Tag Archives: schedules

Excuses vs. Reasons (Guest Post)

Signposts: One arrow says "one way" and the opposite one says "or another".
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Excuses vs. Reasons

By Steph Beth Nickel

Do you scold yourself when you don’t get everything done on your daily To-Do List or when you don’t achieve everything you’d hoped to achieve?

Beating yourself up about it rarely, if ever, gets the job done.

However, we all must be honest with ourselves and evaluate if we’re making excuses or have legitimate reasons for failing to cross everything off our list.

Excuses include the following (just ask me how I know):

  1. Watching “just one more” episode of a show we’re enjoying…or, at least, tolerating.
  2. Scrolling through our newsfeed for “just a few more minutes.”
  3. Thinking, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” (Trust me; I put the PRO in procrastination.)

On the other side of the coin are legitimate reasons for not achieving the things on our list:

  1. Something truly urgent comes up that demands our immediate attention.
  2. Our expectations of ourselves are unreasonable.
  3. Our physical and/or emotional well needs refilling.

These are only a handful of examples, but you get the idea.

And now for the good news!

Whether you’ve been making excuses or have perfectly good reasons for what you do or don’t get done, there are ways you can silence that finger-wagging inner voice:

  1. If you make a To-Do List or simply record deadlines and occasions you don’t want to miss, prioritize your list. What is time-sensitive and something you must/really want to remember? To make sure you don’t miss anything important, write it down somewhere you will check often—whether in a paper planner or on an app.
  2. While it’s important to take other people’s feelings and ideas into consideration, be careful not to allow their priorities to influence your schedule unless those priorities line up with what you believe to be God’s plans and purposes for you.
  3. Be reasonable. There are only so many hours in the day, and you’re only one person.
  4. If you don’t achieve everything on your list, be honest with yourself. Did you have legitimate reasons, or did you find yourself making excuses?
  5. If you find you’re making excuses, choose ONE to work on until it’s no longer a default. Don’t try to eliminate all the excuses at once, or you’ll simply become frustrated and scold yourself even more.
  6. Get into the habit of making an Accomplishments or Victory List. Record what you get done and regularly review the list. It will help when you’re tempted to become discouraged. (Include household chores and running errands. It may feel like you’re getting very little done, but an itemized list will put that misconception to rest.)
  7. As believers, committing our day to the Lord before we get out of bed, praying over each task, and laying down what we did or did not achieve before Him each night will make a huge difference in how we create our To-Do Lists. It will also help us keep our focus where it belongs and will make us more sensitive to His leading.

Be positive. Be patient. And be prayerful.


Photo of Steph Beth Nickel
Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com;
join her Facebook group:
 https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738;
or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.

Weddings, Clients, and Meetings … Oh My! (Guest Post)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Weddings, Clients, and Meetings … Oh My!

by Steph Beth Nickel

Okay, so, I only attended one wedding this month, but the title reads better because I pluralized it. As writers, we’re allowed a little poetic license from time to time.

My son and brand new daughter-in-law had a small ceremony because … COVID. So many friends and family members couldn’t make the trip. I will forever be thankful that my husband and I made it to Saskatchewan from Ontario for the weekend.

Even though we were only away for four days, travel included, it meant we had to shuffle a lot of other responsibilities.

Deadline extensions + a tsunami of tasks + a sense of overwhelm often leads to too much YouTube and not enough time at my computer.

So, how can we handle our schedule when we’d rather vegetate on the couch or pull the covers over our head and sleep for “just five more minutes”?

Here are some suggestions that have either worked for me in the past or I’m planning to implement in the next little while:

Create a list of everything you want to get done. The more detailed the list, the better.

Prioritize the list. Self-care may be a buzzword these days, but getting adequate rest, eating well, keeping physically active, and doing something that feeds your spirit on a regular basis are vital for not only your wellbeing but also for your ability to effectively complete the tasks on your To-Do List. Be sure to include self-care on your list of priorities.

Decide what you can get done each day within reason. I make a mean To-Do List, and because I’m content moving unfinished tasks to the next day, it’s hard for me to create realistic expectations for each day. I’m getting better, but it’s a process for sure.

Back out of at least some responsibilities that don’t rank high on your priority list. This is tough for many of us. People count on us. We don’t like to say no when they ask us to do something, especially something “small.” (Don’t forget the adage about the straw and the camel’s back.) Like me, you may be eclectically interested and eclectically involved. It’s hard to know what to set aside—even temporarily—but it’s a necessary skill.

Assign specific tasks to specific days. Trying to do a little bit of everything on the same day often leads to a sense that you haven’t accomplished anything significant. Completing a single task before moving onto the next one has its benefits, but when that isn’t possible, it’s important to determine how much of one task you will accomplish before moving on. Optionally, you can set a time limit and see how much of the project you can get done in an hour or two for instance. Be content with your progress, and move on, physical and mentally, to the next task.

Beware of mental fog and hair-trigger emotions. We’ve all been there. Unable to concentrate on the task at hand. Snapping at a friend or family member over a non-issue. Feeling that anger, frustration, or anxiety forming in the pit of our stomach. Should we push through? Take a break? Walk away and start fresh tomorrow? Because I work from home and create my own schedule, most times, I have the opportunity to add the task to my next day’s schedule. Even if this isn’t an option, taking a stretch break, reading a novel for 5-10 minutes, or just closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths can make a surprisingly big difference.

Have some fun. “All work and no play …” and all that. Is there something you look forward to every day? I enjoy watching an episode of a show on Netflix or Disney Plus with my hubby each evening. Instead of watching “just one more YouTube episode,” I feel more refreshed when I take a little time to read. And, of course, being an extra extrovert, I love meeting a friend for coffee and a l-o-n-g chat.

How to you deal with overwhelm in your life?

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel
Photo of Steph Beth Nickel
Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com;
join her Facebook group:
 https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738;
or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.

Proceed with Caution (Guest Post)

Proceed with Caution

by Steph Beth Nickel

The Old Normal

Are you ready to get back to the Old Normal?

COVID vaccines are being rolled out. Hopeful would-be travellers are booking airline tickets. Restaurants are opening for in-person dining.

While there will be continued restrictions for some time, we’re all ready to return to pre-COVID schedules … Or are we?

Ready for the New New Normal?

Truth be told, when the first lockdown happened, I was more than happy to set aside many of my obligations. (Of course, like most people, I didn’t know how long “the New Normal” was going to last.)

And here we are, twelve months in, and I have a confession to make. I will not be quick to fill up my schedule, at least not with what was on it before.

What are you looking forward to most? What is something you will not be adding to your schedule even when it is again an option?

A Year in Review

Instead of working in the church office, I’m now spending my days editing and writing from home. (Shh, don’t tell, but I’m also listening to podcasts, reading, and watching some TV shows as well.)

Because others have stepped up to take on the responsibilities in the sound room at church, even though we’re allowed to meet in person, I find it hard to motivate myself to get back into the routine of attending weekly services. Yes, I know it’s important. Yes, I know watching the live-stream isn’t the same. Yes, I know I’ll get back into the rhythm. However, we’re in a time of transition in our congregation, and things aren’t as they once were.

What changes have you weathered this past year? What’s something you found particularly challenging? What’s something you actually enjoyed?

Joys and Challenges of 2021

A year ago, I would sit on my couch, overcome with how surreal it all was. I would spend minimal time in Walmart—because that was where a panic attack threatened to set in, something that had never happened to me before. I lost touch with many people, people I could have contacted via Facebook, email, or phone.

And now …

I’m proceeding with caution.

While I’ve made some reservations (hotel and car rentals) for the summer in hopes of attending my son’s wedding in Saskatchewan, I haven’t purchased the airline tickets yet. Will they allow us to travel if we haven’t had both shots? Will our son and his wife be able to come from Scotland? (At this point, it doesn’t look like it.) Should we just postpone our plans until next summer, when we can all travel together, and watch the wedding via Zoom?)

I’m taking precautions while spending time with friends (and I did go to church this past weekend). This makes me aware just how much I need in-person connectedness. To a large extend, I had supressed my need for this kind of fellowship. After spending three hours chatting with a young friend over lunch, I realized how much of my joie de vivre had been lying dormant. (This “extrovert on steroids” can only remain alone for so long.)

Now that spring has arrived and things are looking up, I’m better able to shake off the physical and emotional exhaustion and actually look forward to my days, most of them anyway.

What joys and challenges are you facing?

Most Importantly

While we’re all ready to say goodbye to COVID-19, we can’t forget that we’ve learned some important lessons during the past year.

It’s important to be considerate of and patient with others, especially those who don’t see things as we do.

It’s difficult to be confined with others for prolonged periods of time—even those we love dearly.

“Re-entry” also has its fair share of challenges.

The mental and emotional ramifications of the pandemic have been as drastic as the physical ones—for many, even more drastic.

Scrolling social media often does more harm than good.

As restrictions begin to ease, I encourage you to proceed with caution. Remember the lessons you’ve learned over the past year. And extend grace to others—and to yourself.

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel
Photo of Steph Beth Nickel
Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com;
join her Facebook group:
 https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738;
or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.