Struggling to Relax

Struggling to Relax

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

My grand plans for summer are drifting away due to busier and more tiresome summer activities.

When scheduling a morning activity, I often fail to consider the time needed to rest and recover from being in the sun.

For some reason, I think I can function at the same speed all day long.

This is not the case.

The result is a disappointment in having that to-do list take a back seat. Sometimes I feel that my to-do list rules me rather than being a tool to using time wisely.

Around our house, we needed a break and time to relax. We took this time on Monday where the girls and I watched the movie Enchanted about 4 times. (Mr. 9 watched for awhile, but he’s not into princess movies. 🙂 ) We played and watched and chilled out.

It was so nice to just put everything on hold. I tend to feel guilty for just sitting around, but I’m learning that life is more than just doing. I definitely have the doing part down, but I need to learn the living part.

When I’m with friends, I have no problem relaxing and enjoying my time with them. However, when I’m home, I cannot get in the same mindset. Surrounded by laundry, vacuuming, a sink full of dishes, coupons to cut, curriculum to review, etc., I have not been able to put on blinders and just play.

I’m struggling to relax at home. It sounds crazy that this place where I spend so much time cooking, cleaning, decorating, creating, writing, etc. can be the hardest place to relax.

For me, I play with my kids more when we are out of the house than in the house. Though I enjoy interacting with them, I really miss out on their activities at home because I’m too busy doing those million items on my never-ending to-do list.

While on this journey to using time wisely, I am learning to delegate more, ask for help, and let things go to intentionally play and invest in the lives of my family. This undertaking is not easy. I get distracted by good things frequently, but going back and starting over is making this summer more enjoyable as we play together.

If you are on this same journey of struggling to relax, take heart. Continuous little steps result in great strides. Happy learning!

Question: How are you navigating your summer routine?

Half Days, Clothing Swap, and Cleaning Adjustments

Half Days, Clothing Swap, and Cleaning Adjustments

Photograph Credit: Fotolia

Encouraging my children to enjoy these last days of school, I am doing the same. No longer am I surprised when my planned week falls apart.

My plan rarely occurs these days, but I have learned to use time wisely to accomplish what I can in the time given.

For this last week of school, I was planning to knock out a couple projects. Well, those plans were derailed when my daughter’s classes were reduced to half days.

With dropping off in the morning, picking up at lunch, and then in the afternoon, I’m not home much this week.

Previously, this would have been a pain. However, I worked with another mom to carpool for one of the pickups which gave me some extended time at home to swap my children’s clothes. With most of my children’s winter clothes packed up, I only have a few more loads of laundry to go before finishing the transfer to spring and summer clothes.

In addition to the laundry, I have kept up my new cleaning routine which is very calming to me. Though I cannot always get to the cleaning daily, I can clean weekly which is a great system for my ever-changing schedule. With this goal, I was able to re-clean 3 upstairs rooms today. So, I’m on my way to a clean home this weekend.

This week can either end in disappointment from taking the long way around these projects, or I can embrace the changes and smell the roses along the path. The half days, clothing swap, and cleaning adjustments are part of my using time wisely journey.

Whether you are winding down the school year, planning for summer, or trying to get through today, adopt a can-do attitude. Know where you want to go, but feel free to take the boardwalk or the path around the lake to get there.

Plans change, but you can still arrive at your destination while using time wisely. Happy choosing!

Question: What adjustments are you making this week? 

Scheduling: Keep your Priorities in Front

Scheduling: Keep your Priorities in Front

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

The best way to using time wisely is to keep your priorities in front. As you focus on the best for you in your season of life, you will find freedom in saying no more often and ignoring good options to make room for the best opportunities.

While reading Crystal Paine’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, which is available today, I found a number of quotations that reinforced lessons I am learning.

One of those quotations was, “Living with purpose means wisely choosing and committing to a few of the best things for the season of life you’re in.”

As I focus on “a few of the best things,” I am adding those best things to my calendar. From the Planning for Success series last year, I am adding my priorities. To keep your priorities in front, schedule them on your calendar.

10. Add your Priorities: Planning for Success – Day 2

Thankfully, we have eliminated most of the activities from our schedules. My son chose not to play soccer this year which freed up 3 days a week in our schedule.

Since he was not tied to a team responsibility, he was able to seize a great opportunity to take a course teaching him how to develop a video game. He is really excited and ready to get started soon.

11. Reserve Time for your Priorities: Planning for Success – Day 18

As I have no big events on our calendar, I still reserve special time on the weekends to spend with our family. Whether it is a trip to a science center, decorating our home, playing a game, or creating a craft, I schedule the time on my calendar to be sure my family gets time with mom.

I need that time with them, and they appreciate that time with me. It is easy to fill those time slots with other good options, but focusing on my priorities – my family – is the best use of that time.

12. Document Family Holidays: Planning for Success – Day 25

While adding items to my calendar, I include those special family dates. Birthdays are always fun for phone calls, Facebook posts, and gifts. The anniversaries are special, but the deaths seem to mean the most.

As family members pass away, their memory fades with time. Knowing that someone remembers is such a comfort for those difficult days.

13. Choose Event Dates: Planning for Success – Day 22

A few parties and entertainment events are on our horizon. By scheduling a tentative date, I can remember that that event will occur around that time when I check my calendar. I almost overbooked a weekend because I had a retreat date written down as a tentative date. Oops!

When I confirmed the date, I had not adjusted my calendar. However, seeing the retreat slotted the week before jogged my memory to check the date before confirming the other opportunity. Whew! Crisis adverted because I had an entry that caused me to check the dates. Yay, the scheduling worked!

14. Register Community Events: Planning for Success – Day 29

Though my children are outgrowing the Simon Kidgits events, they still enjoy monthly activities at the science center, Home Depot’s Kids Workshop, and Lowe’s Build and Grow. As these events are planned, I add them to our calendar in case we plan an outing on that day.

For more community events, check Using Time Wisely’s Facebook events page.

15. Secure Doctor Appointments: Planning for Success – Day 13

In keeping our family’s health a top priority, I mark reminders on my calendar to schedule appointments. Our dentists’ schedule months in advance, but our family doctors’ and pediatrician only book 3 months in advance. As we all have annual checkups, I need the reminder to get these appointments scheduled.

In using time wisely to schedule 2014, I continue to add the best items to our calendar. Seeing empty spaces on the page relieves me from feeling overwhelmed. Keeping my priorities in front, I know best where to spend my time.

As you schedule 2014, I hope you can see your priorities and focus on making those non-negotiable. Keep your priorities in front and you will use time wisely. Happy scheduling!

Question: What are your priorities this year? 

Book Review: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

Book Review: Say Goodbye to Survival ModePlaying catch-up with a list a mile long, I found myself in survival mode. I know I didn’t plan for this destination, but my choices put me here. Instead of deciding what to do, I was putting out the next fire before another one started.

Caught in the rat race of life, I don’t always take the time to play that requested game with my son, paint my daughter’s nails after she’s asked every day for a week, or give complete attention to Miss 3’s long-winded story that really has no end. However, my children really need undivided attention, even if it is for 10 minutes.

Realizing I needed a change, I was thrilled when I was chosen as a launch team member for the release of Crystal Paine’s second book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life.

Having loved Crystal’s first book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, as it met me where I was, I knew this second book was just what I needed.

This 230-page Say Goodbye to Survival Mode book is packed with Crystal’s personal story along with interviews and encouragement from others who have broken free from survival mode. As I read the scenarios, I could have easily substituted my name into many of their stories.

Realizing that I’m not alone in survival mode, I found the 9 simple strategies a way through the dark tunnel into a stress-free, manageable lifestyle.

9 Simple Strategies

          1. Stop Trying to Do It All
          2. Say Yes to the Best
          3. If You Aim at Nothing, You’ll Hit It Every Time
          4. Discipline Is Not a Bad Word
          5. Be Intentional with Your Bank Account
          6. Manage the Home Front
          7. When You Feel Like a Failure
          8. Yes, You can Make a Difference
          9. Sometimes It Is about You

Embedded within the structure of these 9 strategies, each reader will find encouragement and practical solutions that can be implemented immediately. At the conclusion of each chapter is a “Get Practical” section designed with questions to help you apply the principles shared.

Though each reader will have her own favorites, I found the following 5 lessons and quotations my breakthrough to saying goodbye to survival mode:

1. How to become more self-disciplined

“I’d rather do a few things well, have my priorities in order, and enjoy life than to try and do two hundred things poorly and have a stressed-out, exhausted, passionless existence.”

The “Four C’s to Creating Margin” section outlines how to create empty space within our schedule. With extra time built-in, I have room for the sick child, the spontaneous trip to Chick-fil-A, and the unexpected phone call from a friend.

2. How to set and keep goals

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never reach your destination.”

Finding goals a great tool to get from here to there, I loved the “Set SMART Goals” section. Using the word SMART, where each letter represents a word, Crystal shares how to create Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound goals. Using these parameters, I get from the generic goal of “be more healthy” to the specific goal of “lose 1 pound each week.”

3. How to manage your time, money, and home

“At different times in your life, you’re going to need to put more energy and effort into some things while other things will need to be put on the back burner for the time being.”

As cleaning our household has been on the back burner for some time, I was able to keep up the surface cleaning because we limit clutter in our home. Lest you get the wrong idea, we have lots of stuff as opposed to Crystal’s minimalist lifestyle. However, everything has a place.

I enjoy removing unnecessary items from our home and found the “Four-week Guide to rid clutter from your home” section great because she suggests focusing on one type of room each week.

4. How to rediscover your passion and purpose for life

“It’s an indescribable feeling to invest your life in something that is much bigger than yourself.”

Whether you have a little or a lot, everyone can give something back. The “18 Creative Ways to Help Others” section gives specific recommendations to fit within our time constraints, budgets, and lifestyles.

5. How to experience less stress and more joy

“When you have a day when it seems like nothing gets done and you’re just going around and around in circles, remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day.”

With life whizzing by, the “Seven Habits that will Change your Life” section brought life back down to the basics. Establishing a pattern of habits will transform my way of living from surviving crises to intentional, meaningful decisions.

Book Review: Say Goodbye to Survival ModeIf you are exhausted and ready to throw in the towel, then it’s time to say goodbye to survival mode. Crystal’s book releases on Tuesday, January 21, but you can preorder your copy of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode for $17.36 (hardback) or $14.99 (Kindle) from

With life-altering strategies, this financial investment can help you change your lifestyle as you say “no” more often, focus on your goals, and establish habits that fit your schedule while using time wisely. Happy intentional living!

Note: As a launch team member, I received a free pre-released .pdf copy of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode to read, review, and promote. The promotion via Amazon includes my affiliate links. For more details on Using Time Wisely’s practices, please read my disclosure policy.

Question: What tasks are on the back burner during this season of your life? 

Goals, Resolutions, and Words – My Head is Spinning

Goals, Resolutions, and Words – My Head is Spinning

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Lori Ann)

In reading all the goals, resolutions, and words – my head is spinning. Don’t get me wrong. I love setting goals as I accomplish more with goals than if I just wandered aimlessly about or just lived life surviving. For all those who have set your goals, I rejoice with you as you follow your plan and forge ahead.

For those of you, who just can’t seem to get with the program, I’m with you. I’m not putting off making goals, but I am taking time to evaluate and wait until I know what my goals are. I don’t want to get them done, only to struggle all year because I wasn’t focused.

Relating to Jaime’s post on Gaining Momentum When Life Strikes a Blow, I love how she planned goals for one week which rolled into planning January followed by the first quarter until she gained momentum for planning 2014. I, too, had an “it” moment in 2013, and getting back on track has been a l-o-n-g process. I haven’t quite come out of it, but I’m putting one foot in front of the other.

I’m not choosing a word for the year as I can’t look that far forward without feeling overwhelmed. I’m not setting resolutions whereby I dig my heels in and complete those statements though they really don’t matter by June. However, I will set goals. Not now, but in the weeks to come. I will take my time and make these goals meaningful and purposeful for my life.

Rather than joining the masses to set goals, resolutions, and words, I am slowing down. Does it go against the current? Yes, but I’m choosing to be intentional. I am choosing to get rest, play with my children, concentrate on our home, and take life slower. If I don’t get everything done, I’m giving myself grace.

If your head is spinning with all the talk of goals, words of the year, and resolutions, then stop. You don’t need to join the rat race – just let it fly by. Look at your life and find what works for you.

If you are being intentional and taking your time, then give yourself grace. Don’t compare yourself to the supermom, who you think can do it all. Here’s a little secret . . . she can’t do it all. She just puts on a good face. I know because I’ve done it for years. At some point, she stops. This is my year, and I’m forging ahead on my priorities while using time wisely. Dare to be different!

Question: How are you approaching goals, resolutions, and words this season?