How I Do It All (Sometimes)

Healthy Red Tomatoes with Water Drops
Image by via Flickr

My friend asked for a few posts on time management. “I don’t understand how you find time to cook, raise children, manage the house and write so much.”

The subject has been on my mind since I was asked to speak on time management at the Kishor Social Media Conference for professional Jewish women, organized by Debra Askanese and Sarah Lipman. For a summary see my guest post, Staying in Control of Social Media, at Debra’s site Community Organizer 2.0.

I’m also going to be on the Afternoon Shmooze talk show on the Rusty Mike Internet Radio station this Thursday, March 4,  at 12:30 PM (5:30 AM EST). I’ll be talking with host Nettie Feldman on how to manage your time and get more things done. To listen, go to and click on the “Listen Live” button. Podcasts available after the show:

My productivity goes in cycles. For days or weeks everything seems under control, then one or more compartments of my life seems to fall apart. Here are some things that help me stay cheerful and productive:

  1. Get enough sleep. For me, this is key. When I go to sleep when I’m tired I’m in a better mood and get more done.
  2. Limit outside commitments. I’ve recently had to make a few of out-of-town trips. While stimulating (like Kishor!), too much time away from home throws me off schedule.
  3. Eat well. If I eat too much processed or high-fat food, it affects my sleep, mood and productivity. I don’t know whether I ignored this when I was younger, or it just affects me more now.
  4. Vary activities. Sitting longer at the computer doesn’t mean I’ll write more. I like to alternate physical chores with mental ones, which is why I often write a lot of blog posts before Pesach. I also need to get outside, walk, volunteer, and socialize (in real life, not social media).
  5. Make a hand-written to-do list. Even when I don’t consult the list, I find it a few days later and everything has been completed. It’s magical.
  6. Get a buddy. I have a supportive friend with a roughly similar schedule and goals. We talk for a few minutes each morning to solidify plans.
  7. Use the Pomodoro Technique. A pomodoro is a 25-minute block of uninterrupted time where you combine smaller tasks into one pomodoro, and break large tasks down into a few. Switching back and forth between tasks ruins my focus.
  8. The weather. You’d think I’d be used to the heat by now, but I accomplish more in mild weather. While I can’t control the weather, I can lower my expectations during the worst of it. This applies to anything out of our control, including sick children, broken appliances, or a cranky baby.

What helps make you more productive?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:

The Indispensable Post-Pesach List

What’s There to Eat? Saving Time in the Kitchen


  1. I love to do lists! Sometimes just crossing something off is motivating enough to get me to do it 🙂 Having a list helps me organize the tasks so that I do them in the most efficient manner.

    I just found this blog by following your comment on Penniless Parenting and I’m really enjoying it.

  2. the time management dilemma plagues all moms. thanks for the tips. the pomodoro technique is especially interesting!