How to Really Be More Productive

How to Really Be More Productive

Productivity. A big word among us humans. It is “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods and services”. There are so many articles and blogs, books and ebooks, pins and posts out there to help you out in this area. One book that challenged my thinking and impacted me the most is “The Four-Hour Work Week”. Even as a non-business person, many of the tips and strategies in this book can apply easily to a normal, busy mama like me.

The thing about ALL the ‘helpful’ tips out there is that you still have to figure out what actually works for YOU. In an article with ’10 tips to have a more productive day’ – there may be only 5 that actually work for you. In a cookie cutter world, it’s important that we don’t force ourselves into someone else’s mold. There’s nothing wrong with discipline and hard work but when you feel like you’re working against yourself, the method probably won’t last long or at best, can make you unhappy and tense.

It’s obviously important that we are productive people in this life. We’re not on this planet to be idle, inert blobs of flesh. We’re here to be and to do and to get a sense of accomplishment by producing abundance and beauty in life. But, in all our striving to be the most efficient possible, we must only stick with the things that work for us. There’s all kinds of great ideas out there. Find what works for you and you’ll be the most productive YOU you can be!

I’ll mention just one mold-breaker for me. The get-dressed-as-soon-as-you-wake-up law of productivity. (Sorry Flylady!) I understand the idea. Jammies feel like sleep and lounging. Clothes make you think “get ‘er done”. But for me, when my mornings can slip right past me as I take my time getting ready – this works in reverse.

Usually, if I’m going to get some work done around my house, it’s actually better for me to grab a cup of coffee and then jump right in. No wasting time showering or putting on real clothes and tennis shoes. Sweats and bare feet, with hair pulled back, is my work uniform for being productive.

I can knock it out of the park with house cleaning, baking, laundry and paying bills when I’m in my jammies. I can curl up with my computer and get blogs written, articles scheduled and chapters laid out for my ebook when I’m in my jammies.

Most often, my most productive days are those that I don’t get my shower in until late afternoon.The days that my house is ready for company before I am. Those are the days that I’ve generated, created, enhanced and brought forth goods and services and come to the end of my day with a sense of accomplishment in my productivity.

What about you? What tips and tricks work for you? Or which ones don’t? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts!

 

**Thanks to @lindsaylongstudio over at Instagram for spurring this blogpost!

On Home Organization… and Peace

On Home Organization… and Peace

I have a love/hate relationship with organization. You know fad diets? I was a fad organizational guru. Fly Lady, binders, notecards, phone planners, paper planners, lists… they each worked for a season. Or maybe a day. Then we started the life where we full-time traveled. And every home organizational trick I knew and practiced went out the window. Hardly even a calendar beyond the one that told us where we needed to be and when. There was no organizing our family of 5, that grew to 6, beyond that because we went together, stayed together. No cleaning schedule or routine. We were rarely home and when we were, it didn’t take much to throw together our tiny 900 sq. foot apartment. No. There wasn’t much use for decluttering because we had downsized to hardly anything to fit into that apartment.

But times have changed yet again. We no longer live in that tiny apartment (praise Jesus!) but have ‘upgraded’ to a 2600 square foot townhouse. Our clutter has returned as we have slowly (or not so slowly) accumulated more and more over the last 3 years. The kids now have lives of their own that we have to jive with. Public school, dance class, church activities, sports, work schedules… yes, the season of needing organization has returned.

But as I have Googled and Pinterest-ed endlessly, looking for the latest fads, I’ve found that my organizational ‘needs’ have changed, maybe matured, maybe digressed. I no longer care about making time to shine my sink daily. Community dressers with shared clothing, sox and undies will NEVER work with 3 teen girls. Actually laundry isn’t much of a chore because I only wash clothes for 3 instead of 6 since the older girls have been doing their own for years now.

Yes, this season of organization seems to look different. It’s more about who plays what sport, who works what hours or church class, who needs money for what school activity and by when, have I paid the dance class tuition, better yet, did I pay the rent? The house needs cleaned but seems to take a back seat to the pressing and honestly more important things in life. Remembering (and even scheduling) 30 minutes to declutter my toddler’s toys – yet again – needs to happen… sometime. But making sure I didn’t plan on my still homeschooled teen to watch the toddler while I go to lunch with a friend is more pressing. It saves my relationship with my daughter, saves me some stress and keeps the peace in the house.

Honestly, peace. That really is what I’m looking for in my organizing of my home in this season. My toddler’s clutter on the floor does not promote peace once she’s left it hours ago to watch Netflix or YouTube videos. That makes it a pressing need. Scurrying around early Monday morning to find certain clothes or some cash for a forgotten school activity does not promote peace so having information written down to plan ahead is a pressing need. I can maintain peace if my bed doesn’t get made one day. (Though make that everyday for a week and my peace can drift) Yes, it is about peace.

And I think all of us have different ‘peace barometers’ when it comes to how the household is functioning. You may need a shiny sink to feel good about your day and say to heck with the laundry for the day – even though it’s Tuesday, laundry day. You may only need to make your bed to have a sense of peace on a Wednesday. That and knowing that your kids are off to school with all they need for the day is enough. So, at the bottom of it all, what I need – and what you need – is tools for getting the things done that actually matter for the sake of peace in your own home. I don’t have to do everything Pinterest suggests. I do need to do the things that matter to me in this season, in my home, in my life. And so do you. And that’s why, on this Saturday, I’m going to make another cup of coffee and sit back down with my computer and Facebook and Pinterest or maybe a book or a movie. Because resting on this Saturday is what will maintain a sense of organization and peace in my life!

On the Home Front

On the Home Front

It’s one of those Saturdays. The kind where you intend to take it easy, not much on the ‘to do’ list, but all of the sudden it’s almost 3 and you’re not sure where your Saturday is headed down the drain to. So since I’m moving slow anyways, I will continue to have 3 things on my list while I write an unplanned blog. 😉

Sooo, my husband left the country a couple days ago. He’ll be gone for 9 more days. I never look forward to him leaving but the more we do this, the more it doesn’t kill me to single parent for a season every once in a while. I miss him every day but don’t cry myself to sleep every night.

While he’s gone, life goes on…

I take two of our kiddos to school every day and pick them up again. I get to hear their stories of their new life in public school. We mourn the poopy quiz score, laugh at other students’ antics and celebrate the fun activities they got to do today – the ones they NEVER would have experienced had we kept them home this year.

I take my 14 year old in to take her written drivers test. (which she aces!) She seems to think if she’s going to public school 15 minutes away, she should get to drive herself there. Not that I don’t think that’s a great idea, especially on Monday morning at 6:30, but she’s 14. And you know, she’s now the second one of my kids behind the wheel and it’s kinda freaking me out – the realization that I not only have a houseful of teens but ones that are racing quickly to adulthood.

I go to the coffee shop to get some computer work done while the middle girls are in school. But I don’t go alone because my toddler doesn’t like the new routine I had planned for her of going to a sitter a couple times a week. She joins me and my carrot cake chai with her muffin and iPad and I don’t work uninterrupted but I do work. And hurry to get done because the iPad has lost it’s appeal and the next thing on the list is calling.

I get several texts during the day from my oldest daughter. Keeping me informed of her whereabouts and permission to use the my debit card that she has so graciously kept in safekeeping in her wallet for the last… um, month-ish. Or more. I know this is breaking me in slowly to less than a year from now when she’ll be living hundreds of miles away. It’s a good thing I keep telling myself.

I get to pick what to eat for dinner. Not that this is any different than while my man is home but I seem to choose something not made in my kitchen a lot more when he’s gone. Last night we went to Market Grill. We were minus the oldest (not an unusual occurrence these days). The rest of us enjoyed rolls, pasta and fried brie cheese. Call it girls night.

It’s just the beginning of this short season without the man of the house but so far, so good. So far life on the home front is moving along just dandy.

Positioning Yourself for the Best Year Yet: Learning to Say No

Positioning Yourself for the Best Year Yet:  Learning to Say No

(This is Day 1 of a 10 day series of Tips to Position Yourself for the Best Year Ever)

The first step to positioning ourselves for an amazing 2015 is…

Learning to say ‘NO’.

In a culture where busy is celebrated and rest is frowned upon as laziness, this can be a tough follow through. But in our world of ‘yes’ to every new activity, every new class, every new sport, every new church service… our life can become so cluttered and stressful that we lose our enjoyment of life itself. Running from one place to the next, having a ‘have and do it all’ mentality has become our American life and we have suffered from it. It is estimated that over 80% of Americans are effected by adrenal fatigue, which in short, means that we are trudging through life with a tank half empty, because we are overrun by stress. I believe God’s best is that we are free and whole in body, soul and spirit so it’s important to keep our physical bodies healthy and rested.

The first step to being able to say ‘no’ is to sit down and write out your priorities in life. Your goals. Your passions. The circle of loved ones who are nearest and dearest to you when it comes to who you like to spend time with. Prayerfully making this list will highlight what should truly be the YES’s in your life and thus, point out where you can start saying no. If it doesn’t fit in to what your priorities for your life are – there’s no reason to waste your time and energy pouring into it. If volunteering 3 times a week is robbing you of a relationship with your own kids, it’s time to reevaluate that commitment. If you are passionate about mentoring one on one, why are you wasting your time on a public speaking class? Why are you going to that small group every week, if you come home feeling zapped of energy and angry?

So do it today. Write out your list of life priorities, your passions, what you want your life to look like in 5 years… Then make a list of all the ‘extras’ that are a part of your life. This should include anything that is not your job or school. Church activities, sports and fitness activities, volunteering, educational classes…. There may be 4 services a week at church you CAN be involved in but maybe it’s time to let go of the good for God’s best. His best includes you being healthy, free and whole. It includes good family relationships. So maybe it’s time to take one of those time slots and dedicate it to a family game night. Or a weekly coffee date with your spouse. When we learn to say NO, we free up time and energy for the truly important YES’s in our lives!

Moving Home

Moving Home

This is Day 5 of “31 Days of Whimsical Encounters” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.

 

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My family and I were all in our home, doing life together. All of the sudden, the wind came up and began to blow so hard that our home began to move. I looked out the window and, yes, we were actually moving in our home. Like a car sailing down the interstate – it seemed like we ‘drove’ down the road forever. I looked out and saw fields pass by as we traveled down the road within our home.

Finally, after such a long time, we came to a stop. I tell my kids, “Go, look out the window. We are now in a new place. In a new neighborhood.” We all walk out of the house and just sit in the grass, wondering about the strange events. I look up in the sky. There’s a bright light. A familiar bright light. “I’ve seen this light before,” I think to myself. But wait, this time, I see something in the light. It’s a dove. 

I’m startled as the dove touches down and lights a stick on fire. The stick is now my torch. My torch radiating from my home. My home that’s in a new place.

The Living Room

The Living Room

Life has been running at full force for the last couple months. My husband has been away 4 of the last 9 weeks. With homeschooling 3 upper elementary through high school grades and chasing an incredibly curious toddler, I usually get to the end of the day and stare aimlessly at my phone screen as I don’t pass another level of Candy Crush. (don’t judge. you do it too.) Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I love that I get to homeschool my girls. I love that the Lord chose to bless us with our ‘punctuation’ baby (9 years later….). I love that my husband has the opportunities to do what he loves to do. And I sure the heck would rather be running than sitting still.

As we move into the colder months and the holiday season approaches rather quickly, I’m wanting more ‘cozy’ in my life.  (cozy: snugly warm and comfortable;  snug, comfy, homey, sheltered.) It seems contrary to life as it’s been. And as I look forward, to the busyness of the holidays and potential ministry expansion, it seems having more snuggly, warm, homey comfort is a lofty thought. But I also think it’s a necessary mark to aim for. I need it. And my family needs it.

Not that we stop working and being productive but we start being intentional about being more laid back, stopping to enjoy the hot chocolate moments of life. Putting out a few more candles and stopping to light them. Instead of summer swimsuit days, having winter pj days – and not feeling guilty for it. Guilt. That just may be the biggest hinderance to enjoying the cozy of life. Some hear the lie that if you work hard, you’ll lose what’s important in life. Others hear the lie that if you relax, again, you’ll miss what’s important in life. Thus we live in a condemned state, never quite sure how we’re supposed to feel or what exactly we’re supposed to be doing. I love the balance and seasons the Lord has set into motion. The trick is figuring out just exactly where you’re supposed to be. The ebb and flow of work, play and rest. But that’s a rabbit trail for another day. Back to cozy….

This is where the living room comes in. A place where, as it’s aptly named, family life actually happens. When it boils down to it, this is where I’m feeling the need for more cozy, more snuggly, more homey. When my family passes through the living room, I want the pull of ‘stay here’, ‘rest here’, ‘laugh here’, ‘watch the snow fall here’. I’m wanting to create an atmosphere of fall cozy. Fall whimsy. A place that others are drawn into. Because this season will only happen once this year. I won’t get a do-over (though I’ve begged for one in years past).

Funny thing. When I was typing the title to this post, it came out as ‘Loving Room’. That’s the point, right? A place where love lives. If you walk into this room, you’ll feel cozy, you’ll feel loved. Stress will fall off. You will find relief from the hard things of life, at least for a moment. And you can begin to enjoy the moments of the season.