“I feel like I waste so much of my time doing things that are not really important to me, while my life is slipping away.” I read this statement in How to Take Control of Your Time and Your Life and it resonated with me.
The author, Alan Lakein, goes on to say that completing everyday tasks is not wasting time, but not all tasks are equal. He writes that we need to learn how to prioritize tasks according to importance. But how do we know what is most important?
To be honest, I don’t really feel qualified to talk about this. Lately, I’ve realized how housework and creating a home that is peaceful for me and my family takes a lot of willpower.
When I feel life slipping away I almost freeze. I don’t know where to start, so I do nothing at all. I begin to scroll instagram and compare myself to all of the “perfect” homes and relationships. I know that I am not alone in this. Feeling out of control is depressing and breeds discontentment. It very well may cause us to lash out in anger at our loved ones.
How Do I Change?
Alan recommends beginning with a Life Plan and creating your daily list around what you want your life to be like in 3 years. When we create to-do lists around our long-term goals it’s easier to see what is important today.
Begin to think about what you want your life to look like. At the risk of being misunderstood, I am not talking about manifesting your life. God alone is in control of our lives. Begin with prayer. Seek God about what he wants for your life. Most likely, opportunities He has for you are right in front of you.
When we begin by seeking God everything melts away. I find that the fear of missing out fades. Fear of man is diminished. My eyes are opened to how beautiful my ordinary life is.
“ Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.”James 4:13-17
Keep it Simple.
Keep your life plan simple. Using the note section of your daily planner, write down a brief 3 year plan. (If you want to go big, go through Donald Miller’s Hero on a Mission book.) Think about where you want to be in 3 years physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. What kind of friendships do you want to have? Who is in your life? What does church look like?
Under each category write 2-3 points on that vision. You want to be in the best shape of your life? Begin by walking 30 minutes everyday. You want to have a homestead, begin researching land prices near you.
Read and pray over your life plan 3-5x a week. The more you go over it the more you will remember the goals you’ve written down. Writing something down is the first step. Reading what you’ve written down increases the likelihood of finishing that goal.
Remember that creating a life plan is not daydreaming. Daydreaming is endlessly scrolling instagram and Pinterest without a goal or motive. Planning is seeing where you want to be and then taking steps to reach that goal. All you have to do after that is implement what you’ve learned.
After creating a lifeplan, make your daily to-do lists around the goals you’ve set for yourself over the next 3 years. Again, reading your lifeplan daily helps to create these lists and stay focused on what is important. Remember, we are tired of our lives slipping away.
I’ll insert this here because I feel it’s important. Just because you are creating a lifeplan doesn’t mean you need to embrace hustle culture. It quite honestly can be the opposite. After I created my life plan I found how much free time I had to do the things that either get me further in my goals or just allow me to soak up my wonderfully ordinary life. But more about that later.
A daily to-do list can stop you from feeling like life is slipping away. Yes, there are everyday things like cleaning the kitchen or fixing the bed, but those things can become purposeful too.
A daily to-do list does three things:
- Gives direction for your everyday life. Your days won’t be filled with questions about what you should be doing. The to-do list that is focused around what you want to be in 3 years gives purpose to the ordinary tasks of daily living.
- Weeds out unimportant tasks that give a feeling of life slipping away.
- Decreases the amount of time wasted by procrastinating. When we see a longterm goal and what we need to do to get there, procrastination becomes a lot more difficult.
What is Most Important?
Once you’ve created a to-do list around your life plan, pick out the three Most Important Tasks to do that day. Maybe you have ten things on your list. Out of those ten, three absolutely need to be done that day. Make sure you allow time for those three things.
There are two different methods I’ve seen people use. The ABC method and the MIT method.
The ABC method labels the tasks on your to-do list in order of importance with A, B, or C. Complete A tasks first, then B, and most likely you won’t get to C. That is okay. Order of importance can change from day to day. What was C yesterday could be A today.
The MIT method is choosing the top 3 Most Important Tasks for that day. Everything else falls into a running to do list. Be sure to do the MITs first. You will be tempted to do the running list first. Don’t. Finish your MITs and then get down to the little things. This method works the same way as the ABC method.
Let God lead and live a purposeful life.
After my husband and I began doing this with our lifeplans a couple of years ago we saw a huge change in our perception of life and ourselves. We began to see the places God was moving in our lives. We began to see how making long and short term goals improved our relationship with God, each other, and our friends. The goals gave us clarity and they can give you clarity too.
When you prayerfully create a life plan you will find your days opening up. You will begin to have time for other things that are important to you. You will have time to sit on your front porch with a coffee and watch your children play. You will have time to make a meal for the new mom down the street. You will have time to create beautifully delicious meals for your own family.
Nothing we do or plan is going to be successful or fulfilling if we go ahead of God. Continually hand your life plan over to Him and allow him to lead you. Remember what Abbie Halberstadt says, “Hard is not the same thing as bad.” Sometimes it may be hard to follow through or go where God is leading you, but I promise He will lead you beside the still waters too. He will guide you and His plans for you are for good and not for evil. You can’t go wrong planning your life around His plans for you.
Take control of the time and life God has given you and stop the feelings of life slipping away. It’s worth it.