To Do or Not To Do

Do you spend more time making and revising your To Do list than you do actually completing the tasks written on it? There are many days that I feel like “Managing my To Dos” is at the top of my list and I never get beyond that.

On those days, I can’t get motivated. All I do is sit back and wonder how I am responsible for so many tasks. The more I wonder, the more overwhelmed I become; until I get so anxious that I turn to something mindless, like TV or Facebook. After all, it’s easier to be “busy” with something than to actually be productive. Then, before bed, I shuffle items around on my To Do list in preparation of a “more productive” day to follow.

Thankfully, I was introduced to Glynnis Whitwer‘s book, I Used to Be So Organized. No more than a few pages in, I felt as if God had called Glynnis to write this book directly to me. A few days later, I was blessed with Chapter Six. Although the entire book is chocked-full of helpful hints, important information, and a mound of motivation… Chapter Six opened my eyes to the root of my problem.

I can’t say no.

Why?

There are more reasons than I care to admit:

  • I see every opportunity as a learning experience. I like to learn. I feel like the more knowledge I have, the easier things will be.
  • It looks good on my resume. The more work I do, the more options I’ll have professionally.
  • I don’t like to disappoint people, and I’m an overachiever. These two go hand-in-hand. I just want to do my best while helping others.
  • I’m searching for my purpose. Come on, don’t you wonder what God’s will is for you? What if I turn something down that is a crucial step in my life’s journey?

Glynnis discusses all of these concerns in her book – and shares detailed, personal examples – because she has struggled with saying no too! By understanding the emotions that cause my disarray, Glynnis helped me to see that my To Do list is, in fact, manageable.

The best thing about Chapter Six of I Used to Be So Organized is the importance of prioritizing responsibilities. Glynnis presents five key questions that we should all consider as we sit down to list out our tasks.

  1. What can only I do? These priorities are the first on the To Do list because only we, as individuals, can do them. For me, developing my faith and taking care of my health are two very important priorities that I have often let slip off my of list altogether. However, these should come first.
  2. What has God entrusted to me? In a nutshell, God has already blessed us with things that require responsibility: our homes, our families, our talents. Caring for and nurturing these things are significant projects.
  3. Am I a good steward of what I already have? Ouch! This one stepped on my toes. Do I manage money well? Do I care for my home? Do I love my family in the way that I should? Do I work effectively as I can? What is my attitude when God calls me to do something? Glynnis writes, “God is always watching to see how I’m doing with what He’s already given me. When He sees I manage things well, He entrusts me with more. When I’m neglectful, the opposite happens.” What a powerful statement to consider!
  4. What passion has God put in my heart? This is one that we need to really pray over to ensure we truly have a passion for it, and not a crush. Some examples include: encouraging others, being a writer, adopting, or volunteering.
  5. What has God asked me to do that I haven’t done yet? For me, one is running. I used to say I’d only run if something was chasing me. Part of me still holds true to that comment. That is why I struggle with considering the sport. After my father’s heart attack, though, I knew I needed to develop healthier habits. I prayed consistently for the Lord to guide me on a conducive path. I’m not sure what I was expecting for an answer, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for. . . RUNNING! I prayed harder. I heard “Run!” even louder. Running is one of the best exercises. I’ve read all about it. It would be very beneficial for me to start. Something is holding me back. The truth is am holding me back. So it was great to read this from Glynnis, “I once heard this statement, “Old orders are standing orders.” Meaning, if God asked you to do something…and didn’t revise the directions, He still expects you to do it. It’s never too late to be obedient.”

Isn’t it so much easier to sort through your giant list now? But I’m sure you’re thinking, What about all of the items that do not fall within these five categories? Well, Glynnis reminds us that once we have a clearer idea of priorities, we shouldn’t be surprised if it takes time to work things out. She warns us to be prepared to have to resign from certain things that we once committed to. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to stop abruptly. It is okay to see a project out. But before taking on any new tasks, make sure there isn’t anyone else who can do the job. Pray about it. If God didn’t call you to do it or you don’t have the necessary passion for it, SAY NO!

Once priorities are in place, and old tasks [that we should’ve said no to, but didn’t] are cleared from our schedules, we must be smart with how we use our time. Beware of common time stealers like television, email, social media, gossip, shopping, and even exhaustion. If you need to check email or want to watch your favorite TV show, be sure to set aside time on your To Do list for these things. Once your time is up, walk away from the computer or turn off the television.

Glynnis writes, “For every yes, there is a no. As you say yes to bringing order to our schedule and home, identify where you need to say no. This effort will take time away from something else. It will take mental focus. It will take sacrifice.” Like many other things in life, prioritizing doesn’t come easy. It is a skill that requires practice and dedication. But I feel by following Glynnis’s advice, I can finally take back control of my To Do list! If you’re struggling in this area, I recommend picking up your own copy of I Used to Be So Organized.

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