Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sorting it all Out

Hello friends,

I received an email today that I think I'd like to answer here on the blog, because I'm sure that many of us have the same question...


I just read your blog and I am exactly the same way - I do not see the details, but see the big picture and thus get overwhelmed!   You mentioned the importance of routine  -  But, when I get up everything seems to "scream" at me to take care of it.  How do you sort out what to do first?

It always seems so easy when we listen to the "experts" doesn't it?  "Have routines!", "Do it now!", "Keep your priorities in order!", "Just take a step at a time", "You can do it!!".  And we DO do it... for about two weeks at a time.  Then we take a day off because we are sick, or we are out of the house and so we get off our routine, or a huge project arises and we are right back where we started.  Things have piled up, there are projects looming over our heads, our devotional life has stagnated and we feel like a failure.  "If I could only find the "right way", I am sure that I could stick to it!!", we say... and then we begin the search for the next fix it - whether that fix it be FlyLady, Graceworks, or a new organizational book. We buy the products, jump in with both feet and start again, only to have the cycle repeat itself.  Is there anything we can do to combat this??

For the last few weeks, I've really done very well.  I've done my morning and evening routines, my house has been clean, my clothes laid out for each day... even my dishes done. I took the GraceWorks pages to the printer (after a good cry because prices have gone up so much) and even had some time to visit my Mom after her stroke, go out with my husband, cross stitch and make some cards.  THEN my daughter got all of her wisdom teeth out on Wednesday, and my back started to hurt on Friday, which finds me today sitting in my office not moving much, with dear daughter next to me in not much better shape.  There are dishes in the sink, the trash to be taken out, orders to be sent, things to be filed, songs to be readied so I can play piano at church tomorrow, supper to decide on.... and the list goes on and on.  And honestly, I would much rather spend the day dreaming up a new system of organization than using the one that I have!  Instead I will combat this feeling of "I can't do it all and I don't know what to do first, so I'm going to shut down and not do anything" mood, and force myself to be MUSSY...  I will Make a list, Use my timer, Start my Schedule again, and Yearn to please my Saviour.

MAKE A LIST
Some of the first things I think about when starting my list are urgent needs.  These are things that need to take care of before I jump back into my routines and schedule.  Are there bills that need to be paid immediately?  Do I need to make something for a potluck tomorrow?  Is there meat that needs to go in the crockpot right now?  You get the idea!  Next, I'll list any high-priority / important things that I have let slide - things like spending time with the Lord, or perhaps reading a book to a child, or planning a special dessert for my husband.  Then I'll add the multitude of other to-dos and reminders to my list as well.  When that is done, I'll take a moment to star any items that I would like to do today, and then I'll star those that MUST be done today.  They aren't always the same thing! : )  

USE YOUR TIMER
Beginning with anything that needs to be done *immediately*, I will set my timer for 5-15 minutes and complete it.  For example, I might write the check for the bill that is due, put it in the mailbox, and then put some meat in the crockpot for supper.  If I needed to make a dish for the potluck as well, I would probably start my timer for 15 minutes and start picking up the kitchen first.  It's always harder to cook in a messy kitchen, isn't it?  15 minutes might let me unload and reload the dishwasher and wipe off the counters.  A second 15 minutes may have most of a sink full of dishes washed and by the end of the third 15 minutes my kitchen should be shiny.  After a drink of water, I'll be ready to fix something for the potluck and make a special dessert for my husband... then take a break  - with my timer going, of course!

START MY SCHEDULE AGAIN
I like to do a quick pickup through the upstairs when I've gotten off of my routines.  I start by throwing in a load of laundry in the laundry room and picking up the little bathroom that I'm in, giving a quick scrub to the toilet while I'm there.  Then out to the little entry / hallway where I'll grab a broom and sweep the entry and kitchen.  If my kitchen is clean I can go on to the dining room and put away anything that has gathered on the table, and then into the living room where I'll straighten the blankets over the couches, the videos under the TV, and the music by the piano.  After the living room it's on to the other bathroom and then I'll finish up in the master bedroom where I'll make sure that my bed is made and my clothes are laid out for tomorrow.  About this time I will need to sit down and eat something, and I can take time with my Bible to refresh spiritually as well.

Now I'm ready to start my schedule again tomorrow.  Before I go to bed I take a look at the next day's housekeeping basics from either my personal weekly list of routines that I've made in my planner or from my Beautiful Life Management or Weekly Home Journal sheets.  I'll also be sure that I know what my menu plans are the next day and go from there.

Where do I start in the morning?  Usually I start with the normal things... shower, make my bed, get dressed, feed and walk dogs, breakfast, pick up kitchen, check email.  When things settle down again I'll take time to read my Bible while I drink a cup of coffee and then I'll check my planner for anything that is "time-sensitive" for the day, whether it is GraceWorks orders to pack and ship, an appointment to go to, or the fact that I need to pick up eggs and milk before tomorrow's breakfast.  Knowing these "must do's" I can frame my schedule for the day.  I try to fit in the housekeeping basics for the day as early as possible so that I don't procrastinate (as I would like to do!).  But sometimes I will spend 15 - 30 minutes on a project in the morning, and push something else to the afternoon, simply because I have more brain energy earlier in the day and it is easier for me to think through things then!  

Projects are the hardest things for me to make headway on.  There are SO many of them, and I am easily distracted!  I'm better when I have a looming deadline because it forces me to work on them steadily, but to know that I should be working on something because I might need it someday is very hard for me to do.  Hmmm.... perhaps we should do some of those projects together as challenges on the blog.  I'll have to think about that!

and finally...
YEARN TO PLEASE MY SAVIOUR
I've found that this actually is the best thing I can do to help me prioritize and decide what to do next.  Many days I'll read my Bible and pray and then go on my way trying to do what is right, yet still feeling overwhelmed.  Why?  I think it is summed up in the verse... "Ye have not, because ye ask not."  I just assume because I spent time in the Word that the Lord will guide me.  But did I ask for that guidance specifically?  Did I turn my day over to Him and accept His direction for it?  Or were my prayers more on the line of... "Help me have a good day.  Make the children obey.  Teach my husband a lesson."??  Do we think to start our day with thanksgiving?  To ask the Lord to guide and teach us through the day, whether all that happens is good in our eyes or not?  To plead with Him for His direction in the decisions that we will be making, and to show us ways to be a blessing to others?  I challenge you to try this.  It is SO easy to slip back into the old ways, but beginning my day like this and yearning to please Him throughout each minute and hour has truly been a blessing to me when I have practiced it faithfully!

I do hope my rambling will be a help to some of you who struggle like I do.  The tools we use are only worthwhile if we use them.  Let's begin again today!!

Blessings!

Mrs. GraceWorks


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