It’s Hard to be Consistent

Consistency is my word for the year.  Let me tell you.  We are only in February and wow, is it hard!  As I was praying and thinking through my word for the year, I knew that one of my personal issues was “knowing what to do, but not doing it.”  I hope you can relate. Surely I am not alone in this.  Scripture even speaks to this issue.

I had a number of goals I had not met.  As I thought through the “why” I realized two things:  First, some goals could not be achieved in a year.  They were long term goals which would require long term effort.  Secondly, instead of abandoning goals, or setting the same ones over and over, I dug deep to determine some steps I could take to make more progress.  In effect, I needed to determine ways I could be more consistent.

Self-discipline is key to achieving goals.  But so is accountability!  I was lacking accountability in some areas.  My health being one such area.  You would think that as a mom spending a majority of my time at home homeschooling, and the other managing a part-time organizing business, I would have plenty of time to eat correctly and exercise. NOT!  Very little of our home management is delegated, primarily because I am home 50% of the time and not bringing in income to justify delegating.  So, I clean my own home, we send out very little laundry/dry cleaning, we eat at home on average 5 nights a week, we care for our pool, we do our own yard…  The list goes on.  Add those tasks to homeschooling, shopping for supplies, working part-time organizing other people’s spaces and my time is gone.

I am approaching 50.  I have upper neck issues and some autoimmune health concerns. Those are not the types of things that get better.  My metabolism isn’t going to jump start itself as I age and continue through hormone changes etc…  I had a gym membership.  I was walking and doing some weight machines, but seeing little results.  I decided what I needed was some training and accountability.  I was needing at least an hour in the gym to come close to even burning the number of calories I wanted.  I knew that with my flexible schedule, relying on classes at the gym would most likely not work.  So….  I bit the bullet.  I took the plunge and signed up for personal training one time per week.  I am not going to lie.  I felt guilty.  I cringed over the thought of spending the money.  I cringed over the idea of someone knowing how out of shape I was.  I pushed past all of that.  Everyone else in my family has a  sport, an event.  We invest in that-gladly.  It was time for me as mom to invest in me.  Not in a selfish way, but in an “improve myself so I could be the very best version of myself” kind of way.  I have only had two sessions, but already I can see change.  Already I have lost 4 pounds (when you are 49 and menopausal 4 pounds is like 15 in your twenties!).  Why is it working?  Accountability.  I want to “please” my trainer.  I don’t want this twenty something, fit young man to think I can’t do it.  While the accountability is great, and really is a driving force, I am also learning.  His expertise is able to show me ways to challenge my muscles and increase my heart rate all in one single exercise.  He is helping me find ways to minimize impact to my neck.  He is showing me that in 30 minutes, doing the right things, I can get the same impact, if not greater impact, than my old way of an hour to hour and half at the gym.  I can find 30 minutes!

Consistency is hard.  If you are struggling to be consistent here are my recommendations:

  1. Step back and pick one goal as the most important goal for this month.  Focus.
  2. Dig deep.  Get honest with yourself.  What is keeping you from being consistent.
  3. Adjust your action steps based upon your answers to number 2.
  4. Set up an accountability system-whether it is a personal trainer, business coach, life coach, accountability meeting with a friend, establishing a Facebook group etc…
  5. Learn.  Find books/blogs/websites that relate to your goal.  Read.  Take notes.  Identify one to three things per week you can do/add to your weekly regiment.

Edit-The Path to Consistency

2016 is about consistency.  Purposing to be “unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time.”  It is a struggle.  I so often know the things to do, yet do not do them. Sometimes though I am not sure how to be more consistent-the path seems foreign. Sometimes I just feel stuck.  I keep doing the same things, and on some level they are working, yet the outcomes seem stagnant.  I want 2016 to be about more than just trying to be consistent, I want to uncover the ways to consistency.

This week as I have given thought to this, prayed fervently for direction, and delved into some reading.  At the same time, I found myself struggling to make some decisions I knew I needed to make.  They weren’t life changing decisions.  They weren’t moral decisions.  They were just those kind of decisions that come as the result of some gentle whispers, nudging.  As I thought about each of the decisions I was avoiding, I realized each had to do with editing.

edit:  to correct, revise and get ready for

I talk a lot about editing when I work with organizing clients.  Editing is an important part of organization.  Being organized is about being able to manage what you have AND enjoy it.  To be consistent in what I do, who I am, is about editing.  The less I have to manage, in terms of things, the more time I have to focus on developing good habits and developing character.  To have the time to make improvements in areas often means I need to focus more of my time on that area.  This again, requires editing.  I have to look intently at where I spend my time.

I want to be more consistent in my prayer life, in homeschooling, in caring for my health and using time to be creative. This week I spent time really looking at what I could edit.  I made the decision to edit several things.

  1. Purge photographs.  I long to have photo albums up to date and perfect Project Life albums created for my girls.  Yet each time I consider setting aside time to work on photographs I procrastinate, dreading trying to figure out where to start, where to find the right pictures.  This week I approached instead by focusing on editing-getting rid of pictures that were duplicates, didn’t really tell a story in and of themselves, or just flat didn’t speak to me.  As I did this I also made piles by date. Wouldn’t you know it in no time flat I had discarded 1/3 of the pictures, sent duplicate family pictures to my sister-in-law, and had three envelopes of pictures by date.
  2. Partnered with my girls to clean out the media room, packing up all the children’s books they wanted to keep for storage in the attic, getting rid of DVD we really won’t ever watch again, and editing the gift wrap station.
  3. Announced a reprieve from Facebook.  I too often get “sucked” into the abyss of mindlessly scrolling through news feeds, getting emotionally worked up over religious or political statements or self promotion, and/or “wishing” my life was more like…  I felt strongly convicted that for me, this moment in time, I needed to step back from Facebook and focus on creativity, face to face time with family and friends and studies.
  4. Revised my work schedule to protect more time for homeschooling and studies.

Editing is going to be key to becoming more consistent.  What might you need to edit so that you can move forward with a goal, or project, or decision?

Schedules, Daily Habits & White Space

Does the above set of pictures make you cringe?  Do feel the tension in your body building?  For so many of us, the idea of living by a schedule, sitting down to determine when we will do what, feels confining, makes us uncomfortable.  As much as I like to live an orderly life, to be as productive as I can, I honestly resist the idea of living by a schedule.  I sense rigidity, lack of creativity in schedules.  I want to leave the door open for those “God appointments”.  I want to be able to meet the unexpected needs of friends of family.

Consistency.  My word for 2016.  Here in lies the truth-the hard truth.  I can not be more consistent, I can not consistently move towards meeting my goals, completing my tasks without some measure of schedule.  More importantly, tracking my time, setting specific times in which to do specific tasks keeps me mindful.

I just finished reading “I Know How She Does It”, by Laura Vanderkam.  It is an inspiring book and exactly the motivation I needed to get back to scheduling.  Most interesting in her research was the reality that most Americans work fewer hours than they say, with very few people working more than 50-60 hour weeks, and most people overestimate their work hours by 10 hours!  On average, highly successful, full-time working mothers cap at an average of 44 hours per week.  As I continued to read, I realized the core of the problem, the explanation for this over-estimation of time, sense of being overwhelmed, living out of fatigue feeling there is never enough time is a result of really having no idea how we spend our time and thus making very few intentional decisions about our time.

Laura Vanderkam is also a firm believe in the 168 hours principle, challenging us to plan weekly instead of daily.  I was convinced of this principle after reading her first book, “168 Hours”.

When you treat all 168 hours as your canvas, and don’t hold to rigid assumptions of what must be work time, and what must be nonwork time, you can create some fascinating mosaics (schedules).

While I resist the idea of living confined to a schedule, unwilling to move away from it for the unexpected, I know from experience and am reminded that schedules, daily habits and white space are the key to consistency, the key to my taking care of what matters most and moving towards completion of my goals.  So, this week, I focus again on doing what I know I should do (that seems to be a recurring theme!).  I challenge you to do the same.  Step back from your life for a moment.  Look at your week, your 168 hours and decide how you want to spend your time.  Here are some of my tips for successfully planning out 168 hours/creating a schedule or road map by which to live those hours out.

  1.   Daily morning quiet time to center my thoughts, read scripture, pray over my day.
  2.   One load of laundry every morning first thing.
  3.   Plan each week on Friday (I have let this habit slip and I pay for it.  Planning on Friday allows me so much freedom from nagging thoughts on the weekend and kick starts my Mondays.)
  4.   Use a weekly planner with hourly increments, blocking off appointments, tasks to work on, exercise, hobbies, free time etc…  This gives me a great visual, helps me to see the whole of my week.
  5.   Plan for the unexpected by building in PLENTY of white space.  I always leave 30 minutes between appointments.  This allows for transition time, gives me some buffer should the task take a little longer etc…  I also leave gaps of time (an hour to two) in my schedule at least every other day.  I typically use these gaps to take care of household chores, but often end up using them to have lunch with a friend, cook a meal for a sick friend, care for a sick child, …

Schedules, daily habits and white space keep me grounded, focused and moving in the right direction.  When I look at my time weekly in lieu of daily, I am reminded I have plenty of time.  While I still resist “being scheduled”, I always find there is actually a great deal of freedom in scheduling.  Life is always better when I am aware of where and how I spend my time.  A schedule allows me to be intentional about my time and I find that I get more enjoyment from my “free time/play time” when I have lived my week by my schedule.


Do You Need to Go Off the Grid?

Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Blogs, Snapchat, Internet scrolling etc…  The digital age is indeed a blessing.  We have information readily available.  We have immediate access to current events and up to date information of family and friends afar.  Creative inspiration is at our fingertips.  However, with every blessing can come pitfalls.  Those very digital sites holding information and hope, can capture our attentions for far too long.  We can move in a matter of seconds from seeking creative inspiration to spiraling into a depression feeling inadequate, less fortunate etc…   As easily as we can access others and their information, we too can be accessed, often leading to increased obligations, some not really meant to be, yet in that digital nano second we say “yes”.

The week before Thanksgiving found me in a state of mess.  Fortunately I live by my own mantra – keep lots of white space.  As a result emergencies or unexpected events don’t cause as much havoc in my life as they used to – when I lived full throttle, filling every moment of every day.  The white space in my life and on my calendar affords me room to deal with the unexpected.  However, sometimes life throws us more curve balls than we could ever imagine.  Not only that, but sometimes the things we are involved with present to us all sorts of appealing opportunities.  I was in the midst of both – the unexpected and the allure of many good things.

I have found the longer I practice Sabbath living, a more simplified lifestyle, the more my spirit and body react to the “mess”.  The tension mounts in my neck.   My eating habits change and my stomach doesn’t act the same.  I lose focus.  What can be my best traits begin to compound and become my worse traits.

Have you been there?  Are you there now?  Do you feel yourself slipping into the abyss?  Don’t let it go any farther.  I have found the best solution, really the only solution is for me to unplug, go off the grid.  I don’t quit taking care of business, but I give myself permission to quit answering email, stay off social network sites, limit phone calls.  I change my voice message on my phone, I set up a vacation notice on my email…  That is what I did the week of Thanksgiving.  It was fabulous.  Not only that, but the world did not come to an end.  No one called me angry.  No one called claiming an emergency.  It was o.k.


The week afforded me the opportunity to breathe, to let go, to focus.  I still had a lot to do, but I was able to get back to that which mattered most, my “best yes” tasks (as Lysa Terkeurst would say).  I was able to pull back from a difficult situation and in prayer and reflection see it for what it was.  A set-back, not a disaster.  A matter out of my control and not my responsibility.  I was able to fill some of the white space with the tasks that bring me energy, fill my spirit:  coffee with my girls, brunch with my best friend, a good book by the fire, decorating and setting the Thanksgiving table, and baking.  When I engage in those things that bring me joy, nurture my spirit I find I can more easily recognize my “best yes” tasks.  I can more readily see the good in life.  I hear the still small voice of my Savior telling me, “this is the way.”

Sometimes the plan is there.  The plan isn’t wrong, we have just lost site of the plan.  Stepping back, going off the grid creates the quiet in which we can think, be reminded, enjoy.



Friday Success

Friday really is key to any success I experience week to week.  I used to plan on Sunday evenings.  However, I often found myself forgetting things over the weekend, my family resisted “meeting” on a Sunday evening, I would be tired etc…  Then I read an article suggesting using Friday afternoons for planning.  When I worked full-time outside the home, Friday afternoon was perfect.  However, now that I am self-employed and work from my home, I find Friday mornings to be far more effective.

Why Friday planning?  Planning the following week on Friday helps me release all the little “reminders” running through my brain.  I get them written down on my master to do list or on the weekly page.  Second, anything critical I have failed to take care of can be handled Friday mid-morning or afternoon.

Am I always able to Friday plan?  No.  There are occasions when I am forced to schedule a client, have a meeting or a family event arises.  When that happens I try to leave some time on Saturday morning to do what I would normally do on a Friday morning.  Truth be told though, more often than not I can keep 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. or so open for planning.

What Does Friday planning entail?

  1. Go through email making certain I have written down tasks, printed or saved any attachments/documents I need, filed correspondence I need to keep in an email folder, place critical communications requiring action the following week in my @ToDo email folder, and delete everything else possible.
  2. Process any papers that have stacked up in the Miscellaneous file box.  Yes, even an organizer stacks papers.  Processing these papers is very similar to the process for email.  Anything requiring action the following week is hole punched and placed in my PlannerPad organizer.
  3. Sit down with iphone calendar and PlannerPad monthly calendar to “sync”.  I do not typically carry my planner with me everywhere (although it is usually in the car).  I use my iphone calendar for scheduling monthly events/appointments.  However, since I am a paper person, a visual person, and driven by lists, I transfer information to my paper planner.
  4. Review the monthly calendar and transfer meeting/appointment times to the appropriate weekly pages and add to the weekly lists specific tasks that are necessary to complete for that meeting/appointment.  For example:  If I have a board meeting coming up I note the board meeting on the appropriate week.  I then back track to the previous week or week and half and note tasks like: send out meeting reminder, draft agenda, make copies of documents…
  5. Every other week I also go over my master to do list marking off any items completed and making certain I have not let go forgotten.

While this may all sound a bit overwhelming to you, I challenge you to try.  I promise about three weeks into it you will find yourself staying on top of tasks, minimizing the amount of paper stacked, etc…

Friday planning sets me up for success Monday morning.  Sunday  I can relax, rest, practice Sabbath.  Sunday evening I can glance at my weekly pages and know that my plan of action is in place.  Come Monday morning I can jump straight into work.




What Does It Mean to Be Organized? I Say It Means Nothing

Organization.  Purging.  Margin.  White Space.  Time Management.  Minimalism.  Simplifying.  Downsizing.

Google any one of those words and thousands upon thousands of articles, blog links, advertisements pop up.  We live in a high tech, fast paced, immediate gratification world and yet it seems all are seeking a simpler life, or ways to better manage the craziness of their life.

As a young mom, I sought to learn everything I could about managing my home, managing my time.  Some came naturally to me.  I like order.  I don’t like a lot of stuff, so shopping and collecting are not big issues for me (well unless we are talking dishes or shoes).  I am also an introvert, so staying home in lieu of a jam packed schedule didn’t feel awkward.  I ran my house with my 6 month old twins like a well oiled machine and took great pride when asked ” How do you do it all?”  From the outside my life looked great.  It was a good life.  I had healthy baby girls, a beautiful home, a wonderful husband, circle of friends through my almost daily tennis and weekly church involvement…  The truth however was that I was burning the candle at both ends.  I was quick to snap at my girls, get frustrated when they didn’t sleep as the schedule dictated.  The smallest interruption always felt like a huge disruption.  I was hard on myself and hard on my husband.

One day as my frustration had mounted, frustration with myself, I was struck by the fact that I was spinning my wheels trying to be organized-be efficient.  I was juggling all the balls and squeezing it all in, but at what price.  Being efficient was not creating the life I longed for.  God took me back to Proverbs 31, that woman we love to hate and long to be like.  As I read the passages again, God invited me to really get to know the lady, to look beyond the scripture as a litany or to do list and look at the impact of one woman’s life.    In those moments my whole view of organization changed.  I no longer wanted to be the most efficient.  Efficiency was replaced with a desire to be effective.  I wanted to live an orderly life so God could use me to impact my girls, their friends, my friends, our neighbors.  I didn’t want to be known for what I could get done in a day, I wanted to be known for having time to invest in others.  I wanted to see interruptions as opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ.  I wanted our excess to bless others, whether it was purging to pass on, or shopping for others instead of ourselves.

Organization and efficiency are the world’s ways.  There is no such thing as being organized.  There is however a way to live a disciplined life that brings order and affords you the time and space in which to serve others.  Striving to be organized leads to fatigue and frustration.  Striving to be organized means being captive to our things, our schedules, our work.  That is not God’s design.  His design is that we live free, free to serve Him, free from the confines of stuff and schedules.

I still fall prey to the world’s call to be organized.  I even make a living helping others get their stuff organized.  However, I seek to approach every day asking myself if the purging, the sorting, the stacking, the time blocking is my attempt to control an unruly life, one I no longer really manage, or is it to afford me the opportunity to bless another person, invest in another person.  I am not interested in the pursuit of efficiency unless it helps me be effective.


Block It


Distractions.  Do they plague you as much as they do me?  The phone buzzing with calls and texts.  Social media beckoning me.  The requests of children.  Tick-Tock, the clock ticks.  Minutes pass into hours and if I am not careful the day has passed and no progress made in areas of priority.

One of my favorite time management practices is to time block.  There are many things in my day I can simply do as time permits and some I can even do while multi-tasking.  However, if I am going to make progress towards my priority areas and goals, I have to set aside time to focus, to work with intentionality.


My weekly calendar often looks similar to this.  As mentioned, I don’t time block everything, but I do time block the priorities. Anything related to my businesses goes on my calendar in green (my favorite color and representative of money).  I put personal objectives in red, often highlighted in pink.  Time blocking helps me focus.  I am a visual person.  When I see the time literally “blocked” on my calendar I respect it.  I protect it.  This allows me to then keep these designated hours and to work without interruption.  I often turn my phone on silent, tell the girls what I am doing and how much time I need (when they were younger I often sat a timer) and then with gathered supplies set to work.  I rarely have huge blocks of time, but even 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time affords me the opportunity to get a lot done.  If I am seeking to make progress on a major life goal, this uninterrupted time is a necessity.

I also us time blocking when I begin to feel life is out of control.  Sometimes life changes, we enter a new season.  Our kids enter school, we begin a new job, additional family duties develop, we develop new hobbies etc…  Sometimes it is simply that I have lost site of my goals, I have stepped back from personal discipline.  Whatever the reason, when life feels out of control, my stress level rises, my productivity declines, I use time blocking to track a week.  Using time blocking to track your time gives you a glimpse into your reality.  Where is your time really going?  What is using up your time?  I am a firm believer that KNOWING, creates change.  When I am really aware of, KNOW where my time is going, then and only then can I begin to manage my time.  Not KNOWING, means my time is managing me, and that is when life becomes chaotic, stressful.

I challenge you this week to time block.  Either block off the tasks you know you have, or simply take this week to learn something about yourself-where your time goes.  Time blocking is a tool.  Time blocking requires discipline.  Time blocking can be ever evolving.  However, if you want, like I want, to be an effective woman, time blocking is the key.

Use this form to track your time. PlannerPadCopycat


It’s NOT About Consistency, It’s About Constancy


 [kuh n-sis-tuh n-see]
Spell Syllables
noun, plural consistencies.

1.a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc.: The liquid has the consistency of cream.

2.steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: There is consistency in his pattern of behavior.

3.agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing: consistency of colors throughout the house.

4.the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form;solidity or firmness.
I recently returned from Leadership Development training for my Mary & Martha business (  As we toured Dayspring and attended conference sessions, we were reminded repeatedly of the importance of “the daily”.  Success does not come from some grand act.  Success comes from daily activity.  As one of the founders of Dayspring defined it, “Success is the next step of obedience.”  
We often talk a lot about being consistent.  Most of the time we are talking about adhering to principles.  However, I think the success comes from constancy.

constancy[kon-stuh n-see]

Spell Syllables
1.the quality of being unchanging or unwavering, as in purpose, love, or loyalty; firmness of mind; faithfulness.
2.uniformity or regularity, as in qualities or conditions; invariableness.
Our success comes from regularity.  The regularity creates the consistency.  We will never be consistent though until we are constant.  Regularly doing something and being unwavering in our purpose, our mind.  I know it seems trite, but so often until I stop to really think about and define my actions, I can get on auto pilot and find myself moving more slowly toward my goals.
I get up early to read scripture and spend time in prayer/communion.  This is a constant act.  The daily act of getting up early and reading helps me to be a more consistent woman of faith-my actions matching my values/beliefs.  I drink a gallon of water daily (well 75% of the time).  The constancy of this behavior helps me stay consistently full and healthier.
We have been iced in.  (Now mind you, here in AR that means we have 2 inches of ice and freezing temps, so the world shuts down.  We couldn’t handle the 6 feet Boston got!)  Anyway, the days at home have given me opportunity to think about what other behaviors I want to make more constant, so I can have a more consistent faith walk, more consistent good health, more consistent sales in my business and more consistent growth in my business team.
Is there something you need to start doing constantly, so you create consistency?  Have you gotten off track with some of your New Year’s goals?  What is the next step of obedience?  Remember, success comes from daily actions, daily actions repeated over time.

Friday Planning for Monday

2014-09-26 12.58.40

I used to do my weekly planning on Monday.  I was always in a rush on Friday to wrap things up, or had something fun planned as my little reward for getting things done during the week.  As a result I often went into the weekend with all these little tidbits of information and thoughts spinning in my head.  My desk would have at least one good pile of papers sitting on it.  I seldom looked at my calendar until Sunday night family planning time, when my husband and I make an attempt at coordinating schedules and I holler across the house asking my girls what all they have the coming week, what items they need, asking if I have signed all the papers etc…  You know.  The mom drill.  Monday morning would come around and while I would awaken ready to start the new week off with a bang, at least two hours would be consumed with going through the pile of papers, trying to get on paper all those tidbits of information.  I’d be border-line exhausted by the time I had my plan of attack for the week mapped out.

Then, during the course of my much time management related reading, I came across two authors recommending Friday Planning.  David Allen, of “Getting Things Done” highly recommends this practice.  I hate to admit this hit me like a ton of bricks.  What a novel idea.  You see, being the type A, rule following girl that I am, it would never have occurred to me to “change” the ever acclaimed process of Monday planning.  That had been the mantra of most of the authors I had read, with the exception of the few mom authors who acclaimed the Sunday night planning.  After pondering the idea for a bit, and getting over the fact that I had never considered this before, I gave it a try.  I LOVE FRIDAY PLANNING FOR MONDAY.

I attempt to reserve time after lunch for planning.  I block off thirty minutes to one hour.  It’s amazing how quickly I can develop the next week’s plan of action on Friday.  It is also amazing how much I can get done Friday AFTER my planning session.  I sit down with planner and phone.  I use the monthly calendar on my phone for scheduling appointments etc…  I still transfer this information to my paper planner, but I don’t carry my planner with me at all times, so my phone calendar serves as the “master” calendar.  I make certain everything on the phone calendar is written into my monthly paper planner and weekly planning pages.  My next step is to review all of my project lists (remember from my previous post I try not to have more than 4-5 projects at any given time).  If there are new tasks to add I do so, while also marking off completed tasks and transferring to the coming week’s pages any tasks for that week.  I then review the current week, looking to see if there are any items pending or undone.  I either determine to get them done Friday afternoon or I transfer the task to the following week’s list of “to do” items.  Thirdly,” I make a list of anything I am going to need to buy in order to complete the next week’s tasks.  Lastly, I block off time to work on long range goals-those items that are value to me, build my business and my ministry, and are on-going.  This is in fact my weakest area, but I am finding that as I continue to practice Friday planning, I am much more likely to have the time for working on these long-range goals and keep the time appointment with myself.

Why does Friday planning work?  First, most of us are not up to starting new tasks or doing any “heavy” work on Friday afternoons.  Focusing my energies on planning for the following week gives me an opportunity to “wrap up” and bring closure to the week.  The little things left undone are typically items that are simple, require little thinking and can be done in about 15 minutes if I just do them.  Things like getting the filing caught up, sending a thank you note or business letter to a lead, researching hotels for future trip…  Sometimes it is even going back and reading all those articles I pinned or put in my “follow up” folder in e-mail.  Secondly, Friday planning gives me an opportunity to brain dump.  I can go into the weekend knowing that anything I didn’t get accomplished the previous week has been assigned a new date and time, and will not be forgotten.  I read once that a great deal of our mental fatigue is caused by thinking about things we HAVEN”T done.  This practice helps eliminate that.  I can get it off my mind because I know it is written down and taken care of.  Thirdly, I can truly wake up Monday morning and jump right into work.  This usually means I am VERY productive Monday through Wednesday, and then my energies begin to slow.  But hey, that’s ok, because 80 percent of my stuff gets done in 20% of my time.

I challenge you to give it a try.  Friday planning for Monday.  It might just change your weekends and your Mondays.



Three Simple Steps to Success

Simple Folders

I was asked today how I get things done.  I had to laugh, because this morning was another morning I found myself awake at 3:00 a.m. worrying about all the things I hadn’t gotten done, or feared I would never do. It always amazes me how we see ourselves so different from the way others see us.  I wonder sometimes which view is more accurate, more true.  I think most often how others see us is a more accurate reflection of who we are.  As women we are hard on ourselves-we set high standards and often expect the impossible of ourselves.  It’s nice every now and then to hear from someone else what they think of you-how they perceive you. The innocent question this morning served as a little pick me up in the midst of my worry and striving.

The truth is “it” will never be finished.  There will always be more to do.  If I am growing and learning and stretching, that is exactly as it should be.  Doesn’t make it any easier.  Frustrations rise when the dog tracks in mud on the clean floors, the kids pull out from under the bed or floor of their closet, two more loads of laundry just when I thought the last piece had been dried and hung and the husband informs me we are out of coffee just after my face is washed and visions of pajamas are dancing in my head.  Add to that the request to serve one more day of lunch duty or fill in for a sick co-worker/friend.  I know you know.  We all know.  We all get it.  It’s life.  We can either fight it or we can embrace every moment of it as a gift and give it our all.  We can linger in frustration, resist doing or we can give ourselves a pep talk (coffee with a friend does wonders for me!) and pick back up.

I don’t do it all.  In fact I am almost (believe me when I tell you it has been a long work in progress) done trying.  I have learned to scale back my to do list.  I have learned that there is ONE thing I absolutely will not give up.  I have learned  there is a time (literal time) to stop.  I haven’t learned the lessons easily.  I am not perfect.  But these three things truly transform my day, which transforms my week, which transforms my life.

1.  I arise early and spend time with God.  I used to think there was no “right” time to do this.  I would now argue strongly that is false.  God asks for first fruits.  The Old Testament was full of instructions about offerings and first fruits.  Christ came to fulfill that law, but we see in His daily living that He gave God His first fruits.  Choosing to spend time with God first thing in the morning matters.  It matters because that is about as close as I will ever be to being sinless.  It is important because no one else has begun pecking at me, seeking my attention.  It matters because He says it matters.  I began this practice in high school.  While I have missed days, it really rarely happens, and believe me when it does, it is rarely pretty.  Arise early and spend time with God.

2.  Drink 8 glasses of water a day.  This one I struggle with.  I love water.  I grew up being a water drinker.  I prefer water to most drinks.  But some how, the idea of drinking 8 glasses in one day overwhelms me and the more cognizant I am of it, the harder it is.  However, nothing makes me feel better than doing this one thing.  I am more energized.  I think more clearly.  I rarely get a migraine.  I eat less.  The list could go on.  Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

3.  This last one is fairly new to me.  Shortly after my girls were born (about 15 years ago) I began to struggle with fatigue and some autoimmune health issues.  I need sleep.  Like every good American, I wasn’t getting it.  I began to go to bed earlier.  For me to do number one, arise and spend time with God, I have to get up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m.  So, count backwards and that means a 9:30 bed time.  I rarely make it to bed that early and NEVER fall asleep that early (but that is a whole other issue), but I did begin “shutting down the house” at 9:00 p.m.  My girls quickly learned that coming to mom at 9:15 to get a signature on a paper, ask for a school uniform shirt to be washed etc… wasn’t gonna cut it.  In fact, it wasn’t gonna happen.  Recently though I found myself filling the evening time with other items: e-mail, Facebook, writing, cards, ironing, etc…  I was finding myself less and less engaged with my family.  So, I now try to wrap up all work by 2:00 p.m.  I try to have the three most important tasks for the day, the ones that move me towards my goals or project deadlines, completed by 2:00 p.m.  That leaves me the afternoon to catch up, do household chores etc…  I am now getting dinner cleaned up and then focusing on time with the family.  I am getting a lot of reading done, but I am less distracted and way less irritable if someone wants to sit and visit or needs a little extra help with homework or simply wants to talk.  I’ll even throw in a last minute load of laundry.  I am not as firm about “shutting down the house”, but having this extra couple of hours to just be, relate with my family, has honestly resulted in all of us being more ready to “shut it down” around 9:00/9:30.  Complete your three most important tasks by 2:00 p.m. and then block off the time after dinner for family.

Three simple disciplines.  They make a difference.  They keep me centered.  They help me know my priorities.  They make me healthier.  They create opportunity for being.  I got number one down.  I’m not giving up on number two and three.  I am less “successful” there, but I’ll keep on trying.