It's a joy for me to host my sweet and gifted friend, Glynnis Whitwer today. Glynnis is one of the most productive and organized people I know, and she's written a book that will help you choose wisely, be led by the Holy Spirit, and become more productive--without losing your mind. I love this book and am sure you will too. Be sure to follow the instructions below for your chance to win a signed copy!A few years ago, I had to face a hard truth about myself. Although my days were filled with good things, I wasn’t always choosing the best things. The things that mattered most, often fell to the bottom of my to-do list. Then I’d transfer them to the next list, and sometimes they even fell off the list.
I thought the solution might be to work harder. But that only produced a stressed out, burned out mess of a woman, who was short-changing God, her family, friends and herself.
What God helped me discover was an internal tendency that was impacting my ability to get the right things done. When faced with two choices of what to do, I want to choose the easier of two tasks. For example, if my choice was between answering emails or working on a chapter of my book, I’d start with the emails thinking to check some things quickly off my list. Only once I started on emails, I was on a runaway train of “busywork,” and that creative project got pushed aside.
Thankfully God showed me my choices were creating a habit of procrastination that needed addressing. And working harder was never going to solve the root problem.
There were some complicated issues to uncover, but I also discovered small changes can produce the greatest amount of impact.
Procrastinators often repeat the same habits, hoping for a different result. Some times we need a small tweak in our approach to find success. Facing any personal struggle takes creativity, persistence and a willingness to try something new. But we can change.
Here are some of the small changes that made a big difference in how I managed my responsibilities.
Build renewal into your week
If we want to sustain energy to fulfill God’s calling on our lives and complete the work He has given us to do, we should build renewal into our lives on a weekly basis.
God actually designed the need for rest and renewal into our minds and bodies, starting with the need for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Then He designed an ultradian rhythm into our bodies, which creates a lull in focus and energy every 60 to 90 minutes. Rather than pushing through with a dose of caffeine, give yourself a much needed 5-10 minute break. The other significant renewal God designed is the Sabbath. I have to trust God knows more than I do about what’s best for me, and honor this important day of the week with true rest.
Develop smart routines
Routines help us conserve mental and physical energy by removing decision-making. What time of day could use some order for you? Morning, after work, evening? Try writing out a schedule, and assigning times to tasks. Most of us actually crave structure, we just don’t realize it until we experience it.
All parents understand the power of rewards to get children to do the right thing. But I wonder if we think we’ve outgrown the need for rewards. Apparently God doesn’t think so, as there are over 80 verses in the Bible that refer to rewards.
I’m guilty of assigning a reward only when I’ve completed my ultimate goal. But rather than inspiring me to action, a reward that far away reinforces my perfectionist thinking that the only thing to be celebrated is the completed project.
What I should do is celebrate progress with small rewards along the way. So if you’ve put off sorting through mail for a few weeks, promise yourself a small treat when you’ve worked for five minutes. Actually, your first reward might be for starting! And that’s okay.
If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, just start small. Try making one change and live with it for a while. Small positive changes have a powerful cumulative affect. And one day, you’ll wake up and realize you don’t dread the day so much. In fact, you actually can’t wait to get started on your best work.
FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A SIGNED COPY of “Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day”, please (1) leave a comment sharing what small thing you intend to start, and what your reward might be AND (2) leave your email in your comment so I can reach you if you win!
Glynnis Whitwer is a wife, mother of five young adults and executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her latest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, can you help you identify your priorities and reorder your schedule so you can live them out. You can connect with Glynnis on her blog at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com.