"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7
As I'm writing this, there are about fifteen days left of 2020. Hooray! There are no promises that things will be easier at the beginning of next year, but won't it feel good to just be done with 2020? But, I want to encourage you to not waste these last few days! It might be tempting to write them off, knowing that the holidays will be different than any other year, or maybe you're disappointed as you look back and see all the goals that you didn't reach. Keep going strong!
When I was a teacher, one of my mottos at the end of every school year was "Finish Well." i was always exhausted after teaching for so many months with only a few breaks, and the end of the year meant finishing grades, cleaning the classroom for the summer months, finishing the yearbook, graduation, and more. I didn't want to do anything except relax, but I had to get things done, and I wanted to get them done well!
Maybe as you look back at 2020, you see all the bad, all the negativity, but take some time to focus on the positive things that happened. There has to be something good that happened in your life. You may have to dig deep, but look for the good.
As you look back, you may also see goals that you didn't reach. I know I set goals last January that with the stay-at-home orders, I honestly could not achieve. But, don't dismiss your goals! You have a few days to start on them or simply put them on your list 2021.
In a few months, let's look back at 2020 and say, "we have fought the good fight, we have finished the race, and we have kept the faith!"
December is here! No matter how you're spending this holiday season, you're probably feeling a little overwhelmed with the anticipation of everything that has to get done. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, and more! Throughout my life, I've often been asked how I stay organized and how I can accomplish as much as I do. I know that part of it is my natural tendency to stay organized or maybe it's from the years of planning seven lesson plans per day or multiple Sundays of worship sets at a time. However, I think I've developed a few basic tips that can help anyone keep their sanity this holiday season and throughout the year too!
Step 1: Make a List
One of my personal rules is that if I write something down, my brain is not obligated to remember it.
This is why I always have my phone or bullet journal with me. If I run out of something or need to get something done, it goes on a list. Then, I can refer to the list instead of struggling to remember if I am doing everything I should in a timely manner. And, it's also gratifying to cross things off as they are completed!
So, go ahead! Grab a notebook, find an app on your phone and start writing things down! You can have one giant list or lists for different categories. Either way, give yourself a little freedom and give your brain a break.
Step 2: Make a Daily Reachable List
The next step is to take your long list or lists and make a daily reachable list. I know you have to get a lot done, but don't try to get everything done in one day! If you try and fail, you'll end up disappointed and focusing on what you didn't complete rather than what you did. I've been trying to improve this step in my own life. Instead of making a ridiculously long list for the day, I just pick out a handful of things depending on how much time I have. If I finish the list, great! I can always do more and get ahead, but it's not as big of a deal if things take longer than expected.
Try this, today or tomorrow. Look at your long list, pick out some things, complete them, and check them off. And, don't forget to congratulate yourself for your accomplishments!
Step 3: Do One Thing at a Time
I know it's tempting to start your entire list at once or bounce around from task to task, but sometimes, this ends up with everything being started and nothing being finished. Sometimes, there are exceptions, like laundry or if you simply need a break from doing the same thing, but do your best to focus on one thing at a time. Right now, this one is difficult for me because I'm in the middle of unpacking. Our house feels like a giant Tetris puzzle and some things have to wait for other things to get done, unpacked, sorted, etc.
Another tip for this step is to clean one room at a time. Instead of having "clean house" on your list, write "clean living room" or "clean upstairs" so that you focus on one room or area at a time. Chances are, you may not have enough time or energy to clean your entire house, but if you clean one room, then you can decide if you need a cleaning break or can handle another.
Step 4: Finish What You Start
I touched on this in the previous step, but I strongly encourage you to finish what you start. Obviously, finishing something allows you to cross it off your list, but it also allows you to cross it off in your mind. I know there are limited hours in a day, so don't stress yourself out and deprive yourself of sleep by thinking of everything you have to do the next day. And, if you didn't finish something, remind yourself that you wrote it down and you will finish it!
I hope these steps help you this holiday season! Feel free to share in the comments if you have any other helpful tips on staying organized.
What are your priorities?
I think this year has been good at reminding us to prioritize. What are the non-negotiables in our lives? When almost everything closed down, most of us had a chance to have a clean slate schedule. We didn't have to choose.
But, now that things are opening back up, what are your priorities? What have you put back on your schedule? Have you put anything back solely based on habit?
We have a unique opportunity to keep examining our priorities and schedules. It's okay to say 'no.' It's okay to say 'not now.'
What are your excuses?
I know that there are some things in our lives that we just don't want to do. Maybe someone asks us to help with something or we have to go to an event, and we just simply don't want to. But, instead of being honest and saying so, we often come up with an excuse of why we "can't." Wouldn't it be easier to just say what we're thinking instead of a white lie?
I think it's very important to prioritize, especially during this time, when we want to keep ourselves, our families, and others safe. We want to make wise decisions. The problem comes when we make up an excuse or use our circumstances as a scapegoat.
Unfortunately, hasn't COVID provided the perfect scapegoat if we don't want to do something? I know some people are honestly concerned, but let's not pretend we are concerned in order to back out of doing things, interacting with others, or just simply living.
My challenge for you is to start thinking of the real reasons, the honest truth reasons, before you say no to something, and communicate that reason instead of making up an excuse.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
Several months ago, we decided to rent a storage unit to start clearing out our house and get a head start in the moving process. We figured we'd only have it about three to four months until our house was finished being built. Then COVID came, delayed everything, and nine months later, we were finally getting the last of our belongings out.
As we pulled up to the unit to get the last of our things, we noticed part of a guitar stand on the ground and my side of the unit door was unlatched. "Wow," I thought, "we must be getting really tired of moving to be so careless."
But, alas, we were not careless. The latch on the other side of the door was cut so when we opened the door, we saw that the remainder of our belongings were strewn about the unit, leaves were everywhere, and several tubs were now empty. It was so disheartening. We are still not exactly sure what is missing, but honestly, part of me doesn't want to know and learn that something precious is gone forever.
It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that someone was sitting in their house on a Sunday night and came to the decision that a fun activity would be to get some tools and go break into several storage units and steal things. On the other hand, do you read the latest news articles? Or even just read the headlines? It's pretty obvious that people make bad decisions all the time. Evil is everywhere.
In the book of John, Jesus says that in this world, we will have trouble. He doesn't say 'might' or 'possibly'. He says 'we will'. In other words, we are guaranteed to encounter trouble. So, why do we act so surprised when there is trouble? When there is cheating, hate, deception, and so many other awful things. We live in a world that has become blind to sin so certain things shouldn't shock us.
I'm not saying we should accept the bad or condone it, but how should we react? Jesus says that we will have trouble in this world, but we can also find peace! And we can find our peace in Him alone. Instead of adding to the chaos and sin, let's shine His light of peace. Let's counteract with love, compassion, and simply being the bigger person. We need to stop being surprised by sin and stand strong.