See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Some days are just plain overwhelming, aren't they? You wake up to a demanding day with a task list that would make a Navy SEAL during BUD/S training look like they are on vacation. You probably always feel busy, in one way or another, but on those crazy days, you feel insanely overworked. You spin from one chore to the next, sometimes not able to quite finish it before you have to drop it and move on to the next.
How can you handle days like that? How can you live your crazy-busy day with passion, purpose, and productivity? How can you be happy and find joy in the midst of these kinds of days? How can you plan your day God's way?
I suggest that, on days like this, you take a ten-minute time out to stop and look over your task list, considering each item based on the nature of its consequences. What you will find is that there are tasks that you can leave undone and others that you absolutely must not. The key is to discern the difference. But how can you do this?
How To Wisely Prioritize Your To-Do List
1. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom.
Ephesians 5:15-18 reminds us that we need to live wisely, redeeming the time because the days are evil, and that the only way we can possibly accomplish this challenging task is if we understand what the will of the Lord is. For this, we need to be filled with the Spirit and consciously living our lives under His control so that we won't waste our days under the control of things which cause dissipation.
When we understand the will of the Lord, we gain all kinds of wisdom about our priorities for the day and for our lives.
2. Consider the consequences of the things we do each day.
One of the ways we can live wisely, understanding the will of the Lord, is by contemplating our list of tasks in the light of their impact on our lives, both temporal and eternal. Here is a simple rubric for determining which tasks should get priority based on the consequences of leaving them undone.
A--Absolutely must be done. Awful consequences if left undone.
B--Better do. Bad to mild consequences if left undone.
C--Could do. But could skip or procrastinate. No real consequences if left undone.
D--Delegate. This task doesn't require you.
E--Eliminate. Not essential to your life. Extraneous.
In your mind, you should draw a clear line of demarcation between A-B-C tasks and D-E tasks in your mind.
E tasks and D tasks don't really need to be done, or at least not by you. E tasks could actually harm you if you do them. D tasks don't help you.
Next, think of the A-B-C tasks as "good-better-best."
C tasks are good and if you are able to do them, that's fine. But you want to postpone them until your other work is done.
B tasks are better. By all means, do them whenever possible.
A tasks are the best things to focus on. You MUST do these things. Leaving them undone can bring tragic consequences. Many of these bring tragic spiritual consequences in your life or in others' lives.
For busy moms, it is helpful to think these things through in advance. Some things are always A tasks. Other things will always be E tasks.
But often the tasks on our to-do list change rank on us. Putting gas in the car when the tank is half full is probably a C task for that day. It might even be an E task, depending on what else is on your list. But putting gas in the car when you are on an eighth of a tank has just moved up to become an A task.
It is helpful even to rank your morning and evening routine tasks by using these preset labels. In my morning routine, I have things like Bible reading (A task), Exercise (B task), Overseeing kids' chores (B task), and Reading a good book (C task). When my morning routine gets shortened because of time constraints, I know exactly which tasks to treasure and which to toss into the harbor like over-taxed tea. This is supremely helpful.
Take a look at your to-do list for the day. What can you do to eliminate, delegate, and procrastinate in order to bring your focus back to the things you truly need to do?
3. Remember the One Needful Thing.
And please, remember the words of our Lord to Martha when she asked Him to encourage Mary to stop sitting at His feet listening to Him and instead come help her serve: "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).
More on life management:
Is respect really necessary in marriage?
Nevertheless let each of one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Are you respectfully his?
As women, on the whole, we don't tend to give the idea of submission and respect for our husbands the weight it deserves.
That's because, to us, love makes the world go 'round. Every woman knows that. Love conquers all obstacles. Love turns the drudgery of life into heart-pounding adventure where everyday thorns and dirty dishes and mountains of laundry become roses, rainbows, and butterflies. Love is magical. Love is miraculous. It's sweet. It's romantic. It's a treasure. And if you don't have money, all is still okay, as long as you have love.
Yep, that's the way we women tend to see it. And we live it without hypocrisy. Every woman knows that if she finds the man of her dreams, be he old or young, smart or not, normal or hot, billionaire or hillbilly, if she truly loves him and he truly loves her, their life will be one long procession of hugs and kisses and welcome-home-put-your-feet-ups.
The problem is, this doesn't really take men into consideration. It works just fine as a fantasy, but real relationships must at some point take men into consideration.
Don't get me wrong. Men don't mind love. They like it an awful lot, especially at certain intervals of life. But a man wants more than just love.
A man also wants respect. It might be safe to say, in fact, that a man primarily needs respect. He needs to know that, no matter how the world views him, he has his biggest fan club at home, and his wife is the residing president. When his boss shoots down his latest and greatest idea, he comes home to a wife who thinks that his ideas are brilliant and takes time to listen to them and help him hone them. When his coworkers ridicule him, he comes home to a wife and children who build him back up again, fortifying him against those destructive slurs.
In his home, he wants to be respected. Loved also, yes, and women sometimes have a really hard time doing one without the other, but if you were to ask him, he could probably live without the love as long as he had true respect.
We women, on the other hand, want love far more than we need respect.
Does this quirk make men and women incompatible?
Well, since an all-wise God created us that way, I say no.
And since an all-wise God gave us a canon of Scripture that includes Ephesians 5, again I say no.
We aren't incompatible; we are complementary.
However, we are at times ignorant of the inner workings of what it takes to maintain a thriving marriage.
Some women get this respect thing correct almost instinctively, somehow knowing how to show that respect to their unique husband, and they are richly repaid by a lifetime of love.
Other women, craving love, unwittingly withhold the one thing they can give their husband that would unlock the doors to his heart.
This is all made more challenging for us as women because, not only do we not get to take a course in Respect 101 before we hop into marriage, but men are all different, and what my husband wants and needs may be quite different from what your husband wants and needs in the area of respect. Every husband is unique, just as every wife is unique.
But the thing that is a constant is the need for each one of us as wives to hone our ability to respect our husbands and to show it to them. We aren't alone in this process: husbands have to work at loving their wife and showing it to them. Marriage takes work. But the blessings of a good marriage, filled with mutual respect and love, are glorious and well worth the effort.
The grass is always greener where you water it.
Living a life of passion, purpose, and productivity requires us to plan, plan, plan.
What does your ideal planner look like?
Discover your ideal planner. . .
I've spent hours in bookstores and office supply shops looking for the ideal planner. I love planners. I seem to think that if I can just get my grubby little hands on the right planner, I would accomplish more and maybe not forget important things like, "Oh, yeah, I'm teaching today at five."
Here's the problem with that kind of thinking: the ideal planner isn't a planner. It's you.
Whatever system you use, you are the planner, not the paper and pen or the app. You are the one who calls the shots, defines the priorities, schedules appointments, and juggles everything to make it fit. You are the one who makes it or breaks it by your self-discipline or lack thereof. And you are the one who will, ultimately, stand before God and give an account for the way you spent the time He gave you: the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years.
You are the ideal planner, regardless of whatever system you use.
That's an important piece of information, because it means you don't have to wait to get started. You can start today with a piece of paper or a 3 x 5 index card or the back of your grocery store receipt. Obviously, the more orderly you are with your planner, the more likely you are to use it. If you lose your receipt, you lost your plan. And that's a problem. But if that is all you have, that's a good place to start. The first thing on the back of the receipt could be "find or buy a notebook for planning."
It doesn't have to be a three-hundred dollar, red-leather gold-zippered cover with a fifty dollar, complete planning system inside. In fact, I recommend you start small and cheap and figure out what kinds of systems you would really use before you invest. Some will be overkill for your life, others will prove to be, well, disappointingly underwhelming. So give it time.
The important thing is that you need something that lets you plan on many different levels: the daily, the weekly, the monthly, the yearly, and even the long term. Most planner systems do this, but each has its own unique spin on it. And you are unique, so your brain may not mesh well with some planners. For instance, the first thing I look for in a planner is the layout of the days of the week. I like having them all on one spread, but I hate it when they are just blocked off in squares. I want columns, preferably with hourly lines for appointments and a section at the bottom for extra things. I won't use squares, they don't fit my brain. If I can't have columns, I'll just use a normal monthly calendar and live with the mess.
You may be the opposite: you may hate the columns and hourly slots and thrive on big blank squares. You go, girl! You can dominate your day that way, and that's great.
But, whatever planner you end up with, whether it is complicated or simple, expensive or cheap, cute or chic, leather or pleather, please remember that the ideal planner is actually you.
MORE ON PLANNING:
Laura Berrey and her husband Tim are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.