1. They plot out a week's worth of outfits. Be honest: How much time do you waste staring into your closet in a pre-caffeine haze, wondering what to wear? Elizabeth Hill of Wonder Woman I'm Not picks out five outfits every Sunday. "I put on one hanger the pants, shirt, jacket, and any undergarments that I'll need and hang this up in my closet," she says. "This way when I get up in the morning, I can grab the outfit I feel like wearing and I'm not rummaging in the dark for underwear. This also helps protect you from those unfortunately times when you grab black underwear and decide to wear white pants. (Yes, it has happened to me.)"
2. They keep at least three lists. Cathy Ratcliffe, who blogs about single parenting at the Frazzled Homemaker, keeps three calendars and to-do lists: A physical day planner she carries with her (and where she jots down notes about what to do later), a Google calendar that alerts her before appointments or monthly tasks, and a magnetic monthly calendar on the refrigerator door so all family members can write down their appointments—that way, no one gets surprised or forgets where they need to get to go.
3. They have a great system for storing gear. Ever struggled to find a soccer cleat or music book on your way out the door? Sharon Rowley, blogger at Mom of Six shares that her mudroom has labeled tubs with everything each child needs for a single activity. "My kids have bins for soccer, horseback riding, basketball, and track," she says, adding that after appointments, stuff goes straight back to the tub. "If you need items that aren't practical to store in the bin (for example, we take fresh carrots for the horses to our horseback riding lesson each week), then have a checklist by the door so nothing gets left behind!" This trick also works for everything from homework to whatever you need to grab for the office. Don't think it's worth it? The average American wastes 55 minutes a day hunting for things they can't find.
4. They include the "in-betweens." When figuring how soon to head out the door, most people don't remember the routine things they do every day on autopilot, reveals Peter Turla, a time-management consultant. "For example, they know they take 30 minutes to drive to soccer practice—but they forget that it takes them five minutes to get their kids in the car." Setting the security alarm, putting the dog in the kennel, and clearing your email all take a few minutes, even if you're not counting on them.
5. They expect someone to throw up in the car. "It's always best to assume Murphy's Law. If something can go wrong, it most likely will," says Laura Wittman, who blogs at I'm An Organizing Junkie. She gives herself at least an extra 15 minutes for every appointment. "Maybe you forget something and have to go back in the house to grab it or you spill coffee down your shirt getting into the car and need to change... There are things in our lives that we can't control, like sickness, weather, car trouble, and traffic, for instance. But this is where having a buffer will ease some of the tension you feel day in and day out. And it's not the end of the world to be early as you'll have time to decompress and relax for a minute."
6. They schedule time to go online. The checkout line may be a great chance to scroll Facebook. But longer tasks like checking school newsletters, work emails, and staying in touch with family can be a major time-suck. And ever tried to dash off an email as you head out the door? That five-second response often takes several minutes—and it will be sloppy because you're rushing, warns Shari McGuire, author of Take Back Your Time. Instead, carve out a set amount of time for work—and play—and stick to it.
7. They use the microwave timer for more than cooking. "Generally, my biggest problem is transitioning from one task to the next; knowing that I have a cut-off time and that I need to stick to my schedule. To enforce the blocked times, I set a timer on my oven," writes blogger Jen Jones of I Heart Organizing, who adds she also includes free time in planning out her day. "Knowing I have breaks will drive me to be more focused on specific tasks during the scheduled periods of time. Also, try to over estimate your time whenever possible." Not only does this prevent people from "losing track of time," but also it has the added benefit of allowing them to be totally present in the moment—because they aren't constantly looking at the clock.
8. They wield their phone like a pro. Yes, there is an app for that. "This gadget has brought more organization to my life than I dreamed possible and is what I rely on daily to tackle the day-to-day tasks as a mom," says MomAdvice.com founder Amy Allen Clark, who shares her favorites including EverNote, which helps her make sure those piles of papers don't slip through the cracks, and 30/30's planner, which she uses to keep her on schedule.
9. They line up their bill due dates. Timing is also pretty key for those pesky bills. Instead of keeping track of a dozen due dates, Alexis Drolet, who writes Clean, Smart, Simple Style, suggests lining them all up: "Most companies will let you change the dates of your billing cycle so that the bills come during the portion of the month that YOU want them to. I try to get all of our bills paid within the first several days of the month (because we only get paid once a month anyway), and then I don't have to think about it at all for the rest of the month!"
10. They use their family (and friends and coworkers) like worker bees. You don't have to be Superwoman. "We often feel we have to 'do it all,' which is a complete lie and will exhaust us," explains Susan Heid of The Confident Mom. To create free time (and energy), Wittman taps her kids for tasks like making their own breakfasts and lunch in the morning. "The older ones would assist the youngest with his breakfast when he was small but now at 8, he is fully capable of fixing toast, oatmeal, and even eggs in the microwave all on his own," she says. "Everyone pitching in means more hands on deck for getting out the door on time not just in the mornings but at any time of the day." Bonus tip: This also applies to tapping your coworkers—or friends—for help.
11. They say "no" at least once a day. "As women, we're often afraid to say no. We fear we might miss out on a big opportunity and we worry about what other people might think of us. I know, because I'm there a lot," shares Crystal Paine, author of Money Making Mom, who says she tries to do it daily—without any guilt. Indeed, if you are constantly adding additional tasks to your to-do list, it's going to be all but impossible to get anywhere on time. "Before committing to anything, count the costs. What are you going to have to give up in order to do this thing or attend this event or write this post or participate in this project? Is it worth what you're giving up? If you're not 100 percent sure that it is, then say 'no.'"
This article originally appeared on GoodHousekeeping.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.