Introductions

Hello Again! Thank you for visiting.  My goal is to write something (anything) everyday.  For the past couple of days I’ve been working on today’s post, and still haven’t finished it! As soon as I got home this afternoon, I made a big salad and then sat down with my laptop to get busy writing to you.  I hope you’ve had a wonderful day.

For all of you hungry people out there – here’s what’s in my salad: Spinach leaves, a random bag of lettuce (IDK  what kind – it’s green), pickled sliced beets (my favorite), orange slices, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  It’s topped with plain Kefir, which I recommend, especially if you’re a buttermilk lover like me – it’s got a similar taste, and is great for your digestive health.  Locally, the only Kefir brand available is the one produced by Lifeway.  I don’t know how it compares with other brands, so you’re welcome to post a comment below about your favorite kind/brand of Kefir.

I also poured a little bit of blue cheese dressing on my salad, because that’s what people do.

Getting Down to Business

If this is your first time visiting the site, “Hello, it’s nice to meet you.”  This blog is my writing outlet – I write whatever I want to (poetry, opinions, rants, informational, inspirational, humor, you get the picture), and sometimes folks read it.  If you’d like to know more about me and why I blog, click the About Me page above.  Here on WordPress.com, we bloggers like to write and read, and other stuff, we’re creative, like you.  Come and join us – start a blog for free.  It’s not spinach, but it’s probably still a very healthy choice.

A common theme in conversations I’ve heard lately is that of juggling work with family.  The consensus is that everyone wants to spend more time with family.  The one thing that seems to prevent them is work, too much work, so much work that it cannot be completed without putting in overtime – LOTS OF overtime.

You guessed it! The folks, and I, having these conversations lately are teachers.  How did you know?  But teachers aren’t the only ones who experience the family/work tension.  Grab your salad, and let’s dig in.

First, A Story

At a church I once worked in as the Children’s Minister, several volunteers cornered me and asked me what I was going to do about ‘The Closet Mess’.  My mind reeled with ideas of what they could be referring to: an actual closet, a rumored closet, a situation where someone was caught with someone else in the closet, skeletons in the closet, skeletons coming out of the closet – the possibilities were endless.  Aha! I thought, here is the moment all of my expensive, private, Christian college education has prepared me for.

I have a Theology degree.  I can handle ANYTHING.

The ‘Closet’ in question turned out to be a real, actual closet in the church building, which was disappointing considering the well-thought out exhortation I had mentally prepared.  Oh, well, ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ and ‘Mind your own Business’ would have to wait.

I was shown to a room on the first floor, with an, “I LOVE JESUS,” poster on the wall.  In the corner was the closet in question.

The class meeting in that classroom needed a place to store their supplies, the volunteers explained.  “Why can’t they use this one?” I asked, naively. (Oh how naïve I was.)

“Open it,” they replied.  I did.  I wished I hadn’t.

“It’s your problem now,” they said.  I turned back around to ask a question.  Everyone had scampered.  “You didn’t see us!” and “We were never here!” they shouted from far away down the hall.  I looked again at the unbelievable seven by four foot wall of junk.  The closet was full of trash.

It turned out that a few church committees had stalemated over the disposal of used church curricula, denominationally produced Bible study materials, and convention newsletters.  The result of this was a more than 25 year pile up of paper, cardboard, and dust.  The shelves, barely reachable, contained a few of the supplies teachers had managed to wriggle out a space for plus old maintenance supplies from before the pile up had gotten out of control.  I counted crayons, glue, glue guns, markers, paint, spray paint, paint brushes, turpentine, nails, screws, caulking, metal spatulas, hammers, a box of razor blades, and matches.

A perfect combination for an unlocked closet in the corner of a 3rd through 5th grade boy’s Sunday night discipleship class…

…and also a perfect picture of the mess we sometimes find ourselves in when work, life, and relationships fill our time with more work than is humanly possible to manage.

Time to Take Control

In order to take control, and keep control, we must be intentional about our lives.  Here is how I manage and organize, not only closets, but time as well.

1. Give it a Purpose:

Wherever there is a vacuum, a void of space, the universal law is that it must be filled.  If we do not set a purpose for our closets, drawers, hours, and days – others will step in and set a purpose for us.  This should be avoided at all costs.  No one knows what your life’s purpose is, or how your time should be spent more than you.

The first thing I did with this closet was to give it a purpose.  Since the Sunday School committee and the Discipleship committee and the Financial committee and the Committee on Committees committee couldn’t agree on sharing monies and supplies, the closet’s purpose was to be a storage of arts and crafts supplies for the teacher of the Sunday night discipleship class.

When you give something a purpose, Say It Out Loud.  Say it with Confidence.  Don’t listen to nagging voices, or doubts.  Determine what you want and set out to get it.  Saying it out loud is just an affirming way of agreeing with yourself.  Saying it with Confidence lets everyone else know that you mean business and it’s time to get the HECK out of your way.

In order to organize a drawer, for example, first you give it a purpose, and then fill it with ONLY the items that fulfill that purpose.  A kitchen drawer purposed with storing tableware cannot store receipts, rubber bands, vitamins, or wash cloths.  The same thing applies to our hours and days.

Start with a clean slate.  Using an empty calendar, block out the time you spend at work (or in class) and then examine the time you have available.  This is YOUR time.  Set a purpose for those blocks of time that belong to you: Family Time, Writing Time, Exercise, Hobby Time, On-line Business Time, Meeting Friends, Prayer and Meditation Time, Quiet Time – the options are up to you.

Let’s see what you are going to do!!! I bet you’ll do something Wonderful!

2. Throw Away the Junk

Our closet had become filled with 100% Junk which did not match its PURPOSE.  Time can quickly be filled up with Junk activities that do not match our purpose or goals. All that Junk needs to be thrown away.

For example, has Family Time become littered by interrupting texts or notices? Throw that away – turn off the T.V., phones and devices during Family Time, sleep your computer, close that laptop.  Stare at each other, pull out a board game, play 20 questions, work on a puzzle, play charades, get outside for a walk, toss the ol’ pigskin, make a salad, create a movie together and then watch it (so much better than T.V.).

Responsibilities getting in the way? Laundry’s got to be done, and dinner cooked: Delegate. Do you have a teenager? Why are you doing laundry when you’ve got a teenager? Teach your teenager to do the laundry instead.  It takes more time up front, but in the end you will be freed up to use your time working on your goals, or spending time with family.

Family means we all chip in.  Each and every time you make dinner or work on chores, have your child or teen work with you.  Teach them how to clean, sort laundry, and cook simple meals.  “I scrub -you scrub – we all scrub together.”  Try this as your new family motto.  Even if they are too young to do a ‘good’ job, they will learn a good work ethic and gain from the quality time you are spending together.  As you clean and cook you have time side by side to talk and learn more about one another.  Try it.

There are a lot of junk activities that can steal away our time – think about what you are doing and question it by comparing them to your goals and purpose.  If they do not help you achieve your goals or purpose then it is time to throw that activity away.

For me, junk activities can be: social media, watching series on Netflix, movies, shopping, and Pinterest.  There.  That’s my confession.  Now you know EVERYTHING about me.

3. Label and Organize

As with closets, our time needs to be labeled and organized.  Once you’ve determined your purpose, and created space in the day to work on your goals, sit down and determine the steps needed to accomplish them.  No one sits down to write a book, that’s the end result of many tiny steps.  Lose weight?  Too general.  Instead, think of small chunks, tiny steps, easy to handle micro-challenges.

For example, instead of ‘work on my book’, or ‘write chapter one,’ fixate on something specific such as: list possible outcomes for the main character.

4. Lock the Door

After the church closet had been named, cleaned out, and organized it was time to add the last finishing touch – a lovely, new, shiny, gold LOCK.  I gave the key to the teacher.

You’ve set a purpose for your time, you’ve gotten rid of the meaningless distractions, and gotten organized, now DEFEND your TIME with ALL YOU’VE GOT.

You can’t stay late at work – you’ve got appointments, you’ve got a dinner date, you have a life, a family, a dog that needs walking and so, like I’ve stated before – Start on Time, Leave on Time.

Almost Time to Say Goodbye

While cleaning out the closet, I came across some old denominational magazines and newsletters published the YEAR I WAS BORN.  After that, something did not feel quite right, to me.  I stared at the date, for what felt like forever, in a moment that was so surreal that I could feel my body tingling from head to toe.  I remember thinking, “This is not what I was born for.”

We may love our jobs, and feel we were ‘born for this’, but even so, your life is more than what you do at work, and taking care of your responsibilities.

‘Human’ means all of these things: thinking, emoting, feeling, praying, singing, working, splashing around in mud puddles, cooking, talking, running, biking, planting, harvesting, sharing, cleaning, bathing, celebrating, worshiping, love-making, parenting…I’m sure you can add to the list.

Yes, you need money.  Yes, you need to mow your lawn. Yes, you need to pay bills, but you also need quiet time alone.  You need quality time with loved ones.  Be careful that, in seeking success, you do not deny or forget  to take care of your ‘soft’ needs.  When they are not met, everything else falls apart: you lose motivation, lose the ability to concentrate, begin to react negatively to setbacks, and lash out at those you love and care about so much.  Don’t forget to LIVE your life…

and…

DON’T WAIT FOR THE PERFECT TIME! DO IT NOW!

I hope this has been insightful.  So much has been given to me, so many people have ‘shared the light’ and helped me on my way, that I want to give in return.

I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your own time saving tips or anything you’d like to share below in the comments.  Don’t forget to hit the Like and Follow button, especially if you found this helpful.  I hope it was.

My salad’s all gone.  That was delicious.  Now, for dessert!

Blessings!