With the global pandemic, the inconclusive election results, the weird weather, and pending winter, it seems that some people are in a shopping frenzy, trying to prepare for their uncertain future. I believe they call it “topping off their preps”. Others, still, are doing very little to prepare. If you are reading this article then the reason for your inactivity is probably not denial of the possibly “end times”. It is very likely that you are just overwhelmed with everything that you think needs to be done RIGHT NOW!
How can we stay motivated? How can we look at our day and feel that we have used our time wisely? How can we avoid the trap of wasting hours (days?) watching YouTube videos and forwarding the latest political jokes on to friends and family?
On the flip side of the coin, how can we keep our days from being filled with the hustle and bustle of prepping? What keeps us from constantly shopping for more supplies, the newest gadgets, or reading the latest post-apocalyptic fiction novel? How can we prevent our lives from being set on the level of frenzy?
The intent of this article is to help you find a balance between frantic preparing and slothful living.
Finding, creating, and maintaining a balanced life takes years of practice and yet still may never be fully obtained. But we should strive for this useful and amazing ability. The Bible says in Psalms 90:12, “Teach us to number our days so that we can gain a heart of wisdom.” I remember reading a translation that said, “Teach us to count our days, so that our days will count.”
My Eight Tips
Here are some practical yet useful tips on making the best use of the time we have been given.
- Know, set, and maintain your priorities. Everyone is different and I am sure that for some, work, or family, or pleasure is a high priority. For me it is very important to spend time with God early in my day. But I also have livestock (cows, sheep, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and goats) that need fed and one goat that appreciates being milked in a timely fashion so as not to have serious medical problems. So when I awake, I throw on my clothes, attend to the livestock, and then come inside to start my day. Once back inside I have my Bible devotions, then my breakfast, during which time I handle emails, check my favorite blogs, and decide what tasks should be accomplished this day. I know that on some days this schedule may vary, but this is what works well for me most of the time.
- Know the difference between urgent/ time-sensitive/ important/ needs/ desires. Many times what others deem as urgent is not as important to me. And there are times when, that which I want to do must be delayed because of what I need to do (time-sensitive tasks). When I become frustrated because my schedule is too full, I ask myself this question, “What needs to be done right now?” And when I realize that I have been lazy and have wasted my time, I ask myself, “What was I doing that took up my time?” This helps me identify the problem area so that I can be more conscious about the time spent doing useless/frivolous activities.
Let me say this: I am not against having a good time and I enjoy fun activities as much as anyone. However, today’s society is so centered on being entertained that I fear it causes us to lose days of our lives to inconsequential pleasures. We only get 1,440 minutes every day to spend as we desire. I want to be careful how I use my time so as to not waste. Also, the Bible says that each one of us must give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12). I definitely don’t want to stand before the One who gave me life (and so much more) and have to explain why I wasted my days playing games on my phone!
- Write it down! Yes, I am saying to make a physical list of what you would like to accomplish in a certain time period. I do my list for a day, except on weekends and then I do it for a 2 day period. Although I try to complete most of my list on Saturday, there are times when a few items trickle over into Sunday. Physically writing down my goals for the day serves several purposes. Firstly, when I find myself lacking motivation, I will list items that I need to accomplish. Then I will complete one or two of the easier ones. This can help get my attitude aligned with the idea of being productive. It works as an encouragement boost for me. Secondly, with everything that my brain thinks about in a day, I can easily forget what I want to get done. Making a list is a visible reminder of desired items I wish to accomplish. Which leads me to the next tip…
- Keep the Sabbath. I don’t believe that God is impressed by our excessive work ethics. I do believe that He created the Sabbath so that we would intentionally rest from our labors. I also believe that resting from our work is JUST AS IMPORTANT as resting for our work. God created rest so that we can gain strength for the tasks ahead. In other words, we should rest so we can work, not just work so we can rest.
For us, our Sundays begin by worshipping with our fellow believers, and followed by family time. Sometimes we play board games, or work on a group project, or just enjoy a meal together.
- Leave room for unexpected delays. Very rarely do my “easy” tasks get accomplished as quickly as I THINK THEY SHOULD! I am embarrassed to tell of the many projects I have begun that I truly believed I could finish quickly and unaided… only to quit in frustration and wait for my wonderful, talented, and quite handy husband to help me complete them. He is always so gracious during those times!
- Be kind to yourself. There will be days when due to circumstances (some beyond your control and some within our control) when you lack the energy and motivation to accomplish great things! It’s okay to have a less-than-productive day every now and then. Some days when I START THE DAY feeling exhausted, I will take time in the afternoon for a nap. This gives me enough strength to get through the rest of the day without falling asleep at the dinner table! Other times when I am really dragging both physically and emotionally, I give myself permission to be pleased with the completion of little tasks- like taking a shower or fixing dinner!
- Make time to help others. We are all busy; I get that. But the giving of our time and energy to
others is beneficial on several levels. It keeps us from becoming self-absorbed. It reminds us how blessed we are. It shows others that we care enough to help them.
There are times when my husband has a lot on his plate-like now. (We are trying to complete the interior of our 2,500 square foot pole barn.) And although he is acting as general contractor, there are times when I can help reduce his workload by making calls or getting supplies. The relief I see in his eyes when I ask him if there is anything I can do to help is worth every ounce of energy it takes me to complete the tasks he gives me.
- Do something unpleasant every day. Think of it as an exercise in discipline. When we get used to performing unpleasant tasks, and completing them with a good attitude, then we can tackle more difficult/more unpleasant tasks without so much as a grumble! Imagine the impact you can have on those around you when you are seen completing a repulsive task without complaining or sighing or even rolling your eyes. The world (or at least your family) will be grateful for your pleasant demeanor and your joyful attitude! And you will bless someone else because now THEY won’t have to do the “nasty” task!
Now, to wrap things up (so that I can get more tasks accomplished)…
Being retired, my daily schedule varies only a little, but I try to be productive and accomplish more than sitting on the couch, watching soap operas, and popping bonbons… None of which I do, except the bonbons J. And yes, due to my clinical depression I know the frustration of not having the energy or desire to even get out of bed- let alone be productive. But I have also known days packed so full of anxious activity that I almost instantly fall asleep when my head hits the pillow. Neither of these extremes are good or balanced.
But my end goal every day is to make this day count. So at the end of my day, as with any mission, I do some evaluation /assessment (some may call this personal reflection) on my activities. I ask myself these questions:
- Did I get some things on my “to do” list done?
- Did I waste time?
- If I did waste time, what was I doing (watching movies, playing games, social media)?
- How can I lessen the time I waste?
- What are some tasks that I want to complete tomorrow?
So now I ask you, “What are you doing to make your day count?”