Tag Archives: To Do Lists

When a Plan Comes Together (Guest Post)

When a Plan Comes Together

by Steph Beth Nickel

Planners. Journals. Notebooks.

Do you love them as much as I do?

Maybe you make a simple To Do List on paper or on your phone.

Maybe you keep it all in your head. (Kudos if you do!)

Still, there’s a challenge no matter what method you use to record your plans, hopes, and dreams … follow-through.

I can make a mean To Do List. I can decorate it with stickers and even use fancy writing if I’m so inclined. But none of that matters unless I take the needed steps to make my plans come together.

Sadly, creating a beautiful, comprehensive list and then lying back on the couch to watch “just one more episode” on Netflix doesn’t get me any closer to my goals.

Plus, nine times out of ten, I fall asleep. And when I wake up, I either 1) restart the episode I missed or 2) head to bed, promising myself I’ll do better the next day.

So, what practical steps can you and I take to move beyond list-making?

  1. As much as possible, head to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning.
  2. Get regular exercise.
  3. Eat well.
  4. Pray before putting pen to paper, asking God to guide you as you make your list.
  5. Be honest with yourself. Just how much can you reasonably accomplish in one day? Your list should reflect reality.
  6. Your list should also reflect what is truly important, including time with God, family, and friends.
  7. Assign a time for each task, remembering to factor in “the margins,” times to catch up on projects that take longer than expected, and scheduled downtime.
  8. Pray again, committing your plans to Him. After all, Proverbs 16:9 is true, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (ESV).

February 17 was Family Day. I had prepared what I felt was a reasonably long list of things I wanted to accomplish, most of them in my home office. Before I got busy there, I did some extras around the house, which turned out to be a very good thing. Not only did I enjoy looking around at the less cluttered areas I had dealt with but also, we had unexpected company. (See Proverbs 16:9 above.)

I was able to sit and chat with a young man who has been a friend of the family for many years. And as it turns out, he has been reading the Bible in order to overcome his dark thoughts and draw close to the Lord. He wants to begin coming to church and was asking about baptism. What a wonderful way to spend an hour or so!

Our visit reminded me of the importance of positioning myself to be ready to be a blessing—online and in person. While sleep will still lure me away, tempting me to procrastinate and escape the overwhelm that prowls around the perimeter of my mind, there are steps I can take to make my plans come together—and steps I can take to be attentive when the Lord is bringing His plans together.

How do you handle your To Do List? What potential stumbling blocks do you have to overcome? What suggestions could you add to the list above?

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Guest Post: Just Say No—To Overextending Yourself

Just Say No—To Overextending Yourself

by Steph Beth Nickel

If you know me at all, you know that I’m eclectically-interested and eclectically-involved. For the most part, I thrive on having many different projects on the go at once.

But there are times . . .

This September my eldest is getting married in Scotland, which means not only will I be out of my office for the best parts of three weeks, but I also have “last minute” plans to get organized before we wing our way across the Pond.

I was hoping to get up north to visit with my friend and coauthor and also touch base with one of my favourite authors who has a summer home not too far from Deb. But alas, that is not going to happen.

And that’s okay . . .

In fact, it’s better than okay. Sometimes cramming just one more thing into our schedule—even something wonderful—is not the best option.

Are you busy?

You may now get up off the floor, wipe the tears from your eyes from laughing so hard, and continue reading.

Most of us are busy, but believe it or not, we can likely pare down our To Do list with a little concerted effort and the admission that superheroes only exist in the world of fiction. We also have to admit that not everything is as important as it may seem.

As Stephen Covey says, “We must not confuse the urgent with the important.”

"Just say no to overextending yourself."

Click image to tweet. (Photo credit: Steph Beth Nickel)

Here’s my challenge to you:

  1. Grab your To Do list.
  2. Make sure it’s complete.
  3. Take a deep breath.
  4. Offer a prayer for wisdom and guidance.
  5. Pick up your pen.
  6. Cross off—or reschedule—at least two items from today’s list.
  7. Continue to do so well into the future until you become comfortable admitting that you just can’t do it all.

And guess what . . .

That’s a very good thing, for there are times the best option is to just say no.

Did you catch the most crucial step? If we made it a practice to not only add #4 to our list but also to bump it to #1, our lives would look much different.

Will we disappoint people at times? Sure we will.

Will we be disappointed? Absolutely! There are a lot of things we would like to do, a lot of things we feel we ought to do. But we need divine wisdom as we decide what to take on, what to postpone, and what to leave to someone else.

And if we make it a habit to include discretionary time on each day’s schedule, when something comes up that we weren’t planning on doing but feel we really ought to or want to, we won’t be stretched to the limit—or beyond.

For many of us, we have to watch out for our old nemesis, guilt. No is not a swear word.

Just remember, God has plans and purposes for us and we don’t want to be so overextended that we don’t recognize them when they come our way.

Just say no to overextending yourself. (Click to tweet)

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Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.