Today many people go back to work after a long Christmas break and many kids go back to school. Life as it was before the holidays returns. Life-as-it-was may bring the dread of jumping back on the crazy hamster wheel which never slows and of which you feel you can never jump off. In this month’s newsletter (which will come out next week*) I will discuss two things you must have in your life to live the intentional life God has for you. But today I want to discuss two steps you can take now that will help you live a more intentionally, fulfilling the purpose God has given you.
Over the past couple of years it seems my life has filled up with good stuff—all my priorities. And yet I feel like I’m not accomplishing some of what God has called me to—like writing, consistent exercising, and other projects. I have analyzed and prayed over this dilemma much. I’ve tried to understand what is happening and how I can change things. I feel like I’m chasing my tail and, of course, to no avail.
Yet, something needed to change. I cannot keep letting my life run itself. Stuff will fill in every nook and cranny of my time if I am not purposeful.
Recently God showed me two ideas that help me accomplish the important stuff not getting done and still address my daily to-do list.
The first idea requires answering the question:
What won’t get done today? As I said, I always have something I to do—clean and prep to host two small groups (not every week), pay bills, groceries, errands, write, exercise, spend time with family which includes feeding them, etc. I’m sure you can relate. Over several months I noticed a pattern of which items on my to-do list were usually completed and which ones were not usually completed. I discovered that the ones that screamed the loudest were most often completed. I always paid the bills on time. We never went without food. I always made time for my family (which I love doing!). All of these are good and necessary, but I consistently neglected other important parts of my life—my writing, often exercising, and my list of projects (like making my office functional and pretty).
One day God prompted me with this question—What won’t get done today? At the end of this day what do I predict will still be on my to-do list? It wasn’t hard to figure it out. My day planner stated the answer clearly—writing and projects. Even though running was not written on the list, I knew I was not regularly running.
Since I can predict what won’t be accomplished today, why not make sure it gets done by doing it first? Answering this question led me to my next idea to make my days and life more purposeful.
One small step at a time—Putting writing at the top of my to-do list didn’t make the other items less important. What it did do was help me snatch up time that would have been not as productive.
We need to see time in a different way. All time is not created equal. Yes, time is finite; we all have only so much in each day. How we use it is what matters. Our usual activities that keep our lives running—errands, dishes, laundry, email, etc.— take up as much time as we give them. We can actually condense certain things to make our time more dense and in effect we get more bang from a small period of time. We do this by putting off what usually gets done, and focusing on the important-what-usually-doesn’t-get-done. Take a short period of time (anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour) and work only on that project. Then go back to the other stuff that always gets done. In that short amount of time repeated over a week, you will see big progress made in small steps.
I have many large (to me) projects on my agenda. My tendency is to schedule large blocks of time to work on each one. Then when I cannot find the blocks of time I get frustrated and nothing is accomplished. I have learned if I can work on one project a little each day and giving it my best time, it eventually gets done. And this is better than never getting done and finally disappearing from the to-do list from attrition.
What about you? What would you like to accomplish in 2017? Maybe start something God has been prompting you to do? Spend consistent time with God? Pour into the people you love?
Whatever it is would you try these two ideas? I would love to hear how it works for you.
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Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.