Everything in Its Place

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

This is key for organization. It’s not the cute boxes and nifty shelves. It’s that things are assigned to places. When they are needed, they can be found and used; when they are not needed, they return to base.

Unfortunately, jazzy systems can only go so far. Putting everything in place, no matter how wonderful that place is, requires discipline. Ugh!

Now, we’re not talking boot camp discipline here. Perfectionism is not required, even though it would keep those shelves absolutely perfectly organized. But that (fortunately) is not the ultimate goal. Keeping things orderly has several purposes, but none that should be overtaken. Reflecting God’s character is lovely, but obsessive organization shouldn’t become a god. Making the best use of our resources is ideal, but shouldn’t be the ultimate driver. Saving time is great, but we don’t need more time just for the sake of having free time.

Keeping things in place is a way to serve God, your family, and everyone around you. If you make a habit of using things and then returning them to a reasonable location, you will have fewer hindrances as you fulfill your purpose. The frustration you feel when your home is a disaster area can be minimized. The time wasted searching for necessary books and papers before school can be converted to a calm departure and good conversation on the way to school. You don’t have to tear the house apart for a bandaid when the skinned knee comes limping in from outside. Guests are welcomed to a home that is lived in but not hazardous. Bills can be paid on time rather than lost in scattered stashes of mail.

Basically, it’s not rocket science or out-of-reach creativity. You can do the simple, basic steps needed to bring order to your household and life. Not perfect order, but purposeful order.

Rejoice and Remember

Holidays are an occasion to pause, celebrate and be thankful. They may not work out that way any given year, but they are an opportunity for us. In our current American holiday calendar, the indicated reasons for celebration do vary. Labor Day, for instance, has drifted a bit from the initial cause, but we can still be thankful for the blessing of work and employment while many enjoy a break from such.

In my daily reading I noticed that God gave a list of holidays to Israel in Deuteronomy 16. He also clarifies on multiple occasions, including in Deuteronomy 5, the importance of the sabbath. Further, He designated a sabbath year and the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25). It was that important. And in all that, the purpose for each is clearly stated. I noticed two words repeated in the descriptions of these holidays: “rejoice” and “remember”.

Rejoice These are days to enjoy! However you celebrate, whether it be a large family gathering or a quiet day at home, you are free to take pleasure in the day. It is a gift. Unwrap and make the most of it!

Remember Most of us reading this have been given so much. Our countries and the earth itself are the recipients of so many blessings from God on a regular basis. Taking one day to especially remember certain categories (Labor Day — employment; Christmas — Christ’s birth, life and death, our salvation; Easter — the resurrection; Independence Day — our freedoms) and be grateful for what God has appointed is a blessing in itself.

May your Labor Day be joyful and thankful — and every holiday to come!

Relax

So, continuing on the theme of the joys to be had with shotguns and clays and a wide-open field…

You’re standing in the hot sun, holding your shotgun, joking around with friends. You know the goal is to vaporize the orange clay on the first shot. You know everyone around you is counting their shots and keeping one eye (or both!) on yours as well. Will you just chip it? Will you miss? Can you hit double after double? There is pressure to perform. If you are competitive, multiply that pressure exponentially!

Time after time, there has been consistent, obvious improvement in my accuracy when I am relaxed. The more relaxed, the more I hit. I’m breathing better, my muscles respond better, my energy is not wasted and can be used for what I want to do.

There’s a life lesson here too.

Relaxed and focused will maximize your time and efforts. Overwhelmed, panicked, tense, disturbed and distracted — all take time and attention from your goal or task or schedule for the day. The more time you spend ‘stressing’ or worrying about all you have to do and how you are going to do it, the less time you use to get it done. You psych yourself out of productivity when you focus on the potential problems.

Time after time, when I am coaching someone on process or time management, we start the hour with a HUGE project that seems impossible to get done. But as we break it down into steps and make a plan, twenty minutes later — it’s no problem at all. It’s possible. Not only that, it often is a project that can be enjoyed! How would you rather spend an hour: worrying and procrastinating, or working and enjoying the results?

My encouragement to you is this: Enjoy the moment! Do the work that is given to you for that time. Relax and get it done.

 

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Another way to support a little less tension in your day is to schedule margin. We have discussed this before, but it has a huge impact on reducing stress in your project or your calendar.

 

Perfect Plans

I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. Ecclesiastes 3:14

God’s plans are perfect. Everything He does stands eternally. Nothing he does needs to be adjusted as things “come up.” Everything is accounted for perfectly in God’s plans. Our plans will never be that.

“Yes, yes,” you say. How obvious. But how often have you been frustrated when your perfect plan was not followed and everything would have been just beautiful if everyone would just follow your plan? Or how often have you worked to craft the perfect plan that will solve all the daily problems? But then, it wasn’t quite exactly perfect, so you throw it out and try again as the problems continue to accumulate.

We react to what God has appointed. He has planned. Already. Perfectly. Our plans are a tool to be used to live wisely, but our plans are always subordinate to His.

One way we live out that truth in our lives is that we make plans humbly, relying on God’s wisdom as we create and strength as we implement. Then we gratefully adjust when His plan for the day is not meshing with ours. Our plans are always subject to his perfect plan.

Don’t keep trying to make perfect plans and throwing them out at the first snag. We react to what God has appointed. We humbly flex. We tweak our plans and continue good works, living in obedience, doing what we are called to do each season.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

My husband frequently closes our prayers before meals with a request to “bless this meal for the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies for Thy service.” May you sit down to your next meal and see the good in the work you have done, humbly dependent on our perfect God. Then may you be fueled to further service.

 

Photo Credit: Bridget Duffy

Acting on Your Plans

The school year is starting! This time of year is also when you may have made plans for how things will run on the new schedule. You may have goals for a new school year. Although we have touched on action plans already this year, today I’d like to spend a few minutes more on the steps involved — hopefully making it even easier to do.

Now, first of all, a good action plan is based on a clear goal. You will be set up for success when you start by knowing exactly what you plan to achieve and have a deadline. If you don’t know specifically where you are going, it will be hard to get there. So if you need to clarify how you are stating your goal, now is the time to do it.

Once your goal is defined, you can spend a few minutes brainstorming.

  • What steps will help you get to your goal? What actions will help? What supplies are needed? What has to be done to start? What will it take to finish? Do you need any resources to support your effort (i.e., books, training, input from experts)? Write down any and all ideas you have. Try to think through all the aspects and requirements during this time, and get it all down on paper (or screen).
  • Next, take a minute to look at all you have noted. Evaluate which ideas will work the best and do the most. Pick out the cream of the crop until you have enough chosen to accomplish your goal but not more than you need to do. Your action plan should have what you need but not have distractions or wasted effort.
  • With this list, you can break the work into manageable pieces (or bites of the elephant) and set your timeline. A timeline can be either dedicating a set amount of time per week, with at least one waypoint to check progress; or it will be lining up steps one, two, three, etc. Sometimes it will be a combination of both.For instance, you may dedicate time each week to completing a Bible study book (and check halfway through to make sure you are halfway through the work). Or if you are making a quilt, your action plan will be a series of steps (choose pattern, buy fabric, cut, piece, etc.) in addition to time dedicated. Your timeline will depend on your goal.

The only step left is to schedule your timeline. Block out slots for the weekly time you plan to spend on your goal. Set a target date on your calendar for each step in your project. The schedule for your action plan may need to move as other things come up, but you have something to aim at and milestones to keep you on track.

“What gets scheduled gets done.” — Michael Hyatt

If you would like an infographic summarizing these action plan steps, see below.

My hope is that this helps your success! Working through the steps to create an action plan will make it smoother and quicker each time. Breaking down what is needed makes the project more manageable. If you run into any snags or have any questions, please contact me and I am happy to help. Onward and upward!