Making the Most of Your
Chapter 6 "Number Your Days"
“So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to Thee
A heart of wisdom."
Whenever I get excited with something new to try with my family, a crisis will never fail to happen. The enemy is a thief! Since you have prayed for help in your life, and God has answered you by giving you a new plan, then undoubtedly the enemy will come in to try to mess it up. Has this already happened the very first morning that you tried to set up a routine with your family?
The baby gets sick, your husband asks you to do something unusual for him, or your family decides to visit that same week. This is just part of every day life!
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial among you, which comes upon you for your testing as though some strange thing has happened to you, but rejoice!” (1 Pet. 4:12) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4) So rejoice! This just means that you are on the right track, because the enemy is trying to thwart your efforts!
It is always important to plan ahead, to set a routine in your life (as we discussed in the last chapter), and to organize your home and your life; but remember, tests, trials, and temptations will come into your life every day, so you must be ready with a plan of action—don’t let trials take you by surprise!
When you wake up each and every morning, turn to God and ask Him for His plan. This is what the verse in Proverbs 3:6 means, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This is especially true when a crisis hits. Go to God first, acknowledge that He wants to help you, and let Him direct the next step you take. That’s how God can turn your trials into triumphs! And don’t forget to thank Him for every trial, because He promises to work it for our good (See Romans 8:28).
First Corinthians 10:12–13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it . . .” We all face trials as homemakers, but what is important is to find God’s way through it!
Methods of Organizing to Save Time and Frustration
Though the unexpected happens when you least expect it, we cannot focus on days like these. Setting aside dramatic events, let’s focus on ways to organize our life so that when things happen, we will still be able to function or pick up where we left off.
Notes: Using and making notes are only good if you constantly refer to them, diligently follow them, and have the notes when you need them! Instead of notes spread all over your house, such as using “stickies,” other scraps of paper, or lists, you may want to consider using an organizer or appointment book to keep your lists and all the other things that you need together.
Organizer: Organizers are wonderful, and I have used them for years. However, when you pick one, make sure it is simple and suited for your purpose. It seems as if they are designed for executives, and not for people like us; therefore, whatever you won’t use, remove those sections and either throw them away or give them to charity. (I used to keep them, thinking that I would use them some day. Instead, they became just one more thing that led to my having to de-clutter my home sooner.) The best thing you can do is to keep only the sections that cover your needs.
When we moved to the farm and lived very far from everything, I found that I did not get out as much as I did when I lived in the city (when I relied heavily on my organizer that I carried with me everywhere).
This section was originally written when I was out of the house more often, which meant that I needed to keep my organization method with me. Most of you do not live in rural settings nor do you spend the majority of your time at home, so I want this chapter to minister to you.
The first thing you need to do with an organizer is keep it with you.
Even now that we live in the city again, I find that I try not to leave my home often, and if I do, it is for short durations. At home, I am constantly on my computer, which houses my “organizer” or daily calendar and office notifications, that remind me all day long of what I need to do and when it needs to be done. I also use my phone alarm to remind me of when things need to get done.
Though I clearly live in the “computer age” and on the fast track when I travel around the world, I have found that I really prefer the organizer method to a palm pilot. The rule of thumb is that you ought to use the method that works for you!
Once again, the most important rule when using any organizer is that you must keep it with you at all times! This means that you carry it with you when you move to another room in the house, and to make sure that your purse is large enough to accommodate your organizer as far as possible.
There are organizers that can actually accommodate my wallet or purse. Since I began to travel, I found that I have simplified my life and now I carry just a purse for bills, coins, and credit cards. If I do leave the house, it’s usually for a short errand, and if it is for longer periods, I tend to carry my laptop to work on and so I have my organizer with me.
Another point: what works now, or what worked then, may need to be tweaked as your life and needs change.
Another great tip is to be sure to use a pencil instead of the pen that your organizer may come with. This goes for an appointment book or a wall calendar. Using a pencil will make it easier to move or to change things as events change, not only day-to-day, but sometimes moment-by-moment!
With an organizer (that I carry or one that is on my computer), I find that I am able to accomplish a lot more than I could without one and with much less stress! Here are some of the things that I keep in my organizer that help me to keep organized and on schedule.
Phone numbers: Okay, this used to be one of my best tips, but now, with the widespread use of cell phones and our SPEED dialing feature, most of this is passé. So let me just give you a couple of suggestions.
Make sure that you use your speed dialing feature for businesses you frequent and especially for your doctors or dentists (I love that I have this right in my hand when filling out forms). Key the number in for your bank, post office, library, Sam’s Club, and your favorite take-out. The downside to cell phones is that I used to also have the hours these places were open in my organizer. Maybe there is a way in my phone, but I am not that cell phone savvy.
Calendar: Use the “monthly” calendar in your organizer if you usually have a minimal number of appointments (three to four appointments or practices a week). Or use the “week at a glance” if you are a fairly busy person (more than one appointment a day). If you are busy all day long, you will want to use a daily calendar or only use the daily calendar for those days when you’re planning a lot of errands or appointments. I also like the hourly list for making lists.
I am a “stickie” kind of person; therefore, I seem to have them stashed everywhere so that I can jot things down when I need to. My method is to bring these and to stick them on my computer and transfer them to my computer when I ‘m working on my computer. I also use them when I run my errands. The way to do it is to just write down everything you can think of, in no particular order. Just write each stop down on the stickie, and then number the stickies in the order that you need or want to go. Then I stick it to the dash board of my car and I never miss a stop or appointment.
Another helpful hint is to get into the habit of “scheduling” when you are to leave the house versus the appointment time. Just make sure that you write it down: “leave at 9,” so that you don’t get there half an hour early. Also, schedule the time you are to get ready and the time you are to eat (breakfast, lunch, or dinner). If you are a person who is always late, change this character flaw by padding your time. Allow 30 minutes, rather than 15 minutes.
Someone who is always late not only has a problem with being a disorganized person; he or she also has a problem with pride. What you are implying by your late arrival is that your time is more valuable than the person whom you force to wait for you each time you are late. Whether it’s an appointment, a luncheon engagement, or at church—take time to redefine your life by allowing enough time to get ready and to get somewhere on time.
Being ahead, rather than behind, simply takes changing the way you plan things. It means no excuses. My mom, bless her heart, was often late by two hours! Her excuse was her 7 children; however, I also had 7 and was required to be early by my ex-husband. If he said we would leave at 7:30 AM it meant we were pulling out from the drive-way at 7:15 AM. We would arrive for church more than half an hour early and wait. And my ex-husband also did not believe that he had to help get the children ready or into the car. Ladies, I really had to seek the Lord for His help so that I was not a thorn in my husband’s side and so must you. Even if you are not married, the children or your boss or your friend, whoever it may be, they want to know that you care about them enough to be on time.
Here is a list of some other information you may want to use in your organizer:
Children’s section: Write the sizes of clothes and shoes, current height and weight, Social Security numbers, savings account numbers, birth-dates, blood types, and allergies next to your children’s names. And always use a pencil! Periodically, update the information when you find that your child’s size or weight has changed. You can remember to check height and weight regularly by using a green (or monthly) 3x5 card, which we will talk about it in the next chapter.
You may think that you can remember all this in your head, since you only have a couple of children. You may be able to, but what if, heaven forbid, you are incapacitated or should unexpectedly pass away. This information (and the method) would be invaluable to your husband and/or relatives like your mother or mother-in-law. Make sure that the people close to you know that you keep this type of data handy.
The weights are helpful especially with medicines. Though we basically never ever go to the doctor, I still like to have that information written down. You can also use this in your memory box by making a new card each time you update it (again, details are in the next chapter). Just remember to date it so that you remember when your children weighed that much.
For my husband, when I was married, I made up on the back of a brightly colored business card my children’s names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers so that he didn’t need to ask me when filling out paper work. He has kept it in his wallet for years—my children just told me he still does!
Husband’s section: If you are married, don’t forget to write your husband’s clothing and shoe sizes, Social Security number, savings and checking account numbers, his co-workers’ phone numbers, etc. Again, this is not only invaluable in an emergency, but it is also handy when you find some clothing on sale or if your mother-in-law wants to buy something for your husband on his birthday or for Christmas.
Addresses. When you use the address section of your organizer, once again, always write the addresses in pencil as our society is one that moves often. If you have a poor memory, you can keep track of a gift, for instance when it was received under each name (with the date) and when the “thank you”(TY) was mailed out. I began doing this because my mother-in-law would ask my husband if I got something from someone I really didn’t know, and she would also ask if I had thanked them, but since they were names of people I didn’t know, I couldn’t remember. So after praying, the solution was to keep this information so that I could check and verify that I did indeed receive it and that a thank you card had been sent.
Also, make a note of Christmas cards (CC 2020) received and the date mailed out for the same reason. When I get my Christmas cards, I keep the envelopes in a gift bag to check and to update my address book (that I now keep on my computer) soon after the holiday rush quietens down.
Prayer list. Record the date and the request, leaving space for the answer to prayer. Do you find that many people ask you to pray for them, and you say you will, but fail to keep your word? This is a place to write the request down so that we can be women of our word.
If it is a long-term prayer request, I make a 3x5 card and add it to the piles that we pray for during our family prayer meeting each morning. We have a specific stack Pray for Others that, Praise the Lord, have never gone unanswered. If it is a Prayer for Salvation, we put it in that stack of prayer cards and we often include a picture if we have one. Most missionaries have cards with their picture that we always use and add it to the Praying for Missionaries pile.
When my niece from Japan stayed with us and she was gloriously saved, it was so fun to show her the picture of her and her family that we had used for years to pray for everyday. She was just a young toddler and I was holding her. Prayer works, and so do these cards as a method to remember to faithfully pray.
However, since I am asked to pray about many things, I need to faithfully write it down in my organizer and then faithfully pray for the requests each morning.
Prayer tip. When I am approached with “would you pray about something . . .” I began taking their hands (unless it was a man) and praying right there and then! I stopped caring what people thought or where I was. I just thought, “Why wait to pray?” What is funny is that many of the people who always used to run after me to pray about something, stopped. Sometimes I believe that Christians like to have other people pray rather than praying themselves, or often, it is a form of complaining about what they are going through.
I really do love to pray and find it a privilege to do so; however, without a good method in place, like praying for them right then and there, adding it to my list in my organizer and then adding it to the 3x5 cards we pray over in the morning, it became a burden rather than a privilege. I hope one or all of these methods will help you to find the method that works for you!
Learn the secret of pre-planning. Make out your “things to do” for the next day, the night before! Use your organizer as a diary of things to remember, as well as what you are to do. So often, especially as I get older, I forget whether I did something or not. When I am careful to write my to-do list in my organizer and to check it off as I go, then I can refer to it if my memory fails me. This is especially helpful if your husband has asked you to do something! And make sure you put his requests as top priority.
Making your to do list the night before will:
- Help you to be one step ahead.
- Help you to sleep better.
- Help you remember if you already did something.
- And, if you are married, it will help you to be a better wife as you put your husband’s requests on top of your list and treat them with “priority”!
The Correct Way to Make a List
The correct way of making a list is simple and it works! Most people try to make a list in order of what they need to do first. Yet with any type of writing (and thank God for computers), the way to write a book or a list is to get it out of your head and down on paper, and then to organize it.
Try this: when you make a list the night before, or anytime you are going to run errands, write down everything you can think of as you think of it. Then when your list is made, number them according to importance (remember, that if you are married, make sure you do your husband’s request(s) first!).
If it is a list of errands to run, after you have written down everywhere you need to go, go back and look through the list for your first stop. It could be the closest location or the one that is the farthest away, and work your way back home. I taught this to my husband when I was married (not by teaching, but by example as I made lists for him) and also to my children, whom I do teach!
If you have a map, it might help to look for a route this way, especially if you do not have a good sense of direction. I have a map in my mind (though I, unfortunately, have absolutely no sense of time!) and looking at a map has helped me to find the shortest route to a location. I have found that the route that I normally take was clearly longer than what the map showed. Working with a map is also a wonderful thing to teach your children, whether you home school them or not.
If any of your stops are appointments that have a specific time, then I write the time, rather than the number, next to this. Then, I try to work my way to that part of town to hit the appointment time (padding an extra twenty or thirty minutes for me in case I get caught in traffic or get a slow cashier in a previous stop).
Unless I have less than three stops, whenever we get in the car, I write down each stop that we make in the order that I remember it on a little gadget that sticks to the front window of your car. You can find these little gems in the car section of your Walmart. They have a pad of paper and a pen with suction cups to make it stick to your windshield. All of our cars have them. Recently I began using stickies and that works even better!
Once I list every stop, I then number them according to the first stop through to the last stop. When I was married, my husband simply loved this method, as he was usually the one driving. I loved it because I didn’t want to tell him where we are going next! I never like hearing women always telling their husbands what to do. It makes for a bossy wife and a hen-pecked, bitter husband—not a good example for my daughters either!
Try this method yourself, and don’t forget to teach it to your children.
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As an “Older women likewise…teaching what is good, that they may ENCOURAGE the young women…” (Titus 2:3) you will have the opportunity to speak to the younger women who are still single as part of your ministry.