Wisely making use of every opportunity

officejuggler_tns

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

This last week I had two friends ask me the same question in different ways:

“Give me an idea how we can keep up to the latest technology – have time to write – give our kids attentions and keep the house clean.”

“Where in the world do you find time to do all that you do? God must stretch the hours so you can fit it all in.”

I smiled when I read these questions, because often I’m frustrated that I’m not able to get more done in a day. My “to do” list seems to get longer instead of shorter. However, there are some strategies that have helped me to get many things done. In this post I’ll share ideas that work for me. If you want even more, I highly recommend Tricia Goyer’s book, Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom. 

  1. Commit your time to God. Start out your day by spending time alone reading God’s Word and praying. Make sure you don’t skimp on this, even when you’re busy. (I’m preaching to myself here!) If we are aiming to serve God, we need to know what His priorities are and listen to His instruction.
  2. Recognize your limitations. None of us are able to do everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens.” We all have different seasons in our lives when we are able to do less than other seasons. When my children were preschoolers, I was very limited in what I could do outside my home. Now that they are all in school, I have more time to dedicate to other pursuits.
  3. Use a notebook and planner. I find it helpful to “clear my mind” by writing down thoughts that are distracting me. (Tuesday is a birthday, so remember to . . . ) After I write things down, I try to put them into my calendar right away so that I don’t have to think about them any more until it’s time to deal with them. Jack Popjes recommends writing down 10 things every morning that you want to accomplish. Then pick the top 3 to focus on for the day. If you have time for more, keep going down the list. If you revise this list every day, you’ll succeed in accomplishing many things.
  4. Find tools that will help you. I don’t have time to read through every blog post, or find out about the all the newest technology. I do subscribe to feeds from sites like http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com and scan through for helpful information. If I find something I want to follow up on, I copy the information and make a Word document I can save on my computer to reference later. Ted Talks is one of my favourite places to listen to current thought leaders.
  5. Do a little every day. If there’s something you really want to get done, do a little every day. This can be applied to reading a book, cleaning your house, writing, or whatever else you want to accomplish. Those small steps add up. I was recently challenged by this quote: Anthony Trollope demanded of himself three thousand words each morning (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for 33 years during the writing of more than two dozen books.” No excuses!
  6. Be flexible. This is a hard one for me. When something’s on my schedule, I want to get it done. However, sometimes my family has unexpected needs, or my neighbor is sick, or . . . . I need to remember that I don’t own my time. God does.

I’m still learning how to use my time wisely, and probably always will. Do you have any helpful tips to share?

 


So many stories and so little time

Exam_tnsI’m enjoying my interactions with fellow authors and readers on Helping Hands Thirsty Thursdays. (Check out Helping Hands Press Facebook Page for more details.) Last week the publisher announced a number of new releases. As the announcements were made, I responded by saying I was adding certain books to my reading list and made the comment, “So many stories, so little time.” Several of us joked around about using a time machine to help squeeze more writing and reading time in, but joking aside, finding time for everything is a huge issue for authors. We are expected to write, read, edit, participate on social media sites, blog AND fulfill our other responsibilities in life.

Balanced coverA couple days ago I was happy to discover that Tricia Goyer has released a new book called Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom. The book is now on my iPad and I’m making time to read it, a chapter a day. I appreciated Tricia’s disclaimer:

This book may not be for you if you are looking for a simple how-to manual with only schedules, outlines, and agendas. You don’t think your spiritual life impacts your work and home life. You think the whole balance issue depends on you and not on your dependence on God. . . . as someone who’s been working at home nearly all of my twenty-four years as a parent, I’ve discovered three main things: 1. What I do isn’t as important as who I am. 2. What God can do in my life and what He’s capable of doing can be two very different things—I don’t want to limit Him. 3. My outward goals are only reachable if I submit my inward soul to God.”

This is the first year I’m focusing intensely on writing. I have a LOT to learn. Here are some things I’ve discovered already:

  • I’m human and it is utterly impossible for me to do everything and do it well. Therefore, I need to chose my goals carefully.
  • It’s very easy to get side-tracked by Facebook, e-mail, and social media. Therefore, I need to limit my time on these items.
  • When I’m writing, I’m intensely focused and “living” in a different world. I find distractions very frustrating because it takes me time to come back to real life. Therefore, I have to organize my writing time so that I’m writing when my husband and children don’t need my attention.
  • Large goals overwhelm me. (I admit it, I don’t like to make goals I don’t think I can achieve!) A novel of 80-100,000 words seems unattainable. However, when I break that down into 1,000 word scenes or 2,000 word chapters I’m able to enjoy the process.
  • As a wife and mother, I don’t often have the luxury of having all day to write. However, I’ve found that it’s quite easy to fit in 1/2 hour here and there. If I’m able to write 300-500 words every morning in 1/2 hour, that brings me 1,500 – 2,500 words closer to my writing goal(s) every week.

I’m still discovering what works for me, and probably will be for years to come. Tricia Goyer puts it this way:

“The only thing we can be certain of is that as soon as we achieve a small measure of balance, something is going to overturn the applecart so all our good intentions will spill out like crabapples, becoming scattered and bruised.”

What have you discovered in your writing journey? I’d love to hear from you.