Monday, July 09, 2007

On working efficiently...

Another Wednesday! Time for Building our Homes Together over at Prairie Flower Farm! This week I decided to share some of my simple strategies for time management.

(First, a disclaimer: If you are what FlyLady calls “Born Organized”, you will probably not want to bother reading this post. It is not news to you. You were born knowing this information. In fact, you will wonder why on earth anyone would bother to write this stuff down. But Sidetracked Home Executives like me may find it helpful.)

For several years now, I’ve been praying that the Lord will help me to grow in the area of time management. It’s been very exciting to me to see real, measurable progress in this area!

I’ve learned that it helps me to make a schedule for the week (and I’ve created my own weekly calendar form to help me with this) and to write out a tentative schedule for each day. Elizabeth George uses the illustration of putting flowers in a vase. If you just stuff the whole bunch of flowers in the vase, it will probably look fine -- but not as nice as it could look if you placed each flower where it would looks its best. And in the same way, we can just try cramming activities into our day helter-skelter. We will probably still accomplish quite a bit -- but not as much as we could do if we thought about where to best put each activity on our to-do list. This simple concept has helped me so much!

But recently (and I know this is an answer to prayer because I would never have thought of it on my own!) I’ve begun seeing how the same concept applies to the 15 to 30-minute segments of my day as well. Take tonight, just for an example. Here’s what I had to do in a few minutes after supper:

* Fill the coffee maker with water for tomorrow.
* Wash dishes.
* Put away leftovers.
* Package up some raw chicken breasts for the freezer.

What I would probably do instinctively would be this: put away leftovers, wash the dishes, package the chicken, and fill the coffee maker.

But I actually found myself thinking through what I had to do and what would be the most efficient use of my time. So here’s what I did:

* Put away the leftovers. (They were sitting on the counter right in front of the coffee maker, and if I left them there, I knew I would invariably drip water on them. Since I would have to move them anyway, why not just put them away?)
* Filled the coffee maker. That takes cold water, so if I filled the sink with hot dishwater first, I would be diluting the hot water.
* Filled the sink with hot soapy water and washed the dishes. Did not empty the water out.
* Packaged up the chicken. Now I have a sink full of hot soapy water to clean my hands in after handling the chicken.

Okay, this may come instinctively to everyone else. But not to me! I am so happy to see how God orders my days, hours, and even my minutes when I truly desire to use each minute for His glory and seek His help in doing so!


  1. I LOVED the specific, logical rundown of your thoughts. I try to think "decent and in order" thoughts but I sometimes get very sidetracked. Putting away groceries is the worst for me as everything is very jumbled up when I start unpacking them. Do you have any secrets for that chore?
    I appreciate your reminder to us to PRAY and ask God to give His help. He will grant it, if we ask Him:).

  2. Rachel,

    I am so happy this was helpful for you! I worried that people might think it too simple and obvious, but to me, learning to think like this is major growth!

    I will think about putting away the groceries and pass on any tips I come up with. I think you are somewhat ahead of me in that department since you always deal with your produce right when you get home. But we do get our groceries put away fairly quickly, and I've learned some things in that area too. I just need some time to think about it.

    Yes, prayer is the secret to change in any area of life. I am so encouraged as I watch God changing me! And there is a lot more to do... I'm thankful He never gives up on us!

  3. Hello again,
    I wanted to tell you that I don't always get to my produce as soon as I finish unpacking groceries. It may be a few hours later or the next day. I just know that I will forget about the produce if I don't do it soon after I shop. I dislike wasting food especially if it's due to my lack of planning. Often, I put the groceries away and then tend to my guys in some way. I just didn't want you to think that I was THAT organized - only in a perfect world would that happen:).

  4. Hi again Rachel,

    Well, you do *aim* to deal with your produce right away, and I agree that is very important especially in the area of not wasting food.

    We are going grocery shopping tonight, and I'll try and keep track of how we put things away so I can share any helpful hints with you.

    Have a wonderful day!

  5. Mrs. T, you have done it again. I loveeeee this post! It has helped me so much since we have been on this journey together. I don't feel so alone....I have sisters that are needing the same encouragement and are reaching out and sharing what the Lord is doing in their life.

    Thank you, love your sweet spirit!
    Hugs, Linda

  6. Great encouragement, Mrs. T!!!

    And no, it is not too simple....sometimes we need simple, or at least I do! I think we sometimes get overwhelmed and simple helps.

    Blessings and hugs,

  7. Linda and Cheryl,

    Thanks for stopping by and for sharing such thoughtful, encouraging comments. Isn't it so neat how the Lord is using us in one another's lives as we continue with this feature week after week?

  8. I find that I get overwhelmed when I have a lot to do. It has helped me so much to be able get the words out of my head and on to a piece of paper. Making lists has aided in organization many times. It's also so satisfying to be able to scratch things off and and a visual record of the day's accomplishments. Thanks!

  9. Thanks for stopping in, Heather, and for leaving such an insightful comment. Just this morning I found myself feeling overwhelmed at all I had to do in this day. My hubby is currently only home on weekends, and we have to fit SO much into our Saturdays. I had to take a minute and make a list -- and you're so right -- it helps hugely to get all of that out of my head (where it has the potential to make me crazy) and onto paper where it is manageable. Thanks for the encouragement!


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