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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

February 13, 2024 - 10:14am --

Where does time go?  Do you ever feel like the more you do, the more there is to do and the list is never ending?  In searching for some resources to help as our work environment has changed, I found some tips from John Maxwell, author of “Make Today Count.” He makes good arguments for planning and making changes that assist us in being more productive with less stress.  If that sounds good to you, keep reading for a few tips that I’ve found helpful that you can apply at work and home.

  • Maxwell suggests that the secret to success is your daily agenda.  Each thing we do, prepares us for the next.  The question is, what are you preparing for?
  • Our greatest possession is time.  We can choose to spend it or others will spend it for us.  He suggests three questions to ask:  What is required of me?  What gives me the greatest return? And what gives me the greatest reward?  These will help to set our priorities.
  • Learn what your strengths are and improve upon them.  This is a process but when identified your productivity and potential greatly increase.  This also means seeking others around you who are strong in the areas that you are not.
  • Delegate whenever possible.  Build skills with others around you so that they can do the job better than you.  This contributes to strong teamwork at the office, but think about how effective a family might be if everyone worked together?
  •  When prioritizing the day’s activities, correlate them with your personal work peak.  If you are a morning person, put the most important things at the top of the list.  The challenge is not to let the little things (mail, e-mail, interruptions) take over the time and the day pass without getting to the important things.
  • What’s your list?  A mentor shared with me a long time ago to make a list of where I wanted to start the next morning before I leave the office tonight.  That way, when I get in, I can begin with what’s on the list, without pausing to decide where to start.  We also know that to be productive, start with the hardest projects first, don’t procrastinate but break it down into manageable tasks to cross off the list.  It bears notice that we get 80 percent of our work done in 20 percent of our time.  Maybe a two-list system would work for you, a list of easy items that can be done in our non-peak time and a list of items that demand our peak attention.

What about at home? 

  • Make a list of projects or series of projects that you would like to accomplish.  I know the drawers in the kitchen and the bathroom need a good cleaning, so doing one drawer a week is a manageable task on my list.  The painting project will need to wait till I have two or three days at home in a row to clean things out, get ready for, paint and clean up.  A calendar works well for me to space out these projects with both time and money.
  • Things that need done on a regular basis, laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc., can also be done with a calendar.  Sometimes laundry and dishes are a daily task while cleaning can wait till the weekends.  Ideally, letting children help with these tasks is a great teaching tool and delegation can help you get more accomplished in the time you have available.  Remember, not to redo what the children have done, or they will quickly get the idea that “why should I do it, because you will only redo it.”  A job chart or jar (with chores on slips of paper) in it, are helpful to remind children that they are part of a family, and we need to work to get things done together.  When you get a routine down, tasks are done quickly and then there’s time for other fun things or outside obligations.
  • Get the things you like to do the least done first.  Don’t expect perfectionism and become organized so that everyone knows where to put things so that they can be found when they are needed.

We know that if we keep doing the same things over and over, without progress, our outcome isn’t going to change.  Change is a challenge, but pick out one thing above that might help with your work habits and give it a try.


Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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