I posted a review HERE last month of Tim Challies's latest book, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. Today, I want to share a few of my observations after over a month of implementing Tim's approach to organization and productivity.
First observation: Life as a mom has seasons. (No, this revelation did not come from Tim Challies, but it relates.) When you are the mother of two or three or six or seven small people, life is best described as managed chaos. Some days, you manage better than others. Some days, chaos captures the flag.
Based on my own experience as the mother of seven awesome people, there is never a day when your kids are little you that you go to bed feeling like you are finally on top of everything. In fact, I think much of the point of motherhood is to teach us moms that we don't have to be on top of everything.
Motherhood - especially when your children are very young - is kind of like Special Forces Boot Camp for understanding, applying, and resting in God's grace. It is walking daily on a knife edge between heaven (believing the truth that God has life's chaos under control) and hell (believing the lie that I have life under control). No productivity manual is going to change that, although it might help you take a break occasionally from growing mold cultures for science lab in your refrigerator.
Life as a mom has seasons. I now have adult and young adult children. There is much less chaos in my house. Even on the craziest day, I don't have to deal with someone eating (and then throwing up) the cat food or finger-painting with poop on the bathroom floor that I just mopped for the first time in over a month, Thanks to those early years with my then-little Awesomes, I also seem to have less chaos in my heart. (See above paragraph.) At this season of life, I find Tim Challies's guide to increased productivity a great help to staying on top of routine chores like dusting bookshelves, defrosting tonight's dinner, and meeting newspaper submission deadlines.
Life as a mom has seasons. Seasons change.
A second observation: I love that Tim challenges readers to begin each day by praying for God's guidance and direction concerning the day's tasks and productivity goals. What this means for me practically is: When my To Do list is interrupted by an email or phone call from a distressed friend, or when I can't complete Item #1 on my Household Tasks list because someone else dropped a ball, or when I simply run out of day before every item is checked off, I no longer feel like I have failed in the productivity department. Beginning the day with prayer for God's oversight and guidance enables me to trust more and more that God will make sure I do exactly what needs to be done (although maybe not what's on my list), exactly when it needs to be done. So my day didn't go like I planned it? God had better plans!
A third observation: I am hard at work on my third fiction manuscript, and, for the first time in my life, I am devoting significant time to my writing, consistently and guilt free! Before, writing was my dessert, something I was free to enjoy only after I'd eaten my vegetables (laundry caught up, floors mopped, etc.). This meant I never had time to write consistently, and even when I did sneak off to write for an hour or two, I felt guilty because undone broccoli-&-cauliflower chores were hanging over my head. Now, "Write: 1000 Words/Manuscript" is consistently on my To Do list. When I sit down to write, I am no longer guilty of shirking my duty - I am embracing it, even if there is dirty laundry in the clothes hamper!
A fourth observation: I have rediscovered Free Time. Last Saturday, I had nothing on my calendar, no errands to do in town or piano recitals. Household chores were checked off. I'd met my writing goals for the week. Almost an entire afternoon stretched ahead of me with no pressing demands. Something was clearly not right.
I turned to Helen. "What am I forgetting?" I asked.
"Ummmm, nothing?" she answered.
For the first time in I-can't-remember-when, I did not feel pressured to Do The Next Thing. I was free to simply do whatever I wanted - read a book, take a nap, write a little more, go for a walk back on the farm - guilt free. Totally blew my mind.
Final observation, and then I really have to tackle email: A month after my initial review, is Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity a book I would still recommend to others? Absolutely. Thank you, Tim Challies!
3 months ago