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On Stewarding My Time and Being a Work In Progress

One of the challenges I’m finding in writing this Stewardship Series is my general internal sense that I need to have a problem completely figured out and broken down into comprehensive bullet points before I share about it publicly.  The idea of sharing incorrect information or steering someone the wrong way makes my insides go all squirmy.

But the more I think about this, the more I see the impracticality of saving all my blog ideas until I have them fully field tested and all the kinks worked out. Mainly, that imposing such a standard of perfection on myself would result in very little ever getting written.  But also that it kind of defeats the point.  Part of my reason for sharing about my journey toward intentional stewardship is for the accountability it provides.  I know that I’ll need things to write about, and that gives me motivation to follow through on the goals I want to accomplish when the initial impetus wears off.  In addition,  some of my favorite bloggers and social media follows are those who share the process, and aren’t afraid to come back later to give a recap of what worked well and what didn’t. So I’m going to try and take a page out of their book today.

This week I planned to talk about stewarding my time, and wouldn’t you know it…this week has been a complete disaster in the time management department.  Abby came down with a stomach virus late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, which meant my Sunday was spent caring for her, and then Monday I got to take my turn.  And while the bug itself seems to have been a less-than-24-hour variety, bouncing back has proved much more challenging for me than I would have expected. So there have been a lot of naps and not many chores getting accomplished around here, not to mention very little work or writing.

So, while the tips and ideas aren’t things I’ve fully utilized or implemented this week, they are what I’m looking at going forward toward better time stewardship in the weeks and months ahead.

What’s Working

I’ve talked a bit before about how habit formation, for me, is about making a decision once so I don’t have to make it over and over.  Areas where I’ve formed (mostly) consistent habits with managing my time are:

  • Getting up before Abby – this gives my Non-Morning-Person brain time to slowly power-on before I need to interact with my Super-Morning-Person toddler.  I can’t overstate how much of an impact this one habit has made on my overall attitude and outlook for the day.
  • Using car rides as connection time – I started this at some point during Abby’s 2-year-old Pre-K program so we’ve been at it consistently for over a year.  In the mornings, Abby and I listen to a playlist of her favorite songs, play “Tanderup Spy,” talk about what she’s going to do at school, and practice memorizing Scripture.  I am hopeful that setting the expectation early that I’m available to her in the car will prove fruitful as she grows older.

There are a few other areas where I’m trying to build similar habits, but haven’t been at them long enough or consistently enough to call them successes yet.

  • Leaving my phone off for one hour after I wake up – I’ve only tried this a couple times, but it’s where I plan to focus this month. Too often that extra time I give myself in the morning is spent scrolling Instagram instead of reading my Bible, journaling, praying, or even chatting with Dave.  All of those are much more life-giving ways to start my day than staring at my phone screen.
  • Deleting my social media apps one day a week – This is another idea I’ve only tried once or twice (I wrote about an impromptu social media break I took last year) but I definitely see the benefit.  The biggest thing I noticed the last time I tried this: once I got back on Instagram and Facebook to “catch up,” I really hadn’t missed anything significant.
  • Working out in the morning – I’m going into my second round of the FASTer Way to Fat Loss (you can read my post about Round 1 here) and I want to incorporate more of the workouts this round.  During the first round I found if I prep ahead the night before and leave unloading the dishwasher until later in the day, I have enough time to get in the workout and a shower before I take Abby to preschool.  Once I’m back to normal energy-wise, I plan to pick this back up again.

What I’m Considering

There are several ideas I’m considering for time management, but haven’t begun implementing yet.

  • Using preschool mornings exclusively for work – Dave and I discussed this, and I’ve tried it a few times.  Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it.  As things have been going, I’ve used my solo-mornings for grocery shopping, resetting the house, and other chores or errands, and then fit in other work where I could.  In theory, it makes sense to use that time to dedicate to writing, planning for the blog, etc. and then move on to cleaning, errands, and other chores in the afternoon when Abby is home.  In practice, I have a hard time sitting down and focusing when there are still dishes in the sink.  Which is where the next idea might come in handy.
  • Creating Theme Days – This idea involves listing out all the myriad tasks you have to complete each week, and sorting them into categories.  Then you focus on only one category a day. I’ve heard Meg Tietz discuss how she uses this method on Episode 161 of the Sorta Awesome podcast, and Emily P. Freeman also devoted an entire show to it this past week on her podcast, The Next Right Thing.  This one requires some consideration, because my schedule for freelance interpreting isn’t consistent.  But in terms of “deciding once,” I could see this being helpful for reducing the amount of time I putter around, unable to decide where to start working when I .
  • Adding an hour of phone free time to the evening – Similar to my intention to start the day without staring at a screen, I like the idea of ending the day with an hour of rest for my eyes and brain as well.  Likely, adding this habit to my evenings will be harder than the morning, but I think the Bedtime feature on my iPhone could help with establishing this  habit.
  • Re-configuring my iPhone for efficiency – I heard about this article on iphone modifications, (from…surprise, surprise! another podcast) and I’m slowly working my way through it.  Like most people these days, my phone is my biggest distraction.  Making it work for me instead of letting it boss me around sounds like a healthy shift.

Preaching to Myself

I can make plans, and “decide once,” but with time, there is always change.  My time and my schedule will continually have to be modified to fit school hours and work times and outside expectations beyond my control.  In some ways that is good for me.  Having unlimited time with no structure is just overwhelming to me.  Having limited spaces in my calendar with which to do my work is actually helpful for me when I’m planning.  What I need to remember (and  remind myself all the time) is that I’ll be “deciding once” over and over again for the rest of my life, and that’s okay.

I’m trying to look at my time the way I’ve learned to look at money, and how I’m beginning to look at food.  A budget, or a plan, doesn’t limit my options or restrain me from doing what I want.  Instead, it gives me freedom from worry and stress, because the decision about what needs to be done and when I should do it has already been made.

As with most of the items on my goals list this year, becoming a more intentional steward of my resources is not only about being responsible to someone else.  It’s about the peace I usher into my own life.  Because stewardship honors God.  And His ways are always for my good.

 

Follow @theindecisivemama on Instagram for more thoughts on Stewardship, as well as other ramblings throughout the week.  I’ve recently created a Story Highlight called Conversations with Abby Grace, where I share some of the things that make me laugh on this journey of motherhood.  Just click the circle titled CWAG on my profile page!

And don’t miss the other installments of the Stewardship Series:

Stewarding My Physical Health: The Why

Stewarding My Physical Health: The Why, Part 2

Stewarding My Physical Health : The FASTer Way

Journaling: An Exercise for My Spiritual Health

Stewarding My Voice

Why Stewardship?

 

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