2015–The year of being super productive! {Tips & Tricks}

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More Productive in 2015


Doesn’t everyone face time challenges and wish for more hours in the day? I admit my biggest challenge is always to keep from over-committing myself. I am a total “I’ll do it!” type of girl, and then I live to regret it when I find I am not doing any of the way-too-many things I committed to very well! Start a blog? Sure, that sounds fun! A full-time job? Can’t turn that down! Register my son for travel soccer? Of course, he loves the game!  Teach Sunday School? How can I not help? And so on, and so forth…and then I wonder why I am completely exhausted all the time. {update: see blog post about my issue with this HERE!}

Over the last two years I have made managing my time one of my top priorities. When I accepted a temporary-turned-permanent full-time job it certainly brought a new level of insanity my life. I have three kids, a blog I write for 🙂 and suddenly I had 40+ hours a week allocated elsewhere on top of time spent commuting. I also have a chronic illness that currently is requiring a very draining year-long treatment. {That whole story is HERE for background purposes but I won’t revisit it today}

making life simple
I have written several posts on time management ideas previously because these strategies have made such a difference in my life. You can read another post about all the tricks I developed HERE. I called it “How I Simplified my Life” because these tools have truly helped me save time. Almost a year after that post, here are some ways I have tweaked these same strategies and a few new ones I have integrated in my routine all in an attempt to keep me functioning at a semi-sane level.

My Day Designer

I am 90% in love with the Whitney English Day Designer. I made a switch this year from Mom Agenda to Whitney’s planner and it takes the cake for style for sure. I love having the full page to map out all our events and all the things I need to strive to accomplish. And, if I don’t get it done, I just move it to the next day’s to-do list and so on, until it finally gets checked off. I have to honestly confess this is a lifeline for me. My illness makes me extremely forgetful so I have to constantly remind myself throughout the day of all the “things”; I am checking in my planner constantly.

day designer

I say I am only 90% satisfied because you can’t add custom pages for lists etc. to the Day Designer, but outside of that, it’s a great planning tool. The Mom Agenda is also a great planner, one I used for years {or “My Agenda” if you don’t like the Mom label, they have that version as well} and it comes at a lower price point.

My Household Binder

In addition to the Day Designer that tracks my day to day life. I shared my version of my Printables in this post HERE and touched on how I meal plan and shop. I keep all these in one central binder and pull pages in and out of it as needed.  I use the various categories in my binder for the same reason as above, I have everything in one place, and I can keep track of ALL THE THINGS. I include a section for organizing blog-related projects, and another section on house related projects–of which I have many since we moved last year. I also have a section with all our passwords for various accounts, it keeps them all in one place and I use it all. the. time. I also keep running lists of things we need in it, and often snap a quick picture with my phone of a shopping list so I have it when I am out running around.

A complete collection of basic organizing printables to make your home management binder simple and easy to use. Complete printable set delivered by email (.pdfs) including menu planning, shopping, projects, party planner, things to do and recipes to try page.

projects printable
Isn’t my binder cute? It’s from Target, you can order the gold monogram decal in our ETSY shop HERE.



I am still loving StitchFix. A year later I can say that I have been extremely pleased with the clothes I have received from them. I don’t really love to shop, especially now with limited time and patience (and energy!} so StitchFix is kind of like a present each time it comes. I did have to “edit” my style profile a few times for the best match to my style, but most of my fixes have been just great. Of everything in my closet, I wear the Stitch Fix clothes more than anything else and the quality is clearly better than many other online resources. Looking back on how quickly I donate the cheaper clothes I pick up elsewhere and how many mistakes I have made shopping online {not to mention the hassles of returning said mistakes} Stitch Fix is worth the price.

stitch fix blue shirt necklace


Above is one my favorite Stitch Fix outfits, the sweater is lightweight and the jeans, I know you can’t hardly see them but I wear them almost every day. They are distressed boyfriend and so perfect! I also have another post about the goodies I’ve received from Stitch Fix HERE.


I won’t spend too much time on this, we’ve covered it in the previous post, but I LOVE Amazon. I use Amazon for pretty much everything–birthday gifts, paper goods, books to read, beauty and hair products, we even order our coffee from them {again, so nice to NOT run out of that!}. The less time I spend shopping, the easier my life is and the more time I have to do fun things. Having the Amazon Prime membership makes life just so easy, I honestly couldn’t get by without it.

Online Grocery Shopping

I know not everyone has access to this service, but if you do, it’s such a great time saver. I pay a small monthly fee {I use Harris Teeter} and order my groceries online and just pull up and pick them up. They save my list week to week, so I can check off what I need, add a few other things {from my menu planning list} and I can just send my husband by to pick the order up, so that he isn’t wandering in the store for hours trying to find shallots {which may or may not have actually happened in the past}.  I am sure we save whatever the fee is by avoiding those impulse purchases in the store. I am not sure how many hours of my life I have already spent grocery shopping, but I know its taken years off my life.

Great resourcing/Outsourcing

Another thing I have accomplished this year is I have developed a network of trusted professionals to fill in things I wish {in most cases} I could do but can’t.  As a “DIY” blogger, maybe I shouldn’t admit this 🙂 but not having that “project-loving husband” {though one who is already picking up enough slack}, we currently outsource some of our home projects. I have a fabulous handyman who just built my mudroom shelves that I will show off soon, a great painter who is so affordable it’s no longer worth it for me to think of doing it myself, and the most wonderful lady who cleans my house, oh bless her. By supporting them, I support their families, the economy and my life is simpler. Most importantly, this frees my time up to be with my family. If only I could figure out someone to do the laundry, I’d be set!

Embracing Technology {sort-of}

I recently spent a few minutes doing some other small things that make a big difference. My iPhone is my lifeline, but I try to use it efficiently as possible.  I have unsubscribed from 90% of the e-mailing lists I was on. Getting daily sales notifications from my favorite stores, designers and flash sale sites is a fun distraction but in the end wastes my time and leads to impulse purchases. It’s much easier to check emails now without all the garbage to wade through.

I also have organized the contacts in my phone into a much more user-friendly system. I saw this online via another blog (I can’t remember where, but if anyone knows I am happy to link to it!) For things like my kids’ schools and our doctors, I updated the “last” name of the contact so they would all be grouped together. I no longer have to remember where the contact is based on the random way I input that number in my phone. Now I just go to the S section (for “school”)  or the D section (for “doctors”) and they are all in there together. I also now set reminders on my phone–to take medicine, to make the bus stop, and other things that if something pops up at work and distracts me I don’t miss them completely.

phone screen

My final thought circles back to the beginning of this post. I manage my time by saying NO to quite a few things and that is hard {Edit: Another post on this topic is HERE}. I try to think before accepting a commitment about the cost to my family, my sanity and my health. I’d still love to find more hours in the day–I have friends who I’d love to spend more time with and extended family that I haven’t seen enough of but for this season, this is what I can do. My New Year’s resolution is actually to be even more prudent about what I allow to take up my precious time, we’ll see how it goes.

I wrote more about the whole being a ‘Working Mother” thing {when they featured my Home Office in the magazine} in this post HERE if you are curious.


working mother feature

Also, you can check out our Organizational Product Line HERE, designed to give you more free time and simplify your life.

So, did I miss any tricks? Do share! I’m always looking for other ways I can simplify my life.

We have more to come, our Operation Organization series kicks off next week!

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  1. Amy, I am blown away! This is an awesome blog! Can t wait to check out StitchFix. We love Amazon as well. With the Prime membership, it is amazing.

  2. I’m loving all these little life hacks! Will def have to check out that day planner! xx, b

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