Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival for 2016. We just finished going through The Jesus Code by O.S. Hawkins chapter by chapter. I’m going to do something a little different this year. I plan to feature a different book each week.
The first is Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer.
I read Glynnis’ book a couple of months ago after reading Michele’s review on “Living our Days” and was extremely blessed by her biblical perspective on priorities, procrastination and organizing our time. I have already incorporated many of her suggestions into my own life and plan to go back through it and fine tune as we start off on a new year.
The first few chapters of the book deal with procrastination, but it’s not a “stop it” approach. Glynnis helps us understand the “whys” of procrastination. Some of them are personal to each one of us (for example: Is it fear or overload rather than laziness?) and others may be the result of living in our fast-paced media driven world with its instant messaging and demands for our quick response.
Glynnis, also, takes on the challenges we face when determining our priorities and how our changing culture, perfectionism, and people pleasing, among other things, play a role in our struggles. She helps us sort out God’s view of our priorities with a series of questions. She says:
I’m always having to rein myself in and reevaluate my priorities. In fact, I do this weekly, and I’ll explain that more in a later chapter. But for now, perhaps a series of questions I ask myself will help you if you struggle with knowing your priorities. These would be good questions to write in a journal or notebook and answer during the next week. To answer them effectively, take time to pray before you start. Open your heart to hear the Lord and His voice. Quiet your heart and just listen. Then ask yourself:
1) What Can Only I Do? There are some jobs in my life no one else can do. For example, no one else can nurture my personal faith in God. I am the only wife my husband has. God has given me five children to mother. Plus, no one else can eat the right foods or exercise for me. Those four areas of life (plus a few others) are no-brainers and will always be at the top of my priority list.
2) What Has God Entrusted to Me? We’ve all been entrusted with something— a certain amount of money, a home, talents, and intelligence. Some of us have paid jobs and volunteer responsibilities.
3) Am I a Good Steward of What I Already Have? This is where I do a painful assessment of reality. How am I doing with what God has already given me? Are my finances a wreck? Have I neglected my husband? Have I honored my parents? God is always watching to see how I’m doing with what He’s already given me. When He sees I manage things well, He entrusts me with more. When I’m neglectful, the opposite happens.
4) What Passion (or Dream) Has God Put in My Heart? Perhaps this dream is buried in your heart— but it’s there. When we submit to God’s plans for our lives, and those dreams don’t contradict His Word or character, we can be confident God placed those dreams in our heart for a reason.
5) What Has God Asked Me to Do That I Haven’t Done Yet? This is where things get touchy for a procrastinator. It’s likely there are items we’ve put off that God has called us to do. This moves our procrastination into the realm of disobedience. I once heard this statement: “Old orders are standing orders.” Meaning if God asked you to do something years ago, and didn’t revise the directions, He still expects you to do it. It’s never too late to be obedient.
Other chapters deal with taming our perfectionist tendencies, changing bad habits, and organizing our work, along with a host of other helpful subjects.
One of my favorites was the chapter entitled “Small Changes Matter.” In it she says about a difficult period in her own life:
Burnout had crept up on me until it exploded onto a friend. Looking back, I’d definitely seen the signs but hadn’t put them together and given them a name. Once I did, I was able to immediately make changes.
I had to guard time for myself. And getting back into praying and reading my Bible every day was the number one change. I purchased a little spiral notebook so I could record my daily reading and write a prayer request. Just having a record of my time with the Lord helped me feel better.
I told my husband, and he and I made plans to have a date night every few weeks. He knows I love music and the arts, so he researched local plays and musical performances and penciled in dates for the next six months.
I also love to be with my children. And my three oldest had moved out, which was very hard on me. So I became more intentional in spending time with them.
My heart was running on empty and it needed to be refilled.
She goes on to say:
What brings you joy? What is life-giving to you? Take some time and make a list of the things you love to do. Then schedule one thing a week for the next month. Once your heart is healthy, you will feel braver about facing unpleasant tasks in a timely manner.
The other renewal God has designed is the Sabbath. In fact, resting one day a week was so important to God that He incorporated it into the Ten Commandments given to Moses and the Israelites.
Glynnis tops off each chapter with some practical application questions to help us see how the principles apply to both our every day tasks and our personal dreams and goals.
I have just touched on a little of the wise counsel in this book, but if you want to make some changes this year … if you want to get past the dread that no matter how much you do, it’s never enough … if you want to manage your time and not let everyone and everything else manage it for you … if you really want to defeat procrastination … Taming the To-Do List might be just the ticket.
Quotations taken from:
Whitwer, Glynnis (2015-08-11). Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day (Kindle Locations 520-521). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
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