All posts tagged Time Management

Working Moms: Time To Dump The “To Do” List?

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Most of us have a “to-do” list.  It’s a list that consumes every minute of our day.  A list that keeps growing.  A list that never gets done.

Unfortunately, our daily “to do” list can prevent us from establishing two lists essential to our growth and sanity:

  • A “refuse to do” list.
  • A “wish” list.

In Powered By Happy, Author Beth Thomas encourages us to make these lists a priority.

1 – The “refuse to do” list 

Let’s face it, most of us get roped into things we really don’t need to do. 

When I first considered developing a “refuse to do” list I was pretty excited.  Writing it down can be even more empowering.  Here are a few items on my (growing) list:

I will not grocery shop on a Friday evening.  Our refrigerator is always empty on Friday nights.  Although I love to cook and equally love to eat, the grocery store is always a circus on Friday evening – something I’ve learned to avoid after a long week.

I will not make my children’s beds or pick up their rooms during the work week. I am not a talented task master.  But holding my kids to a list of “chores” during the work week has made life easier for me and my family.

I will not travel the day before a holiday weekend.  I have gotten stuck in too many airports. Unless it’s absolutely essential, I’m working in town before a holiday weekend.

2 – The “wish” list

We can’t spend all of our time focusing on what we won’t do.  We need to move on to more important things.  Like the wish list. Every author or leader I admire encourages us to dream.  And dream big!

Like some of you, I’ve been reading Lean In by Sheryl Sanberg.  Sanberg encourages women to have both an 18-month plan and a long-term goal. 

I appreciate this two-tiered approach.  While I’m a big fan of chasing dreams – and writing them down – we need short-term, realistic goals to move us in the right direction.  While one year is often too short, two years can feel like a really long time.  So I’ve decided to take Sanberg’s advice and tackle a few 18-month goals.

For example, I plan  to have a video series in place for Working Women of the Bible in the next 18 months.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but 18 months is within reach.  As important, I’m keeping a healthy “wish list” that I continue to revisit.

No, I haven’t dumped my daily “to do” list.  But it no longer consumes me.

What about you?  Have you ever made a “refuse to do” list?  A “wish” list?  If not, what’s stopping you? 

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Why The 10% Rule Is Changing My Life!

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Every once in awhile, I feel like I must drastically change my life in order to achieve any sense of balance.  It’s usually after a particularly stressful period at work combined with an equally stressful period at home.  I inevitably announce to my husband in a moment of sheer panic that I must change everything.  Immediately.  This includes selling our home, moving out to the country, and finding a stress-free occupation like raising chickens.

Do you ever feel like you must make drastic changes in order to deal with the constant stress of the daily grind?  That life is just too complicated, and you must change everything to regain your sanity?

Last summer, I was in such a funk.  I didn’t know if I could continue with the status quo, so I told a good friend and trusted colleague: “I just don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

His response caught me unexpected.   He didn’t tell me to throw in the towel and relent.  But he also didn’t tell me to suck it up and await my misery to subside.  Instead, he educated me about while I’ll call the “10% Rule.”

It’s really quite simple. 

He went on to explain that it’s 10-20% of life that puts us over the edge.  Usually, we make the mistake of thinking we must change everything.  That it’s all or nothing – either I’m a high-powered attorney in the city working 24/7, or I’m raising chickens in the country and living off the grid. 

But reality doesn’t work that way.

In reality, about 10% of my life is stressing me out.   I don’t really need to attend every parent meeting, be on the 10-person conference call, or hop on a plane on Sunday evening.  And it I tweak this10%, life will become much simpler – and manageable.   It makes me think about my friend Maria who said “no” to a client last Easter Monday.  Instead of jumping on a plane and missing her family celebration on Sunday afternoon, she insisted on pushing an out- of-town meeting to Monday afternoon.  And she saved herself some stress in the process without compromising her work or her family obligations.

What a relief.  It makes so much sense. 

Most of us would be miserable if we completely abandoned life as we know it.  Yet we’ve bought into a lie that it’s all or nothing – that we can’t achieve balance unless we completely throw in the towel and give up.

Have you considered tweaking the 10% of life that is stressing you out?  If not, make a list of what pushes you to the tipping point.  Commit to change that 10% before it pushes you over the edge!

[For the record, I would be miserable raising chickens, and I don't mean to suggest it's not stressful work.  My father raised chickens during The Depression and he tells me it's much worse than sitting behind a desk!]

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Check out my other books: 

Chasing Superwoman:  A Working Mom’s Adventure in Life and Faith (2010)

Working Women of the Bible:  Timeless Mentor for Modern Women (releases March 2013)

Working Mom’s Devotional: “Clear The Way” For Christmas

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Those of you who already have your Christmas shopping done really stress me out.  I just can’t seem to get my act together this year.

I was starting to have a panic attack this morning.  I get dizzy thinking about all the holiday preparations.   Then I realized, it’s only December 1.  I have 24 whole days until Christmas.

Maybe this self-inflicted stress is unfounded.  Forget the cultural madness of doing it all right NOW.  Forget the pressure to make everything perfect for your family Christmas.  Forget the shopping malls, internet sales, and holiday parties.  What should we really be doing to prepare for the coming of our Lord?

To start, we can take a few lessons from John the Baptist.  He didn’t seem to spend much time cutting holiday coupons or fighting the holiday traffic.  From the reports about his wardrobe, I don’t think he frequented the shopping malls.  Instead, he prepared for the coming of the Lord in the most unusual place – the desert.

After 460 years of silence, John the Baptist spoke the first prophetic words since Malachi.

John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, Clear the way for the LORD’s coming!’” (John 1:23 NLT)

He doesn’t say to buy a bunch of stuff, eat and drink into a food coma, or run around to a bunch of parties.  He says to “Clear the way.”

Here’s my attempt to start clearing the way this Christmas.

#1 Slow Down

Why on earth do we put the pressure on ourselves to get it all done TODAY?  It makes no sense.  Yet working moms are notorious for feeling “behind” if we don’t have it done three weeks in advance.   Everyone around us seems to have a “jump start” on Christmas, and we think we’ll fall behind if we don’t keep up the pace.

Slowing down means saying “no” to the urgency of now.   It also means saying no to the holiday traffic, the shopping malls, and the long lines.   The internet sale will be there tomorrow.    So will the cookies, the parties, and the Christmas cards.  (The stress will be there too!)

#2 Keep It Simple

I wanted to do a couple of things this holiday season that just won’t get done.  I abandoned an elaborate Christmas newsletter because I just couldn’t find the time.  I’m also going to be skipping a few holiday parties, baking fewer cookies, and buying more gift cards.  I’m also cooking less.   (This weekend I decided that we just needed to do “take out” to save precious time.)

In other words, I am cutting corners.  Keeping it simple.  So I can focus on the bigger stuff. 

#3 Spend Some Time In The Desert

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, some of us need the silence of the desert.   Silence clears our heads and calms our spirits.   The Word of the Lord didn’t come to John the Baptist in the cities, the marketplace, or even the temples.  All those places are much too noisy.  It came in the desert. 

I for one do much better listening when it’s quiet – and the desert is much quieter than the shopping malls.  Yet it’s not easy to find quiet time around Christmas.  We have to be creative.  We have to be intentional.  We have to turn off the Christmas music and the jingle bells. 

What are you doing to slow down, keep it simple, and find quiet time this Chirstmas?  How do you plan to “Clear the Way”?

(Not) Working At Home

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Over the holidays, I decided to stay home with the kids as much as possible.  The plan?  I would “work” at home the week after Christmas and avoid the office.

Easier said than done.

The good news?

For the most part, I avoided the office.

The bad news?

I didn’t get much work done.  Even worse, I was downright rude to my children.

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Why I’m A Bible Study “Drop Out”

I haven’t been part of a women’s Bible study in years.  And I really miss it.  Which is why I told my husband, “This year, things are going to be different.  I’m going to make it a priority.  I want to do this.  I need to do this.”

So I signed up for a Tuesday night study and faithfully attended the first week.  I even had to sign a “commitment” sheet and declared I would do my best to achieve regular attendance.

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