19 December 2014

Resolution Resources: Manage My Time

Dear Lissy,

Every resolution you make will require the expenditure of time, money, or both.  Learning to redeem the time is one of the most elusive and valuable skills you can possess.  As I prayed and thought about this letter, I decided to call my momma.  I admire my mom's time management skills and philosophy more than she will ever know.  She doesn't live out of a Filofax, but her home is always tidy and welcoming, she's dependable, and she's giving.  Above all, your grammy possesses a gentle and quiet spirit that ministers to everyone around her.  She gave up a few of her secrets that fit well with our three part plan for making reliable resolutions:

Make small daily exchanges, even for big goals.


  • Grammy's first piece of advice was to keep a running to-do list where you dump everything that is rattling around in your brain onto paper.  This is as much for your own peace of mind as it is to ensure that everything gets done. (She also has a basic wall calendar to record appointments and events)
  • Creating a daily to-do list with a handful of "have-to-do's" instead of a bushel of "hope-to-do's" is another key area we chatted about.  You can always pick a few items off the running to-do list if time permits, but having a realistic picture of what must be done helps you make better choices during the heat of the day. 
  • Finally, Grammy completes urgent tasks first.  As she put it, "If there's something that has to be done before I can go to bed, I do that first." Once your urgent tasks are out of the way, you'll have the patience and energy to deal with other items on the list or schedule busters from your husband and kids.

    Keep in mind that the Real Goal isn't a Pinterest worthy color-coded planner, but the hospitality, peace, and patience that your grandmother has demonstrated in her life for more than 40 years.  

Make exchanges whose input can be measured.


We love to measure our worth by how much we can get done, but the quality of our relationships and attitude far outstrip our productivity in eternal value.  

How do we measure input with time management?
  1. Create a Daily Plan.  Call it a to-do list, a Daily Docket, or nothing at all, but move all of your Routines, Appointments, Tasks, and Events (RATE) to one piece of paper you refer to throughout the day.  I choose to use a bullet journal format, but I've used everything from a Day-Timer to a sheet of notebook paper on a clipboard in the past.  If I create a daily plan either the night before or first thing in the morning, I count that day a success.  Just the act of putting my plans on paper creates a sense of peace and focus that is vitally important for me as I run our household.  I can instantly see where I can fit in a request for my time, or have the freedom to say "no, I can't fit that in today."  
  2. Meticulously maintain the feeder sources for the daily plan.  If my brain is hacking up forgotten tasks, appointments, and to-do's, I get off plan pretty quickly.  Ditto if I have an "emergency" from one of the guys.  I can only make an effective Daily Plan if my sources are reliable.
    • Do I have a single calendar where every appointment and activity is faithfully recorded?  
    • Do I have a running to do list so tasks that need to be completed are visibly in front of me while I make up my Daily Plan?
    • Is my tickler up to date?
    • Have I asked Daddy if he has any errands, double shifts, or tasks he needs done this week so I don't get blindsided with something that has to be done that day (or minute!)? 
    • Do I have the boy's club, school, and work schedules for the week?  If they need some weird item for a science experiment, or a pot of spaghetti for a late night at robots, I need to know in advance.
When I have a Daily Plan that I'm confident contains the routines, appointments, tasks, and events I need to accomplish for my day, I'm a different person.  And when Momma's happy and peaceful?  Well, you know what a difference that makes. When a schedule buster comes booming through the door, I can either send it packing, or rearrange my plan to accommodate it.  Either way, the day is a success eternally.

Create or join a support and accountability group.

Ever had a home in C.H.A.O.S? (That's shorthand for "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome.")  God has set up a support and accountability structure for time management called "hospitality."  We are to be entertaining strangers and friends, and showing that same kindness and love to our own family.  We have the older women in our ministry we should be hosting in our homes regularly to help us navigate the difficult waters of managing a home and family well before God.  I don't care for entertaining Martha Stewart style at all, but I love having people in my home for encouragement, ministry, and consolation.  My schedule can become overloaded and our house can deteriorate into shambles inside of a week if I'm not intentional about hospitality.  Grammy has people in her home continually since before I was born, some of them for weeks at a stretch.  She manages her time and home so that even when Gugs brings someone home unexpectedly, she's not kerfluffled at the inconvenience.  I'm glad that I've had that example before me since I was itty-bitty.

Managing your time -- and your family's time --  is challenging.  I encourage you when you become discouraged to think back on the time you spent in Grammy's home, and seek to follow her example of loving hospitality and peace.

Love you for all of time,


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