Time Management

Well, I haven’t blogged as routinely as I originally intended when I birthed this project.  Part of me is afraid that if I’m blessed enough to gain lots of new followers, they will miss the little nuggets that I’ve shared thus far, because they won’t take the time to scroll down.  But if I’m being completely honest here, the other half of me has allowed too many distractions to get in the way of my consistence and determination.

When my husband lost his job of 26 years back in May, it felt like our whole life had come crashing down.  No income, no medical insurance, and no back-up plan.  It was all gone within 24 hours, when my husband’s plant abruptly closed its doors after 77 years of operation.  It threw us for a loop, to say the least.

We still had my meager income, which is a tiny fraction of what he contributed to the household, but I had been looking for other employment for months prior.  Things were looking very bleak as both of us were now looking for new employment.

I mentioned distractions in my opening paragraph, and while this major life change was certainly a distraction that sent us both into an anxious and depression-ridden rut, I can’t blame my lack of discipline solely on the new tragedy that took place in our lives.  The truth is, I’ve been trying to adopt better time management skills since I went back to college in 2011.  It is now the middle of 2019, I’ve completed my Associate’s program and obtained my degree in Psychology, but I have not yet, however, mastered the art of time management. Furthermore, what seemed like a tragedy at the time was actually a blessing in disguise. (You know how God works!) But that’s a story for another time.

So here it is, three months after I launched Learning Life Together, and what am I blogging about?  The fact that I haven’t blogged regularly!

Since getting married in 1993, I bore three little “distractions,” so for most of my life, they were my top priority.  But our youngest baby is now fifteen years old.  What is my excuse now?  Truth be told, my distractions have become the “little things” now.  Dishes in the sink, wanting to hit the snooze button, the most recent episode of Master Chef, and, wait for it…. my pathetic addiction to Match Three games.

What is my point?  The point is that when God puts a dream on our hearts, why do we let these mindless things control our lives?  Why do we let them manipulate our time, when time is such a precious commodity these days?  I’m all for chilling out or winding down, maybe even for a few minutes every day, but when these useless time suckers get more of our attention than the productive things that give our dreams and plans their wings, it’s time to step back and reevaluate our priorities.  

I’m currently listening to the audio book Born Gifted, by Nisan Trotter, which I highly recommend and have added to my Shop page with all of my other suggested resources.  I am on the chapter that talks about this very thing, and Nisan graciously admits that he allowed sports programs to be a distraction in his life.  As he was asking his listeners to think about their own distractions, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Well at least his distraction makes sense!  My distractions are lame!”  This isn’t the first time that God has beat me over the head with this, either.

I have a dream to retire my husband early and make family vacations a regular occurrence instead of a rare treat.  Playing games on my phone is not going to make that happen by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ll even watch those thirty second advertisements just to gain three extra lives.  And you know what?  The devil wouldn’t have it any other way.  Yep, I said it.  The devil makes me do it.

In a constant effort to try to be a good steward of the hours I’ve been given in a day, I have attempted to implement many useful morning routines. I’ve read books on the subject, and I’ve even gone as far as to purchase several “1-Minute Devotions” books that I can read while I’m using the restroom.  (Hey, it puts a new spin on multi-tasking!)

In all of my research and failed attempts to adopt a good strategy for a productive morning, I’ve come up with my own morning ritual.  I’ve combined all the things I’ve learned over the years and rolled them all up into one. I’ve created an acrostic using the word “VICTORIES” to help keep myself on track, and to remember that implementing these strategies will give me a much more victorious day!

I’m going to share this acrostic with you to help you gain some of your own direction.  Don’t be overwhelmed; it’s a lot!  To be honest, I still don’t do all of these things every single day, so feel free to pick and choose your favorites, and just start there.  Baby steps is the best way to achieve any goal, so just take this exercise in little chunks based on what’s most important to you, and then you can slowly add more.  Some of these activities only take a few minutes, so with the right level of commitment to this process, you’ll be able to get through this list in about an hour.  An hour a day is all it takes to get yourself in the right frame of mind to attack your day with motivation and positivity!

Okay, here we go:

V VISUALIZE Where do you see yourself six months from now?  One year from now?  Five years from now?  Close your eyes and really try to picture it.
I IMAGINE What do you desire that, until now, was only ever a dream?  This step is great for entrepreneurs and business builders who tend to doubt their ability to succeed.
C CLARITY Clarity journaling- Gain some clarity by jotting down all of your thoughts, feelings, and desires.  Set a five or ten-minute timer, and just “let it all out.”  No one will see your journal but you, so don’t hold back, and don’t worry about mistakes.  Let yourself be free as you fill the pages.
T THANKFULNESS What are you grateful for today?  Think of at least three things you’re thankful for, and jot them down.  It doesn’t have to go too deep here, either; since I only eat carbs and sugars a few times per week, sometimes I’m just grateful for a fruit day! This is a great step in starting your day off right, and it only takes a minute!
O OBJECTIVES Set goals.  Goal-setting is great tool to use in any area of your life, be it health goals, financial goals, family goals, or what have you.  Set some short-term goals and some long-term goals, but make sure they’re truly attainable, so you don’t set yourself up for failure.  One of my short-term goals every day is to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water. Remember, baby steps!
R READ Scripture and Devotion time is essential to anyone trying to cultivate a relationship with Jesus.  No matter what method you use to get the Word into your spirit, make it a priority.  Even if you can only read a chapter a day, or even just a few verses, it’s important.  If you can only choose one or two activities on this list, make this one of them!  And don’t forget, you don’t need to “schedule in” prayer time.  You can pray in the car, in the laundry room, or even in the shower.  The bible tells us to “pray without ceasing,” so remember to pray every day, all day!
I “I AM” STATEMENTS Daily affirmations are a must when trying to reprogram your negative self-talk tapes.  Pick a few of God’s truths that resonate with you, and say them with conviction every single day.  One of my favorites is, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”  Get the idea?
E EXERCISE I know, I know.  Bleck.  This is probably my least favorite, but one that’s equally important when trying to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.  Find an exercise that you ENJOY!  I love to dance, so my Zumba and Body Groove DVD’s are usually my go-to’s for fitness.  Choose an activity you look forward to, not dread.
S SELF-DEVELOPMENT I know that in our society today, “self-help” books carry a negative connotation, but they really are very helpful!  Whether you choose a book to read or listen to, or an inspiring podcast to follow, self-development is the key to success when you’re in need of inspiration and motivation.  There are so many great avenues for this one, that I can’t even begin to list them here.  You can check out my Shop page for some personal book recommendations, but don’t forget that if you don’t have time to read, you can always listen to a podcast instead or an audible version of your book. You can easily do this while getting ready for your day or while on your morning commute.  A couple of my favorite podcasts are Rise with Rachel Hollis, and On Air with Ella for some great health and wellness education!

I hope you find this list helpful, and not intimidating.  For you own printable copy of a “Victories Chart,” check out my Freebies page! Remember, even if you take baby steps forward when trying to implement these strategies, you’re still moving forward.  These daily exercises are meant to encourage you and to get your day started off right, so if time management is an issue for you like it’s always been for me, at least try to replace some of those mindless activities with something productive off of this list.

I know what you’re thinking.  “I don’t manage my time wisely enough as it is, and now she wants me to make time for this list?”  Well, the truth is, adopting these habits is actually what is helping me learn how to better manage my time.  I know it sounds crazy, but just the fact that I have this little “to-do” list, that I know is going to help me have a better day, is what keeps me motivated to change those bad habits into good ones.  When it’s beneficial in so many ways, why wouldn’t I choose these activities over the unproductive ones?

I’ve prayed about this very issue on several occasions, and God has always told me the same thing… “Put away childish things.”  (See 1 Corinthians 13:11) If I’m striving to honor God with all that I say and do, why wouldn’t this count, too?  Obedience seems frustrating at first, but when you want your own children to be obedient, isn’t it for their own good?  How much more would that scenario mean between us and our Father?

When it comes to using your time wisely, even listening to a little self-development each day will help you “train your brain” to make better choices.  And don’t forget that once you’ve got your priorities checked off of your to-do list, you won’t feel as guilty when you end your evening with your favorite “down time” activity.  I used to call my cell phone games my “guilty pleasures.”  God doesn’t want to take away our pleasures; He just wants us to put them in their proper place.  Wanting to honor God will naturally make us want to be better, and wanting to be better will ultimately help us to do better- and vice versa.

*As always, I love to hear your feedback!  What are some of your habitual “time suckers,” and what are some of your favorite “positivity routines?”  Share them below!*