How do you manage your time?

27 September 2009

Hanno bought me this lovely bunch of flowers for our wedding anniversary today. We were married in Hamburg, Germany, 30 years ago.

One of the most important subjects I should be concerned about is one I don't write much about but we've had a couple of requests for a posts about daily routines and organisation, so here goes. I guess the reason it doesn't jump into my head like other subjects do is that my days are very similar now, there is an easy rhythm that is often repeated, and, if my truth is told, they don't need much organising. It wasn't always that way though.

My days are anchored by a set of daily tasks that are the same every day: feed animals, make breakfast, wash the dishes, make the bed, sweep the floor. Whether I go out, go to work, stay at home and potter around, or stay at home and work at writing all day, those five core tasks are always done. I do other things as well, but those five things are my unchanging constants and they're almost automatic. I don't know about you but I can be a bit wonky some mornings. Doing those five tasks seems to set me up for the day. I do them and while I do, my head and heart settle and when they're finished, I can think about what else has to be done. Another example of this working was when Hanno was still working shift work. He would get up for morning shift at 5.30am, he'd shower and get into his work clothes. While he was doing that, I would wander into the kitchen, make his breakfast, his packed lunch and a cup of tea for me and when he was ready, he'd eat breakfast while I had a cuppa with him, then he'd leave. Those few things would get me ready for the day, and when they were done, I'd know what would follow and the order I would do things in.

New girl, Quentin, free ranging with aunties Martha and Heather.

Other tasks that proceed or follow my five daily tasks, and which happen every day, include writing my blog or checking the forum, checking emails, feeding the animals, (all done before the core five) and knitting, cooking and tidying up (always after).

Then I have unusual tasks that might happen once a week, once a month or once a year. When I have unusual tasks, I make a list because if I don't, I'll forget one or two of them. My unusual tasks might include: make ginger beer starter, preserving, make fruit cake, ironing, plant seeds, water garden, make yoghurt, make fresh cheese, sweep verandas, tend worm farm, harvest loofahs or lemons, email photos to work, mend skirt or write article. These are the interesting tasks that I usually enjoy doing. They're different, and they add variety to my day.

So a work day often looks like this:
Rise, shower and dress
Write blog
Check emails
Feed animals
Make breakfast
Wash dishes
Sweep floor
Pack lunch
Go to work
Hanno makes dinner
Clean kitchen after dinner

A work at home day is like this:
Rise, shower and dress
Write blog
Check emails
Feed animals
Make breakfast
Wash dishes
Tidy kitchen
Bake bread
Sweep floor - all unlisted tasks
Write book/check blog/check forum - unlisted
Knit - unlisted
Make ginger beer - on list
Sweep verandas - on list
Write article - on list
Mend skirt - on list
Harvest vegetables - on list
Watering - on list
Make dinner - unlisted
Wash dishes - unlisted
Clean kitchen - unlisted

As you can see, certain things like making meals and cleaning up are never put on a list because they are either done every day or they are part of a normal process - such as we eat dinner every day. The rest of the tasks that I do, but don't do every day, I list each morning after breakfast and after I've done my core five tasks. By then my head is clear and I know what I need to do and what I have the time and energy for.

A basket of fresh zucchinis and beans.

If you think about it, I'm sure you'll have a set of core tasks that you do as soon as you get up in the morning before you have a chance to think about them. You don't have to organise them, they organise you. You'll probably also have a set of tasks that are done most days - like making dinner and packing lunches, that you don't have to be reminded of. But aside from those two set of tasks, there will be the things that need doing today, but not every day - they go on a list. BUt if you're new to lists, then maybe it's wise to list all your taks, including your core tasks, in the order they'll be done, until you get used to working in this way. If you can do your list the night before, that's great, if not, do it while you have your breakfast. The important tasks should always be first so they get done.

And remember, things on the list that don't get done can be transferred over to the following day but make sure you prioritise your list so the important things at at the top and are done first.

I'm very interested in how you organise yourself each day, if you have a moment, please share your routine with us, it may help someone who is in a similar situation to you.


  1. I love my morning routine, it gets me ready for the day:

    -Rise and dress in comfortable 'house/ workout clothes'.
    - Make a pot of coffee and eat a slice of bread
    - Do my yoga workout!
    - Take a shower
    - Dress
    - Walk the dog
    - Making breakfast for my husband and some crackers for me and have a coffee together

    I'm ready for a new day!


  2. Rhonda,

    Great Post! This is something that I am very interested people spend their time. We all get the same amount of hours but how do we each use our time?

    I wake up and try to get to all my morning chores..breakfast, a load in the laundry, dishes, and then I bring out the girls school books.

    I try to get everything done on the morning list... before I start knitting...although I do look at the computer to see what has happen over night:)

    I have to watch the clock because I could get lost in all those great blogs I look at:)

    I try to get a few things done before bed like making sure dishes are clean and laundry is in the basket ready to be taken to the laundry room in the morning.

    I make a daily list of what I would like to get done each day such as..clean out animal cages and strip beds ect.. I try to limit to only 2 things on the list so I don't feel over-whelmed with to many things to do and I feel good when I get those things done.

    I always make sure I have some time left in the evening so I can sit with Marc and the girls watch T.V. or knit while they do what they like to do:)

    Thank Again!!


  3. this is my morning routine:
    * chart cycle
    * make the bed
    * day/yoga/running clothes
    * pick up bedroom
    * put away clothes

    * drain tray
    * make breakfast
    * eat + take remedies

    * morning pages
    * yoga/running

    * clean teeth
    * hair + face
    * dry brushing
    * shiny + tidy

    * dishes done
    * tidy + clean
    * plan dinner

    * load laundry in

    * look at day plan
    * practice (my art practice)

    here is my evening routine:

    * finish dishes
    * shine sink
    * tidy kitchen
    * wipe surfaces
    * plan meals
    * food preparation
    * sweep floor

    * put away toys
    * tidy livingroom
    * tidy studio
    * check laundry

    * drinking water
    * evening remedies

    * clean teeth
    * clean face
    * dry brushing
    * tidy bathroom

    * nightclothes
    * clothes laid out
    * tidy bedroom

    * plan tomorrow
    * quiet time

    aside from that basic routine, i'm trying out this as a way to structure my daily priorities:

  4. No particular routine at the moment, just wanted to say happy anniversary!

  5. What a great post Rhonda. You and I are definitely on the same wavelength today.

    Happy Anniversary to you and Hanno.

    As far as my day goes, I have routines that I stick to - it is what works best for me.

    - wake up, exercise, shower and get dressed
    - feed dogs
    - wake up kids, have breakfast and help them get ready for school
    - wash dishes and start laundry
    After that, it depends on what day it is. I have my housework broken down into daily tasks. Trying to get everything done in one day is overwhelming for me.

    Once that day's tasks are completed I can decide which project to do next. It might be some decluttering, organizing, cooking, baking, canning, yard work or a seasonal cleaning job such as washing windows etc.

    For the days when there are no additional projects that need to be done I take some time for myself and read, use the computer or scrapbook. It is so important to take some time for ourselves.

    Best Wishes,


  6. Rhonda I used google calendar and have created a task list for each day, I do list the same core tasks each day and have broken my list into sections. Morning tasks. Kitchen tasks, washing and weekly to do's. I list even the most basic things so that I gain momentum through my sense of accomplishment at checking off a section. For example it goes with out saying that I make my kids breakfast but its in my morning section, as is getting my self showered and dressed. I am still developing my lists and system for incorporating the once a month, type jobs too.

  7. curious what time you head to bed at night. We seem to be such night owls and then have a terrible time get up and around in the morning. Kids usually wake us up, not a great start to the day because then I'm already behind!

  8. My morning routine:

    Get dressed
    Make ds11's lunch and check he's ready for school
    See him out to his driver
    Washing on
    Internet - facebook, weather, news, forums, blogs
    Quick house tidy; dd hangs out washing
    Bookwork with ds8 and dd13

    Happy anniversary, Hanno and Rhonda!

    Cath in Sydney

  9. My daily routine usually starts with a row of milk glasses being set out and special orders being filled for the four little ones. 2 chocolate milks, 1 strawberry milk, and 1 regular please. Then I become short order cook for everyone including the dogs. Next its time for the "sweet nectar of life" otherwise known as coffee and my blog reading time. Once the caffeine kicks in we either head to the gym, or head to preschool on the prescribed days. Then its my personal hygiene time, and time to fluff the nest and clean the clothes. If kiddos are at home, its usually time for sandwiches after this, and then tidy up the kitchen time. Next "Hopefully Nap time" where I usually like to turn to my current library book for some relaxation. Then my school age boy comes home and time to focus on his homework and preparing dinner. After dinner we tidy up the kitchen and hose down the kids. We usually have some family time and then time for bed for the kids. This would be the time hubby and I enjoy some quality time with each other, usually watching one of our favorite shows. Then we head to bed and start over again the next day. Oh yeah and once a month I have a day to pull my hair out and set up a budget for the next month. :)
    I enjoy reading about others routines as well.

  10. I am one of those silly people who don't really have a routine. Oh sure, I have the core tasks, get up, shower and dress, put the coffee on, feed animals and check their water supplies. I then go on the computer, check emails news, blogger friends and have my morning coffee.
    How long I stay on the computer depends on whether I am going out to work or at home.
    While I am on my weekends I do only the absolute necessities, because I cannot stand for long. When I do my chores, I do them a little at a time, so as not to upset the feets! In the evening eith I or my oldest daughter cooks dinner, and whoever doesn't cooks cleans up after. Then it is off to bed and dreamland!

  11. Rhonda, I love the flowers Hanno gave you. Congratulations on your happy day. I hope you both are blessed.

    Many years ago I ran across a site called fly lady. I don't even know if she is still around. She was very routine focused and helped me to develope a personized routine that makes the day flow well. I find I go a few months without being organized the house is stressful and it shows up in relationships. The best thing about routines is everyone can relax.


  12. I like this post; it's helpful. It's so hard for me to have a routine and this is inspirational.

  13. I sure like your ideal of groups of 5.
    I use to do something like that but it was in groups of 3 since I work outside of the home.

    Coffee is on.

  14. I love this post!
    My day begins whenever my young girls get me up, usually around 6:30 am. I feed them, and have my coffee (slowly). Then I make lunches and get them ready for school.
    The rest of the day involves me showering and dressing, eating when I can, and volunteering at the school. Whatever else happens during the day revolves around that.
    Then it's dinner, cleanup, and finally bedtime for them. Then I check email and blogs, and knit.
    I so long for one day when my schedule will be more of my making and not so hectic. But I suppose that's the season I am in right now with young children.

  15. I've written about the process of time management (at our stage of life) on my blog. :)

  16. Hello Rhonda. As you may or may not guess from the time, today has been anything but a routine day for me. I had a morning of cleaning away the red dust on top of doing my weekly chores and transporting an elderly friend from A to B. I think it's easier to accomodate the non-routine days when you have a sound routine.

    For me, writing everything down keeps me focussed. I find what with home and the shop (plus encroaching middle age??) a list keeps me on task and on time. It really is time I updated the household binder, I'll look up your posts on that.

    Our new chicken coop is taking shape outside my study window! Congrats to you and Hanno both from the old married couple here -- we have 3 years on you.

  17. Happy Anniversary Rhonda Jean. I must say, your chickens really are gorgeous! (I must stress that I never thought I'd say that about chickens in my entire life...) :D


  18. I loved this post Rhonda! Perhaps surprsisingly because it often seems chaotic here and a beautiful house is never as important to me as good food and the garden. But after reading your post first thing this morning, as I went about my usual activities, I was gratified to notice how much routine I do have and how much I do achieve, rather than feeling jaded by what is not done.

    Term time:
    breakfast on,
    make lunches for all,
    feed chooks,
    get children ready for school, load in the dishwasher,
    load in the washing machine,
    off to school or work ...

    after this, depends on the day, but I like to know what I am having for dinner very early on, preferably the night before, so I can get that sorted. Home days usually involve making foods for use during the week like hummous, muffins, mini quiches or a cake. Rainy days involve more kitchen and less garden but the garden is where I am happiest and a brilliant day is one that my children and I spend in the garden. Somewhere I fit in some sweeping and laundry folding, at least some of the time.

    Evening routines are based around the children - pjs, stories, bed. Often another laundry load on ready for the morning. I refuse to do housework after the children are in bed except in exceptional circumstances like when we are expoecting guests.

  19. Hi Rhonda.
    Congratulations on being the top finalists. C u in Singapore ok! And don’t forget to vote me for best travel blog award --- akademi fantasia 

  20. I am loving the lists, they are what keep me sane and structure all those ideas/thoughts/to-do's swimming around in my brain. I still wouldn't say i manage my time particularly well, but sticking to routine and structure with a toddler is always tricky.

  21. Morning Rhonda, and happy anniversary to you both! :)

    I'm learning to have routines (through your advice, and a bit of flylady), and they're saving me so much stress and running around! I split daily routines and have another list for other tasks. So today, for example, will look like this:

    - shower and quick clean of bathroom
    - water indoor plants
    - breakfast and read the paper
    - wash dishes
    - brush kitchen floor
    - quick 5 minute tidy up

    - 15 mins in one room (living room - this is a flylady thing and the room changes each week)
    - weekly tasks - empty bins, clean mirrors, dust

    - make tea
    - wash dishes
    - take compost out
    - water garden plants
    - 5 mins tidy up

    - something nice for myself :)
    - 10 minutes tidy up
    - lay clothes out for tomorrow
    - put today's clothes in wash (er, not just on the floor)...

    I'm learning! I also usually split my paper into 3 and have a list for PhD, work, and other. The PhD list will be writing tasks for the day, people to ring etc, the work list will remind me which job I have to be at and when, and what I have to take, and the 'other' list will be phone calls, picking things up, posting letters or whatever.

    Sounds complicated, but life's rather complicated at the minute, and it's actually nice to take time out to think about tomorrow's list each day.

    Thanks for writing about this!


  22. Happy Anniversary Rhonda and Hanno!

    Love the topic.

    My routine is very much determined by workday/weekend rituals and the fact I don't have kids.

    - Cup of tea and brekky (today- muesli, blueberries and homemade yoghurt).
    - Long soak in the bath
    - Dress, hair and make up.
    - Make bed
    - Pack lunch (today tuna, avocado, tomato and mixed lettuce)
    - Check emails
    - Drive to work via my fav coffee shop for my daily 'boost'
    - Work, work, work
    - Home 6:30pm
    - Beach run to unwind
    - Start dinner (today lamb cutlets, baked potatoes, salad, fresh corn)
    - Tend to vege/herb pots
    - General tidy up/laundry etc (still finding red dust in the hidden crevices of our 60m2 apartment)
    - SHower
    - Dinner @ 8:30pm when hubby returns
    - Relax: spend time with hubby, play scrabble, read, check emails, blogs, facebook
    - Bed 11:00pm

    Weekends usually involve a big clean, laundry, reading the weekend SMH over coffee, cooking, beach walks and generally relaxing.

    Rebecca - Sydney

  23. What a good idea to put your routine tasks on a list! I have them, just like you, but never count them in for serious.

    Sometimes around 10 in the morning I think.... oh I really have to start DO something now, its already 10 o'clock. And it can make me a bit nervous, so much to be done!! But without realising a lot of work is already been done than!

    My routine is:
    - get up, get dressed, wake the kids
    - slice the bread, make orange juice, fix the schoollunches and eat together
    - tidy up the kitchen, 5 bedrooms, the bathroom
    - run for 30 minutes and do pilates for 15 minutes
    - shower

    And than it's 10 o'clock and I start doing my things on the list.

    Thanks for making me realise than unlisted things are work too! ;-)

  24. Well.. first much congratulations to your anniversary. Wish you both a ot more happy years to come.

    Nice to see this post @ your place. I just sat down at the computer to tell my readers a little about my dayroutine ;o)

    If you of one of your readers like it, please be welcome on my blog.

    Have a great day!

  25. Hi Rhonda Jean :) I am late, late! But I so wanted to wish you and Hanno a Happy Anniversary. May you have many more years in which to celebrate, and may they be filled with love & joy. Love to you both, Q

    PS - I have a new routine for this year that wraps all of my own things plus the sweeties and our schooling. It is working out wonderfully well! I purchased a Motivated Moms Planner a couple of years ago and adapted it over time to our family. I've meshed that with a schedule I created, and we are really blessed to have found a routine that works :)

  26. I actually just wrote a post related to this not that long ago describing how most days have been going:

  27. I love reading about everyone's daily routines!! Since I left my job and am home full time now, I am still searching for my routine. At the moment, I am trying to get chores done that have been put aside for too many years and it is taking me much more time than I had anticipated. I am looking forward to finding my "groove"! Thanks for sharing everyone!!

    central Illinois

  28. I noticed someone else has mentioned her but the FLY Lady is a great place to start if you are new to routines or lists. I discovered her after I became a mother with a full-time job. It was hard to keep house by having one massive cleaning day as I used to do. She helped me get things back in order and into that automatic point.

  29. I agree that FLYlady is a great start. I am working on establishing new routines as a gift to myself -- to give myself the time and focus to pursue the things that are important to me, and to bring more order to my family. So they have to help with a big one-hour cleaning on the weekends, and I do most of the rest as I have time. I'm consigning errands to one specific day, and planning out my week in blocks of available time. For my weekly planning, I'm inspired by my 8-year-old's classroom agenda: Each child has a calendar with scheduled events blocked out, and then they assign project steps to specific work times. If they can do it, I can too, right?

    Happy anniversary to you! 30 years is a fine achievement.

  30. Hello there! Many Happy Returns! We married at Bad Godesberg in 1964 and lived in HH for 5 years before deciding to emigrate to Australia in 1971...

    Today we have the kind of weather I like: 31 C, and lovely in the shade. Chooks and geese all somnolent around us and Bianca sits on her favourite little log under a towering palm. This is just heaven.

    I am making a new garden for chillies and tomatoes next to my wood-fired oven, and it's my turn to cook tonight.

    Routine?! I never met the gal LOL



  31. I have been following the FLY Lady's system for a long time until last year. Just as we know, life happens. We were blessed with another baby (after ten years!), needless to say, it tipped my scale of balance of my daily life a bit. LOL! Right now my priority is to concentrate on my homeschooling role and being a mom to a sweet toddler again. I remember how fast the toddler stage went by with my other three; therefore I have simplified my routines to accommodate the challenge and demand of a life with a toddler once more. I basically have a "chunk" of morning time, afternoon time and evening time instead of a rigid hourly task list that I used to have. I now make list similar to yours not including the basic things such as dinner or shower. What couldn't get done today will be tomorrow's priority. No more guilt. :) I like reading your blog. I have relatives who live in Australia and perhaps that’s why I have always like people or things from there even though I have yet traveled to the country. Lord willing one day we will. :)

  32. Rhonda Jean: Speaking of lunches,what do you pack since you are a vegetarian or vegan?


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