If you’ve been paying attention here in Seekerville, you’ve probably noticed a theme running through several posts this summer. It started in June with Amanda Barrett’s post about stress reduction for writers, then continued with Cate Nolan’s post about that 15-letter word we all hate: Procrastination. Pam Hillman finished up the June theme with her post on burning the candle at both ends, and Mary Connealy carried it into July with her post on plowing the rough field.
Do you see the connection?
My life this summer is no different. In April my husband and I finally found our retirement home in the Black Hills, ending a year-long search to find the perfect place, and we knew we were facing a long summer of changes. Big changes.
|The view from our new deck - I can't get enough of it!|
Soli Deo Gloria
But we had no idea how many unexpected changes God had in store for us.
And we're moving THIS WEEK! Suddenly, everything seems VERY URGENT!
Meanwhile, my next deadline is looming, getting closer every day. October 1st will be here before I know it! And THAT is very important!
How do I determine which wins my time? Do I do the important things? The urgent things? Both?
Some days I just want to chuck it all and go back to bed! Sometimes I think the chaos is going to win.
But while my head tends to think I’m standing on a very shaky house of cards, my heart knows that God will take me through this stormy season.
One way He's doing it is through three major tools that are helping me survive the chaos and become more productive, and I’d love to share them with you in case your life is chaotic too! (Who am I kidding? We’re all living crazy-busy lives!)
My BuJo layout is fairly simple – mostly a daily task list – but I also use project pages for major things like moving and tracking my daily word count. I color code my tasks: blue for writing related activities, green for home and family, red for church, orange for moving, and pink for things that are just for me.
I have monthly pages, then a space for the current week, and then daily entries. I use my BuJo to keep track of what I have planned for each day.
|In this crazy summer, I've also found it helpful to keep|
a countdown to major dates.
The second is an idea from Dwight D. Eisenhower. It’s a matrix for prioritizing tasks that he developed while he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War Two (and I thought my life was stressful!) You can read about the Eisenhower Matrix here.
This matrix helps me separate the urgent AND important tasks from those that are either urgent OR important. It helps me decide which jobs need to be done NOW, which jobs to schedule for another day, and which I shouldn’t be doing AT ALL. That's how I prioritize what I need to do each day.
When I merged these two tools, my to-do list became manageable. I can decide which things are today’s tasks (ideally one major thing – my word count – and two or three less-major things) and which can be scheduled for tomorrow or next week. It also helps me determine which tasks can be delegated (i.e. asking for help from my dear husband).
I confess – I’ve always had a hard time asking someone else to do something I think needs to be done. But I continue to learn how necessary it is.
Not surprisingly, that last square in the Eisenhower matrix, the “Don’t Do” square, has made all the difference. If it’s before 5:00 in the afternoon and I find myself wandering toward “just a few minutes to see what’s on Facebook,” that don't do list brings me back. I keep that list taped to my computer screen!
But I mentioned three things earlier, didn't I?
The third thing that God has brought to my attention this summer is rest.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is looking for you." And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39 ESV)
Jesus was an incredibly busy man. Everything he did was important. Every waking moment was spent doing his Father's work...except for those times when he went off by himself for prayer. He knew how to separate the urgent from the important.
That's my inspiration - not only for writing, but for life.
If I'm too busy to go off by myself and spend some time with God, then I am too busy. I'm letting the urgent take the place of the important.
If I'm too busy to accept God's gift of rest, not only on Sunday, but every day, then I am too busy.
What effect have these three things had on my productivity?
It's amazing. When I think of what God has helped me accomplish over the last several months, I am astounded.
Believe it or not, I'm naturally lazy. My idea of a pleasant evening is to curl up in my favorite chair, stitching in my hands and an audio book playing or a good movie on television. Add a gentle snow-fall and a fire in the stove, and I'm a happy camper. *sigh* Comfy jammies and all!
But with these tools, I can enjoy steady productivity and my time of rest - with God in the morning and with my cross stitching in the evenings.
And this crazy-stressful season of my life? Easy like Sunday morning. No chaos allowed.
How do you conquer the chaos in your life? Do you use a planner? An on-line calendar? Or have you thrown in the towel?