Did you read the post title and groan? I did, and I'm the one who wrote it. I hate procrastinating, but it's my favorite thing to do. It's been the root of more problems in my life than anything else I can think of, and has caused more stress and grief to my family than I'd care to admit.
I know I'm not the only one who struggles with procrastination. We procrastinate for so many reasons, and it has so many consequences in every area of our lives. This series of posts is meant to explore some of the zillions of causes of procrastination, and what we can do about it. Today I want to talk about environmental and habitual causes of procrastination.
(No, I'm not talking about global warming and the polar ice caps.) Sometimes procrastination is caused by your environment. These are usually the easiest problems to correct, as they generally don't require expensive trips to the psychologist to relive your childhood. Perhaps the root of your procrastination is simply disorganization: You don't have what you need when you need it. The solution to this problem is relatively simple.
Say, for example, you absolutely hate paying bills because the stuff you need is all over the house. Pens are in the kitchen drawer, envelopes are in the office, your checkbook is hiding in the depths of your purse, and you don't know if you have any stamps left. Once you finally track down the supplies you need, now you have to gather the bills themselves. Some are in a folder, others are in a pile of mail, and more are hiding in stacks of paper on the table and counters. This is just asking for trouble.
Start by making a simple list of everything you need to pay your bills (or to do whatever it is you're procrastinating). Now gather everything on that list. For some items, like envelopes and stamps, you'll probably want to keep some with your bill-paying kit and others in the office. Put everything in a basket, file folder, or some other container. Whenever you get a bill in the mail, immediately put it with your bill-paying stuff, or in a file folder dedicated to bills to pay. Now, when it's time to pay bills, you have everything you need at your fingertips. It's so much easier to get things done when we have what we need at the ready.
Another environmental cause of procrastination is trouble focusing. Using the above example, it's hard to pay bills when music or the TV is blaring, dinner is boiling over, and the kids are tugging at your skirt. It's time for some changes! This may mean changing when or where you do the task. It might be easier to pay the bills in the evening, after the children are in bed, or perhaps first thing in the morning. You might work better at a desk instead of the kitchen table. And for heaven's sake, turn off the TV! If you must do something while the children are around (as opposed to squeezing all of your homemaking tasks into woefully-short naptimes), either give them something quiet to do or give them a way to help you. Stuffing and stamping envelopes, or even just playing with a calculator, can make children feel important and let you get things done.
Ah, habits. I hate that word. It conjures up all sorts of guilt and self-loathing. We have all sorts of bad habits that keep us from being productive. You throw the mail in a pile on the counter until it threatens to collapse on you. You sit down to read your email "just for a minute" and suddenly realize it's lunchtime. Yes, we have all sorts of bad habits and time wasters, and they've got to go! The best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. It may be something you want to do gradually, or you might prefer to get it over with all at once.
For example, in the case of dealing with mail, you might want to get a basket to throw the mail in. Then bring the basket to the couch in the evenings to go through it. On the other hand, you might just want to force yourself to sort it before you ever put it down. Put bills with your bill-paying kit, shred junk, and put mail to deal with in a folder or basket and jot a note down on your to-do list.
Let's say you're in the bad habit of getting up late in the mornings. When you are roused to consciousness by your toddler jumping on your stomach (elbows and knees first, of course) or sneaking up to the bed and shouting "boo," it is not a good start to the day. (Ask me how I know this.) Well, it's time to replace that habit with a good one. Set an alarm: I like to use the alarm function on my cell phone and keep it under my pillow (with the keypad lock on). That way it doesn't bother my husband. Make sure you've got something enjoyable and/or productive to do first thing, ideally the same thing every morning. Have your quiet time with the Lord, get a head start on your housework, or do a Sudoku puzzle to wake you up. The idea is to be excited about your morning. Replacing a bad habit with a good one will help you be more productive "automatically."
You may also be in the habit of letting things pile up. (I never do this... Ahem.) You forget about doing laundry until your husband doesn't have any underwear. Dishes sit in the sink until you're out of glasses. Housework gets put off until the Environmental Protection Agency calls. It's so easy to let things go until they demand our attention right NOW, but that's hardly an enjoyable way to go about life. Just ask my husband as he's trying to get dressed for work.
Obviously, the solution here is to keep things from becoming huge, unmanageable jobs. Some things are best done a little at a time; what those things are is up to you. You might decide to do one or two lauds of laundry a day, from start to finish, instead of trying to do it all every week or two. Get in the habit of doing the dishes immediately after every meal.
One thing I like to do, although I admit I've gotten out of the habit lately, is to wipe down the bathroom each morning. I take a disinfecting wipe or a rag and spray cleaner and quickly wipe down the sink and toilet. When I take a shower, I bring in a washcloth and scrub the tub while I'm in there. This takes me an extra five minutes a day, tops, but the benefits are great! My bathroom is always clean and I never have to take an hour to scrub it because it's gotten really bad. A little at a time goes a long way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Go Get Something Done!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There are many more causes of procrastination, but right now, there are things I've put off doing for too long. (I wasn't kidding about the underwear.) Next time we'll deal with incorrect thinking and excuses. I'll also be working on some fun forms and checklists for you to download that will hopefully make your life (and mine!) easier. I hope you'll come back again to read the rest of the series. If you'd like to subscribe to this feed, please click the Subscribe button on the left-hand side.
I'd welcome any comments you might have, as well as your own ideas for combating procrastination!
"Procrastination is the thief of time." -Edward Young, English Poet (1683-1765)
Tomorrow I will be posting the first in a three-part series on procrastination.
Yes, I see the irony in this announcement.
Until then, here's something fun to help you pass the time without doing anything productive:
Imagine, if you will, that you are in the ladies' restroom at a large bookstore. Imagine further that there is another lady in the restroom as well, and that she happens to finish before you do. Now, picture this lady passing her hands quickly under running water (three seconds, max) and then leaving the bathroom.
No time for the water to get hot. No time to dispense and lather up soap. No time to scrub and rinse. No time to kill any germs whatsoever.
And then she continues her shopping, picking up up books and putting them back on the shelves.
I witnessed this the other day. Worse, there were actually two ladies in the restroom while I was there accompanying Chickpea. They finished about a minute apart from each other, and both of them did the exact same thing. I wanted to gag.
If I hadn't been inside a stall, I would have given each of them a Look. Mind you, I don't dispense Looks lightly. After all, we all make mistakes, myself included, and if everyone gave out looks to everyone who deserved it, we'd all get our faces stuck in ugly expressions. (Just like my mom told me would happen!)
But both those women used the restroom and then didn't wash their hands. It is nasty and gross and can spread disease. I, personally, think that deserves a Look.
What do you think? Have any of you seen someone do this? What, if anything, did you do or say? My husband, whose hand-washing is so thorough it would make a surgeon weep, says this behavior is all too common. I shudder to think of it.
I posted yesterday about a Weekly Priority Planner I designed, but I don't think the thumbnail picture was enough to show what it is. Basically, it's a planner sheet (for your home management binder, if you like) that lets you write in the day's top three tasks for each of five priorities: Christian, Wife, Mother, Homemaker, and Woman. One week fits on two pages, and there is space below each day for notes.
If you're interested, it's a free PDF file, and you can get it here: Free Downloads. (I've never done this before, so please let me know if there are any problems!)
UPDATE: You can also download a blank priority planner at the same link. Use this one to fill in your own priorities.
UPDATE: You can also download a blank priority planner at the same link. Use this one to fill in your own priorities.
I like to bake bread, but it's hard for the three of us to get through an entire loaf before it goes stale, especially since homemade bread doesn't last as long as store-bought. But that's okay, because bread freezes incredibly well!
After the loaf of bread is completely cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. You can pre-slice the bread, too, as long as you wrap it up well. Then pop it in the freezer. When you're ready to use it, let it thaw on the counter. If you want to defrost it faster, remove the plastic wrap and put it in a slow oven for a while. (For half a loaf, I usually have good luck with putting it in the oven and then preheating it to 350, then immediately turning it off. Then just leave it in there until it's thawed.)
Then it's just a matter of not eating it all myself before dinner.
Have you ever felt like your actions were out of alignment with your priorities? I'd say I feel that way, oh, I don't know... all the time.
Supposedly, my priorities are, in order:
4. My Home
5 - 1,000,000. Other Stuff
However, if I were to list my priorities based on how I actually spend my time, they would probably look something like this:
1,000,000. Everything and Everyone Else
I think the word "selfish" comes to mind right about now.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the things I want to do. There are so many things I'm interested in and want to learn that I sometimes let my responsibilities fall by the wayside. So I've decided to try something a little different.
Each day, I'll list the most important tasks for my most important priorities and I'll work through the list in order (as much as possible). No reading magazines until I've read the Bible. No organizing my computer bookmarks until I've done some organizing around the house.
I created a weekly template to help me do this, and I wanted to share it with you. It looks like this (only the actual document is two pages):
UPDATE: I've just uploaded a blank version of the weekly priority planner. You can find both versions on my downloads page.
Click above to join The Simple Woman's Daybook
For Today, July 28, 2008...
Outside my window... are big, puffy, cotton ball clouds. And birds that occasionally smack into the window. =(
I am thinking... about the toy tyrannosaurus rex my daughter has perched on top of my Bible.
I am thankful for... the new dishwasher that's being installed today!
From the kitchen... white bread and potato rosemary bread.
I am wearing... jeans and a pretty blue shirt with flowers.
I am creating... a blog. I can't think of anything else I'm creating at the moment.
I am going... to the libary. 'Cuz having fun isn't hard when you have your library card.
I am reading... books about baking bread.
I am hoping... to win a ribbon at the state fair.
I am hearing... birds twittering outside.
Around the house... things are kind of messy. I have to get the house ready for company!
One of my favorite things... DangerBear. Okay, he's not a thing, but he's definitely my favorite. =)
A few plans for the rest of the week... Um, cleaning, baking, more cleaning, generally going crazy.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing...
I generally have a black thumb, but several years ago I decided to plant flowers on our balcony. My husband (and I) thought for sure I'd kill them. The first bloom opened up while DangerBear was away on business, so I took a photo to prove it was alive.
Some time ago, while putzing around on the Internet, I came across a beautiful and inspiring picture. At first I thought it was just pretty, but something kept bringing me back to it. Every time I looked at it, I liked it even more. It is called "The Standard."
(If anyone can find this picture's source online, please let me know so I can link to the site.)
I absolutely love this picture, and when I create my home management binder, I will put it on the front cover. For me, it neatly captures the kind of woman I want to be. Unfortunately, I don't have any background information on the picture, but I imagine the woman to be the queen of a small kingdom. Her husband is kept very busy with running the kingdom and protecting its borders, and she considers it her responsibility to help him in any way that she can. But she doesn't pick up a sword to fight or try to take over the king's job of making laws and running government. She helps her husband in distinctly feminine ways that, nonetheless, have great impact.
What is she doing? She is sewing the "standard," the flag that represents her husband's kingdom. The standard is meant to represent the king, his people, his castle, and his authority. It is meant to welcome visitors and strike fear in the hearts of enemies. And she is responsible for creating it!
She is a "behind the scenes" woman. When the king and his men are marching off to battle, no one will wonder who made the flag under which they ride. But they will be glad it's there! In my mind, this woman is not thinking of how best to show off her talents to gain attention, but how best to use her talents to aid others, even though she likely won't get any credit.
I am also impressed with her work from a simply practical standpoint. How much effort must have gone into that flag? Designing it, weaving and dying the cloth, cutting out the pieces, and creating thousands and thousands of tiny stitches to bring it all together. But she doesn't look as though she is dragged down by this work. Her back is straight, her face peaceful. She looks graceful and beautiful as she goes about her work with diligence.
That's the kind of woman I want to be.
"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!'
But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.'
Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'
Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'"
"But this man has done nothing wrong." Usually when we say something like that- "I didn't do anything wrong!"- we don't mean it literally. We may really mean something like, "I didn't do precisely what you are accusing me of." But in regards to Jesus, it is literal. He really, truly, did absolutely nothing wrong. He never even thought sinful thoughts. Never once gave into temptation. And yet He was punished:
"Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, 'I find no basis for the charge against this man.'" -v.4
"'as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.'" -v.15b-16
"'I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.'" -v.22
Huh? Pilate knew Jesus wasn't guilty of the charges, so... he decides to punish Him. Even though He didn't do anything. Talk about injustice. And God allowed it. This injustice against Jesus brought justice for all of us.
Verses 39-43, I think, give a succinct picture of that Injustice for Justice. We can either hate Jesus, or we can love Him. We can mock Him or respect Him. We deserve punishment; He doesn't, but He accepted the punishment anyway. And if we ask for His mercy, He will grant it to us, and we will be with Him in paradise.
Yesterday was frustratingly busy. I spent most of the day at DangerBear's office. (I'm the unofficial office manager, even though I have no idea what I'm doing.) I had to file withholding taxes and all that stuff, which I had never done before. Rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's isn't what gets me; it's finding the right forms! "Take line 6, add it to line 4, multiply it by line 8a, subtract line 43, spin around three times, and cluck like a chicken." It's finally done, thank God, at least for this quarter. I'm praying I didn't screw anything up.
Again, I didn't bake any bread, and I probably won't this weekend. That's fine; I'll just bake as I have the time and whatever I end up with is great. DangerBear actually likes my bread now. (I think his exact words were along the lines of, "It actually tastes like bread now.") So that makes me happy. I also found out that baked bread freezes really well. After it cools, I wrap it really well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and pop it in the freezer. I defrost it at room temperature, and I've also had good results with defrosting it in a slow oven, still wrapped in the foil (but not the plastic, obviously).
I'm enjoying writing these posts, although I don't think I'm a terribly good writer and I don't pretend my Bible reading notes are anything really deep. I'm just writing about what's on my mind. I saw on Google analytics that I've had some visitors, which is neat. Actually, I logged on yesterday and it said I had something like 20 visitors the day before. I was ridiculously excited until I realized that, like, 18 of them were me!
Priorities for today:
* Finish going through papers in living room
* Go through expanding file of papers
* Get through those inter-library loan books
* Have fun with DangerBear and Chickpea
* Don't think about taxes
I've been thinking through a daily planner template to help keep me on track. Once I design it, I'll see if I can post it here for the 18 me, myself, and I's that visit. In case all of me are interested. Or something...
Lord, thank you so much for suffering injustice for our sake. Thank you for accepting punishment that you didn't deserve so that I may join you in paradise. Please forgive me for not playing with Chickpea enough yesterday. Thank you that it's the weekend and that we can all spend some time together relaxing! Please give us safe travels today, and I pray that I did DangerBear's taxes correctly.
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
I don't know that this chapter of Luke details events in chronological order, but this verse occurs after the Last Supper and the argument between the disciples about who was greatest. The thing that struck me most about this verse was the realization that Jesus prayed for his disciples. I knew He prayed; I'd read the verses about Him going off alone to speak to God. I guess I assumed He spent the entire time praying about the coming crucifixion. But Jesus prayed for Peter. Jesus knew what Satan wanted to do, and He knew that Peter would deny Him, and how awful Peter would feel afterwards. And He prayed for Peter.
Why do we end our prayers with "In Jesus' name"? Because Jesus is our intercessor! He interceded on behalf of Peter and He does the same for us. Isn't that awesome? That verse made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, because I know that Jesus, my Lord and Savior and the beloved Son of God Himself, is praying for me!
Yesterday was Uno day; Chickpea and I played at least ten times, and she beat me at least eight. And that's with me being able to see her cards. When she was younger I used to let her win a lot, but lately I've been thinking she needs to learn to lose gracefully, so I've been trying to beat her. Note the key word: Trying. Maybe the Lord's trying to teach me to lose gracefully. To a five year old.
She can also give me a good beating playing sword-fight. Literally. She has a wooden sword and a stiff foam sword that makes obnoxious noises, and she's always challenging us to a duel. Well, I'm no fool. I always say no. That kid's vicious. So yesterday she told me, "Aw, Mom! I'll go easy on you because you're a woman." She also refers to the action cards in Uno as weapons.
Unfortunately, I didn't do any baking yesterday. I think at some point I'm going to run out of flour and butter, and maybe yeast. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get some more (I've already gone through quite a bit of flour), so I might have to just stop when I run out. Even if I don't win anything at the fair, at least my bread-making has greatly improved, which makes DangerBear happy.
* Clean up the upstairs
* Clean out expanding file
* Bake bread for fair
* Go through inter-library loan books
* Pay personal bills
* Pay bills for DangerBear's business
* Defrost meat for today and tomorrow
* Go through papers in living room
* Fold laundry in dryer
Here's a nifty website that another, much more popular, blog (ZenHabits?) recommended: Now Do This
If you're ever overwhelmed by the length of your to-do list (which for me is only, like, every ten minutes), this website is about as simple as it gets. Enter your list (preferably a short one) and it presents one task at a time. Nifty.
Lord, help me learn to use my time wisely and to be diligent. Give me the energy to do what needs to get done today, and the grace to do it with a cheerful heart. Amen.
What is my beloved doing in my temple
as she works out her evil schemes with many?
Can consecrated meat avert your punishment?
When you engage in your wickedness,
then you rejoice.
Between moving, being generally busy, and sheer laziness, I've fallen embarrassingly behind on my Bible reading. So today I finally cracked open my Bible and read Job 7-9 and Jeremiah 11. The above verse caught my eye. In "The Message" the consecrated meat is referred to as devising pious programs to save you from doom, and trying to become more religious. And it reminded me of a few verses I had just read in Job:
What [the godless man] trusts in is fragile
what he relies on is a spider's web.
He leans on his web, but it gives way;
he clings to it, but it does not hold.
I think everyone trusts in something, whether it's karma, or salvation by works, or the belief that there is no afterlife.. But there's only one thing that won't fall away, and that's the grace of Jesus.
I'm the type of person that wants a simple checklist. "Homeschool your kids, cook gourmet meals, and keep the house spotless and you'll be holy." Of course, it doesn't work that way. And when I think about it, I thank God that it doesn't! Because every time I burned dinner or saw my vacuum collecting dust in the corner, I'd think, "I've blown it." No matter what was on the checklist, I'd never be able to consistently live up to it. Unless, maybe, the checklist went something like: Eat chocolate, sleep, and daydream.
Praise God that salvation is a gift and not a list of requirements and responsibilities!
This week has been a record Yahtzee week. Chickpea and I played the other day, and she got two Yahtzee's (five of a kind). Then yesterday afternoon, I got two Yahtzee's, and then when all of us played last night, I got another Yahtzee. That's got to be some kind of a record.
I only baked one loaf of bread yesterday, but Chickpea and I baked cookies from one of her cookbooks. They looked very pretty, and reminded me of the beach (sand, anyone?).
We ended up having breakfast for dinner last night, and I finally, finally managed to cook the potatoes correctly! I've tried umpteen times to cook shredded hashbrowns, but I can never get it right. I don't know; I guess I just have some sort of culinary block against them. So I tried dicing the potatoes and cooking them in a little oil with salt and pepper, and they were quite tasty. *does a little dance*
* Play games with Chickpea.
* Bake for fair (and organize the freezer so everything fits).
* Check on credit card fiasco.
* Straighten up house.
* Defrost meat for dinner.
* Go through inter-library loan books.
* Pay some bills.
* Write out simple morning routine.
Lord, give me patience with Chickpea and energy to get ready for my in-laws' visit and the Fair. Help me to not freak out when I find a bug in the house. Give me a hunger for your Word and help me make the time to read it. Please forgive me for my impatience and selfishness, and thank you for your grace. Amen.
I'm getting a new dishwasher soon! We moved into this house about a month ago, and the dishwasher was... nearing its end. It was loud and didn't sound quite right, and did a terrible job cleaning the dishes. The other night in bed, DangerBear and I suddenly heard a horrible, loud grinding noise coming from downstairs. We ran down; DangerBear was expecting to see something in flames, and I was expecting to see water on the floor, but we got off easy. So the other day we picked out a nice, quiet model. I'm very excited. And I'm glad it decided to break now, and not in two weeks while my in-laws are visiting.
Which reminds me. I have a ton to do to get ready! The house isn't entirely unpacked, and what has been unpacked is generally in a mess. Then there's the cleaning. And the baking for the state fair.
High priorities for today:
* Clean kitchen, since it never got totally cleaned up from dinner last night. DONE
* Bake bread and freeze for the state fair. DONE (Though I only made one loaf.)
* Decide what's for dinner, since I forgot to defrost meat last night. DONE (Breakfast for dinner!)
* Clean out refrigerator bins, because something leaked. DONE
* Clear up a credit card issue, because my bank is silly. DONE
* Take Chickpea to the park, because it's a nice day. DONE
* Clean up my house, because it looks like our closets sneezed
* Finish unpacking the office. ALMOST DONE (Yay!)
"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word- excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." -Pearl S. Buck
Hello, my name is Kate. (Okay, that's not my real name. I'll call it my Secret Identity.)
What a silly way to start a post. I've never really been one for keeping a diary. I always wanted to be the type to journal every day, and every so often I'd buy a pretty blank book and decide to keep a diary. There was always, however, the problem of the first entry. I felt like I ought to introduce myself (To whom?) and give a detailed summary of my life thus far. Otherwise, how would anyone (Like who?) understand what I wrote about? On the other hand, that detailed summary would take quite a long time to write, and there were other things I'd rather do. So usually, I'd get about halfway through the first entry and then forget about it for six months.
Since I've already made it to the second entry, I'm doing a lot better than expected.
Still, though, some kind of background is necessary, so here it is:
I am a Christian homemaker in my 20s, living in Middle-of-Nowhere, USA with my husband (whom I'll call DangerBear) and my five-year-old daughter (Chickpea). I didn't start this blog to gain a readership and spread my wisdom to the four corners of the earth. Definitely not. I started this blog to try and keep myself accountable in my quest to become a better Christian, wife, mother, and homemaker. Hence, the title of this blog: "Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman?"
"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."
So which Proverbs 14:1 woman am I? Let's just say I have some construction work to do.
Hello! Hello! Hello!
That would be this post echoing off into nowhere, as no one is reading this. When I was in middle/high school, I wanted to have a webpage, but I didn't know what to put on it and didn't know who would ever read it. I spent lots of time designing a fancy-pants site using FrontPage, but the content was, well, lacking. And no one read it.
So here I am: Older, and presumably wiser. Slightly. And here is my blog. I have a better idea of what I want to write about, but I have no idea if anyone will ever read it. Ah, well.
On to business! (In the next post...)