Any time we consistently struggle with changing something in our lives, there’s a good chance we are believing some lies about it. I know that’s been true for me with time management. I’ll share six lies we believe that keep us from using our time well.
#1 I’ll remember that
When a class registration deadline comes across my email, my friend asks me to buy something for co-op, or my son tells me he needs deodorant, I cannot lie to myself and say that I’ll remember it. I have to write it down. Before I homeschooled six kids, I was able to remember quite a few things, but no more. I made a rule for myself that absolutely everything has to be written down right away with good reason. I was meeting with a friend when I got a call asking me to substitute teach a class at church. My first mistake was taking the call when I was with my friend. The second was telling myself that I would remember to put the date on the calendar after my friend left. You guessed it–I didn’t show up to teach the class. I let a lot of people down and ruined my reputation. She didn’t ask me to substitute again.
I have such a hard time remembering things that I can’t rely on a paper calendar. I use Google calendar and have it send me two alerts for appointments through my phone. Once I was substituting for someone for tennis and left my phone on my nightstand. I didn’t get the alert and missed tennis. I now have an Apple watch and have my phone with my at all times to prevent these embarrassing times of forgetting.
Maybe you aren’t as forgetful as I am, but it’s still important not to believe that you’ll remember without making a note, adding an event, or setting up a reminder for yourself right away. Make sure you are using a trustworthy system.
#2 I don’t have enough hours in the day
It really does feel like we don’t have enough time to do everything that is required of a homeschooling mom. If you work in addition to homeschooling, the pressure is even greater. However, the not-enough-time concept is a lie. We all have the same amount of time. We may have a different number of commitments, however.
The truth is that if we consistently feel overwhelmed, we are most likely taking on things that God hasn’t asked us to take on. We have the kids in too many classes or too many activities. We are spending too many hours a day on actual teaching. We are volunteering for too many things. We have high standards for things like cleaning or cooking that God hasn’t given to us.
I imagine that Martha, Jesus’ friend, would have complained about not enough hours in the day. Jesus said to her that she was worried about many things when only one was needed — what He wants us to do. God doesn’t send tasks our way on a fast conveyor belt. So if we are shoving candy in our mouths or pockets because it’s coming at us too fast like it was for Lucy, we need to step away and ask God what the one thing is He has for us to do now. Then we need to prayerfully consider and discuss our commitments with people we can trust. What can we let go of? Where can we cut corners so we feel content with the amount of time we have? I realize that when I feel a sense of not having enough time, it’s almost always an issue of discontentment.
#3 I’ll get caught up later
The funny thing is we believe we have a shortage of time now, but somehow magically more time is going to appear in the future. We even do this with seasons of our lives. We watched a video at church years ago of a man who had a different excuse for not getting involved during each season of his life. Of course, he never did get involved.
The main reason we believe this lie is because we think we have to devote large chunks of time to activities. The man didn’t volunteer because he thought he would have to commit to twenty hours a week for life, when he could have done a three-hour shift when he was needed. Instead of seeing the compounding benefit of spending fifteen minutes a day organizing, we think we have to wait until summer vacation to get started. Meanwhile, like the man who never volunteered, organizing never happens.
We can conquer this lie by committing to a small, but regular amount of time to the things we know God wants us to do. Small, frequent investments of time or money pay off.
#4 I just need to find the right planner or application
I would love to have all the hours back that I’ve spent researching and setting up planners and time management apps, not to mention the money! I spent an entire summer setting up a digital record keeper that I didn’t use. The truth is we can accomplish great things by using a to-do list in a notebook or planner we already own. Usually, the simplest method is the most effective.The shiny new app or planner isn’t what gets the work done; we are. Most of the time our research or lust for something new is just a way of putting off work.
Defeat this lie but looking for the notebooks, planners, and apps you already own but aren’t using. Often discovering a beautiful planner you already own is motivating. If you still don’t feel like working, we need to talk about lie #5.
#5 I’m a procrastinator
Labels are incredibly powerful. Most of us wouldn’t dream of labeling our children lazy. Children live up to their labels. But ‘procrastinator’ is the socially acceptable label we all love to laugh about. Yet, it really isn’t that funny. Procrastinating is costly financially, emotionally, and socially. Christians have the gift of self-control. We are capable of overcoming the procrastination habit, especially if we don’t wear the label with pride.
I don’t procrastinate frequently now, just as I don’t swear. It’s part of who I am as a Christian woman not to be fearful of a task or to put it off when the consequences are so negative.
To defeat this lie, stop believing that you’re a procrastinator. Begin practicing habits that will change your behavior. I did a year’s worth of weekly experiments to increase my productivity that may be of help. But two of my favorite tips for beating procrastination are to break work into tiny tasks and to randomly work on tasks. You can take something you’re putting off and create many small steps out of it. But I prefer to count a task as done for the day if I do anything on it. For example, let’s say I need to grade papers, something I don’t like to do. I can be done with the task if I make copies of the grading sheet I use to evaluate them. If I want to do more, I can. Otherwise, I’m done for today.
The next trick for defeating procrastination is to make a list of everything you want to do, including things you’ve been putting off. Roll some dice or use a random number generator like random.org to choose the next task you’ll do. I love to combine these two methods. If I land on “grade papers,” I can make the photocopies, cross off the task, and roll again. It’s a good idea to add an uncompleted task like grade papers to the end of the list or to tomorrow’s list.
#6 If it is to be, it’s up to me
This was my life motto, unfortunately. I didn’t allow God or anyone else to help me. The weight of marriage, parenting, homeschooling, and even my own medical care was on me. I didn’t ask for help because I didn’t trust anyone else, including God. I have changed a lot and no longer believe this lie.
Many homeschool moms are tired and overwhelmed because they don’t ask for help. They don’t pray and ask for specific, practical help. I prayed about a week that was completely overbooked. I had no idea how I was going to get it all done. One by one, the commitments dropped off the schedule. Even though it was my fault I was so overloaded, God in His mercy came to my rescue.
We also fail to ask our spouses for help. As long as I can make my needs clear, my husband is happy to help. He wants me to be stress-free. The key is to be clear about our needs. Our children can also do so much to help. The key with them is not to be perfectionists. I asked my children to cut some things out that we needed for co-op. They looked like children had cut them, but who cares? It was a great opportunity for them to learn and serve and a great opportunity for me to focus on what only I can do.
We can also ask our friends for help. If we never ask for help, we are silently communicating that they shouldn’t either. Think about that for a minute. Do you want your friends to give up homeschooling or get sick because they’re stressed and don’t believe they can ask for help? That’s what happens when we aren’t honest about our needs. I love that I have a friend who will teach for me and will also allow me to teach for her.
You Can Overcome the Time Lies in Your Life
When we work to defeat these six lies, we will find that we remember important things, feel as though we have enough time, work on tasks regularly and frequently, use what we have to get things done, get to work now, and ask God and others for help.
Which of these lies steals the most of your time? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.