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Arranging Your Thoughts Before You Plan

Sep 21, 2020

This post is by Danielle Smith.

Long ago, during the era now known as The Great Before (pre-Covid-19), there were pick-ups and drop-offs, play-dates and recitals, practices and games. And OH, how we complained! If only we had more hours in the day to plan everything out, we’d be in so much better shape! “Planning is so hard!” we exclaimed to ourselves and to anyone who would listen at Mommy and Me, blissfully unaware of the turmoil that lay ahead. Welp, here we are, living in the The Great Unknown, where every day runs approximately 56 hours, and guess what? Planning is still hard, and somehow, maybe even harder.

Unimpressed with our feelings, Covid continues to test our patience and faith in new and frightening ways. While time can feel like something of a flat circle, the absence of pre-determined schedules makes having an approach to planning even more valuable. Time management is crucial to maintaining our sanity and focus on Christ as we navigate this lifestyle. 

I find that now more than ever, I have to first arrange my thoughts if I want to have any hope of arranging my day. Distractions are running at an all-time high, and they thrive in the void of our usual occupations. This means intentionally crafting a mentality to make planning even possible, let alone productive, and I do this first thing when I wake up, starting with prayer and devotions. 

Recently, I’ve enlisted the help of a cell phone sleeping bag to fight the urge to reach for Twitter, Facebook, or any other news feed updates I may have missed overnight. Before I allow the current events of our time to blur my thought processes, I remind myself that Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 2020 is not news to Him. It’s not surprising, it’s not shocking, and He remains in control in the midst of all. So we have to carry on as best we can. 

I also have to remind myself that my priorities reflect who I am and what I value most. Luke 12:34keeps it pretty simple, telling us that where our treasure is, our heart is also. Even during a pandemic, I can’t devote extra time attempting to over-correct or compensate for everything we’re missing, without first giving God the time He’s owed. That has to be number 1 on the to-do list, or everything that follows will be off-kilter. 

Positive affirmations are another useful tool to clear my mind and devise a roadmap. I do this while brushing my teeth, since that’s a non-negotiable morning ritual for me. Sometimes I affirm aloud, other times I’ll say it in my head, as long as I’m looking at myself in the mirror. The affirmation I like to repeat is: “I am who God says I am, I have what God says I have, and He will do what He promised to do.” This is backed up by Jeremiah 29:11.

Once I’ve reminded, prioritized and affirmed, I can actually do the thing, and personally I would be lost without a physical planner. I use this  Christian Family Organizer, which fits space for groceries, menus, to-do’s, prayer and praise notes, and a monthly and weekly calendar on 2 adjoining pages. Over the weekend, I fill in what we’re eating and what’s needed for each meal before I shop. With so many meals at home now, taking the guesswork out of that process helps a lot. The goal is to check it at least once in the morning and once before I go to bed, but I keep it open on top of a kitchen counter or table that I’ll walk past several times a day, so it only takes a quick glance to jog my memory.

The hours between meals look different for all of us now, having to balance work and various other routines with limited childcare options, so the contents of each planner obviously will vary. With so many things up in the air, it often feels like a waste of time to reach for that planner at all. But if we can outline the right path in our hearts and minds first, we can be encouraged to do the same with our physical time afterwards.

 

Danielle Smith is a freelance writer and stay at home mom of 3 daughters living outside Philadelphia, Pa. She was a writer for ABC News before moving abroad for her husband’s career. They lived in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Israel for a total of 9 years before returning to the states permanently in 2017, where she continues to try and find her footing. Danielle is encouraged by the community of believers dedicated to uplifting women in Christ, and is happy to be a contributor to Hello Mornings.

Photo by Alexa Williams on Unsplash

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