There is so much in our lives that we don’t have the privilege of controlling or changing. Would you agree? In the last two weeks, I’ve been thinking heavily about how much better I feel when life is organized. But when I think about my overall life organizational plan, I realize sometimes I can make better choices that would prevent the crazy overwhelmed feeling that I don’t like so much. Recently I received an email from a reader with a big question:
How do we choose to organize our lives?
I receive a lot of the “How in the world do you do everything?” emails. And while I don’t consider myself the top-notch expert, today I wanted to answer this reader question the best way I know how.
Isn’t organizing life some huge monstrous job that our parents should have done for us before we went to college? Shouldn’t grown adults know how to organize life in a fashion that we can handle? Life is ever changing; therefore organizing life is an ever-changing task. I believe the key is to be proactive in scheduling and processing change.
Here’s my approach; I hope it helps you!
4 Areas of Life Organization
In evaluating my overall life organization, I stared at Luke 2:52 for quite awhile:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
You see, there are four areas of life in which Jesus was maturing as he walked this earth. And they are the same four areas we live in each day.
- Mental (wisdom)
- Physical (stature)
- Spiritual (in favor with God)
- Social (in favor with man)
In looking over these four areas of life and looking ahead in 2015, I made four decisions- one for each area of life development.
What does it mean to make wise mental choices? I believe it means we purposefully choose what to place in our minds and know the choice will make us stronger mentally. In other words, what intake is going to increase my wisdom? While I didn’t choose every single book I’m going to read or movie I’m going to watch for the next year, I did make the choice to evaluate every piece of intake purposefully. I plan to read at least 36 books this year and I want to purposely choose to read some of those 36 books outside of my typical Christian nonfiction genre choice. (That’s 3 books per month. I think I probably read more in 2014, but since is the first year in many that I’m tracking it, I wanted to be reasonable.) For every book, movie, or other entertainment, I want to ask myself the question:
Is this mental intake going to help me increase in wisdom in some way, shape or form?
Even if I’m reading or watching TV for relaxation, I don’t want to waste minutes. They are too precious.
Organization doesn’t happen by chance; we all know that. If you’re ready to get serious about taking care of yourself physically,then my fitness friend, Clare at Peak313.com, has a wonderful plan to get you going on the right track for the new year.
For me, it’s back to the running game. In the past 6 years, I’ve run 5 half marathons and many other short runs. Since the beginning of summer, I cut back on the amount of time I was spending on exercise from an average of 4 or 5 times a week for 30-60 minutes, depending on training days, to 2-3 times a week for 20 minutes. And the summer and fall were very hit or miss. I can just tell you that I’m a better wife, mother, blogger, author, whatever, when I run regularly. So with the beginning of the new year, I’m back in half marathon training mode and excited about it!
I’ve found that when I have a plan to track how much I’m exercising or what I’m eating, then the focus occurs because I am recording it. While I used to keep journals or spreadsheets, my favorite ways to track these two items are using apps. I use a free running app called RL Free and simply enter my times and mileage for each run throughout the year. If I know that I’ve not been making healthy food choices, then I track my food intake with the Lose It! app. Simply logging the food will help me make better choices, even if I’m not concerned about counting calories or losing weight.
Do I have a daily/weekly physical care routine in place? If not, what should I use for one?
While I believe we can “over organize” our spiritual walk and miss the point of drawing closer in relationship with God, no organization is a bad idea as well. That’s why I like to have a simple daily plan in place for quiet time with God. There’s no right or wrong way, but I encourage you to make a daily plan that includes prayer and Bible reading/study.
Right now, I am reading one chapter a day in Proverbs as part of the 2015 Bible Reading challenge. For prayer, I spend a few moments each morning before I ever even get out of bed. After Scripture reading, praying over the Scripture helps me tremendously. I use my phone reminders to pray for family and certain requests throughout the day. God and I enjoy an ongoing conversation throughout the day and I have a prayer journal that I write in almost every day. This is what works for me. The key is to find what works for you!
Besides a daily focused time with God, for this season, on Jan. 22, I will begin to facilitate the Bible study, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst, at church. The awesome thing about participating in this study is that it provides organization for three of the four life areas- mental, spiritual and the next one- social. Keep in mind that this is seasonal for me; the course is 6 weeks. At that point, I will evaluate my work schedule and family life to determine the next Bible study participation.
Do I have a regular quiet time with God daily?
Social organization doesn’t necessarily mean you are the party planner for the next neighborhood get-together. I believe it means you are committed to spending time engaging with other people. These people are in your home, your office, your neighborhood, your grocery store, your church- essentially, your community. Whether via social media, in direct conversation, or handwriting letters, social growth can happen in all different kinds of ways.
Scheduling regular opportunities for social interaction is the key for growing relationships. Our family makes it a point to have dinner together, every night if possible. We are at church for at least one service every weekend and many times more services. Because we have such a large family, I won’t explain all the activities and how we choose our social interactions. The old adage is still true though: If you want to have a friend, you need to be a friend.
Am I using my social time effectively to communicate and love others God places in my path?
Pulling It All Together
Keeping schedules and having routines is what helps me pull these four areas of life together and manage them. For the past two years, I’ve kept two separate calendars. One has been our family calendar; the other has been my work/ministry calendar. My normal rule is that I don’t commit to anything until I’ve looked at the calendar. But I found that sometimes I overbooked myself because I wasn’t taking BOTH calendars into consideration. I needed a quick see everything at a glance calendar for making decisions. So this year, I decided to combine both calendars into a planner. I still have a detailed digital work/ministry calendar, but the planner is going to consolidate these four areas into one scheduling space. I didn’t take a ton of time in assessing which planner or how much detail to write. I just need to know the daily/weekly events. So here’s my planner:
(It’s $5 as of today!)
While this is a long post on how to organize your life, the beginning of a new year is a great time to establish routines. Why not have a full-blown discussion about it? I would love to hear how you have approached these four life areas and what you’re doing to organize your life this year!
What approach are you using to organize your life this year?
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
PS: Bloggers, if you are looking for Whimsical Wednesday, I have decided to discontinue the linkup. Thank you for your faithful posts and may the Lord continue to bless your work!
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