Let all things be done decently and in order. – 1 Corinthians 14:40
Every year, I tend to get a bit stressed out during the holidays. Perhaps more than a bit, actually.
During much of October, November, and December, I add more tasks to my to-do list each day than I cross off, and I usually end squeezing in a few marathon work days to finish it all before Christmas morning, with a huge sigh of relief and a longing to sleep for a week.
Of course, I don’t need to do everything, every day (as my husband gently reminds me). Some tasks take priority, while others can truly be left undone.
And, many of the items on my list are important only to me.
For example, no one else in my family cares if I decorate with red- and green-covered books at Christmas. (For some reason, I care far too much about that sort of thing.) But they do care if I am too tired to sniffle my way through It’s a Wonderful Life with them, or too busy to play Dutch Blitz until we are laughing and shouting at one another – all in fun, of course.
If I’m honest, I must admit that I live most of my life – not just the Christmas season – in a state of being too tired and too busy for the best things.
To what end?
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 2:11
Though I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, I do reflect on the prior year and assess areas in which I’ve improved or worsened. While I’ve grown in some areas this year, I didn’t learn to control the stress that buzzes in the back of my mind, like white noise that I can never turn off.
After some prayer and consideration, I thought I’d plunge into the world of planning to see if that would alleviate my problem. After all, our Father is a God of planning, order, and design. We can see His orderly mind within the books of the law, for example, in which He outlined an entire way of life for the Jews, from when they should plant their crops to what they should and should not eat.
Just as God had a plan for His people, He has a plan for the universe as a whole, and for us as individuals.
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. – Colossians 1:17
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. – Jeremiah 29:11
Hence, I needed to take my own planning up a notch.
On New Year’s Day, I started my planning process by creating one huge list of nearly every task I do, along with those I would like to do, including chores, workouts, meals, blogging, Scripture memory, ministry opportunities, food shopping, online shopping, family time, time with my husband, writing and other creative endeavors, home renovation projects…you get the idea. The list was LONG, and I’m still adding to it.
Next, I separated my list into categories: necessary/daily tasks, short-term projects, long-term projects, and extras.
Finally, using a basic spiral notebook, I marked the days and dates for the entire month of January, leaving about half a page for each day. In the space for each day, I first filled in daily tasks, including Bible study and exercise. Then, I divided up other regular tasks throughout the week, such as laundry and paying bills. Last, I scattered other tasks and goals throughout the month, placing them according to priority. At the end of the month, I’ve planned to create a similar schedule for February.
Though it’s only been a week, I’ve enjoyed my days far more. Knowing that I have a finite number of things to do each day, and seeing all my tasks and goals laid out in an orderly manner gives me great peace of mind. And, such detailed planning actually leaves me feeling more flexible. I can look ahead and add things to lighter days, or move things around if my day doesn’t go according to plan – which it often does not!
Of course, I realize that my plans matter little in light of God’s ultimate plan for me. I know that He is in control, and that I must always pray, “Not my will, but thine, Lord.”
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. – James 4:13-15
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Are you a planner? Have you made any New Year’s goals? I look forward to your input!