Day 8: How to Crush Your Daily To-Do List

You have a list of three things you need to get done today. Two of them sound like a lot of fun. The other one is to clean the kids’ bathroom.

Lemme guess which one you’re gonna save for last, lol. If it’s the bathroom, you might be surprised to hear that you’re going about it the wrong way ’round.

There are a lot of time management tips out there, but this one is super effective for moms to boost their motivation and productivity. Whether you stay at home or work, this is one of the best ideas to help your mornings and entire daily schedule go better. Part of a series of organizing tips for your whole life.

Today’s organizing tip is the one that tells you to “eat the frog.”

What do I mean by that? I mean do the yucky things first. Or the hardest things. Or the things that you might want to procrastinate about, for whatever reason.

That’s why I’m sitting here first thing in the morning, before even getting dressed — or out of bed, if the truth be told — to write. Because filling a blank page is hard for me, for some reason. So it’s a task I will tend to postpone, and then at the the end of the day it’s still not done.

But if I do it first, before the tyranny of the urgent intrudes into my life, then I get it done; and BOY, do I feel better the whole rest of the day.

Welcome to 31 Days of Practical Organizing Tips for a Homeschool Mom’s Life!
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Find links to all 31 days here: 31 Days of Organizing Tips.

Maybe you like cleaning the bathroom, so that’s not a good example for you. (Although if that’s true, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. :-) ) What is it that you really hate to do? Or that bums you out? Or that you feel like it’s a waste of time but it has to be done anyway? Or that you struggle with because it’s hard for you? DO IT FIRST.

A – You will work through it as quickly as possible because you hate it so much. You won’t want to spend any more time on it than you have to, especially since all the good stuff is still waiting for you to get to it.  You’ll still have plenty of time to finish the rest of your list for the day.

B- The relief you feel at having it done will be tremendous. The whole rest of your day will feel sunny and bright. In fact, I often use that as a motivational speech to get myself to start: “Annie, you are going to feel so glad when you have this behind you.” It works!

C- Your productivity will go through the roof. You’ll start getting projects done that you’ve let lie for years. You’ll begin to see progress on these things that have been hanging over your head, and you’ll realize how much more you can accomplish if you just start on the tough stuff early in the day.

Having a morning routine helps get some of the daily “frog” tasks out of the way, but I’m also talking about the things that don’t necessarily happen every day but are on your list of what you want or need to get done. Fixing the tear in your jacket. Cleaning the baseboards. Organizing the pantry. Vacuuming out the car. Working on course descriptions. All of these are my personal “frogs” — you can probably think of several of your own. :-)

In the homeschool realm, your hated task might be lesson planning. When you get it done FIRST, everything else will run more smoothly. Or maybe it’s grading. Your kids (especially teens) will THANK YOU — although maybe not out loud, lol — when they have their feedback more quickly, so they can make adjustments in how they fulfill their assignments.

Maybe it’s doing math with your math-hater — sit down together for the first subject of the day. Get ‘er done — and then both of you will feel better to have it behind you.

We tell our kids to get their schoolwork done first, and then they can play. This is the same principle, really. It’s just ordering our tasks each day so that we get the worst one out of the way early.

The reasons why it is the worst one may vary and are really not important. But when we look at our to-do list for the day, the task that makes our heart heavy and that we are really not looking forward to is the one we should plan to do first.

Because later on when we are more tired, we are REALLY not going to motivated to tackle it. But those tasks that we enjoy more will not be as hard to fire ourselves up for later in the day.

Which reminds me of cooking dinner, which is something I definitely have trouble psyching myself up for at 4:30 in the afternoon. I am much happier all day when I start a meal in the crockpot early on, or at least when I do as much prep as possible during the hours before lunch. Obviously this doesn’t happen every day, but it’s an example of getting a difficult task done early so that it doesn’t seem like such a chore during those late afternoon hours when my energy and attitude are at their lowest.

(BTW, if you haven’t gotten my 30+ Ridiculously Easy Dinners for Busy Families on a Budget yet, then that is definitely worth checking out. I am the queen of dinners that require little time and effort, y’all. :-) )

Right now I’m headed to the kids’ bathroom. Gonna make that room shine (and smell better!) if it kills me. And when I’m done I’m gonna reward myself with a piece of chocolate. Cuz almost anything is doable when there’s chocolate on the other side. :-)


2 thoughts on “Day 8: How to Crush Your Daily To-Do List”

  1. So here’s my situation: I have health issues which make it necessary to sleep as long as my body will let me in the morning (don’t worry, it’s usually 9 at the latest!). We start school at 9:15 so that school doesn’t drag all day. I usually do my morning stuff like breakfast, vitamins, devotions, etc. while the kids get started on school. By the time we’re done with school, I’m tired and ready for a break, which doesn’t leave a lot of time before dinner for those projects I like to put off. When do you think I should try to do them?

    1. Wow, that’s a toughie. What about weekends? Or maybe you can schedule an hour or so during the morning where the kids do school without you? I am so not happy about doing heavy stuff later in the day, either…

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