Addition by subtraction

We so often have a hard time saying “No” to anything. That would be admitting that you couldn’t do something, that you’re not Superwoman. Who wants to do that?

Managing your time and responsibilities well will involve saying “No” to some things. They will be good things, but they do not fit. When you are able to look at your options and take out the ones that are not best for today, you are sharpening your focus.

Just like clearing the dinner table before you pull out the homework, clearing your schedule will enable you to better deal with your priorities.

  • You will have the available energy because you are not spending it all before you get to what is truly important.
  • You will have more time to devote to what you need to do because your agenda is not crammed full — too full to do anything well.

Shona Murray addresses this concept, pruning “with the sharp knife of no” on big and small things, in the book Refresh:

With my life purposes in one hand and my limited capacity in the other, I can prune needs and expectations so that I am doing the most important things well and with joy, and I can have a sense of accomplishment as I enjoy some downtime.

Remember, you are the gatekeeper for your schedule. You decide what you need to do. You run your schedule; your schedule should rule you. Flex your muscles, and practice saying “No” today! It is part of using your time wisely, and you will manage your time all the better for it.

Working Diligently

By Jim Odens

Jim Odens is a pastor in Minnesota, and the below post is an excerpt from a recent sermon in a series from Ecclesiastes. The entire recording is available online, as well.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Ecclesiastes 11:6

The uncertainty about which ventures we pursue will prosper and which ventures will fail should lead us to diligently apply ourselves to every venture and every opportunity God gives us.

There is no place for paralysis from fear of circumstances and possibilities in the life of a person who truly fears the Lord. There is also no place for inactivity because of laziness and sloth.

Rather, in the fear of the Lord there is great motivation to be persistently, actively abounding in our stewardship of the time, energy, money and other resources He has given us to use for His glory. It may be that some of our efforts will succeed more than others, but that is good reason to give ourselves to sowing both morning & evening! If what we sow in the morning does not bear much fruit, perhaps what we sow in the evening will. Or vice versa. Or perhaps both will succeed!

When we have acted patiently, prudently, yieldedly & diligently, we can leave the outcome in the Lord’s hands & be content with what He does.

Therefore, take advantage of every moment of every day the Lord gives you to trust Him, love Him, serve Him, worship Him, proclaim Him, obey Him in every aspect of your life (home, church, work, school, neighborhood, etc.) . . .

Don’t be hindered by concern about how it will turn out (for like the growth of the seeds sown in the ground, how things turn out is in the Lord’s hands). Instead do all you can in the Lord’s name, trusting that whatever He wants to do with your work is His will for His all-wise purposes.

Personal Goal-Setting Session Giveaway

Are you thinking about New Year’s resolutions? Are you afraid to think about them because they’ve failed before?

Personal coaching is a tool for you to use as you seek to handle all your responsibilities calmly and confidently. Strategies and support are at hand as you successfully create a resolution — or just a personal goal — and then work the action plan to see it happen. Instead of viewing goals as a certain failure, you can face each year with confidence!

IN their own words

Enter the giveaway for one personal goal-setting session below. You can win and walk away with clearly defined and achievable goals to make 2018 a great year.

 Enter Now

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!