I can count 4 times, just today, that I have heard or read people talk about balance & I feel like I have achieved this balance for the first time this year. There were three things I did differently this year that I have never done before & they have drastically changed how productive I am & also what I prioritize on a day-to-day basis.
With so many things that demand our attention it can be hard to keep up & remember, not only what you have to do, but what you hoped to focus on during a given month. From kids sports to after work meetings to get-togethers with friends & bible studies; that doesn’t even include things like making sure you take some time for yourself each week or even daily to recharge. This year I have found a few tried & true tips, tricks, & tools to keep my days flowing smooth.
The first thing is actually what Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God & his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. After getting out of bed & unmonstering (you know…that fresh out of bed monster stuff), I grab some coffee & head outside to spend some time with God. Seeking him & spending time with him before anything else has made a huge impact on my days & especially my attitude. I notice a difference when I wake up late & don’t get those quiet moments before everyone else is up. By checking in with God before I check my phone, email, social media, etc it sets my day off right. I have never been terribly connected with my phone [which drives friends & family crazy] but like most people the first thing I used to do in the morning was grab my phone & check to see if I had texts or messages or see what had already been posted on social media. Before I even brushed my teeth I was inundated with the world. I was making the world the first priority in my life by checking in with the world before God or even my family. When I committed to no longer make the world the thing that greeted me in the morning & instead wake up to God & his word, things more easily fell into place & if they didn’t at least I had my heart right before it all went to hell in a handbasket.
By far, spending time with God is the most important thing you can do. I have had many people ask me how I do this & say they wish they had time to do it too. Well, all I have to say is… we make time for what is most important. So if it is important to you, you will find time & the will power to do it.
But there have also been a few things that have helped me to prioritize daily life too. The first is my Powersheets. I sit down at the beginning of every month & write out a plan for things I want to accomplish that month. Usually those plans revolve around work, writing, family, & health. Some months I have a ton of things checked off my lists & some months I barely have anything, but having these goals & priorities written down acts as an accountability partner that isn’t going to forget to call you back. I check in with my Powersheets every week & keep them easily accessible by my desk, so I can do quick check offs. This month hasn’t been the most successful month considering it was a week into September before I even filled them out, but I have checked off a few monthly boxes as well as weekly boxes.
2016 has been by far the least stressful year I have had in a long time, which makes absolutely no sense considering how much I have on my plate this year. I give part of that credit to my son starting to grow out of the most difficult of the preschool years, but I think a huge part of it has been how I have been aware of not only my daily/weekly/monthly schedule, but I have prioritized a few things a month & spent time at the beginning of every month reflecting on the month before & planning for the month to come.
Another big difference maker to being balanced & less stressed & productive has been keeping a planner– like a really good planner that I actually write in. I have lost too many appointments & reminders by plugging stuff into my phone. I like the tactical aspect of writing things down, checking them off, & seeing progress on my desk. But studies have been done that actually prove writing something down makes it easier to remember & accomplish, which is probably why Powersheets are so effective too.
For christmas my husband bought me a beautiful Simplified Planner that I had my eye on for a year. I have put it to good use. I bought nice pens, stickers, planner accessories, the works. I use it every day, multiple times a day & here is the secret to using your planner…you ready for this….use it! [drop the mic]. No for real, open it up, write in it, mark things off, scratch them out. Also keep it out, don’t write something down & then put it in a drawer. Keep it out where you can see it. I keep mine on the top of my desk, but your place could be your nightstand or the kitchen counter or on the table in the entry. Just keep it accessible & open. I don’t make appointments without checking my planner first & somehow, when I do I always double book.
It may seem overwhelming. It may seem to simple. Either way, we have to stop letting life happen to us & start creating & cultivating this life God has blessed us with. The thing about being organized or purposeful is that it doesn’t happen by accident. You make the choice to grow your relationship with Christ, he is always there just waiting for us. You make the choice about having a month or a week filled with goals & intentions or just business- the day just doesn’t happen to be productive, you make it productive. So stop making excuses for why & starting making ways for how.