God is doing some work on me right now.  It’s good.  It’s a little scary and painful, but good.   I’ve been asking Him for a few  years to help me dig up those things in my heart that do not please Him.  Well, He took me seriously and He is doing it. 

Right now at church we are in a series, called Counterfeit Love.  It’s based on the book “Counterfeit Gods” by Tim Keller.  Our small group is reading the book along with the sermon series and then discussing it every two weeks.  It’s been extremely eye-opening to me.  Not only am I going through this book and the sermon series, but I’m also going through Jennie Allen’s “Stuck” Bible Study with a group of my friends.  All of these things combined are proving to be God’s tools in continuing to shape of my character. 

I think God was tired of seeing me struggle and complain, when He knew the root of the problem all along.  I havent’ been trusting  Him enough, believing Him enough, pursuing Him enough and worst of all, I have been putting other “idols” above Him.   Yuck. 

And the thing is, my heart has been pretty sneaky.  All the things I worry about and focus on are not bad, so they disguised themselves as maybe things I should worry about and should focus on.  It’s all been a lie. 

Now a moment of transparency.  I worry about the silliest things.  I worry that my to-do list hasn’t been done and that bugs me.  I want all of my “to-do’s” done for the day and when they are not, I get uncomfortable, uneasy, frustrated and sometimes a little depressed.  I’m serious.  I have valued myself, to this point, by how much I can get done and accomplish in a day.  If I feel I’ve tackled most of my to-do’s, and the house is clean, and everyone has clean underwear and dinner is ready and tasty, then maybe, just maybe I will feel good for the day. 

Again, not bad things, but the wrong things.  I can search and search, but I do not think I’ll ever find a verse in the Bible that says “Follow Jesus, but first make sure all your to-do’s are finished, the floor is swept, and all the laundry is done and dinner is cooked”.  So why have I been living that way?  I want to control my day and when it doesn’t go how I think it should go, I get upset, and sometimes I take it out on those I love the most.  That’s messed up. 

So the journey continues and God and I are working on getting this idol of control out of my heart.  I am praying like crazy, reading His word and asking Him every morning to help take this junk out of my heart and to replace it with Him.  I am looking at my to-do’s and understanding what is motivating them, and why I want to accomplish them.  I’m trying to let God lead. 

This is not going to be easy, we are talking about years of a bad habits ingrained in my being.  Thankfully, God is strong enough to help me overcome this.  I just have to let Him.

Checking Off To-Do’s

to-do-list-padIf you are like me, you have one or two tasks that you continuously put off and add to the next day or next week’s list.  You know what I’m talking about.  There are always a few items on our lists that we just do not want to do, but when we finally do them they usually only take a few minutes and we feel so much better!

I’m a pretty organized person, but even I put off stuff sometimes.  I have to push myself to get those tasks completed.  Here are some of my strategies in doing so:

  1.  Set Up A Tickler File.  A tickler file helps you to organize your to-do’s. Once you set up a system and can trust that you WILL look into the files each day, it is a great way to assign days to your to-do’s and then forget about them.
  2. Make Time.  You MUST make time to take care of your to-do’s.  It will be difficult, and there will be a million other  obligations,  but you must carve out time to take care of your tasks so that they do not pile up.  Set an appointment with yourself each day for 30 minutes to an hour and go through your daily to-do’s and do them one by one.  If you need a longer amount of time, then maybe schedule two times during your day where you complete your to-do’s.  Then stick to it like any other appointment.
  3. Write It Down.  I have to write everything down or I will forget it.  I save so many reminders in my phone it’s almost embarrassing.  You can ask my husband.  He hears my little reminder bell go off about 50 times a day.  Sorry honey, but I cannot function without reminders.  I sometimes get caught up in what I am doing and need a reminder to get me back on track.  I either write down what I need to do and then put it in my tickler, or I set a reminder in my calendar on my computer and phone.  This then allows me to forget it for the moment, knowing I will be reminded when I need to take care of it.  That helps relieve all those floating thoughts in my head that tend to stress me out.
  4. Break It Up.  If you have a large to-do, break it up into little to-do’s and then schedule those accordingly.  When you have a big project to do it can be very overwhelming. 
  5. Delegate and Scrutinize.  If you have to-do’s that others can help you with, by all means delegate.   I think there are plenty of us that tend to do more ourselves than we actually need to.  I am one of them.  I just do not think that it might be easier to ask my husband to stop by the cleaners on his way home.  I add it to my to-do list and try to fit it in.  From time to time you need to step back and take a look at your to-do’s and see what makes sense for you to do and what makes sense for someone else to help with.  We must also scrutinize our list to make sure everything that is on it is in fact important and needs to be accomplished.   I have found items on my list that were not worth my time.  Our time is valuable.  Remember that when you are creating your list.

I hope these help in some way.  Start today and work towards getting more of your list accomplished today instead of pushing it off until tomorrow.  These are the tools I use to help myself get through my to-do list.  But most of all, it all comes down to that famous tag line we all know…..Just Do It! 

THANKFUL THURSDAY:  Today I am thankful that most of my to-do’s are accomplished today.  I still have a few to do, but it is still early!  🙂

Focus On One Thing At A Time

imagesIf you are anything like me, you sometimes focus on too many things at once.  When you focus on too many things at once, usually nothing gets completed all the way through.   There will usually be a trail of unfinished projects if we continue on this way.

At one job I had a few years ago, I cleaned off my desk daily and only had the bare essentials on top of the desk.  The computer, my pen and whatever project I was working on.  I would not get out another project until I was finished with the one on the desk.  It worked so well.  That job allowed for this type of focus and concentration on one thing at a time.  I know some jobs do not.  I have had those jobs.  I think, however, that you can work towards focusing as much as possible on one thing at a time.

Here are some ways to help you stay focused and get more accomplished in your day.

1.  Plan your day ahead of time.  The day before, or the night before, plan out your day and the tasks you must complete.

2.  Do not overbook your time.  We tend to schedule way more than we could ever accomplish in a day.   This only adds to our frustration. 

3.  Set times for going through emails.  If you can focus on just going through emails once or twice a day, that allows you more time to focus on your to-do’s.  To help stay focused during the day and not be tempted to read emails, turn off any of the notifications you currently have set to tell you that you received email.  This will keep you on track and not tempt you to stop what you are doing and go read the email that just came in.  If you do that all day long, you will  be interrupted constantly and you will not be able to accomplish as many of your tasks.  You would be practicing LIFO – Last In, First Out.  That pushes all those projects you’ve had on your desk for a while further under the pile. Obviously there will be times you must reply to emergency emails, but really stop and think about how responsive you need to be.

4.  Filter your To-Do’s.  Go through your to-do list and really scrutinize each item on the list.   Look at your time and your most important goals.  Are all of the things on your task list contributing to those?  Or can you relieve yourself from a few obligations?  Are you putting more on you than you need to? I know I do this, so I find it very important to go back through my to-do list and look at it as my husband would.  He is my efficiency expert.  He points out so many to-do’s I take on that are not necessary.  It’s very freeing…give it a try.

5.  Set Appointments With Yourself.  Just like you set appointments for meetings and dr. appointments, set some appointments with yourself.  For instance, from 2-3pm I’m going to focus only on this project.   Then STICK TO IT.  That is the hard part, but you have to see the importance of these appointments with yourself.  They are extremely important when you want to accomplish the tasks on your list.

6.  If It’s Too Big Break It Up.  If a task or project is too big to do in one day, then break it up into little chunks and schedule the chunks into your day as if they are a project themselves.  If you need to send out some invitations, but you first have to pick out which ones you want to order, come up with the wording, then gather all of the address before hand addressing and taking the post office?  Then break those up and put “pick out invitations” on your to-do list for one day.  Once that piece is done, the next day during your project time put “work on the wording” to do during that time.  This creates manageable projects.  Sometimes we cannot do a complete project in one sitting or one day, but we CAN complete one more step of the project. 

The whole idea is to simplify your projects first, then assign a time to complete them, and most importantly stick to the time allotments you make for these projects.  Focusing on one thing at a time.  You WILL get through your list, and you will be much more focused.  It just takes some planning and effort.

Please let me know if you have any additional ideas or helpful hints to add.