How you start and end your day can make it or break it plus help you the following day.

First thing in the morning, get ready. Get dressed, get groomed, and get a good breakfast. Then check over your notes, to-do list, and your calendar and plan out your day.

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At the end of the day, clean up. Take about fifteen minutes to straighten your work space, your kitchen and handle emails and mail if you haven’t done so before the end of the day.

These two simple habits will make you more productive and sane.


A frequent and probably one of the most valuable tips about getting things done is to start your day with the most important tasks (especially if you’re a morning person) or the most disliked tasks.

Before you start on your tasks each day, though, it’s a good idea to check:

·       Your notes – Run through your notes. You made them for a reason, so be sure to check them every morning.  Put your appointments on your calendar, your chores on your to-do list, and your long-term goals on your bucket list.

Then check:

·       Your calendar. See what’s up for the day and for the coming week or two.

·       Your to-do list. Have tasks front and center. If you see them often, you are more likely to get them done. This list is there to remind you of what you need to do soon.

·       Your bucket list. Maybe you can do part of a project this week. If you don’t think about them they’ll never get done.

·       Your inboxes, both virtual and actual. Save them for last. A lot of them will include requests from other people, and if you handle them first, you might get lost in the forest and not get your own trees taken care of. However, if you can start your day with your inboxes empty, you’ll be ahead for the rest of the day and will be motivated to get even more done. But again, be sure not to get caught up in other things. Move chores from there to your to-do list or calendar, or take notes. But unless it’s an emergency, get going on what you had planned for the day first.

Isn’t it a great feeling to be in control and have a plan? I thought so. Enjoy your day!


If you’re on the computer without your notebook handy and have a brainstorm, send yourself an email. Really. You can deal with whatever it was when you have time, then delete the email, like crossing off a chore on your to-do list.

Make sure the subject line clues you into what the email is about. For example, if you are writing a book called UNTITLED, put the title in the subject line, and a few words about what part of UNTITLED you had the brainstorm about. For example, “UNTITLED, clue in the ransom note.”

I love little tricks like this. How about you? Have any you’d like to share?


Have you thought about deadlines? I hope you’ve learned to prioritize your to-do list, keep your calendar updated, and have a place to jot down notes.

Next in your time management arsenal should be making deadlines for each task. Many of us do not report to anyone else—we’re stay-at-home moms, creatives, or entrepreneurs who report only to ourselves.


Working to deadlines, self-imposed or not, is smart. Some can be as simple as having a goal to finish a certain project by lunchtime. Or have several things you want to do before you go to bed every night. Others can be a lot more difficult to set, especially if they’re really big projects (such as writing a book or decorating a whole house). In the case of big projects, break them down into daily doable timeframes, figure out how many days it will take you to finish, give yourself a few days wiggle room, and put that deadline down on your calendar. And keep it at the front of your mind every day as you do your daily work.

Good planning, then having deadlines are the keys to good time management.


How? Pretend you earn $100 a hour. You would need to work really hard and smart to earn that much an hour, right? This can work for you in two different ways.

One, you want to prove to yourself you’re worth $100/hour.

Two, you won’t waste your time wasting it, because if you do, you don’t get that $100 a hour.

So, the essential stuff gets done, the stuff you really, really want to do. And the non-essential stuff gets short shift.

Could this become a self-fulfilling prophesy? Let’s give it a whirl for six months and see what happens. Report back here. LOL

Good luck!


Time management is tough. Picking the right tools can take some time because everyone is different. Some swear by paper and pen. Some won’t go anywhere or do anything without having and constantly checking their smart phones. Some use paper for some things and a personal digital assistant  (PDA) or smart phone for others.

The three essentials are a calendar, a to-do list, and a way to keep notes.

 And most important of all is to only have one of each that you carry with you at all times. The only possible exception is the calendar—you might have one you carry, and one at the office and one at home for everyone to look at and add their own items. But you have to be very careful to update everything at least once or twice a day if you have extras. If you can get everyone onboard, you could also use Google Calendar in “the cloud.” And if only you need to use it, that’s a great option if you’re on-line line a lot and have a smart phone to access it.

Pick each tool with care. Then stay with it. Once you’re used to your system, it will probably take more time to switch to another than you’ll save. The plus side is you’ll both feel and be more organized with those three essential tools.


Everyone knows it’s a great idea to keep a to do list. And many think that’s it. You just list everything you have to, need to, want to do, and cross off each item as you accomplish it.

And basically, that’s true. So, if you’re doing this and still not getting things done, what’s wrong?

There are a few hints about using a list you should know.

First, only use one list and one system. Do not have pieces of your list scattered all over on notepads, sticky notes, napkins and on the back of other people’s business cards. Carry a notebook with you and “capture” stray thoughts about what you want to add to your list. Then add those items to the list when you next look at it. You have to have everything listed so you can prioritize what needs to be done.

Next, it doesn’t have to be an actual list. One nifty way to handle your to-dos is to use index cards. They are handy because they can fit into a small space like pocket or purse, and they are more durable than paper. I have just recently come to this system because I have many recurring to-dos each day.

  1. I have a card all made up of routine tasks for each day of the week.
  2. And I have two other cards made up for things I want to do every day. One for work (writing) and one for household.
  3. Then I have a card where I list occasional things, like getting the tax stuff ready for the tax man, making a dental appointment, fun things like that. Those things I cross off as I do them. When the card is too full to add anything more, I transfer the undone things to another card and keep going.

All the other cards have the things I need to do daily in a semblance of the order I hope to do them in. So, I don’t cross off anything. I just look at them every so often to see how I’m doing.

If your routine isn’t so structured, then having a running to do list is probably the way to go. Just remember to keep it all on one list and look at it often during the day.

Using a to do list is the most basic and probably the most powerful thing, along with a calendar, you can use to organize your life. Do you have a to do list?


Planning and preparation are essential for getting things done, especially those things you really want to do.

Time management experts seem to be in two camps about when to do what.

One camp says to start your week by:

1.    Cleaning off your desk
2.    Clearing out your emails
3.    Checking your calendar/planner to see what’s coming up
4.    Review what you did last week to be sure something urgent doesn’t need to be done first
5.    Write out your to-do list for the day
6.    Prepare what you need to accomplish the tasks on your list (gather equipment, files, phone numbers, for example)
7.    Sketch out to-dos for the whole week.
8.    Do something hard as soon as you can after all this other stuff is done. This is now called eating the frog. If you get the worst, most unpleasant or most important task done every morning, it will set you up to have a great day. Read more about eating the frog in Brian Tracy’s book:

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The other camp says to do most the above at the end of your week.

It wouldn’t hurt to do it both times. Especially if:

1.    Things pile up on or in your workspace on your days off
2.    Emails gather like dust bunnies on your days off
3.    Your memory isn’t what it used to be, so you need to check your calendar/planner again.
4.    You can probably skip the review either at the end of the week or the beginning of the week.
5.    To-do list could be done either day—your pick
6.    Same with preparation
7.    When you arrive at the beginning of your week and have your to-do list all ready, you can begin quicker, fresher
8.    Don’t leave anything hard, if you can help it, for the end of the week

One note about email. I do suggest checking it both end of work week and again at the beginning. Anything urgent should be handled right away no matter what day it is. And if you don’t check the beginning of every day, some of the work you planned to do may no longer be necessary. Definitely something to keep on top of.

This may seem a little overwhelming to do twice a week, but once you get into the habit of doing each thing, it won’t take long, and you’ll be glad you did.


I’ve talked about having a vision, if you’re a writer, for your career. I’ve talked about having a vision for your whole life in my organizing posts.

Because without a clear vision, your life and your career can become a scattered mess. One of the big lessons about meeting your goals is to learn how to say “no.”

When someone asks you to do something, or you yourself think you should do something to further your career or life goals, you need to make a decision about whether you should or should not do it.

Sometimes the best answer is “no.” All kinds of reasons for that. Perhaps if you do it, you won’t be able to do something else that you want to do or need to do is the biggest reason to say “no.” But there are other reasons. For example, you just don’t feel right saying “yes.” Or you know if you say “yes,” you will be stuck forevermore saying “yes” to the person who asked you. If it’s against your values, no question, you need to say “no” without hesitation.

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Sometimes the answer will be, “later” or “maybe later.” This is fine, but eventually you have to make a firm decision. I think women still have a bigger problem with saying “no” than men do. It’s a question of being assertive, of sometimes seeming to put yourself and your needs first. But if it has to do with your career and your happiness, why would anyone who loves or even likes you want you to take care of their needs ahead of your own?

Of course, all bets are off if the other person also puts your needs ahead of his about equally. Or if it’s a child who needs extra attention for some reason, someone who is ill, or an elderly adult.

So, it shouldn’t be an automatic yes or no. It should be thought out carefully. If you decide to say yes, then put your whole heart into it—do not begrudge the other person’s need and get sour about it. If you do, neither of you will be happy. If you do it wholeheartedly, both of you will be happy. But if you have been giving and giving to another who is hale and hearty, without that person giving back to you, it’s time to reevaluate your automatic “yes.”

Next week, When To Automatically Say “Yes!”


Once you wrap your head around the idea that time-management is really self-management, time management isn’t something outside of yourself, but an internal part of your very being.

If you procrastinate or waste time, you are not managing yourself and your life as well as you could be.

Instead of asking yourself what is often suggested by time management gurus: what’s the best use of my time right now, ask yourself: what’s the best thing I can do for myself right now?

This works together with thinking about your future self. If you do what’s in your self-interest for getting things done, your future self will thank you. Everything will fall into place. You will begin to automatically do the most important things when you are at your peak during the day or evening. And you will get the more mundane, easier-on-the-brain things done at other times. You will no longer procrastinate or waste time because you realize it’s not going to get you where you want to be.

Instead of thinking about the things you have to do as being “tasks” or even “chores,” think of them as being part of who you are and who you want to become.

To accomplish this, you need to plan your life so that it gives you joy, so that almost everything you do makes you happy to be doing it, and gives you a sense of satisfaction when you’re finished.  Sometimes this will require an attitude adjustment. Maybe scrubbing the bathroom isn’t your idea of something that will make you happy, but if you think about how it will help you live in a healthy environment and gets you moving around (especially is you have a sit-down job), you may find yourself tackling the chore with a little more appreciation for the benefits of doing it, or even happiness that it’s giving you a break from something else when you need one. Not to mention you will be happier when it’s all done.

Just one example of how you can manage yourself in a better, happier, more productive way. Go through all the tasks you have listed on your to-do list and find a way to translate them from chores to happy pieces that make up your life.

Call it Life Management.