Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

“When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.” — Deuteronomy 20:19-20

The nation of Israel is being instructed before entering the Promised Land to conquer it before settling in to enjoy it. How should they proceed? What will ensure success? God gave them specific and comprehensive instructions, including how to choose trees for use when mounting a siege.

Trees come in handy when building a tower to assault the city walls. Cut them down; they’ll grow again! Yes, they will, but it will take a while. Once the city is conquered, someone will be living in it. Fruit trees will be useful in the near future, so think before cutting.

Thinking one more step ahead is helpful more often than not. It may look like a good solution at first glance, but will it still be as good tomorrow, or even this afternoon? Most of the time, this is a mental habit we simply need to exercise. It’s nothing exotic or a talent only a few can have. You can do it, and it will pay off.

If you would like to get better at thinking one more step ahead, there are some things you can do other than just pausing to do it.

  • You can make a physical reminder for yourself, like a sticky note on the kitchen cupboard or the front of your planner. This functions as a mini-inspirational poster in your daily life (only much cheaper).
  • Some people may be better at this than you. If so, ask them when you are considering a next step. What do they see as potential pitfalls in your next actions? “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:!4)
  • If you know someone, in your office or in your home, who could be asked to helpfully (not annoyingly) ask you before you start something, “Are you sure?”, that could be a great trigger for you to pause, reconsider, and confidently more forward.

 

Good Ideas: Giant Bullet Journal Pad

Bullet journaling is quite the fad. The benefits are great, and the layout can be beautiful. But it can be hard to keep up with the journal, and multiple pages can get out of hand.

How about this — a giant paper pad with just a few bullet journal ideas on it? You pick the items that work best for you and your family. Ideas abound on Pinterest and other web sites. Friends can be a rich source also. Then pull out the markers and color it up, large-scale and easy to read. If you post it in a public space, it will be hard to ignore too!

This could be the fun, workable, convenient, manageable way for you to use some of the beautiful journal ideas you’ve seen. Take a look.

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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.

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.

What To Do When

Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house. Proverbs 24:27

Why on earth would you work outside before building yourself a house?

Well, you can live in a tent while you till and plant, and then you have a home-building project to keep you busy while you wait for the crop to ripen. Now you have a house and a harvest. The other way around leaves you hungry in a cozy home.

The order you work on projects, or tasks, or toward goals, matters most of the time.

Stagger your progress. If I know I have to make brownies and take a shower before heading to a party, wouldn’t it make sense to mix up the brownies first? Then I can get ready while the brownies bake.

If you have multiple steps for a project and you know you will have to wait on others along the way, plan out when you will do each one and where you will have to wait. Get the ball rolling, and then you can turn your attention to other priorities while you wait for a response. After you get what you need in response, move to the next step until you have to wait again. You will be able to keep moving along your timeline and tend to other tasks at the same time.

For another simple example, we can get a lot done in between running loads of laundry, but we do have to put a load in the washing machine to start. But if we wait until it has to be done to put it in, we’re looking at a frustrating wait.

Taking a minute or two to think through the overall plan will pay off for you. Stepping back to look at the big picture will help you cut out the unpleasant surprises and unexpected delays that will prevent you from accomplishing your goal on time. Making a plan and walking through steps in the best order will pay off for you.