Making Effective Use of Time

by tinareale on January 24, 2012

Alternative Title: How The Freak I Get It All Done!!

I juggle a lot of things in life. I’m a mother. I’m a blogger/personal trainer. I’m a fitness enthusiast training for my first full marathon. I’m a volunteer. I’m a small group facilitator. Basically…I’m a busy woman.

I won’t pretend to have it together all the time because putting on a fake front isn’t my style. But I will say that, over time, I have discovered ways to make the best use of my time in different areas. I certainly don’t have it all together, but I can at least have it a little more together. The following things help me get as much done as possible in all that fills my life with such joy.

Effective “Mothering/Friending/Spousing/Relationshiping”


I am a queen at to-do lists. I love them! However, I can find myself caught up in checking off menial to-dos instead of focusing on the more important things in life. I have since adopted a “Must Do” list for the day. I pick two or three things that I find most valuable in life and make it a must to take time for those values. Some of my “must-dos” are playing with my kids without interruption, calling a loved one (like my mom who has recently been diagnosed with MS), or even going to bed at a reasonable hour. Focusing on the “must-dos” first gives my life more balance. I have found that the things that truly need to get done…will get done.

Effective Workouts


When it comes to time efficiency in my workouts, I rely a lot on full body strength training circuits. I pick 6-8 moves that work the entire body and go through them one right after the other only resting for a minute or two between each circuit. I up the ante and make it more challenging by using stabilizing moves or adding in bursts of cardio intervals (such as plyometric training). The non-stop movement and cardio bursts keep my heart rate high while I also build up my strength. I’m able to get in, out, and on with my life in no time flat. I will also split up my cardio and weights on some days into two 30 minute chunks to fit my schedule. With the exception of Saturday long runs, I rarely workout for more than an hour a day. And I know the positives it brings me, so it becomes one of those “must-dos”. I make it happen and will adjust my schedule/workout accordingly.

Effective To-Do Lists

And we’re back to the to-do lists. Even though I try to focus on the bigger things in life first, we still have those pesky little tasks (laundry! dishes! email!) that inevitably pile up. In order to make the most of my time, I make a game of it. In essence, I race against the clock. The timer on my phone is such a useful tool. I set it for 20 minutes and BAM! Before I know it, I have cleaned the downstairs in speed fashion. The key is dividing and conquering one thing at a time. Go big. Go fast. Get ‘er done. And make that oh-so-satisfying check on your list before moving on and conquering the next one. Seriously – timers work!

Effective Calming

recycled photo (obviously) but same idea

Having so much to do and constantly feeling that pressure to go-go-go will wear on a woman. In order to keep myself working effectively with a (mostly) positive attitude, I have to find moments to take a deep breath sporadically throughout the day. I do this by setting reminders on my phone to go off every few hours during the day. For me, I have the reminder to pray, but set whatever reminder you wish that will help you step back, take a deep breath, gain some perspective, and move on refreshed. I also make it a priority to wake up a few minutes early every morning and set aside a few minutes every afternoon for quiet time.

Effective Blogging


Last but not least for all you bloggers out there – how I make the most effective use of my blogging/working time. Between posting, catching up with the community or brand relationships, and creating workout plans for clients, I have to bang out a lot of work on the computer. Thank heavens for nap time — aka when I get 75% of my work done.

As for posting, I have gotten it down to a science so my blogging habits do not interfere with my other responsibilities. How? Planning and tools. I pre-write posts at times where I can have little distractions (usually early morning). I use timers when writing so I force myself to stay focused. I draft my posts in my head so when I sit down to type it just flows out onto the screen. I write what is on my heart and mind most prevalently because then it comes more naturally when I’m not trying to “fit a standard”. Then, I utilize tools like Windows Live Writer and Picasa to make the actual post crafting, editing, and design seamless. Plus, I’ve been practicing for almost 2 years and written over 1000 posts…it gets easier with time.

So there you have it. 5 important parts of my life and how I help them all blend together. It’s a crazy, hectic world…but it’s a fun one.

How do you streamline everything going on in your life?

Don’t miss this week’s Tuesday Trainer! Click below for the workout!


1 Lauren January 24, 2012 at 7:05 am

Love all these tips but I love the one about scheduling yourself time for prayer each day! I need to do this!!

2 Miz January 24, 2012 at 7:05 am

I am so with you on the effective calming.
first thing.
last thing.
I calm myself.


3 Nicole January 24, 2012 at 7:06 am

Wow…that’s A LOT in one day! Planning and scheduling help me make the most of my day as well. I love how you use your iphone to schedule in prayer…very smart!

4 Katie @ Raisins&Apples January 24, 2012 at 7:09 am

I like the alternative title :)

I try to do a lot of prep work: drafting posts over the weekend, packing my lunch at night, sleeping in my gym clothes. All that stuff makes room for the fun stuff!

5 Tara Burner January 24, 2012 at 7:16 am

love it and I schedule my time
get up at dark o clock for some prayer time
schedule work, blogging around my daughters schedule and then get my workouts in around that
while I ‘schedule’ it’s an open type of schedule since my day tends to change at drop of a hat but I block out times for certain things so it all gets done

6 tinareale January 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Sounds like we do things very similarly. And dark o’clock – yep…that’s my wake up call too. ;)

7 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health January 24, 2012 at 7:27 am

Fabulous post Tina! I love the idea of setting reminders on your phone…I think I may start doing that! I usually just try to plan things out in my head and only make lists when there are a lot of things that have to get done and I don’t want to forget them!

8 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 24, 2012 at 7:27 am

Great tips! There are sometimes where a post idea comes into my head and I just haaave to work through it in my head. A lot of times this is on the way home from school – other times during lunch (we have a full hour), I’ll spend part of that time knocking out some pre-writing. I definitely do not have as many obligations as you, but once I’m a mommy, I’m sure I”ll have to make those “must do” lists!

9 Dan @ Essentials of Nutrition January 24, 2012 at 7:53 am

Totally with you on the effective workouts. Get in, get on with it, get out.

10 Heather (Heather's Dish) January 24, 2012 at 7:59 am

i’m so glad you posted this…with preggo brain lately i’ve been really down about not getting everything done that i hope to during the day and have been stressing about how to make it happen. i love the setting timers thing though – that’s a surefire way to keep me focused that i never thought of! totally stealing and using…for the rest of my life :)

11 Pure2raw twins January 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

great tips! we love to make to-do lists too. we have a least three we make daily some our for little things, some our big, and one about random things we think of as the days goes on. thank you for sharing these tips!! setting a timer is good idea we need to try that

12 Lori Lynn January 24, 2012 at 8:24 am

I’m trying to get back to strength training. I had 6 sessions with a trainer, and got a lot of different workouts to do. Somehow I did something to my back, and unless I have some sort of a back rest, I end up hurting it with a lot of the movements. I’ve never been one who likes strength training, and prefers to do cardio, but I know it’s necessary.

13 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes January 24, 2012 at 8:30 am

I love to have my prayer time all throughout the day, but I set aside time every morning to read his word and write in my journal :) So calming for sure!!

14 Parita @ myinnershakti January 24, 2012 at 8:31 am

After reading your blog for a while now, I really do think you’re superwoman! Sometimes the thought of being busier than I am now (like when I get married and eventually have kids) kind of freaks me out! But that’s when I breathe and remember to take things one day at a time. :) These are really some great tips, especially the timer one and the “must do” vs to do list. I think I’m going try those out starting today! Thanks!

15 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List January 24, 2012 at 8:57 am

We’re SO alike!! List makers and mommies! Superwomen!

16 Paula @ lipstick and lunges January 24, 2012 at 9:06 am

I love the idea of setting 20 minutes timers to get things done! I will get started on one thing and end up veering off and wondering where the last hour went.
I read a book on time management last year and the best thing I got from it was the idea of “2 minute drills”. Basically making the most of those few minutes here and there when you’re waiting for your oats to cook, someone to call back, water to boil. It’s amazing how many little things I fit in those 2 minutes now rather than just standing there waiting!

17 tinareale January 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I think my life is comprised of these “2 minute drills”. Haha!

18 Heather @ Better With Veggies January 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

LOVE to-do lists, don’t know how I’d get things done without them. I’m also a fan of circuits, reducing the waiting time between moves really does help it fly by. Thanks for sharing your tips – there always seems to be more I could do than I can do. =)

19 Sue @ Sue In Training January 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

Those tips are awesome! I especially like the phone timer idea, I’ll try that with laundry and dishes next time. I’m a horrible procrastinator, it’s just so tempting to cuddle with my husband on the couch all night long, instead of being productive.

20 Michelle January 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

I swear the more I have to do the better I am about managing my time! I had last Monday off (and the kids went to daycare) and without any time constraints I just sat on my booty most of the day. Hello laziness!

I do love a good list — and having weekly goals/schedule always helps me get through the week!

21 tinareale January 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I am the SAME way!

22 Aundra @ Fit for Life January 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I feel the same way!! I’m normally go-go-go, but if I don’t have something planned, there goes the whole day. Glad to hear I’m not alone!!

23 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic January 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

Love this post! I wrote a similar one on how I multitask and balance blogging with a full time job :)

24 Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food January 24, 2012 at 9:56 am

I tend to do the same thing with blogging…I try to know what I’m going to write about before I sit down at the computer, so when I actually do, I know exactly what I’m going to put down.

However, for some reason, I struggle with opening and closing posts. I was the same way in school! So hard to start and so hard to wrap up!

Great tips! :-)

25 Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves January 24, 2012 at 9:57 am

I’m a “to do” list person, too! But more often than not, some of the less important things (laundry), get carried over to my next days to do list in lieu of “living”/spending time with family and friends or exercising or sometimes even watching the Real Houswives of Beverly Hills!

26 jobo January 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

I love that you have your routine down pat, I bet it really helps with balance and getting everything done that you want, with time to spare. And I love that you have prayer as a reminder on your phone. that’s beautiful. I also really dig your latest blogging style and frequency. It really suits you.

27 tinareale January 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Aw, thanks! I’ve been feeling really good these days about it all. :)

28 Shannon ~ My Place In The Race January 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

I love this post! You are so inspiring :D

29 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I love the idea of the must do list! And also the timer, I find myself getting distracted so a timer would be great for me!

30 Leah @ Why Deprive? January 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I’ve become the queen of multi-tasking lately. With working full time, and going to school full time, there’s not a lot of time left for you know, life. It’s all about using every minute as efficiently as I can, and making a point of having a small window in which to do absolutely nothing.
For me, its all about routine. As long as I stick to my routine I’m good. If the routine is going to change, I need sufficient warning or else there will be a meltdown.

31 Emily January 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I 100% concur with the ‘must do’ list! I also write with a timer. I clean with music on – like I get to listen to these songs if I just go sort out the kitchen etc. I tend to work most of my day in silence, so this has a “treat” effect on me as I dance whilst I work.

I also really love your idea of setting reminders in for prayer time. I try to remember to stop during the day, but often the momentum just takes over. I am now going to immediately program some in to my phone before I forget!

32 Khushboo January 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Great tips, Tina! I like the idea of a ‘Must Do’ list- definitely going to implement at work! I also prewrite blog posts when I have the time or when a great idea comes to mind! In fact I mentally wrote my entire post for tomorrow while I was on the arc trainer- creativity stems at the most unexpected times!

33 tinareale January 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I hear ya! I seriously wish I could invent something that would allow me to record my thoughts while running and then translate it into a blog post. I would get all my blogging done while working out then!

34 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions January 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Wow! This was such a perfect post for me to read today. I’m in the midst of a holy-crap-why-did-I-think-it-would-be-good-to-commit-to-all-these-things marathon week+ (something major to do literally every afternoon and/or evening from last Saturday through next Tuesday. Whew!) so time management is quickly becoming my best friend. It’s hard to figure out how to fit everything in, though. I LOVE your idea of a timer! I’m definitely going to have to try that!

35 natalie @ southern fit foodie January 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Love these tips! I’m so glad to know that blogging gets easier with time – as a fairly new blogger, I’m still trying to find the rhythm that works for me.

I have to make notes or reminders for myself to relax and pray. I have the youversion Bible app on my phone, and it makes it easy to read scripture anywhere and everywhere!

36 Mattie @ Comfy and Confident January 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for sharing. i am always trying to find ways to balance my busy lifestyle and still have time to talk to love ones, blog and be present!

37 Lindsay @ FuelMyFamily January 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Being a mom is a different kind of busy for sure! I think it forces you to be efficent. My husband came home yesterday and started laughing when he saw my to-do list on the counter. “sign Alyssa up for soccer, clean bathrooms, pluck eye brows, etc,etc”. He said “you have to put pluck eyebrows on your to do list?”. Yep! If i want it to get done! And trust me, it should have been on my to do list last week sometime!

38 [email protected] January 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Once again, you posted something I really needed to read, thank you so much!!!

39 Carol @ Lucky Zucca January 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Great advice Tina!! I don’t know how you do it all (even after you just explained it)! Being a mom has got to be such a challenge on time. I know I’ll manage when the time comes, but for any of us, it just comes down to doing the best we can and making the most out of every moment!

40 Megan @ Fiterature January 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I love your timer idea! I am a total list maker, but tend to take too long on one or two “to-do’s”. A timer would keep me on track! And I love the blogging advice, too. Thanks!

41 janetha January 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm

You are one of those people who I look at, think about all you do, and wonder “HOW THE HELL DOES SHE DO IT?!” Seriously, props to you.

42 Rebecca January 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm

LOVE the prayer reminders!! That is so definitely happening. You are really an amazing lady and so good at everything you do! :)

43 [email protected] January 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I love the reminder to pray.. such an important part of our lives, yet I never make enough time for Him.

44 Marty January 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I’m totally with you on the list making. Sometimes I only scratch one item off the list, but at least it keeps me focused and aware of what I have to do. And as much as my boyfriend would hate to admit, I think I’ve gotten him into the preliminary stages of list-making (in his iphone, of course)…I’m so proud! :) Haha!

45 Cheryl @ eatplayluvblog January 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Um, could this post be more timely?

I feel like I am sucked into the blog world right now, and that’s awesome but it’s making the normal stress of managing school, working at the paper, and working at the gym + my own training seem way more unmanageable. I actually think you wrote this post for me, and I’m going to continue to believe so unless someone tells me otherwise ;)

What I’m trying to say is thank you!

46 tinareale January 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Of course I wrote it for you! :)

47 Jen January 25, 2012 at 1:48 am

This is amazing! Sometimes, things get so hectic at work that I find it difficult to remember to breathe! (In all seriousness, I completely forgot about lunch today.) LOVE the idea of the prayer reminders…I’m pretty good about that before and after work, but reminding myself to take a few prayer breaks in the midst of all the craziness would probably do me a lot of good! Thanks for this & for all of your wonderful, inspirational posts!

48 [email protected] February 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

Love this post! I’m the type of person who is obsessed with “To Do” lists, I make them almost every morning for my ay and put stars next to the ones that are a priority! Your tips a so helpful, I think that the reminder to relax or pray is important. OUr minds need a break from all the busy activity, even just a 15 minute breather can help us work better.

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