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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Friday, January 27, 2017

5 Ways to Get'er Done this Year

5 Ways to Get'er Done this Year

Time. T.I.M.E. Four little letters that hold our entire lives. Time is a leveler, you know. It makes us all equal. There’s no other commodity in life that doesn’t care about status or title or bank account. Time is no respecter of person. We’re all the same when time is handed out each day. The rich and the poor, the famous and the ordinary, the brilliant and the average…all have the same number of moments in a day. Barring God takes us home to eternity, we’ll all wake up tomorrow morning and be gifted the same 24 hours. How we use each moment says a lot about each of us.

I'm a high capacity person. I kind of thrive on spinning lots of plates. But busy and productive are not always synonymous. If I'm not careful, I can easily become a slave to the tyranny of the urgent, exhausting all my energy on unimportant things.

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And as you know, once a moment is spent, that’s it. It’s gone. I can’t win it back. I can't earn it back. I can't buy it back. Time really is the currency of life, and I want to spend it well.

While I don't know the number of days God will gift me, I know that I have THIS day...right now...to accomplish great things for Him. Here are five simple ways I'm spending time and reaching goals and getting'er done this year.

Eat that Frog

Mark Twain once said, 

"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
In other words, if you tackle your most difficult (or most important) task first thing in the morning, every other chore will seem painless.

In the past when I set goals for myself, I tried to squeeze those lofty plans into the fringe moments of the day. But no matter how free I left my schedule, I'd always find ways to fill it up with non-essentials. The days would speed past in a hazy blur while my goals sat collecting dust. I'd end each night too mentally and physically spent to tackle any long term plans.

But one day after reading What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, I decided to get up just a bit earlier...to start my day before my day actually started. Now that my children were older and I was no longer operating on baby-and-toddler hours and running on coffee fumes, I felt that I could manage an earlier wake up call. I determined to start owning my life and spending my first and best moments on my most important goals. The sad reality was, for so long I had been saying, "I don't have any time to do that thing." But in frittering away the days hoping to claim a few moments in the evening to devote to this-or-that BIG plan, what I was actually saying is, "That thing is not a priority."

By waking up thirty-or-so minutes earlier, and focusing my attention on "eating that frog," I began to chip away at my big goals. And little-by-little, bit-by-bit many of my dreams became realities. By tackling those things right off the top in the morning, I ensured that they actually got done...no matter how chaotic or messy the day became.

5 Ways to Get'er Done this Year

Commit for 21 days

It's been said that it takes about 21 days to form a habit. I'll not argue the validity or proof of that theory except to say that I have found it to ring true in my own life. When setting an exercise goal for myself at the beginning of 2015, I committed to simply DO IT for 21 days...to intentionally MOVE in some capacity every single day for 20 minutes. I made myself a countdown chart to show my progress through the three weeks and continued to check off the days as I came to them. By the 21st day, exercising no longer felt like a chore, it felt like a habit...something I did each morning on autopilot. It's been nearly two years since I made my 21 day promise and although I don't always exercise every single day, I'm faithful to MOVE three to four times a week. It's imperfect progress, but it's still progress.

Those first 21 days are always the most difficult. But after that, what seemed hard suddenly begins to feel hardly noticeable...it becomes a habit.

Divide and Conquer

Often times my big plans can be paralyzing. I look at the largeness of them and shrink back, admitting defeat before I've even begun. By dividing a big plan into bite-sized chunks, the insurmountable thing seems much more doable. As the old saying goes, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. 

I'm currently writing a book. Although I've been a writer for as long as I can remember, I've never written a book before. When I first started, the task seemed too great. But then I remembered that books are made up of chapters which are made up of sections which are made up of paragraphs which are made up of sentences. Writing a book is iffy. But sentences, I can do.

I've set a loose goal to have the book written by the end of the year. That gives me twelve months to write the twelve chapters that I've sketched out in outline form. I've divided those chapters into sections and have been working on one section each week. I'm eating my elephant one bite at a time.

5 Ways to Get'er Done this Year

Do the Big Five

I'm a list maker. My drug of choice has always been productivity and checking-all-the-boxes. But TODAY'S lists can sometimes rob me of TOMORROW'S plans. My big goals often get back-burned because the urgent here-and-now things seem to have a way of squeezing them out. So, I've found that if I keep my list to five things...just five...I can not only meet the needs of today, but I can also peck away at my big plans for the future.

I keep my BIG FIVE list simple...I write down three items that need to be completed today and two items that pertain to more long-term goals. While I can't ever check off an entire long-term goal in one day, I can slowly eek away at it bit-by-bit, day-by-day. The minor things never have to drown out the major ones. I can make room for them both by sticking with a simple list of five. 

Go Right to Go Left

The first step to saying a YES to some things is learning how to say a hard NO to others. When laying out my big plans and long-term dreams, I have to be ruthless. I have to take a scalpel to my days and begin to peal back any non-essentials that are robbing me of moments well-lived. Because the truth is, I simply can’t crowbar a huge time commitment into an already jam-packed schedule. I can't do 56 hours worth of work in a 24 hour period. That’s not a cop-out. That’s not an excuse for disorganization. That’s just the simple laws of physics. To add a new thing into a crowded space, I first have to take something out of the space. I have to shift and rearrange. I have to say NO first in order to say YES later. 

So this year, I'm saying NO to staying up late to binge watch a show on Netflix because I'd rather say YES to getting up earlier to write a book. I'm saying NO to a few extra playdates with acquaintances because I'd rather say YES to building deeper relationships with the families we already currently love. I'm saying NO to teaching a local class here-and-there in order to say YES to speaking at a state homeschool convention. 

In saying NO and YES, I'm not saying one choice is better than another. I'm simply saying it's better for me for right now. I'm recognizing my long-term plans in light of my personal limitations of time and energy. 

A Final Word

In the end, the best and simplest way to accomplish any goal is to JUST START. Stop making excuses. Stop penciling it in for tomorrow. Stop planning and scheming. And just start. Reaching the finish line of any goal is always an awkward two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back kind of marathon. But, forward motion is forward motion no matter how small the steps.

If you, like me, have some BIG PLANS or dreams you'd like to see take shape, I'd encourage you to eat that frog. Commit to 21 days. Accomplish five things each day. Say NO in order to say yes. 

And just start. 

Other Resources for Getting'er Done




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