I get it. You have so many posts coming into your inbox or feed reader and you can’t get to them all. I’ve already shared the top 10 posts from Psychowith6 for 2014, but that list doesn’t include some of my favorite posts. If you have missed any of these, I’ll give you a good reason to click through and read.
6 Reasons I’ll Never Be a Perfect Homeschooler
It never ceases to amaze me when people say they see me as being better than I really am. I’ve gotten some great feedback from homeschooling families who can relate to what I share in this post. And the truth is, I’m not even airing the really dirty laundry! I’m not a perfect homeschooler, but homeschooling is perfect for me.
Motivation To Do What’s Most ImportantToday
I watched an Andy Stanley Bible study video that really motivated me not to wait on what matters. I was so inspired that I summarized the truths into a one-page poster that anyone can use to get motivated every day. Reading it can be like taking a vitamin–it’s good for you!
The 1-Thing To-Do List
I love books that help me to simplify my life. My m.o. seems to be to make it complicated. Choosing just one thing in each area of my life to focus on gives me so much peace. I was thrilled to figure out how to create a form for tracking this way of thinking about tasks. If you crave more simplicity like I do, I recommend you take a peek–even if the form isn’t your cup of tea.
Opposite Advice for Getting More Done
Does it make sense to do what everyone else does so you get the results everyone else gets? I don’t think so! This post may inspire you to do the opposite of what you’re doing or simply to be proud that you’re doing things your own way because it works!
Bringing Mr. Popper’s Penguins to Life
This is such a fun book for kids to read and I was surprised when a real life Mr. Popper helped us with our homeschooling. I think your kids will enjoy this post even if they haven’t yet read the book.
100 of the Best Language Arts Printables
I love to pin single posts that collect a lot of valuable resources in one place, so I created one. Pin this for later and you’ll have access to all kinds of goodies to make your kids better readers and writers.
Did I miss any of your favorites here? I love hearing from readers.
Be sure to check out the other iHomeschool Network bloggers’ favorite posts from 2014.
I have read so many productivity and organizing books that I started to think I can’t learn anymore, but boy was I wrong! It isn’t that the concepts are completely new; it’s that the personal insights and presentation are. I had a hard time limiting myself to six, but here are some great productivity books for you to read this year and why I’m crazy about them.
I was very surprised that this book, which helps you evaluate your productivity habits regardless of your approach, was so enlightening. For example, one habit is collection. This is the idea that you need to collect all of your to-do’s into one trusted system. This is so obvious, but David Allen helped me see that my failure to do this was giving me grief. I’ve been using some kind of task management system for a long time, so I thought I would get high marks in this area. Wrong!
The evaluation in the book helped me see that I was not collecting phone, text, or IM-related tasks. Thus, I was forgetting them! I am now immediately adding them to my system, which at present is ToDoist.
There were other reasons I loved the book, not the least of which is its use of research to support best practices for getting more done. Francis Wade wrote a guest post in which he explains how we can get even more done if we’re already productive.
This is a book you’ll want in your library, regardless of the app or system you’re using at the time.
I cannot even describe how much I love this book. This book is the natural sequel to FLYLady’s Sink Reflections. I don’t believe I have ADHD, but the author makes it clear that you don’t have to have it to benefit from these organizing principles.
I think I can summarize the premise of the book this way: organize for how you will behave rather than how you’d like to behave. In other words, you may wish you would take the time to put things back into beautiful, stacked Pottery Barn containers, but the truth is you will shove it back into a cabinet, wherever there is room. So make room! Drastically declutter.
I am following the home storage solutions 101 calendar for decluttering this year and I am drastically decluttering. Here’s an example. I have a large number of expensive kitchen appliances that I needed when I was really into healthy eating (why I’m not obsessed with this anymore is a post for another time). While I keep telling myself that I’m going to make homemade jerky and tortillas and bread with wheat flour from my mill, but I don’t. These appliances take up enormous room in my kitchen and mind. Every time I see them, I feel like a failure. No more! They served a purpose at one time in my life and now I’m going to bless someone else with them.
There is more to this book than I can describe here, but I can’t recommend it enough.
I am easily overwhelmed by all the things I have to or would like to do. Most people have heard of the 80/20 principle (that 80% of the rewards come from 20% of your efforts). Keller makes it that much simpler: choose the one thing that will make everything else easier or eliminated.
I was so enamored with the book that I created a daily, weekly, monthly to-do list for it. I still love it as it gives me clarity and peace of mind.
The One Thing can give you peace of mind, too, no matter how many to-do’s you have on your list.
I heard about Essentialism after I read The One Thing. I worried that it would be redundant. It wasn’t.
My biggest takeaway from the book is that I want to BE an essentialist rather than do a few things to simplify my life. I want to replace the nonessentialist thinking of I have to, everything is important, and I can do it all with I choose to, only a few things really matter, and I can do anything, but not everything. The last two are particularly important for me. As hard as it is to admit that I can’t do it all (and that it doesn’t even matter that I can’t), there is great freedom there too.
Essentialism is a book I need to reread regularly. I think you’ll want to be an essentialist, too, if you give it a read.
Loren has guest blogged for Psychowith6 on productivity before and I’m a huge fan. He recently completed his ebook which is free to subscribers. I have to tell you that I’ve read a huge number of books on procrastination and I wasn’t expecting much, but this book is really valuable if you are a Christian who struggles with putting things off.
My favorite tip from the book was to visualize yourself in the process of working toward your goal and not just achieving the goal. As I work on my curriculum, I keep fantasizing about the day when the first volume is complete. That’s great! But it makes the day-to-day fanny-in-chair stuff seem that much more unpleasant. Now I visualize myself writing and learning how to complete the project.
That brings me to another insight from the book which was HUGE for me. Loren writes that many people procrastinate because they don’t have a growth mindset, but more of a pass/fail one. In other words, some people put things off when they discover a task doesn’t come easily to them. They assume that they “just aren’t good at it” so there’s no point in continuing. I realized that this is me! I approached my blog that way. When I didn’t have instant success, I thought I wasn’t good at it, and waffled about continuing. Now, of course, I know that like most things, it’s something you can improve on. Most importantly for me, I realized that I had a pass/fail mindset about the curriculum I’m writing. I was wondering if I would be good at it or not. That set me up to procrastinate. Now I’m approaching it as something that will be challenging at first, but that I will grow into.
I believe you’ll gain insights in your procrastination and how to stop, too.
I listened to this book via Audible when I was on vacation and it was just what I needed. While it is geared toward creatives (and is rated PG for language), I found the admonitions to unplug and give myself time to think incredibly valuable.
The book does offer good ideas for building routines as well. But I do pretty well at that already. What I don’t do as well at is giving myself margin. As a result of reading the book, I plan to take Sundays off and unplug. That may be challenging at first, but I’ll grow into it. It’s not a pass/fail, right?
What productivity books did you read last year that you recommend?
You may enjoy the other 5 Day Hopscotch posts from iHomeschool Network bloggers. Check them out!
How on earth can we do everything on our to-do lists? We can’t. But we can do the most important things!
I recently wrote about my enthusiasm for the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller, in a post on getting organized to blog or have a business while homeschooling. But this approach to productivity has the capacity to help anyone get more done.
A friend asked how I used the approach. I explained how I am using it to improve my marriage and work with my digital task list. She mentioned that she wished there was a good paper list to be used with this approach and I was inspired! Read on for what I shared with her and what I ended up using to manage my own tasks.
JUST WANT THE TO-DO LIST? Click here to download a blank PDF of the 1-Thing To-Do List or Click here to subscribe to productivity posts and get an editable form.
First, what’s The One Thing?
Gary Keller urges his readers to determine the one thing that would make the biggest impact in their lives (usually that will be the thing that makes the biggest impact in others’ lives, too). Once we know that, we can determine the one thing that would have the biggest impact on our lives in the next five years, next year, and so on. The great way he defines the one thing is:
the one thing you can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary.
If you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life, I urge you to spend time praying and thinking about it. The book itself may help your thinking. Once you know your ultimate goal, deciding the one most important thing to do becomes easier. As a busy homeschooling mom with many interests, I loved the concept of choosing the one thing in every area of my life. I can’t possibly choose only one important area of my life to focus on! If you get stuck choosing one thing, remember that choosing doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else–it just means that you have chosen what you think is the most valuable use of your time for now. Perfectionists, take note: choose what appears to be the one thing. That’s good enough!
For inspiration on using a one-thing approach, listen to Jeff Sanders’s podcast on the subject.
How I’m Using The One Thing to Build My Marriage
I realized from interviewing Dr. Don McCulloch, author of Perfect Circle, that I longed for my husband to ask me what he could do to make the marriage of my dreams a reality. The problem was, like most men, he was inclined to guess what I needed and would give me that instead. Inspired by The One Thing, I asked my husband what the one thing was that would make his day easier (that I could do) and he told me. He was very open to hearing the one thing he could do to make my day easier, too. In fact, he is asking me this question on his own now. Wow!
I recommend asking your spouse what s/he needs first and then telling your spouse what you need most and make it a daily habit. Morning works best for us. Before you know it, your spouse will be asking you first!
How I Use The One Thing to Get More Done with ToDoist
Because I already have my tasks sorted by life area (colored categories) in ToDoist, it’s easy for me to review these and choose my one thing each day. I have tasks dated (something I accomplish during my weekly review) for the week, making choosing one to make top priority quick and easy. Rather than work from the Today view, I keep my list open to Top Priority tasks until they’re complete. I take all of this one step further by scheduling time for each “one thing” in Timeful. I explain more about this in 6 Important Habits for Getting More Done.
How To Use The One Thing with a Paper To-Do List
I’m absolutely crazy about digital task solutions like ToDoist, but I’m also crazy about pretty paper lists–the more colorful, the better. When my friend mentioned a paper list, I had to create a weekly form that would work for 1-Thing Productivity. Each life area has a color and a space for one monthly and weekly thing that will make everything else in that life area easier. What do I mean by life areas? The best way to explain is with examples. My life areas are church/faith, marriage, kids, homeschooling, blog, business, relationships, organization, personal, and scrapbooking.
The beauty of this list is the linear connection between your monthly and weekly 1-things and your daily 1-things. Every day, you list a new 1-thing per life area and check it or cross it off as you complete it.
Click here to download a blank PDF of the 1-Thing To-Do List. You will hand write up to ten life areas in the colored boxes. An editable Word form is a subscriber freebie. (Subscribers, you’ll find yours in the subscriber freebies folder.) Click here to subscribe to productivity posts.
A few notes. Sometimes your 1 thing won’t correspond with your weekly and monthly 1 thing. That’s ok. The form exists to keep your longer-term things top of mind. You may also have days when you don’t need to do anything in a particular life area. That’s ok, too. The form serves as a reminder of all the important aspects of your life and where you’re devoting the most time. If I don’t complete an area’s “one thing,” I rewrite it for the next day IF it’s still the one most important thing I can do.
Finally, you may have other must-do’s for a particular life area. You can approach this in a few different ways. First, list the rest of your must-do-today’s on the back of the form under today’s date. You could work on them as you complete the various 1 things. Second, you could keep these other must-do’s on a separate list that you only tackle once all of your 1 things are done. Lastly, you could schedule your “one things” and everything else you want to accomplish today on your calendar or datebook or using an app like Timeful. I use the latter approach.
Whatever method you choose, the 1 Thing approach to getting more done is really powerful. What 1 thing could you do right now that would make the rest of your day easier? Let me know how this works for you.
Whether you blog or own a business, this is the week to get organized! If neither apply to you, spend time on a previous challenge you skipped (check them out at the bottom of the post). If your calling is to do more than homeschool (and let’s face it, that’s more than enough!), you need to put systems in place to save your sanity. I know I do! So let’s get started.
#1 Pray about your purpose
I have had many times in my life when I was chasing after the wrong outlet for my writing and speaking passion or I was seeking the right thing in the wrong season. God has made His purpose for me clear at those times when I began with prayer. Sometimes I sensed His leading as I read Scripture or as I prayed, but most often His purpose was confirmed for me through talking with my husband and friends who have similar goals.
I want to encourage you that God’s plan for your blog or business is always good–even if the plan is wait. If you have little ones, I know you’ve heard it thousands of times, but it’s true. You will have more time for your business when babies grow up. And they do. Trust me.
When you know what your purpose is, record the reasons for your ultimate goal and review them daily. Research shows that if you not only write your goal but visualize yourself working toward it and achieving it, you’re significantly more likely to succeed.
#2 Identify the 20%
You may have heard of Pareto’s principle–that 20% of what you do gives you 80% of the results. Knowing what those are and limiting yourself to them when you don’t have a lot of extra time (and when do you?) will make your blogging or business so much less stressful.
I recently read The One Thing by Gary Keller. Gary takes Pareto’s principle one step further to ask us what is the one thing we could do in our blog or business that would make everything else easier or even unnecessary. Let me give you some examples of how this works in my blogging. First, my number one traffic source is Pinterest. That is the one thing I want to devote time to to grow my blog. It makes determining whether I want to invest in an expensive course to grow my Facebook following much easier. My purpose for my blog is to grow an audience for the language arts curriculum I am developing. What’s the one thing I can do to make my goal of selling that curriculum a reality? Right now, it’s WRITING the curriculum. I keep getting sidetracked by all these great link-ups and ideas for posts and opportunities to contribute to other books. But will those things help me do the one thing that matters most in my business? No.
I hired Jimmie Lanley to consult with me on my blog and business and she was worth quadruple what I paid her, because she helped me identify the 20% in my blogging. If you need help determining your 20%, contact her. I interviewed Jimmie about making blogging a business as well. Be sure to give it a listen (I recommend listening in the shower with this great speaker).
What is the one thing that will make everything else easier or unnecessary in your blog or business?
#3 Identify time savers
Using the same one-thing idea, what is the one thing you can do that would make the most time for your blog or business? It probably isn’t an app or plug-in. For me, it was restructuring my school day so I had time to write in the early afternoon when I have the most energy. I explained this when I shared 6 Habits for Getting More Done. Saving five minutes here or there is nice, but that kind of time management is unlikely to have the effect you’re looking for on your business. Think big! Could you hire help? Delegate? Drop out of activities?
Now that I know what my one thing is, it’s much easier for me to identify time savings BEFORE I commit to something new. You may need to return to prayer and discussion for help with this. And don’t discount the kids! Depending on their ages, they may be able to tell you what you can let go of where they’re concerned.
#4 Time block
Once you know what your one thing is for your blog or business and you’ve eliminated activities to make room for it, put time for it on your calendar. I’ve written about how useful time blocking is for me before, but I’m enjoying the benefits of it even more now that I’ve completed the previous three steps. I am committed to writing my curriculum from 1-3 p.m. daily.
But what about interruptions? I have conflicts with my afternoon writing time on some days and I do have six other people still living at home who interrupt me. Actually, my college student likes to interrupt me with phone calls, too, but I honestly don’t mind! I need to make it clear that this is my business time, however. I learned keeping an interrupter’s log, how much of a problem this is for me. When I can’t write from 1-3, I move the time around. If I can’t write for two hours, I commit to writing SOMETHING that day. I’m using Jerry Seinfield’s “Don’t break the chain” method to meet my goal and it’s working fabulously. I don’t like using an app for this purpose (surprisingly), but am just putting an X on my wall calendar.
When are you going to commit time to the one thing that will make your blog or business more successful? Put it on your calendar and let your family know you’re not to be disturbed unless the bleeding won’t stop. (Yes, I’m joking. But if you’d like to write a lengthy comment about what a terrible mother I am, I would enjoy deleting it.)
I’d love to hear if this challenge helps you get more of what you want out of your blog or business! And of course, I’d love for you to follow me on Pinterest. My Blogging Inspiration and Organization & Productivity boards may be of interest to you.
Visit Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s profile on Pinterest.
Here is the October 2014 Organized Homeschool Calendar and a list of previous week’s challenges:
Organized Homeschool Challenge
Week 1: Daily Devotions Challenge
Week 2: Daily Routine Challenge
Week 3: To-Do List Challenge
Week 4: Memory Keeping Challenge
Week 5: The Decluttering Challenge
Week 6: The Organized Computer Challenge
Week 7: The Marriage of Your Dreams Challenge
Week 8: The Confident Parent Challenge
Week 9: The Extended Family Challenge
Week 10: The Bring on the Spring Challenge
Week 11: The Spring Cleaning Challenge
Week 12: The Organized Easter Challenge
Week 13: The Serve the Church Challenge
Week 14: The Chore Challenge
Week 15: The Organize Your Finances Challenge
Week 16: The Curriculum Challenge
Week 17: The Friendship Challenge
Week 18: The Family Celebrations Challenge
Week 19: The Organized Clothing Challenge
Week 20: The Organized Vacation Challenge
Week 21: The Organized Summer Challenge
Week 22: The Outdoor Activity Challenge
Week 23: The Used Curriculum Challenge
Week 24: The Homeschool Space Challenge
Week 25: The Goal Setting Challenge
Week 26: The Homeschool Planning Challenge
Week 27: The Bible Time Challenge
Week 28: The Special Study Prep Challenge
Week 29: The Extra-Curricular Challenge
Week 30: The Core Curriculum Prep Challenge
Week 31: The Elective Curriculum Challenge
Week 32: The Back to School Challenge
Week 33: The Fall Bucket List Challenge
Week 34: The Organized Bedroom Challenge
Week 35: The Clean Out the Pantry Challenge
Week 36: The Meal Planning Challenge
Week 37: The Grocery Shopping Challenge
Week 38: The Organized Kitchen Challenge
Week 39: The Freezer Cooking Challenge
Week 40: The Hospitality Challenge