I love organization: calendars, baskets, hooks, notebooks, planners, colored pens, labels, label makers… the list goes on. It is in my DNA. The first born. Type A. Disc profile C. Perfectionist. Scheduler. The list could go on, but I am sure you get the drift.
My bent towards organization hasn’t always been my friend. In fact, it has often been my enemy. I may appear on the outside to have it all under control, to be gifted and skilled at juggling life’s demands. On the inside though, it has often been a different story. The expectations grow and with them the voice in my head pushing me to perfection, telling me “I am not enough”, “do more”. The anxiety driven by the fear I won’t keep it all together. The laser like focus keeping me from seeing opportunities and moments around me. The pursuit all consuming and confining, leaving little room for vulnerability, allowing others to help. It can be and has been exhausting. It can be and has been my worst attribute. But, it is also a gift.
So how do I keep the gift from becoming my demon? I embrace who I am. I am created in God’s image, to serve Him and to be reconciled to Him, engaged in the daily ministry of reconciliation. He is a God of order (simply read the story of creation). His Word provides a road map. I am bent towards organization and in His sight that is good, it is just as He desired it to be, just as He created me to be. However, I have to remember, managing my life: my things; my activities; my people, is simply a tool to be used to serve Him. I can’t let it become about CONTROL. Yes. Too often my pursuit of organization is more about my attempt to CONTROL, than to be and serve. I have to remember He is in control, and my attempts to manage are simply a part of a process. He teaches me, He guides me, He directs my paths. CONTROL is the demon. When I use my talents and my gifts to follow His direction, I relinquish CONTROL, and He is in control.
Maintaining the balance isn’t easy. The past has taught me. I have learned to spend less time planning, and more time simply developing a road map/a guide, full of white space, breathing space. The white space and breathing space give the opportunities to stop, to pray, to listen, to adjust. My life is fuller. The pursuit is no longer for perfection or control. Instead, the pursuit is for relationship, obedience with the One in control.
If you, like me, struggle with this balance, here are a few tools and tricks I use.
- I LOVE my Cultivate What Matters planner. This is not a weekly or daily planner, but a great tool for setting yearly goals, determining what matters most and then cultivating habits to bring it to fruition. If you haven’t checked this resource out, head over to https://cultivatewhatmatters.com/. I am not paid to endorse, this product. I genuinely LOVE and USE this product.
- I am a recovering planner addict. I have spent more money on planners than I ever care to disclose. Seriously, it is an addiction! I still struggle. Each November my Facebook and Pinterest feeds fill with cute images of beautiful planners, stickers, pens etc. My heart races and I begin to think, “what if…” I am pleased to tell you though, going on THREE years strong, I have stuck with my Planner Pad planner. It isn’t all sparkly and cute. It is practical. But the layout works for me. It is a weekly planner format that allows you to “funnel” your tasks, beginning with broad categories, moving to daily priorities, and ending with time specific tasks. You can find out more by going to https://plannerpads.com/.
- I set aside about an hour every Friday to create my road map for the following week. This helps me focus on the critical and important Friday and keeps items from falling off my radar, as they get moved to the following week. I am able to assess how much white space I have and make necessary adjustments. A packed schedule only leads to stress and stress minimizes productivity. Leave room to breathe, to be the boss, wife, mom, friend you need to be in the moment. Leave room to run back into God’s presence, seeking His guidance.
- Pray. Years ago, while reading an Emilie Barnes book, I began to practice the habit of praying over my calendar daily. I am not 100%, but the weeks and months I am faithful to this habit, I am amazed at how my plans change, the resources that come my way or the amount I am able to accomplish. I am able to view the items in my planner as simply a guide for my week and the unexpected aren’t viewed as distractions, but as opportunities.
- Last but not least, I remind myself the goals I have written, the filled in to do lists, are simply guides. I can’t plan for the future, for I am not in control of the future. I can establish guides for myself and I can take one obedient step at a time. When things go awry I remember I am not in control. When tasks build up or remain undone, when there seems to be no movement toward a goal I step back and reassess. More often than not, I simply need to make an adjustment, either in my routine or my schedule. However, sometimes the pause, the prayer helps me see the goal was something birthed out of my desires, and is not a part of His plan. Sometimes the goal needs to go away. Sometimes I need to scale back and focus on some small part of the larger goal. Sometimes I need to ask for help. Adjusting is better than quitting. Adjusting is better than making futile plans in pursuit of perfection or control. Adjusting is bending to His will, growing in faith, growing in relationship, growing in His image.