**This article is part of an ongoing series of posts taken from my book “How do I Get it all Done …and Still Have Time to Enjoy it? “

To start at the beginning and read the articles in order click here


Leave a Margin

Leaving a margin is simply leaving some “white space” in your calendar. When you schedule too tightly, you run into problems. Sometimes things take longer than expected, sometimes we get interrupted by something important. Leaving yourself some room in your schedule will cut down on the  frustration that comes from having incomplete projects laying all over the house, or having the reputation of always being late. Incidentally, leaving margin in your day will help you to be much more patient with your children. I find that when we have plenty of time to do what’s next, I can tolerate typical childhood behavior with much more grace.

Margin applies to your basic schedule as well as the individual activities you fill your day with. I still have a hard time remembering not to start a project unless I have time not just to finish it, but to put it away. I have to remind myself that if a trip takes 15 minutes, then we can’t start putting our shoes on 15 minutes before we need to be at our destination. There seems to be a time warp in my house that occurs between “It’s time to go” and “We’re all in the car and pulling out of the driveway.” Somehow the clock in the van always shows that it’s 15 minutes later than it was when we started putting our shoes on! If that time warp visits your house, factor this time in when you are determining what time you need to be ready. I usually decide what time we need to be leaving the driveway and then start getting ready 15 minutes prior to that. Also, just because something begins at 9:30 doesn’t mean you should arrive at 9:30. Build in some time to park, walk in, and get situated.


Don’t rob yourself

Time is a precious gift, given to us all in equal amounts to do with as we see fit. I personally am unwilling to waste it. Does this mean I don’t rest? Absolutely not. Rest is extremely important, and is part of successful time management.  It means that whatever I am doing, whether work or play, I’m doing it fully, and with purpose. I want to make sure that if I’m working, I’m really focusing and accomplishing something worthwhile. The same goes for playing, or resting. If I’m not working, then I want to be doing something that is truly restful and enjoyable. When I take  time to rest, I want to know that I will come away from that activity feeling renewed, restored, and refreshed.

When your are working, do you work with focus? I find that when I work quickly and keep a very narrow focus on the task at hand I can accomplish a great deal and have time for more of the things that bring joy to my heart.

Ask yourself if your free time leaves you feeling refreshed, renewed and restored. If not, then I would propose that you are not truly resting, you are wasting time; Robbing yourself of what you could have gleaned from that time, be it productivity or refreshment.


Multitask effectively

Multitasking can make you or break you. There are certain things that work together and certain things that don’t. I mentioned in my book Emergency Meals that you really can burn peas so badly that you have to throw away the pot. That’s a result of unsuccessful multitasking; cleaning the upstairs while cooking- downstairs of course.

Before you get yourself all in a frenzy trying to do too many things at once (and perhaps doing none of them well) ask yourself if the tasks you’re grouping together, do indeed work together. Usually I  find that blending two different functions, like using my hands and my ears works well. Using my hands, or my ears for two different things, isn’t so successful. Here are some mulit- tasks that work for me and some that don’t work so well.



Things that work together Not such a good idea
Listen to an audio seminar, the Bible, or uplifting music while you walk Use the cell phone while you’re driving (You do know that doing that renders you as dangerous as a drunk, right?)
Listen to an audio seminar, the Bible or uplifting music while you clean or bake Cook while cleaning any room other than the kitchen
Pick up the house while on the phone Read while you’re on the phone (we can tell you’re reading and not listening)
Call a friend while cooking Call a friend during “school time”
Read while waiting for children’s lessons and sports, etc. Scan Facebook while you’re your husband (or child) is telling you about his day
Pray when you’re up in the night with a fussy baby (ask me how I know) Listen to informative audio while balancing check book
Pray while you’re cooking Read and watch TV
Read a magazine while your watch your kids play outside Call a friend while you’re vacuuming (I can make beds, mop, and change diapers but I haven’t figured out the vacuuming trick)
Work on your to do list while you watch the kids play outside Eat while on the phone (I know, sometimes its unavoidable, we forgive you)
Garden while the kids play outside Try to make supper and 4 dozen cupcakes
Listen to an audio or chat with  someone while you iron Correct your daughter’s math during Bible class-at church. (I haven’t done this one but it has crossed my mind)
Do your online work while you have a snack
Get your exercise by dancing (or whatever) with the kids
Chat with your family over dinner

These are just some of the ones I can think of.  You may have noticed that I do a lot of listening while I work. This is a great way to get more of the Bible into your day. I also listen to a lot of homeschooling, homemaking, and home business audios to keep myself learning and motivated.

You’ll find yourself doing some funny things now that I’ve brought this idea to your attention. When you find two things that do or don’t work well together, make a note of it and remember next time.


Well, speaking of multitasking, I’m actually on vacation with my family as I write this. So I’ll go for now. I hope these tips will be a blessing to you. Come back next week for a few more. And please, leave a comment and share some of your favorite tips or tell me what has helped you the most so far.