20 Best Tips

A Quick Productivity Tip – and a Little Challenge

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Lately, being ‘productive’ has felt a bit out of my reach. Maybe it’s me hanging desperately onto the last days of summer. It could be my reaction to all the crazy happenings over the last few months and just feeling the need to slow down.

Productivity TIp

Whatever the reason, I’ve pulled something back into play the last two weeks to help give me a boost and put a dent in the seemingly mountain-sized pile of things that need to get done before we start back up to school.

A simple timer.

I pull up the timer on my iPod, set it for 20 minutes and go. For me that can mean limiting myself to 20 minutes of something (maybe a quick reading break of one of my books to read in 2014) or giving myself a set time to accomplish a specific task like the kitchen counters. It definitely isn’t to play Candy Crush (cough).

And truly, you all – 20 minutes can put a HUGE dent in a task that needs to be finished. It seems like a small amount of time, but it can break up something huge and make it more manageable. Maybe it’s tackling a larger project 20 minutes at a time. Or maybe that 20 minutes will be all it takes to get it DONE and off your list (and mind). The short time frame is also great for me to stay focused (I tend to be a bit ADD) – so I am able to focus on one task for a short time, and then switch to a different task when that time is up.


My 20 Minute Task for Today

Today I set two 20 minute tasks up for myself and quite honestly, they both took a big load off my shoulders when they were done! Want to see? Just to be nice (and honest), I’ll keep the pictures BIG so you can see it in all it’s messy glory.

Here are the before pictures…


My desk

messy table


The school table – from both sides so you can be overwhelmed too.


IMG_2060The room as a whole



The big, fat pile of things that need to leave the schoolroom


The 20 Minute Aftermath

Keep in mind this was 20 minutes!! One of my biggest triggers in getting overwhelmed is surface clutter – and I am rather adept at creating it! Seeing the after is so relieving to me and mentally helps me relax and WANT to do more.


The kids desks are straightened…


My desk is *almost* there…




The table is CLEARED!!! *happy dance*


Just need to re-hang our history timeline!


And the pile of books is gone (thanks to the kids!)

This isn’t me temporarily hiding stuff around the corner (wink) – items were actually straightened, put where they needed to be, and organized for even more work later (i.e. desk piles of curriculum that need to be finished this week). I will note that I DID use child labor to move the books from the schoolroom to the basement shelf. Each kid grabbed one arm load of stuff and it was done in no time.

Organization may not be your strongest trait – and that’s ok!! I’d encourage your to try setting a timer this week for 10 – 20 minutes at a time if there are some tasks you are trying to knock out of the way and see what you can get accomplished.


One of the books that I would recommend to help with task-organization (and it’s an easy read!!) is Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (author of MoneySavingMom.com). The book offers practical tips and strategies to help take stress off while focusing on what NEEDS to be done. Many of the tips are ones that I’ve used over the years and are ones that I would suggest too (Crystal just does a great job putting it all down on paper!).

My Goals for the Next Bit

One of my friends and I have been texting each other each day with a picture of what we want to get done (before and after shots) to keep each other motivated and accountable. It’s been a huge help, even if it’s just one little thing like unpacking a box, organizing a drawer, straightening a room – anything that is hanging over my head.

I have a list of things that I would love to accomplish and ways that I can break the task down into smaller ‘bites’. When I set the timer, I tackle one of those tasks and go until the timer goes off.

Want to join me? I’m going to try to post my 20 minute challenges on Facebook and share with you all each day. I’ll share before and after pictures, and I’d love to have you join in with me!

What can you get done in 20 minutes today?

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  1. I love your site! One of my favorite things is I feel as if I have a friend who, by keeping it real, is encouraging and an inspiration. Tomorrow, I will be doing 20 minutes of work in the school room. Today, I will be doing 20 more minutes of bills. Doesn’t seem like enough but even a little bit helps. Thank you!

    • Hang in there – trust me…every little bit helps!! :) I got a bit ADD in my 20 minutes today, but still got a lot done. Enough so, that I have finished 3 20 minute blocks – woot! I can do anything for 20 minutes – other than exercise (grins).

  2. Nicole Robinson says

    My family lives by the timer. My son knows that the when the timer goes, it’s time to switch, with no fuss. More often than not, it works for him. I cook by the timer. I’ve burned soup because I set it on to cook and open a book… Thanks for more ideas on using a timer to be productive in other areas.

  3. ;) i was actually doing this before I read your post! Gave myself a 5-minute break before finishing my studying ;) thanks for the tips!

  4. I would start my to do list with 5 minute intervals, work on that pile for 5 minutes, and most times I liked the progress so I would keep going until it was done!

  5. woohoo good job!!! I so need to remember to do this! I have been trying to do a 15-20 minute pick up after dinner so the house seems better in the morning! I need to keep this up! :-)

  6. Annette Nelson says

    Not seeing your daily challenges on your fb pg. Are they there?

    • I have been working on them this week – and have pictures, but we were out of the house so much and I didn’t have a chance to upload them to my laptop!!! Ugh!! Definitely planning to share this week! :)

  7. Thanks for the tip! I love your blog btw. Keep up the great posts, you are appreciated from here in Boise, Idaho!

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