A few months ago, as I was going through my files (as I do each year) and throwing out papers no longer needed, I came upon the file of articles I had written for the first volume of Far Above Rubies. It occurred to me that what I used to write about were usually things that are as relevant today as they were then- nearly a generation ago. Mrs. Custer said it would be alright to use excerpts from those previous articles. However, instead of doing that, I put them back in the file drawer and went on to doing other things.
Recently, when I was visiting with my sister on the phone, I said, “I still make lists like I always have, but all too frequently I have been moving items to the next day – or the next week!” I told her I needed to “shape up.” It was then I realized maybe I should read those old articles and get back to being a more efficient homemaker. The very first article I had written was on organizing our mind! Was that a coincidence? I don’t think so. The following is an abridged version of what I wrote back in May 1998.
Since after all these years, I still have to stop and remind myself to get my thoughts “organized,” I thought others may have the same problem occasionally. Maybe we would all benefit from pausing for a few minutes to reflect on our lives. Are we functioning efficiently? Are we effective with what we are doing? Do we have time to accomplish everything we want to each day? Is our house neat and orderly? Are our children (if we have any) well-behaved, respectful, and good helpers at home? Does our husband (if we have one) come home to a cool, calm, in-control wife at the end of his hectic day out in the world? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, maybe you could volunteer to help one of our young mothers by taking her children for a day, so she can catch up, too, and have time to think about organizing her life.
Everyone is different. For some people, being organized comes naturally. For others, it is a constant struggle. For me, it is a necessity. I cannot function when I’m disorganized. That doesn’t mean I’m always organized. It just means that it’s a necessary part of my life. Our minds are a great mystery. We can continually expand the capacity of our brain through practice, but to me, when I have a busy schedule with many things to get done and a minimum amount of time to do them in, increasing my brain capacity is not a priority!
For years, I have carried a little 3×5 notebook. I also carry a little pocket calendar to record appointments, birthdays, etc. That frees my mind to focus on the task at hand. In my little book, I have a few pages going at all times. Three are titled, individually, on front and back, with each one of the six workdays of the week. As a commitment or task I need to accomplish makes itself known, I record it on the page for the day I plan to perform it. Another page is titled “Get When I’m in Town.” There are also pages entitled “Must Do” (sometime soon), “Want to Do” (the sooner the better), and “Major Projects” (reorganizing an area to make it more efficient, sewing an item, putting pictures in albums, etc.). On a good day, I may be able to accomplish an item or two from one of these lists.
The time of the day that I organize my day varies, due to many different circumstances in a day. I have been known to get up the night before a very “full” day and organize the following day on paper, because my mind won’t stop thinking of additional tasks. It is filled with visions of a frustrating, seemingly impossible day ahead. Seeing it on paper, prioritized and organized for peak efficiency, makes it look possible to execute. Also, it makes me realize that many tasks I thought “had” to be accomplished that day weren’t essential after all, or could be done on another day. Once I had my list written and had prayed over it, I could go to sleep immediately. We have to do what works for us in any given situation.
These lists MUST remain as flexible as possible. If a higher priority bumps something off the list, just move it to another day. Since it is written down, it won’t be forgotten, and our life most likely will not fall apart because we weren’t “Super Woman” today. God, in His infinite wisdom, broke our lives into small segments (days), divided by a time to “recharge our batteries” (nights). I haven’t found anywhere in the Bible where He said we are doomed because we don’t get to the end of our list. He did, however, say in Psalm 118:24, that “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” How can we do that, if we make our list for today impossibly long? We are a lot better off if we shorten our list and spend more time with the Lord. He will show us more ways to organize and simplify our lists than we ever dreamed possible.
(Back to today). After my husband died, too many things just didn’t matter anymore. I allowed gaining too much weight and not being as active as I once was, to ruin my health. I became undisciplined, unmotivated, and lazy. I am going to try once more to do what I can to change my ways and become the dedicated homemaker I once was. Instead of just making a list, I will do my best to accomplish its tasks each day. Please, don’t make the same mistakes I did, and go down the path I did. It is definitely not the right one.
by Carol Carter