Protect the Space

We have talked several times about calendars and to-do lists. Today will build on that by emphasizing the how important it is to capture information onto your tools to save your mental real estate.

We know this. Only so many facts can tumble around on our front burner before some start disappearing. If we are brutally honest, it’s a pretty small number of facts.

If the reminder is important enough to think about, it’s important enough to put in a safe place, ready when needed. The sooner that happens, the more space there is to fully address the present moment or think about other important things. You can work out what tool works best for you, whether it be an app on your phone or a notepad on the counter. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it’s crucial to have something!

Now, this will only work if the place you put your thoughts is accessible. If you use 20 sticky notes scattered all over, you will not be able to find most of them when you need to review your thoughts. You need one place* to capture items.

*This may mean one place for work projects and one calendar for home and one notebook for schoolwork, but be careful not to split out too much.

It is vitally important to both write down and look over your tasks and plans. You need both to make things work. If you write it down and forget forever, that was getting rid of the thought not keeping it safe. If you review your plans, on a daily or weekly basis — as needed for the topics, you will stay on top of your goals and responsibilities without having to constantly rehearse every detail in your mind all day long.

Celebrating Milestones

Funnily enough, I am writing this while a birthday cake is in the oven! It is a week early, because of the work travel schedule, but we are going to celebrate regardless.

Why?

One reason is simply because it’s an opportunity to show love. Birthdays, holidays, graduations, and more, are a special reason to show special favor to those who are important to you. A generous spirit doesn’t need a reason to give, but it will also make the most of the opportunities that are there! For example, the first day of each season can be a time to stop and enjoy the things special to it. First snow may be a snow fort afternoon for the whole family followed by steaming hot cocoa. First day of spring could have you making bouquets to cheer up the neighbors.

Another reason would be to reflect priorities. A day set apart to honor our mothers and fathers is a time to show them how much we love and appreciate them. A wedding anniversary can do the same thing, reminding us to say again how much we cherish our spouses. Setting aside normal routine to celebrate shows that special value.

Sometimes we just like the opportunity to remember what God has done. My husband and I enjoy repeating our first four dates on the anniversaries. It doesn’t always work in the schedule, but when it does, we have a special time of memories from those first weeks together. Celebrating a conversion anniversary would also be a reminder of God’s work. He does so much, it won’t take long to find an opportunity for this one either!

Celebrations can be encouragement as well. A special dinner or activity when your child gets their first “real” job shows how valuable hard work and responsibility is. Graduation from high school can be a celebration that still looks forward to the next stage. You made it through these years, and now you can tackle those.

This applies to small milestones also. A first book read alone could lead to a trip to the bookstore. The first meal planned, cooked, and served might be followed by a vase of flowers.

Knowing that a celebration will likely be coming can help your family push through the struggle, because you’re pulling for them and love sharing the joy when it is done. A cheerleader is a precious support.

So what do you have to celebrate today?

Consider: “The Gospel Comes with a House Key”

Rosaria Butterfield has published a book on “radically ordinary hospitality” this year. Her passion for ministry as a family from the home is described through a number of personal stories and supported by her reasoning for investing in that form of ministry. Below are two short quotations from The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield:

God intends this blessing to come from you. And real Christian hospitality that creates real Christian community expresses authentic Christianity in deep and abiding ways to a world that thinks we are hypocrites.

There are, of course, other ways you can use your days, your time, your money, and your home. But opening your front door and greeting neighbors with soup, bread, and the words of Jesus are the most important. Who knows but that this simple task of sharing the gospel where you are, wherever you are, might just be used by God to change the world?

These books are only set here as possibilities for you to explore. Posts and links are not blanket endorsements or paid publicity.

Good Ideas: 30/30 App

We’ve talked before about how important and how helpful routines are in our daily and weekly lives. Well, here is an app for that! A friend shared this great idea, and it has been fun to play around with the 30/30 app* since then.

fullsizeoutput_e65The tool lets you have routines pre-set and ready to hit Play on the timer. Each routine has its own folder, so you can create one for first thing in the morning, one for after lunch, one for major house cleaning, one for office work, etc.

You build the routine as individual task blocks, in order, with a set time for each. You can change the order or skip a task, as your daily needs change. The editing is quite easy, and then you’re ready to use it!

The prompts/alarms will let you know it’s time to move on to the next thing, which will help keep you motivated. You also won’t need to keep checking the clock to time yourself as you go.

fullsizeoutput_e68However, life isn’t always ideal. There is a pause button, if you need to take a break for an urgent phone call or to bind up a wound, so flexibility is built in for you. If you are running ahead of schedule, you can move on to the next task with just one touch. If you have a tight schedule one day, you can shorten the pre-set time with one touch also.

fullsizeoutput_e66You are able to change settings for each routine, giving you even more control over your plan. If you are running multiple loads of laundry, you can set an auto-loop to remind you to switch loads every hour. If you are working at a desk, you can set the loop to remind you to get up and walk around every hour also.

This app would be good for those who struggle to stay on task and avoid distractions. It will also be helpful in building habits that you would like in your day. Planning out the order and time slots, and then walking through them, will help you thoughtfully create habits that help you make the best use of time.

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fullsizeoutput_e63How exactly might you do this? Well, let’s talk through an example. The image on the left is an illustration of one possible morning routine. If you would like to start each day with devotions first, you can put that at the top of the list (pink box in the example). As soon as you wake up and get settled in your spot, you pull up the Morning set in the app and hit the Play symbol. You can forget about watching the clock now and enjoy the focused time with God and in the Word.

When it is time to get moving and get breakfast (green box) ready, the timer will go off. Off you go, with a new timer running to keep you on track.

If you finish breakfast a few minutes early, no problem. Tap the done button, and your timer will move to the next task, Get Ready (red task). Into the shower you go.

Once you are ready for the day and/or the timer has gone off, you switch to planning mode (yellow task). Now is your time to focus on the day and schedule and immediate priorities so you know what your path is intended to be for the day.

Finally, you move on to the last task, your daily cleaning routine for the morning. You are racing the timer to get the maintenance work done, but the neighbor called right in the middle of wiping down counters. You press Pause to handle the rescheduled carpool schedule, then press Play to resume your routine. Now when the timer goes off, you know you’ve done what you needed to and it is time to tackle your plan for the day.

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Enjoy!

* Unfortunately, the app described here is only available for Apple devices. There is a similar app for Android called Do Now.