Stepping In My Stilettos
So much to do… so little time! Why does it always feel like there’s never enough time in a day? Waking up early and going to bed later doesn’t appear to make me more productive. I’ve heard people say to plan every minute of every day, but for me, that’s not practical. I cannot spend every single day with a notebook in hand telling me what I’m supposed to do every 5 minutes. I’ve even used the minute-by-minute planning system on my phone. But, an 8:45 p.m. notification that reads “shower and do hair” looks more like an embarrassing reminder than it does an appointment to keep. On top of explaining it away with awkward smiles, the reality of my phone buzzing in 5, 15, and 20 minute intervals was not only incredibly annoying, but it was the epitome of distracting! There must be a more practical way to maximizing the productivity of my day. I’ve tried this “planning” thing several different ways using more templates, suggestions and theories than I care to count. Each method more annoying and tasking than the next. God if there is a better way, please help me find it… soon!
There is a way! …A better way for ultra- busy, semi-scatterbrained, time-challenged, multi-taskers to set goals, focus, and actually achieve results! Okay, saying “focus” may have been a bit of a stretch (for me at least,) so I’ll stick to setting goals and achieving results for now. We will have to revisit focus at a later date when I can honestly speak on it from a place of personal success.
I don’t think I stand alone when I say I have tried and failed at multiple different “plan my day” attempts. It may have worked out for a day, maybe even two days in a row; but the strain of keeping up with minute by minute commands to do this and go there grew increasingly vexing by the hour. So what did I do? I prayed about it! It seems like I pray about everything these days. “Lord, I’m not getting enough rest at night, please help.” “Father, my hair gets too tangled, please help.” “God, I keep losing my keys lately, please help.” The good news is, He always shows me how to fix whatever issue I’m having. Seriously, prayer is incredible! But, I digress, back to this planning thing. The following strategies worked like a charm for me. If you’re still reading this because you can, even mildly, relate it could help you as well.
First, I journal-ed the entire day (I did 2 just to be on the safe side but one day is sufficient enough to get a general idea). Wait, let me back track; FIRST, I prayed and asked God to teach me how to make my days effective…THEN I journal-ed. I wrote down every single activity and the time it took me to do it. For example, I cooked and it took me exactly 53 minutes from start to finish. My bath took me 1 hour and 22 minutes, and I scrolled through Instagram for an average of 5 minutes 8 times that day. Writing all this down, allowed me to see where and how exactly I was spending my time versus what I wanted or needed to be spending my time on. Then I journal-ed a reflection of my day. Looking at the “play-by-play” of my general daily activities forced me to admit a painful truth. I was wasting my time and barely accomplishing anything on most average days. There’s something about reviewing your entire day, seeing it in black an white with letters and numbers ,that strips away your uncanny ability to deny procrastination and laziness. I realized that I had no clear direction for the day, no set goals or task list. In turn my day was filled with, well, fluff. All day, I did things that weren’t important, didn’t matter and didn’t exactly satisfy me or make me happier.
To combat this outcome the following day, I made a clear list of tasks to complete. These tasks lined up with both my short term and long term goals. First, I wrote down things I could do that day to contribute to accomplishing my goals in a “task form.” Then, I added the tasks I knew I needed to complete for whatever personal reasons. Lastly, I added a few things I like to do for myself, or for simple pleasures (like: read, listen to music, crochet, ect.) Later, I made this type of list for the entire week. Regardless to how big or small the task was, if I wanted to do it, I wrote it down. I needed to text my sister, so I wrote that down. I needed to pay my health insurance bill, so i wrote that down. I wanted to drink a cup of tea while I read my bible and 10 pages of a book, so I wrote that down. At the start of each day, as well as periodically throughout each day, I looked over the list of tasks to stay abreast of my priorities. Sometimes I’d number them by order of priority or execution. Highlighting or starring the really important tasks helped as well. This “task list” system literally transformed my days! The list gave me direction, accountability and yes, freedom. No longer was I controlled by minute to minute commandments that I felt horrible for not measuring up to. Finally, after I applied this method, I was consistently accomplishing more than I ever imagined I could in a single day while still having my personal time to do things that made me happy.
A PIVOTAL key in making this system work, is allowing yourself ample time and opportunity to get each task completed. While I personally love the freedom I have working off a task list, there are times (more often than not) that I need to squeeze what feels like a ton of tasks into just a small time window. In these instances, alongside of the task, I write down my projected time window. When estimating just how long it will take you to complete a task, it’s best to “over-shoot” the projection. This way, if you finish early, you have more time to complete the next task and so forth.For example, If I want to cook, I’ll allow myself 2 full hours from preparations to cleaning, it may not take this long each time, but it can take this long (depending on the meal.) If it only takes 1 hour, that’s great! I can start and likely finish my next task a lot sooner.
I realize everyone’s brain is wired differently and minute by minute planning may work out for others. But for me, I had to PRAY and meditate about this and allow God to show me creative ways to effectively maximize the minutes of each day. As I type this I’m laughing to myself, because I find myself praying about just about everything lately. But, I’m definitely a firm believer in asking questions and seeking the knowledge and wisdom you lack in ANY and EVERY area of your life! While my way is (for me) a PERFECT way to maximize my day, I’ll be transparent and say the REAL SECRET IS PRAYER and meditation! Praying about the best methods for you is really where you should start. Seek an answer, and God will give you one! The most interesting thing is that, even before I sought an answer for my day planning, I noticed that starting my day with prayer seemed to make my day run so much better. I would be in a better mood, and fewer things were able to disrupt that mood. I would get more accomplished than days when I didn’t pray first. Plans would just fall into place without much strained effort. Whenever my plans were thwarted, or a door was slammed in my face, another option would find its way to me, and the issue would just work itself out. Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; all all these things shall be added unto you. Prayer and meditation at the start of your day impacts your day and its productivity in ways words cannot fully express! I urge you to try it, and experience the difference for yourself! Until next time…
Matthew 7:7-8 (KJV) 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Father, Thank you for always leading me and guiding me! Love Lana… By, Grace