Time and work – two small words, but how much they affect our lives. We often feel that we have too little of the first and way too much of the second. If we don’t bring these two elements into correct focus, our beautiful spirit may very well be hidden from those closest to us.
Since our highest priority must be our walk with the Lord, we should start our day with Bible reading and prayer. Not only is starting with our devotions the best way to be prepared spiritually for the day, but it is also practically the best way to order your day. Why? Because any time you have left something important undone, you will be aware of an uneasiness in the back of your mind – a restlessness that keeps you from putting full concentration and energy into the work at hand. You just won’t do your best. And if you are like most of us, putting your devotional time off until later in the day may result in its being neglected. Our work is like a gas; it expands to fill whatever space is allowed it. So keep your time alone with the Lord as your highest priority.
Next, I would encourage you to keep a calendar. Some prefer to use a big wall calendar with different colored markers to keep track of everyone’s schedules. I’ve found that carrying a week-at-a-glance calendar in my purse is absolutely necessary. Whichever you choose, the key to using a calendar is to use it. Write what you need to do and when you need to do it. Then check your calendar often throughout the day.
So you look at your calendar and see that you have your little grandson’s birthday written for today. Why are you panicking? Oh, he lives three states away and you should have mailed his gift last week. Your calendar last week should have read, “mail Jimmy’s gift.” What gift? The one you forgot because you didn’t make a note on your shopping day to buy Jimmy a present.
What else did you forget to buy? Keep a list posted in your kitchen, and teach family members to add items to it when something needs to be replaced. My honey knows that if he opens the last can of tuna, I won’t know to replace it unless he adds it to the list. When the store circular comes out each week, look at the sales, plan your meals, and add the necessary ingredients to your list. The grocery list I take to the store is in a portfolio that opens flat. The list is on the right; the calculator and the envelope that contains coupons are on the left.
What else could you do to help your life run more smoothly? Be aware of your actions as you do your regular chores. Are you wasting movements because things are not conveniently arranged? Try hanging your measuring spoons and cups on cup hooks inside the door of the cupboard where you keep your baking supplies. Put things near where you will use them.
If there are certain chores that you really don’t like to do, ask yourself why. You will probably find that something about the task is a nuisance. You put up with a dirt floor because getting the mop and bucket is a hassle. Find a new place to store them. If your ironing board, iron, sewing machine, and sewing basket are convenient, your ironing and mending will be less likely to pile up. You don’t like to sort socks? Get some sock holders to hold the pairs together in the wash, and train your family to bind matched socks together before throwing them into the laundry.
Cleaning is another chore that we could make easier on ourselves if we would simply do it right away. The longer something sits, the harder it is to clean. Microwaves are notorious for being neglected. To make cleaning easier, set a cup of water inside and cook on high for five minutes. Wait for a couple of minutes to allow the steam to loosen hardened food. Remove the cup and wipe the inside of the microwave clean. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot water.
Here are a few other helpful tips:
• An ice cream scoop is a great utensil for putting cupcake or muffin batter into tins.
• A smaller scoop (melon ball size) is just right for making meatballs or drop cookies.
• Purchase or make a book to keep your bills in when they arrive. A simple notebook with pocket dividers will do. Each month should have its own pocket. If you record on each month’s page what bills need to be paid that month, you will be prepared instead of panicking when that big insurance premium is due. You might also want to record the gifts you need to purchase each month.
• Plan your wash loads so that the permanent-press load will not get done when you will be frying fish or feeding the baby. Folding or hanging clothes promptly can save you a lot of ironing.
• Put your favorite recipes into page protectors and keep them in a notebook. You will save time trying to find them, and the spatters will wipe off easily.
• Have you ever noticed how much more you feel like working if you are not wearing long sleeves?
• Put things where they belong. We waste a lot of time and energy looking for items we need to complete a task simply because we didn’t take care of them the last time we used them.
Finally, if you need a little more oil to keep your time/work machinery running smoothly, get your kids to laugh before eight o’clock in the morning. You’ll be pleased with the results.
Written by Judy Hammond. This article was published in the Spring 2007 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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