How Can a Busy Person Get Everything Accomplished?

Have you every felt like there just aren’t enough hours in a day?  Well, I have been a mother of four, a university professor, and a missionary, but I never missed a deadline, my kids were taken good care of, my student’s homework went back to them graded in the next class period after they gave their homework to me, and I didn’t miss a time I was supposed to translate or teach a Bible class, and kept a clean house the whole time.  You wonder how it happened. I know it sounds like a lot, but I had a professor when I was a student in the university who taught me something very important.

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He said the way he accomplished everything he had to get done was by getting up and making a list of all the things he needed to accomplish for the day.  In the beginning, I made those lists, and I would put the things that must be accomplished on that particular day at the top.  The things that I would like to accomplish that day, but could wait to the next day or even later, went further down the list.  Every time, I accomplished something, I checked it off.

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I began by writing the list every morning, but eventually, I began making the lists in my head.  I still do it even though I am retired and my kids are all grown.  I wake up in the morning, and before I get out of bed, I lay there and think about what I want to accomplish on this particular day.  The nice thing about it now is that I am retired, there aren’t any little kids to worry about, and my daughter and son in law who I live with don’t really expect anything out of me except to be their friend.  It is nice when the pressure has been taken off, but my life has not always been like that.

There have been times in my life that I was busy from morning til dark. I am going to tell you about two times: when my kids were growing up in Romania, and when I was in graduate school. I will give you a normal recap of one of my days in Romania first, and then I will give you a recap of how it was when I was in graduate school:

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I woke up in the morning and put my clothes on.  I went from kid’s room to kid’s room waking them up.  I went to the kitchen and made breakfast.  I usually made oatmeal or cream of wheat because I could make enough for everyone in one pan.  They showed up for breakfast, and we all ate breakfast together.

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After breakfast, I got everyone started on their school work because I was homeschooling.  I had made a notebook for each of my kids with lesson plans in for them. My oldest son liked to go to his room, lay in his bed, and do his reading in the morning, so I let him.  My oldest daughter and my youngest son sat at the dining room table. At this time, my youngest daughter wasn’t school age yet, so she was allowed to go play.  I got everyone started on their school work, and then, the lady who helped me came.

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She washed the dishes and watched the kids while I went to the university to teach my classes.  After I taught for several hours, I went home and checked on my kids.  First, we ate lunch, and then I helped them with their school work.  If they didn’t understand something, it was time for me to explain it to them.  My youngest son needed reading lessons when I got home. My oldest son read so much I spent a lot of time giving him tests over what he read, and I couldn’t make a test hard enough that he didn’t make 100% on it. He was a classic overachiever. He read all the books from my B. A. and masters and all the books from his dad’s B. A. and masters besides all the school books we got for him when he was in high school. I kept records of everything they did.

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My oldest daughter was a real jewel.  She was on target every time doing exactly what I asked her to do.   After I got them all taken care of, I put out floor mats on the floor downstairs in the TV room.  My oldest son and oldest daughter went to karate lessons for their P. E., but I took my youngest son downstairs and exercised with him. That way, I got my exercise in, and he got his in too, and he really enjoyed it.  All this while, my youngest daughter was having fun playing outside, but I had checked on her when I first got home, and she would be there wanting to turn the TV on. We didn’t let them turn the TV on until 4:00 in the afternoon because we wanted to make sure everyone was studying. At 4:00, their school was over, and they could watch cartoons.

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While they were watching cartoons, I went to the kitchen and began cooking.  I made dinner, and if you have been reading my blog, you can see that the cooking was not quick and easy.  There were no box mixes.  Everything had to be made completely from scratch. I have even been known to make homemade potato chips or homemade cheese or butter.  When you don’t live in America, that is how it is if you want to eat American food.

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After dinner, it was time to do the dishes again. The lady who babysat and washed dishes while I was at the university was gone.  We had to do supper dishes ourselves.  We took turns.  Sometimes I did them, and sometimes my older kids did them.  I refused to let one person do all the work.  I would never make a kids do dishes every night.  We had to take turns because I didn’t want anyone feeling like a slave.

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After we did the dishes, there was no evening TV for me because I was too busy.  I was the translator. For my husband to teach his private Bible studies, I had to go.  The older kids baby sat with the younger kids, and I went with their dad and translated for the Bible lessons.  If I didn’t go, the Bible studies couldn’t take place.  If I got sick, my overachiever oldest son ended up translating for me a time or two. I was so proud of him because I wanted to get him Romanian lessons, but he refused. He learned Romanian just by spending time with the kids his age.

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In the evening, when I got home, I played with my kids, put them to bed at a decent hour so they could do school work the next day, studied my Bible, read interesting books, and graded papers from the university. The only time I watched TV on a regular basis was on Sunday evenings.  The American television show “Dallas” was on. It was in English with Romanian subtitles, and I was studying Romanian by watching it and reading the subtitles as I watched.  At times, I watched the Romanian news, and it was good listening practice because news casters speak faster than anyone else.

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I did all these things everyday, and I always gave the students back their graded papers in the next class period.  I never missed a deadline. I also never missed a deadline in graduate school, and when I saw other students turning in major papers late, I couldn’t believe it because I thought, “If they can’t get their papers in on time, how are they going to get tests made out for their students when they become professors done at the proper time, how are they going to get their syllabus done on time for a class to begin, or how are they going to get their homework graded and back to the students on time?”  I felt like graduate school was a training ground, not just for the school work, but also for meeting tough deadlines because I had an overwhelming amount of work in graduate school.

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I commuted to the next town and back when I was in graduate school, and I had two little kids.  My oldest son was in school, but my oldest daughter wasn’t in school yet.  My husband got up and went to work everyday at a power plant, so I was going to school, keeping house, and taking care of my kids which wasn’t easy.  The amount of reading I had to do was overwhelming. In one semester, I had to read 30 books, and that is on top of an essay for every class every week and long 60-100 page essays due at the end of each class.  In one of my classes, I had to write a paper every time I went to class.  Those professors kept me busy!  However, I never got behind, I hit all my deadlines, and graduated with the highest honors.

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I got up and got my little boy off to school every morning.I cooked breakfast for everyone.  I even made My husband’s and my little boy’s lunch and sent it with them. I cleaned house, did laundry, and washed dishes.  I was constantly reading.  When I was doing dishes, I had a book open in back of my sink to read or study the vocabulary.  When I ate a meal, I had a book in my hand reading, and I made a goal to read 100 pages everyday.  When my daughter was playing outside, I took a blanket and went outside. I let her play in the yard watching her while I laid on the blanket and read my book for school.

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When I was in class during the day, my oldest son was in school, but my daughter wasn’t.  My mother lived next door, but she didn’t want to babysit.  All the kids in the neighborhood went to a local daycare, and my daughter campaigned to go there too because she said all the kids were playing together and having fun, and she wanted to go play with them. It is the only time in my life I took one of my kids to a day care. She really enjoyed herself there! At one point, she wasn’t feeling well, and I didn’t want to take her to the daycare, so I took her to school with me.  She sat in the desk next to me with a color book and crayons and she was completely happy and well behaved.

Many of my classes were in the evening.  At that time, my husband was at home, so he took care of the kids if I went to school in the evening. I didn’t like going to school while my husband and kids were at home without me, but I knew it was only temporary.

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Needless to say, I have had a very busy life!  Yes, it is possible to get everything done.  Just make a list. Put the most important things at the top.  Don’t spend your day surfing the internet, reading Facebook posts, or playing games online.  Make that list of things that must get done.  Put the most important things that must get done at the top, and the things that can wait at the bottom. If you get them all done, good, but if you can’t get to the things at the bottom, tomorrow is another day, and they will be at the top of the list tomorrow. Make goals for yourself like when I decided to read 100 pages everyday.  If I didn’t make that goal, I couldn’t have kept up in graduate school.  I hope this helps some busy person to get things done.


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