Constant Chatter: My five secrets to being more productive

Jade Steckly


Alright, alright. Those of you who know me can stop laughing now. Jade … productive? Organized? A good time manager?

None of those adjectives seem to fit, and if I had to describe myself I would say I’m more scatterbrained, selectively organized, and a good procrastinator who can get a lot done at the last minute; all of which stress me out a bit, which then leads to my husband’s and friend getting phone calls with me on the other end whining, “I’m so overwheeeeellllllllmed!” Which leads me to wonder if I’m qualified to write this? Ah well, I live on the edge.

I do have a husband, five kids and a house to take care of, so I have to manage my time at least a little bit, or everything would just fall apart.

Even though I don’t do all of these things all of the time, when I DO do them, I quietly resolve to keep it up (you can guess how that works).

Get up early. Given the tiniest window of opportunity, I will sleep in. However, I find that when I’m forced to get up early, I actually enjoy it, and am much more productive throughout the day. Right now our day starts at 6:30 to get the kids on the bus, and I find that if I just keep “going” when they leave the house, I’ll have the laundry started, and one or two rooms cleaned…and when I look at the clock it’s only 8:30 or 9. I should do that every day. Someday, I’d like to get up at 6:00 to work out before the girls get up, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

Form a routine. Remember how I said that our day starts early to get the girls on the bus? Well, our morning routine is probably the most efficiently run part of our day…and that, folks is fueled by my desire to sleep in as late as I can. I wake the girls at 6:30 and they get dressed while I get out the breakfast stuff. They eat while I make their lunches, then they brush their teeth, and I help them with their hair. They pack up their lunches while I sign agendas and forms…boots and jackets, goodbyes, and they are out the door by 7:15. I love our morning routine and have been meaning to set a stricter one in place for the evenings, but we’ll get there :) I do like how much smoother it makes everything run, that’s for sure!

Set up a bill paying station. This one will make my husband roll his eyes at me I’m sure. Why? Because in theory it is a great idea, and when we (ok “I”) stick to the plan It keeps our finances so much more stress free. How we have ours set up…a two drawer filing cabinet in a corner of our bedroom, filled with hanging files, labeled by month. A white board hangs above it that I sectioned into a chart using a permanent marker. On the left I wrote the bill name, then across have the due date, amount due, etc. Where I slip up is that when I get home from town I’m supposed to immediately go through the mail and write the outstanding bills on the board, then immediately file the important mail and toss the junk. Then he can pay the bills using his online banking and we have a nice clear visual of where our finances stand. It works great when I don’t forget the mail in the vehicle or pile it on the counter because two kids are crying and the milk needs to get put away. Maybe one day I’ll have a good “coming home from town” routine to add to the list!

Quiet time. Take this however you want to…quiet time for the kids, quiet time for mom, it’s all important. I’m a big believer in the power of silence (mostly because my yapping has gotten me into more trouble than anything else ever has). Silence is powerful. When the kids are quiet for awhile after lunch it gives us all a reboot to get through the rest of the day it seems. They aren’t always actually silent, but at least they are in their room with the door closed, so it gives the illusion of silence :)For me, silence gives me a chance to connect with God for awhile, which is also very important in me getting through the day without falling apart, incidentally. I spend some time just listening and taking some deep breaths. For people who don’t have a relationship with God, this would be akin to meditating I would think. It clears my head, allows me to find peace in the craziness of the day, and is like a shot of caffeine for my soul. Silence is powerful. It is also, may I say, harder and harder to find now that Sadie is getting older. I really have to take opportunities to be silent when they come!

Set a timer. This one is straight from the FlyLady, bit it has been super helpful in my life. When I have things I really need to get done around the house, but have things I’d rather be doing (like sewing for LLB), I set a timer and make myself do the chore for 15–20 minutes. I work as hard as I can for that time and it blows me away what I can accomplish in that window. Did you know it takes an average of four minutes to empty the dishwasher? It seems so much longer than that! Another way to get an idea of how effective this method is is to think of a time when a friend or family member called and said they were “dropping by” in 15 minutes. Or when your husband calls and says he’s on his way home and you’re still in your pj’s (which NEVER happens :p).

Setting time goals can be a super effective way of staying productive!

As a bonus I would add meal planning. ONE time in my entire married life, I sat down on a Sunday and made a two week meal plan. Monday morning I grocery shopped according to said plan. It was the most stress free fortnight of my life, cooking wise. WHY do I not do it again? Sometimes I don’t understand myself.

And to all my real life productive and organized friends….I’m super jealous, but am trying every day to be more like you :)