In the past year, I’ve received numerous emails from women begging me for my “secrets” to time management. They ask me to please share how I manage to seemingly “do it all”.
Every time I get an email like that, I wish I could invite the woman to my home. Because seriously, I think it’s easy to make bloggers out to be someone they are not when you’re basing all your conclusions of them upon the little sliver of their life that they share on their blog.
I know, because I’ve been guilty of it myself. I’ll read a woman’s blog, see the pictures and ideas she shares and begin to wonder if really and truly she might be superwoman’s clone. And I feel badly because I don’t measure up in any stretch of the imagination to this blogger. When in reality, I know good and well that every single woman has their strengths and weaknesses and no one has it all together.
I’m An Ordinary Person, Who Serves An Extraordinary God
I think some people somehow think that I actually do every deal I post about, shop at five stores and save $200 on my grocery bill every week, cook six-course gourmet meals from scratch every single night, spend 10 hours of quality time with each of my children every single day, have my children involved in all sorts of extra-curricular activities, volunteer in our community at least five hours every week, hand-sew our clothes from the fabric I wove from the wool I spun from the sheep I sheared… okay, well, maybe not that last one.
But seriously, folks, I am just one person. I only have 24 hours in my day — just like you. And I don’t have limitless energy or creativity. I often get tired, cranky and irritated. I sometimes go to bed feeling guilty that I’m not spending enough time with my children or feeding them healthfully enough. There are days I want to quit and give up.
Anything good you see in me is not me, but God in me. I’m just an ordinary person but I serve an extraordinary God. He is the One Who gives me strength to keep going when I want to quit. He’s the One Who gives me joy when I’m feeling discouraged. He’s the One Who gives me hope when life feels overwhelming.
I get up early — before my children — and spend time reading the Bible and praying. This quiet time encourages my heart and gives me strength for the day. I also usually pray over my day and ask the Lord to bless my day and multiply my time. It might seem like a strange thing to ask, but when I ask the Lord to bless my day, I’m always amazed at how more peaceful and joyful my days are.
Determine Your Passions & Gifts
In addition to starting my day with God, one of the biggest things which has helped me to be a better manager of my time is to let go of perfectionism. Once I finally gave up and realized that I can’t do it all so I should just stop trying, my life has been so much more calm and enjoyable.
It’s easy to want to try to “do it all”, but you can’t. The truth is: you’re not gifted in every area and you’re not good at everything.
For instance, I stink at most anything which requires domestic creativity. Ask me a question about starting a business or marketing and I can give you a list of a hundred and one creative ideas. But ask me to decorate your home or plan a party and I’ve pretty much got nothin’ for ya.
I used to wish I could be one of those women who whipped up hand-smocked petticoats for my girl’s dolls on the fly and decorated three-tiered wedding cakes while in the middle of canning forty-two batches of pickles. I wanted to learn to quilt and knit and crochet and tat and make soap and candles. I pictured myself restoring antique furniture, owning a spinning wheel, planting a massive garden and sewing all our bedding.
But the reality is that I’m just not skilled in those areas. Oh sure, I still try on occasion to improve my knitting or sewing skills, but I’ve learned to accept that I’ll likely never be really proficient at most of those things.
Instead of beating myself up over what I can’t do, I’ve been trying to focus on and exercise those areas which I am gifted in. And to appreciate the gifts God has given others which I don’t have, instead of wishing I could “do it all”.
I’m reading a great book right now called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and one of the key points the author makes in the book is to focus on your core competencies. I really agree with her premise (though not everyone will!) in that it’s pointless to spend a great deal of your life trying to do something which you don’t excel at.
If possible, invest your life in those things which you’re truly passionate about and gifted in. It will cause you to lead a much more productive and fulfilled life. At least, it’s made a world of difference for me!
Once you’ve let go of perfectionism and determined your strengths, then it’s much easier to prioritize and streamline your life. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow (and I’ll share my list of priorities and my promised list of many, many things I don’t do!)
…To be continued