with him). His job has flexible work hours because he’s a state forester, so I have to work pretty fast if I have a long list of “to-dos.” What I’ve found is when I either don’t sit down until I finish a task – or at least don’t put my feet up – it’s much easier keep that energy up.

2 | Plan ahead and write down everything.

I’m very visual. I write down (almost) everything from grocery lists to what time I need to start getting ready to go to bed to get enough sleep. If I don’t do this, I’ll most likely forget what I need to do or quickly get off task. I was the same way in school – my planner was completely filled up because I would forget assignments or appointments if I didn’t specifically write them down. As I mentioned here, I’ve realized the need for planner even outside of school – plus a wall calendar for shared events! I like to sit down at the beginning of the week and write down what I know I need to do that week, pick a day and time to do it, and write it in my planner so I’ll have a visual. When something comes up and is confirmed to be happening, I’ll write it down, too. I usually leave my planner open on the coffee table so I can easily see my tasks and check things off. It’s just a way I can get it all organized so I’m not wandering around aimlessly thinking I don’t have anything to do when there’s plenty.

3 | Do one thing at a time.

I’m so bad about trying to do several things at one time and not finishing any of them in a timely manner. Especially in school, I would get bored with one subject or not know the answers and switch to something else just because I was tired of it. I’d come back to it later, but it was always much harder because I was usually burnt out and tired. It’s much more efficient to pick one thing and finish it completely before moving on to the next chore or task (unless you’re doing laundry and can get some things done in between loads). I don’t struggle with this as much now, with the exception of cooking (a couple of days ago, I left something grilling on the skillet and poured my drink…I came back to burned food). Since I’ve been writing specific tasks down, I’ll pick one to start off and go from there. I don’t always go in the order of my planner, but at least I’m getting it done this way.  You’ll most likely feel less stressed/frantic and be able to actually finish everything you need to do – I know I do.  

4 | Be realistic.

This is almost self-explanatory. Never plan for too much in one day! Over-planning sets very high expectations, so even if you did do what you needed to for one day, you might feel like you failed because not everything was crossed off of the list. There are only 24 hours in a day. Especially if you work, come home to chores and hungry tummies, and still have countless things you need to get done, try to be realistic when planning out your day. By the end of my senior year, I had to cut several things out of my schedule because I realized how much sleep I was losing and how much I wasn’t getting done, and it was affecting my grades. I didn’t quite get this down to a science, but I created a planner system notating what needed to get done that day and what could realistically wait until the next. If I had to cut out socializing, that’s what I did because I don’t need as much social time as some people do. Now, I have to take into account my appointments during the week, plan around those, and realistically decide what projects to finish or start. There’s most likely some little thing that can be cut out of your schedule. If it will save you time and sanity, I say go for it.

5 | Listen to music or podcasts instead of TV shows.

I’m used to turning on the TV just because I like background noise; it makes me feel a little less like I’m alone in complete silence. Usually I would turn on something like Gilmore Girls or, more recently, Fixer Upper on HGTV (both via Netflix). After going back and forth from music/podcasts to TV, I’ve realized that when I can just carry the podcast on my phone in my pocket or cast Pandora radio via Chromecast, I get more done in shorter period of time and I’m less stressed by the end of the day. When I feel like I have to go back into the living room or actually see what’s going on instead of just hear it, there’s too much going on in my head at one time, and I’m not focused on the task in front of me – although I thought I was most times. No one really needs to watch that much TV in one day anyway. I’m going to start listening to music and podcasts (I’m enjoying Lore by Aaron Mahnke) more often while I’m doing chores or cooking, and save TV for later.

// This is what I do and plan to do to stay focused an on task because not being lazy is so important to me. There’s always something I can be doing.

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