How to Get More Hours in the Day

My one prayer that never seems to get answered is, “God, give me more time!” There is no more time. There is only what we have; and each day has enough time in it for what God wants us to do. If we don’t feel like we’re getting everything done, then we need to do something about it. Here are some thoughts:

1. As much as possible, sleep to a schedule

Last year my husband starting getting up at 6:30, every single day. Even on weekends. He found that if he trained his body to wake up at the same time each day, he felt far less tired because his body knew when it was supposed to be awake. But if you’re going to get up at a certain time everyday, you’ve also got to go to bed at a certain time, too.

I know that’s rough if you have kids who still wake up in the middle of the night, but as much as possible, establish a sleep routine. You’ll find you get to sleep faster, and you don’t feel as tired during the day!

2. Starting your Day a little Earlier Gives You More Hours

Not a morning person? Just try it for a month! I find that when my day starts earlier, and I can get the major things done by 9:00 (shower, devotions, exercise, breakfast), then I have three hours to work before lunch. On the days that I get a late start, I often don’t get much done before lunch and that causes panic in the afternoon.

Even if you’re a stay at home mom, set a time for the day beginning, when you will commence housework, or play group, or story time, or an outing to the library, or something. Stick to it, and you’ll find that you feel like you accomplish more! I’m finding this one hard right now because I’m still a little jetlagged from my trip to Alberta. But I’m going to try to start getting up at 7 again, because I know that’s best for me.

3. Get More Hours in the Day by Setting a Limit on your Time Wasters

Do you check email every 15 minutes? Update Facebook throughout the day? Check out your blogs? Don’t stop all together. That’s not realistic. But you can put parameters around it.

Think about it this way: if you check email every 15 minutes, you’re spending a lot of time checking when there’s likely nothing there (or maybe just 1 thing). Start checking just at lunch and then before you make dinner, and you’ll find a whole bunch of things that you can take care of all at once. You don’t miss anything, but it takes less time to go through them! It’s the same thing with Facebook or blogs. Read your blogs in a reader (I love NewsRack for my iPad!). I just check once a day now, and I can skim all the blog posts to see only the ones I want to read. It’s awesome!

What about television? Do you really need to watch it? I’m not trying to be a purist here; I got rid of the television about 15 years ago, but I’ve simply replaced it with the internet. It’s not that I never waste time anymore; I just waste it differently, and I’ll be totally honest with you about that. But one thing that’s great about getting rid of TV is that we can watch all the good shows all in one setting once they’re out on DVD! It doesn’t matter that they’re old; we never saw them in the first place. So instead of being glued to a TV, why not try to move your TV viewing to DVD or the internet when you control the time?

4. Put first things first

Part of the reason that we feel frazzled is that often at the end of the day we climb into bed with that unsettled feeling because we know that we have left important things undone. When the big stuff doesn’t get done, it doesn’t matter how much else you accomplished during the day. You don’t feel fulfilled.

So what is your big stuff? I’d put having meaningful time with God and with family high up on that list. Having dinner together, if possible. Instead of making a to-do list every morning, of all the possible things that you think you should get accomplished, why not make a “must do” list? If you had to narrow your list down to three things today, what would those three things be? What is most important to you?

Often the things that are actually most important don’t show up on our to-do lists because errands and busy-ness crowd them out. But that’s absolutely lethal to our sense of well-being. Instead, wake up in the morning with this question for God: “What three things do you absolutely want me to do today?” Then get those three done for sure! You’ll feel far less like a failure, and more like you’ve accomplished your main purpose in life.

I think we go about things backwards; we often feel best about ourselves when we can cross off a ton of things off of our lists. But I think spending more time on fewer things is actually better for us in the long run.

So ask yourself: what is MOST important? And then do that! You’ll feel much better at the end of the day!

Which thing is hardest for you? Let me know in the comments!

If you want to get better organized, my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum will help you feel more like a mom, and less like a maid!


  1. Adrienne says:

    >GREAT post!!

  2. >for me the hardest is to get up earlier. i'd like to blame that on the newborn but even before he was born i stayed in bed till the toddler was awake. it sucks because i really am a morning person. it will be very nice when the boys will (consistently) sleep for and hour or two after i leave. i can already imagine the possibilities! but there's very little point in me getting up early if i'm just "on duty" right away and then have sleepy children to deal with later. but one day that will get better…… one day!

  3. Anonymous says:

    >I was NEVER a morning person until I started dating my boyfriend and babysitting. During the week we are both in bed at 9 and then up again no later than 6. It's great because I do find that I get a lot more done during the day. Especially now that I have more kids that I am watching so I know that I'm lucky to have a couple days to get housework done and stuff that really needs to be done before I am busy chasing kids around. When before hand when I was home all the time (currently unemployed minus the babysitting jobs) I would constantly put things off saying "I'll do it tomorrow" .. and needless to say it NEVER got done. Feeling much better now though.. starting to get into a groove!

  4. Timmy Boyle says:

    >…or you could move to Mercury. Just sayin'

  5. Bitterroot Mama says:

    >This is a wonderful post. It's hard to get up at the same time with the baby. She usually wakes me up and then it's go time. I really should keep to a schedule and try not to check my email every 15 minutes either. You had a lot of great tips in there. If I practiced them, maybe I would have more time. We'll see.

  6. Frugal Pals says:

    >very good article!

  7. >Great post! For me going to bed on time is the hardest–I just love to stay up and get things done when the kids are in bed! But I am realizing just how much I pay for it the next day and am vowing to do better. Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. These are such good points. On the days when I start by “eating my frog” (doing my most dreaded yet important task on my list), I tend to get much more done.
    Erin recently posted…Giveaway – My Memories Suite Digital ScrapbookingMy Profile

  9. I am not a morning person at all, but I have come to realise that getting up even half an hour earlier seems to be worth an hour’s work in the late afternoon. For some reason, I get *tons* more done in that early morning hour.
    I know I waste a *huge* amount of time on my laptop. It’s something I’m really gonna work on in these coming weeks.

    I write a quick to-do list each night before I go to bed. There are ‘must-dos’ and stuff I want done. The second category can be ‘carried over’ to the next day, or the next… but I keep writing them on each night’s list, just to remind me. That piece of paper has become invaluable to. I have a *terrible* memory, and forget even really important things…. get them jotted down!
    Thanks for posting
    Anne x
    Homeschool on the Croft recently posted…Answering Questions on Patrice’s Porch AgainMy Profile

    • I have found the same thing as you! I find writing things down so helpful, or even just a list of the three most important things to accomplish, so I don’t feel overwhelmed!

  10. One way that I help manage those “time-wasting sites” is a google chrome extension called Stayfocused. You can limit your amount of time you can spend on certain sites in any one day. Or you can set up certain hours of the day that you can’t access them. It’s really helped me stay on task while working on my research from home!
    Christina recently posted…What NOT to do with $20 in collegeMy Profile

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