Work With All Your Heart

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Since I started working when I was 16 I have always tried to keep this piece of Scripture close to my heart. In fact, before my husband and I even dated we often reminded each other of this verse when one of us was having a difficult time at work.
As I have gotten older, however, I’ve realized how truly powerful this piece of Scripture really is. The verse says that whatever we do, we are to do it with all of heart.
If we truly do the work that comes into our lives as if we are doing it for the Lord, or when we simply realize that what we are doing is a way of serving the Lord, it changes our perspective.
I hate doing laundry. With a passion. And vacuuming. And doing the dishes. Really, I hate most forms of housework. But when I stop and remember that doing these things better helps my family function better and better helps me be hospitable to guests in our home (we love to have people over), I do it with cheer (Note: I am not a house-cleaning guru. I would be a complete liar if I said that our apartment was not a total wreck during my first trimester of pregnancy. I would also be a complete liar if I said I held this attitude all the time).
The real difference comes when I’m not making it about me. Sure, it’s nice when our place looks nice – it makes me feel good – but it’s not nearly as motivating to me as knowing that I am serving my family, God, and others.
Whatever you do, whether it be raising your children, working in your job, cleaning your house, going to school, do it for the Lord. Your stocking job at the grocery store may not feel a job in which you serve the Lord, but the attitude you have speaks volumes. Everywhere is a mission field.
Go forth and do whatever you do with all your heart, and remember to give yourself grace because we are never going to have it all together all of the time.
With love,
B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoBen Kolde

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Making Better Use of My Time

College will teach you a lot of things, but one thing it will teach you for sure is how bad you are at managing time.

I have a tendency to procrastinate. I always have a justification excuse as to why I can put the task off, and then I end up ten times more stressed than I was originally. Once I got married, my time management spiraled even further out of control. I made half-hearted attempts to get on track but soon fell right back off.

Recently, however, I decided that I was no longer satisfied with the way I was doing things. This came about mainly because I started doing more of the things I love. Some of the podcasts I have been listening to – specifically Happier – as well as a book I’ve been reading (10 Time Management Choices That Can Change Your Life by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims) have greatly inspired me to lead a more productive life and have given me practical ways to do so.

What I have learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for time management. I’ve tried out several strategies, taken some on, discarded some, and tailored others to fit my needs better. Keeping that in mind, I thought I would share some of the strategies that I use:

  • The one-minute rule: if there is a task that will take you less than one minute to do (for example, hanging up your coat or putting a bag of chips back in the cabinet), go ahead and do it. By doing it right away, you are eliminating having to deal with several little things that will have piled up.
  • A categorized to-do list: I break my to-do list into four quadrants: housework, homework, other work (such as going to the bank or going to the gym), and leisure (like reading, writing, Netflix). For me it helps to see my to-do list broken down into specific types of work.
  • Scheduled housework and workouts: knowing what you need to do on any specific day of the week saves a lot of time and energy. My schedule looks like this:

 

Housework Gym
Sunday
Monday Vacuum Exercise bike & arms
Tuesday Clean bedroom & office
Wednesday Cross-training elliptical & core
Thursday Clean kitchen
Friday Clean bathroom Treadmill & legs
Saturday Clean living room

Some tasks like sweeping and laundry vary depending on need (though I do sweep             every-other day to keep up with dog hair), but they still go on the schedule. And, sometimes things just don’t get done because life happens. When this happens, I just stick them on the schedule for the next day!

•••

These are just some time-management techniques that I use to lead a more productive, happy life that utilize wisely the resource of time that God has given me.

What are some time-management strategies that you use?

Photo Credit: Cathryn Lavery

Doing More of What I Love

Sometimes life seems to be an endless repetition of tasks: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, go to class, eat lunch, do housework, do homework, go to work, eat dinner, sleep, and repeat.

Honestly, life often is a series of repeated tasks, but that doesn’t mean we have to let our lives become boring and stale. Recently I’ve made it a goal to do more of the things that I enjoy. Some of these include:

  • I go to the gym three times a week. That may not sound like an enjoyable thing, but to me it is. I enjoy how I feel after, and I enjoy seeing how hard work results in progress, even if the progress is slow. It also requires a lot of discipline, and being disciplined in this area of my life helps me to be disciplined in other areas of my life (“Discipline” is my word of the year, so bonus!).
  • I read everyday. I’ve made it a point to read something everyday in addition to my Bible reading. I prefer to read a mixture of fiction and nonfiction everyday, but I’m satisfied if I get to read one of the two.
  • I listen to more podcasts. I take advantage of long care rides by listening to some of my favorite podcasts (which include Happier, Uniquely Woman, Cultivating the Lovely, and Mosaic).
  • I write everyday.  Just like with reading, I’ve made it a goal to write something everyday. I love to write – obviously, hence the blog. I have been an avid writer since I was in first grade and participated in the Young Author’s Convention (so if anyone ever asks, my first book was really Sammy the Toothless Shark). For years a lot of my free time was spent writing or daydreaming about stories I wanted to write. Because of school, work, life, and excuses I haven’t spent much time in the past few years writing much other than blog posts (which I definitely love writing). I’m getting back into writing fiction which fills me with so much joy.

•••

Life often is a series of repeated things to check off of the to-do list, but these tasks can be made much more enjoyable by pairing them with the things you love (for example, listening to a podcast while cleaning). Your days will also become more enjoyable if you schedule in time for activities you love; the things I’ve listed are things that are put on my to-do list. I carve out time among my daily tasks to do things that bring me joy. Why? Self-care is important: take time to relax and do enjoyable (and creative!) things without feeling guilty because you think you should be doing something else.

So that is my challenge to you: make time in your schedule to do things that you love. You’ll be happier for it!

Photo Credit: Jacalyn Beales

Battling Laziness

When my husband and I first got married, we had a pretty good routine going. We were eating healthy, meal planning, going to the gym, and we had a cleaning schedule for our apartment. A few months later, though, a series of unfortunate events happened that threw us off track and we never really recovered. What started out as actual reasons to neglect housework and whatnot, eventually just turned to laziness. After awhile, we decided something needed to change; this laziness wasn’t good for us in more than one way. Physically, we did not feel very well because we were not eating well and we were no longer exercising. Our apartment was also taking a toll as was our spiritual lives. I was no longer carving out time to spend with God, I was giving Him whatever time I had left over – if any.

Scripture is dense when it comes to the topic of laziness (seriously, if you don’t believe me, Google it); it’s even one of the 7 Deadly Sins! As I said, we decided that we needed to battle the laziness that was taking over our lives, and we decided to do it as a team. We knew that individually we didn’t stand a chance, but sometimes being a team is hard. It can be hard to encourage one another about something like this without it coming across as nagging. It’s hard to motivate someone else when you don’t want to motivate yourself to do the same thing.

Despite these things, we decided to give it a shot. Making lifestyle changes doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process that requires steps – and you have to remember that even baby steps are steps. So that is what we started doing – and are still doing – implementing baby steps to get our lives back on track to where we’d like them to be. We’re trying to avoid eating out when we can and to start meal planning again. We’ve started tag-teaming the housework.

A huge part of combatting laziness is effective time management. I’ve started using the planning app Cozi (it is AMAZING, check it out!) again. I have also created a quiet time basket full of everything I could possibly need during quiet time (Bible, highliter, pens,  Bible commentary, journals, lotion in case my hand get dry, etc). We are trying to work on getting up earlier so we can eat a good breakfast and have quiet time, but this has been our most difficult obstacle so far. I also use my 45 minute commute to sometimes listen to podcasts (my current favorites are the Read Scripture Podcast Series by Francis Chan and the Uniquely Woman podcast) – I can make the choice to wake up late and not have time for things, but I can’t make the choice to not drive all the way to work. Other times I listen to worship music, and, of course, other times I just have jam sessions.

Our current goal is to start going to the gym again. As I said, life change is made through baby steps and each baby step, no matter how small, is a victory that should be celebrated. Whether it’s laziness or some other obstacle that you are pushing to overcome, just remember that each day is a new day and a new chance – heck, each hour is a new chance – and to celebrate the victories along the way.

You Don’t Have to Be Superwoman

Before getting married, I already had a finance spreadsheet set up, a housework spreadsheet set up, and specific goals in mind (such as meal prepping). I got married and started implementing my schedule right away. Our apartment was pretty much pristine, breakfast and snacks were prepped the night before, and I was caught up on school work. Then, I think it was the second week, things started taking a downward turn. Schoolwork was piling up, housework was piling up, I didn’t have time to relax let alone meal prep. I also work two days a week. I was getting more and more stressed by the fact that I had a specific goal, a specific image, of what my house – and life – should look like and the fact that my reality did not look like that. One day, I hit breaking point. I was unpacking things I had left at my mom’s and I couldn’t figure out where to put the blender. I just sat on the floor against the cabinet, holding the blender, for I’m not sure how long until my husband found me. He sat down next to me, kissed my head, and didn’t say a word. Finally, after a few moments, I pathetically said, “I don’t know where to put the blender.” He gently took the blender from my hands and set it on the floor. He asked me all that I still had to do and when I told him he said he had no idea I had that much on my plate. He suggested that I go take a bath and read (my go-to relaxation method) and stresslessly do what I was able to do before bed.

I had this idea that I had to be Superwoman: spotless apartment, perfectly cooked meals (trust me, that wasn’t always the case), ahead – or at least caught up – on school work, and still time to relax alone and with my husband. Instead what I had was a clean apartment, a whole lot of homework, and even more stress. By trying to do everything all the time, I was wearing myself out to the point that I didn’t want to do anything (and I am a person that honestly loves doing housework; I am my mother’s daughter), and when I did, I just wanted to cry the whole time because even though I was checking one thing off of my to-do list, I knew that what felt like a hundred more were waiting for me.

After the day that I remember as “The Day I Sat On The Floor Holding a Blender,” I realized that while it is great to have goals and be organized, sometimes, something has to give. I had to let go of my ideals about what my apartment should look like, what my days should look like, and replace it with what I am able to do that given day. Because let’s face it, some days the dishes have to wait. Some days cleaning the kitchen has to wait. Some days I’m too tired to meal prep. And that’s okay. Some days I need extra time with my husband or he with me. Some days, I need extra time to myself. Some days I need to focus on school more. And that’s okay.

We were not meant to zoom from one task to the other 24/7. No wonder we don’t handle it well when we try! We were meant to have rest as a routine part of our lives. God setting aside the seventh day of creation as the Sabbath has a message deeper than not working one day a week. It sends a message that we are to rest.

So, I still have my exact same housework schedule, but it isn’t law. I still try to meal prep, but if I don’t it’s okay. I still like my apartment to look nice, but if it doesn’t always look it’s best, that’s fine (especially now that our family has expanded to include two doggies who leave evidence of themselves everywhere). You don’t have to be Superwoman – or Superman. Sure, certain things in life need attending to, but there is a balance (check out a post from awhile back that I wrote on the topic). I also have an amazing husband who does his fair share of the work and calls me out when I’m overworking myself.

Take a rest from your superhero duties. It’s okay to have dishes in the sink. It’s okay to take an hour or two to yourself. Well, lovelies, it’s time to get back to making dinner. Until next time!