Monday, August 18, 2008

Time Management from an expert

My friend, Kathy from the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, is visiting with three of her six children for a few days. (Her three are going with our three on the limo ride--more details later) 

Anyway, Kathy and I have been friends for about 8 years.  We joke that we were both at an all time "collective low" when we met.  My husband was unemployed and we were renting a "bachelor pad" (a two-bedroom, one bathroom duplex)  in her area.  She and her husband were right in the middle of buying her farmhouse and moving in.  We really hardly knew each other until my husband landed a job in another city.  So, our whole time there was about three months.  

We became phone friends and thrived on the mutual  spiritual "egging on" that ensued during our visits.  We did crazy things like have homeschool "art camp" with the two families, reupholster furniture together, make dumb crafts, pottery projects, cinematography adventures, exchange kids, broken legs, airshows, Chinese restaurants, Gospel outreaches in South Dakota and now most recently: a limo adventure with the kids.  

As it is with me, I LOVE to OVERPLAN.  I'm working on that, but she comes by time management rather effortlessly.  Last year at this time, she helped me wade through my many commitments (too many) and come up with a do-able schedule for our family, complete with leave times, meal responsibilities, and chore charts.  It was like having my own personal time-management consultant.  It was awesome.  She didn't judge me for having 17,000 activities packed into a 24 hour day; she just tried to make it work.  

Since then, I've scaled back and honed the schedule to just basically "do less"--what a novel idea!  Time Management is not something we can conquer in one post, but I asked for some principles that help guide her in her decision-making process.  

So, here's the interview!    

O.M.: What is the essence of time management?

Kathy: The essence of time management is making sure that all of things you should be doing are getting done.  

O.M.: How do you know what you should be doing? What is more important than something else?

Kathy:  IICor 5: 15 says that "They which live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him which died for them and rose again."   In other words, those who have been made alive in Christ should live for him.  If you are living for Him, the way you are going to prioritize your responsibilities is according to his will, which we know from his word.  

It  also depends who you are and where you are in life.  For me, right now, I'm a wife, I'm a mom, I'm a teacher, I'm a friend.  Each of these things involve relationships with people.  Every thing that God has called us to can be summed up: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love others as yourself..

O.M.: So, loving God is the first priority?

Kathy: God is first.  The first priority in our life is time with him.  The means is Bible study and prayer.  That is how we spend time with God.  This is not a religious exercise.  This is a relationship that we are building.  

O.M.: Can you give me an example of how to have that time with God?

Kathy: He speaks to us through his Word.  We speak to him through prayer.  Both being in the Word and prayer are essential to building that relationship with God.

O.M.: How has that helped you manage the rest of your day? priorities?

Kathy: The more you are in the Word, the more you learn what God's will is.  Certain things are really clear.  Rom 8:29 tells us that God is at work to conform us to the image of his Son
Eph 2: 10 We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus, unto good works.
God is at work in us to bring about Christ likeness and good works, and it will affect every area of our life.  

Seeking first the kingdom of God, that will affect the choices we make: how we run our household, what we allow in, how we spend our time.  

God has called me to be a wife and a mother.  That's the  first thing.  Loving your husband is just seeking his good.  You may need to deny yourself to do this. Loving your children is also a big task.

O.M.: Now that we have our priorities in line, how do we live this out in  the form a schedule?

Kathy: You have to look at what has to be done today.  You are constantly working on these relationships.  What do I have to do today in each of these realms?

We certainly need to do more than getting out of bed, looking at the chaos around us, and putting up our hands, not knowing where to start and eating a bowl of icecream.  

O.M.: I wonder if our readers aren't already overwhelmed.  Where's the icecream?  How do you even get started? 

Kathy:  I do something I call pre-planning. Pre-planning is  basically setting up a schedule a week at a time.  I have a big double-paged notebook/ calendar.  Everything that I know will happen this week goes in it: appointments, menu for the week, chores that need to be done-- regular chores/ and special chores. Everything I know about I write in for that day.  The goal of pre-planning is to get the big picture of what needs to be done each week.  

For example, if I know I'm having guests on Friday night for dinner, I'll schedule grocery shopping on Thursday (while I'm out for a dentist appointment).  It's helping the days work together like gears meshing, rather than have them all grate against each other.  

O.M.: Now that we have accomplished that, how do we fill in the time for each day? 

Kathy: In the morning, while I'm having my time with the Lord, I pray over the day.  I lay out my tasks before him, asking which ones I should do.  I make a list and write it on a piece of paper.  I schedule the most important things first, and the lesser things next.  So I will be sure to accomplish the most important things.  Then, I carry the list everywhere with me and refer to it all day.  

O.M.: Do ever have your schedule/list completely botched? HOw do you handle it?

Kathy: (laughing) What you should have asked me, "Have I ever finished the list?"  

O.M.: OK, so you are pretty flexibile about this issue? You really aren't planning to get through everything every day? 

Kathy: I tend to overplan, so I never let it bother me if I don't get the list done.  
The list, like every other means we use to organize, is a tool.  If you allow yourself to be bound by the list or the tool, you will be discouraged.  

O.M.: You and I are both beyond the baby stages, but I think we can both agree those were difficult years. What advice would you give someone: 4-5 little kids, trying to homeschool, and  run a household? (Let's say some are starting to school and the others are babies and toddlers) 

Kathy: The fiirst thing to realize: you are training all of those children, all day long.  You want them to be involved in the household tasks all day long.  Kids who are able, get them involved in the chores.  You want them with you.  They have responsibilities.  Schedule short breaks.  If they feel neglected, your day will be chaos.

In the emphasis of this scenario is child training.  But you also need to be willing not to have the perfect house during this time of your life.  

As much as we all we want to be super mom, none of us are.   But all of us are, but we always have this idea of what a super-mom is, and it doesn't exist.  

O.M.: Do you have any advice for the mom who would rather do housework than deal with the kids? 

Kathy: The house is temporary.  It's all going to burn up some day.  But the souls of your children will exist somewhere forever.  Where do you think you should put your time and energy?  

O.M.:  Thank you for your time.  We look forward to hearing from you again in the future.  Yes, we have a lot to think about.

What do you guys think?  Do you want to hear more from the organizing Kathy?


A Vision Splendid said...

I'd love to hear more from Kathy. It is always great to find a titus 2 role model. I'd like to see some more specific information on what her planning books and lists actually look like. Sometimes when we read about these things they sound so grand and we try to replicate something that is way too complicated. I am always surprised when you see people's systems that actually work to know that they are extrememly simple.

PS I am really enjoying your writing.

Michelle (Busywoman) from Australia.

Anonymous said...

Fun interview! I'd love to hear more from Kathy, too. She was mentioning that when you have lots of little people, your house won't be perfect. What does she think is reasonable? What would a young mom's schedule realistically look like?

Jena Webber said...

I am going to have her read these comments and answer them!! She doesn't have a blog, but she is a good writer. She has had such a neat parenting style--good, firm, loving, and fun.