Time Management Tips: Following Through with Commitments on Limited Time

By Guest Blogger Melissa Foster

Time Management Tips: Following Through with Commitments on Limited Time

If you’re like me, your To-do list is longer than the day is long. Every morning I wake up and wonder how on earth I’m going to get everything done. Although four of my six kids (yes SIX kids) are now college age, for many years I was navigating six children’s schedules, my marriage, my writing career,  and trying to maintain friendships. Needless to say, life was a tad hectic.

I’ve come up with a few tricks of the trade to manage my time, meet my commitments, and not lose myself in the process.

Here we go! Let’s cut right to the chase…

Plan to succeed

Meeting commitments takes supreme time management and organizational skills, and anyone can have those skills—it just takes proper tools and planning. For sake of ease, I’m going to use myself as an example. My day is cut into three sections: The Top 5 List, Kid Time, and Family Time.

At the end of each evening, I write down my To-do list for the next day. I prioritize my top five tasks (The Top 5 List) based on what tasks will cause my life, or the life of others, to fall apart, if they are not accomplished. Here’s a hint, laundry and haircuts do not make the top-five cut.

Time Management Tips: Following Through with Commitments on Limited Time

Once you’ve figured out the five things that absolutely have to get accomplished, move on to your next priority list; items that should to be done today or they’ll have some sort of negative or stress-causing impact on you directly. These are items that should be done today, but can just as easily go unnoticed until the next day. Yes, these items may climb tomorrow’s list in terms of priority, but remember, you’ll be revamping the list each night, so that’s okay.

If you think I’m bananas making these lists, you haven’t raised 6 kids while managing work, a husband and life. 🙂 Making lists might seem labor intensive at first, but they will preserve your well-being, and will quickly become a source of comfort and direction for you.

Schedule your time

Time Management Tips: Following Through with Commitments on Limited Time

Time management can seem overwhelming for those who are not used to taking charge of it. The way I grab hold of my day (and my sanity) is to note approximately how much time it will take to complete my TOP 5 list. For example, my list may look like this:


  1. Drop kids at school 8:00 (Yes, I have to put this on the list!)
  2. Conference call with Sally 8:20
  3. Write article for Women on the Fence 9:00 – 9:45
  4. Write two articles for bloggers 9:45 – 10:45
  5. Grocery shopping 11:30-1:00

Pick up kids (There they are again!)


Kid Time

  1. Clean house
  2. Play with kids (Very important! Make time to engage your children in something fun).
  3. Call associate (by now kids are playing independently)
  4. Laundry


Family Time

  1. Dinner
  2. Laundry (I’m sure I’ll procrastinate, so might as well add it in now)
  3. Homework
  4. Prepare notes for tomorrow’s meeting (while kids are doing homework, this is my homework).
  5. Plan tomorrow’s LIST
  6. Take a walk with my husband or friend
  7. Put away work – spend time with family

Scheduling your time will give you a mental image of what your day will look like and give you piece of mind so you can properly accomplish the tasks at hand. Look at number five on your list—is that something that could be delayed to your “Kid Time” or “Family Time” (in other words, not “The Top 5 Time”)? If so, pressure is off.


Allow yourself to reprioritize

No one is perfect, and managing schedules and commitments can be a fluid process as your day changes. I used to think that if my schedule was delayed, the other party who was waiting for me would be bothered. Don’t get me wrong, I always try to be on time, and mindful of other people’s schedules. But, what I’ve learned is that the other party, typically, is just a normal person making it through their own deadlines. How would you react to a delay? Handled professionally, chances are that it wouldn’t send you running from your client.

Time Management Tips: Following Through with Commitments on Limited Time

Keep phone numbers handy for meetings, conference calls, and important contacts. If you notice that you are behind, make a call or send an email and delay the next event a few minutes (if you are able). Be confident and apologetic. Most people are kind and will understand.


Give yourself a break – THE “ME-TIME” SECTION

Probably the most important task that should be on your schedule is time for you to rejuvenate. We can’t enjoy our days if we are constantly running from one task to the next, always appeasing others.

Build thirty minutes into your schedule daily to read, take a walk, or even decompress watching a movie at the end of the night. Thirty minutes is not too much to ask. It’s okay, life will go on. I promise.

Remember, we can plan, but we can’t plan everything. Things will always come up unexpectedly, life will throw us for a loop, and we need to roll with the punches.  But preparing for tomorrow has served me well in all my roles, and it might work for you too.

What do you think?


I would love to hear YOUR time management tips, and how you manage your day and get things done. Do you create lists? Do you just wing it? Share with our readers.


Time Management Tips: Following Through with Commitments on Limited Time

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of two novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, an online social and support community for women, and WoMen’s Literary Café, and is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way. Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, and is currently working on her next novel. Visit Melissa on her website, www.MelissaFoster.com.


  1. Great tips. I love the idea of a TOP 5 list. I’m not sure I would write all the other things down (hello who has the TIME), but at the very least a TOP 5 to accomplish the important stuff. Good idea.

  2. Thanks Melissa! How I manage my day, is I use the TASKS function on my blackberry. My to-do list gets entered there. I don’t use a TOP 5, but I really like that idea… and I’d post it somewhere visible too! As I complete each task, they get deleted in my blackberry. I glance every night at my next day to see what needs to get done.

    All this talk reminds me I think I need a vacation. NO TO-DO LISTS! 😉

  3. Love the top 5 list! I’m stealing that one! My day runs so much smoother when I think about what has to be done the night before.

    One of my secrets is a Flylady Calendar. It’s the only calendar I’ve ever seen with ruled blocks that are big enough to hold multiple family events. I order a new one every year!

  4. Hi Melissa,
    Thanks for the post – it cracked me up that the #1 under “kid time” was clean house!
    Do I love lists? Man, I love them so much I added them into my mystery novels (Bundle of Trouble, Motherhood is Murder and Formula for Murder) whenever I’m dumbfounded on what to put onto my protagonist to-do list – I simply open up my planner and pick out some ridiclous item I’ve written for myself to complete!

    1. Diana, yes, for me, cleaning the house falls under “kid time” because while they’re setting into 30 minutes of do-whatever-you-want-time after school, I can mill around and vacuum, straighten up, etc. Weird, but true!

      Our lives make great fodder for novels. Have you read mine? Megan’s Way is being optioned to film and Chasing Amanda is on Amazon’s Top 100 Rated Kindle books (also avail in paperback). My women protags always have real-life mom stuff going on:-)

  5. Hillary, I love the white board idea! I have several, in fact:-) Love it!

    H.P., go ahead and steal the list idea, that’s why it’s here! I buy an enormous desk calendar — two feet long, and I write everything on that calendar.

    I also use my phone for my appointments, as Erica does, but I’m a visual person, so I also need a hard list to nag me:-)

    I need a vaca, too!!! Where’s my schedule…lol

    List free – yes, lists are not for everyone. For me, there’s a must, but everyone has their own method.

    Christina, my Top 5 brings my most chaotic, heart palpitating days under control. Peace of mind is a wonderful thing:-) It allows me to breathe.

    I’m so happy each of you stopped by. We women have so much on our plates, that some days, just making it from moment to moment seems trying. Whatever your method, be sure to build in time for rejuvenation–it’s so important! I’ve written articles on rejuvenating your mind and body, and I preach it a lot. I’m far better at preaching it than taking heed of my own advice. You can read more parenting and articles on finding balance on my website.

    Stop by again!


  6. I never used lists before but now I’m all for them. I started writing down my list of items each evening before I leave the office and found that the list allows me to completely clear my mind of work items. Before I did that I was constantly thinking about my ToDo list. Now I’m able to focus my non-work life on my husband and I. I used to lay awake at night thinking about what I had to do tomorrow. No more. I’m sleeping better than ever.

    1. Shealty, I have even started to keep a pad and paper by my bed, that way, if I find I’m focusing on something other than sleep (or hubby, lol), then I can jot it down and turn my brain off. SO glad you’re a list girl! Yay!


  7. I am a huge fan of lists. I keep a “running” to do list at my work. I don’t do one every day for home, but I always have detailed lists during the holidays. I could not survive the holidays without my lists and I do mean plural. 🙂 I will have a “holiday to do list,” a regular “to do list,” a “general menu list” as well as a detailed list that includes what recipe book and page number the recipe can be found (if using a recipe), what serving dishes I plan to use for which dish, when the dish needs to be prepared, seating chart for adults, and the lists go on and on and on. This level of organization (which I totally understand would drive a lot of people crazy!) allows me to insure that nothing is overlooked and I can thoroughly enjoy the holidays.

    1. Hi Edwina, thanks for stopping by!

      I’m a big believer in clearing the chaos from our minds, and lists help me do just that. If only I could figure out a way to add lists that helped my dinner menus – that would be a winning combination!

      Nice to meet a fellow Lister!


      1. Hi Melissa,

        I do plan my menus – at least the entries – as I make my shopping list. It makes life much easier at the grocery store and during the week when I don’t have to “figure out” what we’re going to have for dinner each night. 🙂

        Have a great weekend!


        1. I think it’s fair to say that my husband and I need a wife. He has to pry me away from my keyboard, so dinners are usually last minute decisions:-)

        2. I think it’s fair to say that while I’m very organized and solid with time management, I don’t enjoy cooking very much, so my husband and I are in desperate need of a wife, lol. I shall start lists for dinners and see if I can succeed. I used to do menu planning, but somehow let that fade away. Thanks for the motivation!

  8. Time management tip — Sunday prep day. I spend a new hours preparing a few meals for the week, laying out a few outfits — especially accessories (PAIRS of earrings), planning my weekly schedule by organizing my calendar and to-do list, looking at the family’s obligations. This alleviates some chaos and helps me map out my week. Thank you for your article.

  9. What do I think about your article? It’s great!
    I am just now beginning to understand why I get nowhere with my goals and why I am so frustrated about it.
    I am a working hands-on grandmother to a 5 year old and a 4 month old, with working committments to three different clients and a house I must manage on my own as I am long divorced and currently single, plus hobbies such as music and musical friends I want to stay in touch with. And not getting any younger – eek! Plus not wishing to be doing the same sort of work 10 years from now to keep bread on the table and the hounds from the doorstep. (No pension).
    I will definitely try your listing method.

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