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Category Archives: Week 1: To-do List

Organizing Lessons from Running

This isn't me, but I wish it was!

I am a runner.  Running is one of those activities that people will say they either love or they hate.  I’m convinced, though, that anyone can learn to love running.  When I first tried to make running a habit, I attempted to do it the way I learned from my cross-country and track experience . . . hard, everyday workouts. I got discouraged when I couldn’t make it as far as I thought I should, and if I didn’t get in a work-out I felt like I had completely blown it.  It didn’t take long for me to burn out and decide running just wasn’t for me.  A few years later, I decided to give it another try.  This time, I did some research and I discovered the secret to building endurance without killing myself and burning out.  This time I started small.  Rather than starting with a three-mile run and being horrified that I couldn’t make it even one, I combined walking with running — 1 minute run, 2 minutes walk.  I didn’t worry about how far; my goal was time.  Soon I was running for a full 20 minutes without walk breaks, then 30, 40 . . . I also learned that I didn’t have to run every day.  In fact, the body needs to rest and repair those muscles a run breaks down in order to be stronger.  Most importantly, by taking it slow, little by little, I kept going.  I didn’t quit.  Five years later, I’ve run six 5k’s, five 10k’s, six half-marathons, a 64-mile team relay, and one full marathon.  I no longer say, “I run.”  Now, I say, “I’m a runner.”

What does becoming a runner have to do with organizing?  Well, the lesson I learned in building endurance through running was my inspiration for attempting to become organized.  I never thought I could become a runner, but I always wanted to be one.  I never thought I could become truly organized, but I have always wanted to be.  Just like my early running attempts, I’ve tried to get organized before and have always burnt out.  This time, I’m taking it little-by-little . . . some walking, some running, even some resting.  This time, I will become organized.  Yes, I only started with a to-do list, but I’ve kept it up.  I’ve learned some from my to-do list this week. It really does help me focus.  In her article, “Power Time Tool #2: Time Slot Your To Do List”, Marcia Ramsland writes, “Did you know studies show we can only remember and focus on 7 things at a time? That’s why when we’re particularly busy, we grab a piece of paper and write out a To Do list of everything that needs to be done.” (read the full article here)  Only 7 things!  No wonder I sometimes walk upstairs, look around trying to figure out why I came up, then head down only to realize I’m still in my pajamas!  You’ll be pleased to know I haven’t forgotten to get dressed once this week.  By emptying my brain of all the things I know I need to remember to do, it’s free to focus on other things, like clothes, general hygiene, and keeping my kids fed.  I think I’ll keep the to-do list, and as the week comes to a close, I’m ready to add something new.


There it is.  My to-do list. And mostly crossed off.  Riveting, isn’t it?  I have a confession, though.  There is a part of me, the “easy-going”, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants part that chafes at the idea of operating off a to-do list.  Which is why I never have used one to this point.  I actually struggled with whether this is how I really wanted to begin.  Yet, as I read and reflected I came to the conclusion that the beginning of organization really begins with managing time, which is the purpose behind the list.  So, here is my “easy-going” compromise with the list:

  • I will not be ruled by the list
  • The list is a tool to help me manage my time; it will not manage me
  • I will follow the list in any order I please
  • I reserve the right to change the list as I see fit
  • I will not “freak out” if I don’t check every item off the list
  • I will occasionally give the list a day off

This morning I began my day with the first item on my to-do list, my quiet time.  My devotion was especially fitting this morning as it was on Mary and Martha.  If you remember the story, Jesus has come to have dinner and Martha is running around making sure every detail is perfect.  Mary, is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening when Martha comes and asks Jesus why He doesn’t tell Mary to help her.  He says, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).  I want to have my household organized, but I want to make sure that in all my labors I choose “that good part, which will not be taken away.”  That is why on today’s list, in addition to household chores, I also had “date with Paul” and “play a game with the kids”.  Investing my time in my family and my spiritual life. . . no clean closet can touch that.

New Year’s Day – Week 1: The “To-do List”

It is New Year’s Day and all over the world people are resolving to begin this year afresh; to finally lose those last few pounds, quit smoking, exercise more, get angry less, learn a foreign language. . .  Well, here’s mine.  I am resolving, this year, to GET ORGANIZED.  The thing about resolutions is that they tend to get broken, usually around  January 31st, or more often in my case, January 3rd.  As a woman, I count it a privilege and take seriously my position as “home manager”.  I set the tone, keep things running, keep us healthy, and in general, organize our lives.  This blog is my way to ensure my resolution doesn’t lack execution.  So, here’s the plan.  There are 52 weeks in a year.  Each week I will tackle one aspect of organizing my home, and my personal and family life.  By nature, I am an easy-going person, yet I have my areas of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).  My goal is to have fun getting organized taking it in manageable, weekly chunks, while not being so obsessed with keeping “everything in it’s place” that my family no longer feels at home.

In her book A Woman After God’s Own Heart Elizabeth George states:

“All God asks of you and me is to handle and manage today, only today. Jesus said, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’ . . . Each day is important in and of itself:

  • What you are today is what you are becoming.
  • You are today what you have been becoming.
  • Every day is a little life, and our whole life is but a day repeated.”

So my question is what are you becoming?  What do you want to become?  Does it line up?  When I think of what, or rather who I want to become, I have a vision of a woman who has herself together: her closets organized, her home comfortable and clean, her children eating healthy home-made meals and developing character through regular house-hold chores, her budget maintained, her husband happy to come home to her, her body regularly exercised, and a growing spiritual life.  Wew!  Kind of makes you tired  just reading all that, doesn’t it?  Although I may never become this perfect woman, it is guaranteed I will not become her if I am not taking daily steps toward this goal.  “What you are today is what you are becoming.”  If I think in those terms, what I am becoming falls far short of what I want to become. This blog will be my journey to BECOME.  I hope some of you will join me and BECOME with me, or simply follow my journey and join in when it applies.

Here’s this week’s challenge:  Begin operating using a “To-do List”.  I have never operated this way.  But every efficient and organized person I have met, does. My “to-do list” is in my head, and inevitably, something always gets forgotten.  So this week, before I go to bed, I will be making a to-do list of what I want to accomplish tomorrow.  In the morning, I will check it over and add or delete as necessary.  Then, most importantly, start crossing things off (no cheating — we actually have to accomplish them before we cross them off)!

I’m adding a few 10-minute challenges for the week.  You know those moments when you finish something, then look around and think “Huh?  What do I do now?”  Then spend 10 minutes trying to figure it out? (Maybe that’s just me) Here are a few 10-minute tasks I plan to have ready when I have one of these moments:

  • Dust one room (I hate dusting, but it needs to be done, and maybe in small doses I can handle it)
  • Go through spices and discard old or expired ones (add to grocery list to replace)
  • Clean off my nightstand
  • Go through and get rid of hair things I don’t use (are scrunchies back?)
  • Play with my kids (if this takes longer than 10 minutes, it’s okay)

Good luck with yours!  Stay tuned to see how things go with mine!