Eight Ways to Make Your Days Count, by Elli O.

With the global pandemic, the inconclusive election results, the weird weather, and pending winter, it seems that some people are in a shopping frenzy, trying to prepare for their uncertain future. I believe they call it “topping off their preps”. Others, still, are doing very little to prepare. If you are reading this article then the reason for your inactivity is probably not denial of the possibly “end times”. It is very likely that you are just overwhelmed with everything that you think needs to be done RIGHT NOW!

How can we stay motivated? How can we look at our day and feel that we have used our time wisely? How can we avoid the trap of wasting hours (days?) watching YouTube videos and forwarding the latest political jokes on to friends and family?

On the flip side of the coin, how can we keep our days from being filled with the hustle and bustle of prepping? What keeps us from constantly shopping for more supplies, the newest gadgets, or reading the latest post-apocalyptic fiction novel? How can we prevent our lives from being set on the level of frenzy?

The intent of this article is to help you find a balance between frantic preparing and slothful living.

Finding, creating, and maintaining a balanced life takes years of practice and yet still may never be fully obtained. But we should strive for this useful and amazing ability. The Bible says in Psalms 90:12, “Teach us to number our days so that we can gain a heart of wisdom.” I remember reading a translation that said, “Teach us to count our days, so that our days will count.”

My Eight Tips

Here are some practical yet useful tips on making the best use of the time we have been given.

  1. Know, set, and maintain your priorities. Everyone is different and I am sure that for some, work, or family, or pleasure is a high priority. For me it is very important to spend time with God early in my day. But I also have livestock (cows, sheep, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and goats) that need fed and one goat that appreciates being milked in a timely fashion so as not to have serious medical problems. So when I awake, I throw on my clothes, attend to the livestock, and then come inside to start my day. Once back inside I have my Bible devotions, then my breakfast, during which time I handle emails, check my favorite blogs, and decide what tasks should be accomplished this day. I know that on some days this schedule may vary, but this is what works well for me most of the time.
  2. Know the difference between urgent/ time-sensitive/ important/ needs/ desires. Many times what others deem as urgent is not as important to me. And there are times when, that which I want to do must be delayed because of what I need to do (time-sensitive tasks). When I become frustrated because my schedule is too full, I ask myself this question, “What needs to be done right now?” And when I realize that I have been lazy and have wasted my time, I ask myself, “What was I doing that took up my time?” This helps me identify the problem area so that I can be more conscious about the time spent doing useless/frivolous activities.

Let me say this: I am not against having a good time and I enjoy fun activities as much as anyone. However, today’s society is so centered on being entertained that I fear it causes us to lose days of our lives to inconsequential pleasures. We only get 1,440 minutes every day to spend as we desire. I want to be careful how I use my time so as to not waste. Also, the Bible says that each one of us must give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12). I definitely don’t want to stand before the One who gave me life (and so much more) and have to explain why I wasted my days playing games on my phone!

  1. Write it down! Yes, I am saying to make a physical list of what you would like to accomplish in a certain time period. I do my list for a day, except on weekends and then I do it for a 2 day period. Although I try to complete most of my list on Saturday, there are times when a few items trickle over into Sunday. Physically writing down my goals for the day serves several purposes. Firstly, when I find myself lacking motivation, I will list items that I need to accomplish. Then I will complete one or two of the easier ones. This can help get my attitude aligned with the idea of being productive. It works as an encouragement boost for me. Secondly, with everything that my brain thinks about in a day, I can easily forget what I want to get done. Making a list is a visible reminder of desired items I wish to accomplish. Which leads me to the next tip…
  2. Keep the Sabbath. I don’t believe that God is impressed by our excessive work ethics. I do believe that He created the Sabbath so that we would intentionally rest from our labors. I also believe that resting from our work is JUST AS IMPORTANT as resting for our work. God created rest so that we can gain strength for the tasks ahead. In other words, we should rest so we can work, not just work so we can rest.

For us, our Sundays begin by worshipping with our fellow believers, and followed by family time. Sometimes we play board games, or work on a group project, or just enjoy a meal together.

  1. Leave room for unexpected delays. Very rarely do my “easy” tasks get accomplished as quickly as I THINK THEY SHOULD! I am embarrassed to tell of the many projects I have begun that I truly believed I could finish quickly and unaided… only to quit in frustration and wait for my wonderful, talented, and quite handy husband to help me complete them. He is always so gracious during those times!
  2. Be kind to yourself. There will be days when due to circumstances (some beyond your control and some within our control) when you lack the energy and motivation to accomplish great things! It’s okay to have a less-than-productive day every now and then. Some days when I START THE DAY feeling exhausted, I will take time in the afternoon for a nap. This gives me enough strength to get through the rest of the day without falling asleep at the dinner table! Other times when I am really dragging both physically and emotionally, I give myself permission to be pleased with the completion of little tasks- like taking a shower or fixing dinner!
  3. Make time to help others. We are all busy; I get that. But the giving of our time and energy to

others is beneficial on several levels. It keeps us from becoming self-absorbed. It reminds us how blessed we are. It shows others that we care enough to help them.

There are times when my husband has a lot on his plate-like now. (We are trying to complete the interior of our 2,500 square foot pole barn.) And although he is acting as general contractor, there are times when I can help reduce his workload by making calls or getting supplies. The relief I see in his eyes when I ask him if there is anything I can do to help is worth every ounce of energy it takes me to complete the tasks he gives me.

  1. Do something unpleasant every day. Think of it as an exercise in discipline. When we get used to performing unpleasant tasks, and completing them with a good attitude, then we can tackle more difficult/more unpleasant tasks without so much as a grumble! Imagine the impact you can have on those around you when you are seen completing a repulsive task without complaining or sighing or even rolling your eyes. The world (or at least your family) will be grateful for your pleasant demeanor and your joyful attitude! And you will bless someone else because now THEY won’t have to do the “nasty” task!

Now, to wrap things up (so that I can get more tasks accomplished)…

Being retired, my daily schedule varies only a little, but I try to be productive and accomplish more than sitting on the couch, watching soap operas, and popping bonbons… None of which I do, except the bonbons J. And yes, due to my clinical depression I know the frustration of not having the energy or desire to even get out of bed- let alone be productive. But I have also known days packed so full of anxious activity that I almost instantly fall asleep when my head hits the pillow. Neither of these extremes are good or balanced.

But my end goal every day is to make this day count. So at the end of my day, as with any mission, I do some evaluation /assessment (some may call this personal reflection) on my activities. I ask myself these questions:

  1. Did I get some things on my “to do” list done?
  2. Did I waste time?
  3. If I did waste time, what was I doing (watching movies, playing games, social media)?
  4. How can I lessen the time I waste?
  5. What are some tasks that I want to complete tomorrow?

So now I ask you, “What are you doing to make your day count?”




19 Comments

  1. Very good pointers Elli O! All of them are valuable. #2 stands out to me because it is so true. During my career I managed a division of expert problem solvers and we got all the “company’s” problems. Of course the issues were all time sensitive; but as you said, each was not of the same value. First for us was: Is it life threatening? How many people will die if this issue is not resolved today, tomorrow or next week? The priorities went down from there. People bring issues would get very upset with me when I told them their problem was not the highest priority we had to solve, but we would get to them shortly.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I too find satisfaction in answering “what did I accomplish today?” at the end of the workday. Trying to teach it to my kids is quite challenging. ‘Rescued the princess’ or ‘new high score’ seems more important to them… but its starting to change.

  3. Having been a homemaker for 47 years now (our anniversary was earlier this week), much of my morning routine is on auto pilot. I do use a bullet journal for the extras – sewing projects, preserving food, organizing, contacting people etc.

    I really appreciate this very practical article, Elli!

  4. Thank you for that practical article. The circumstances we are living in right now, here in America, can “freeze” people emotionally and physically. So much time filled with anxiety over the lockdowns, jobs, election, and worries about the future. I pray for my family members as they sort through the chaos.

    For me, I’m a list maker too. It comes from managing large, complicated, critical projects when I was a full time professional. The past couple of years, as I was recovering (and am still) from serious illness, I have made lists with categories:
    1. What must be done
    2. What should be done
    3. What do I want to do
    Now that I have some balance in my day, I just have one list and it’s basically the “must be done” list, as I am able to pick and choose without stressing about what I have not accomplished. Periodically, I check the list and ask myself if I can check off a couple of the “must be done” items. I try to be more laid back and forgiving of myself when things aren’t perfect around me. I am a reformed Type A, so for those of us who push themselves to the outer limits, it’s important for us to rest – even if rest has to be scheduled in. We are all so different.
    God bless.

  5. I think words are important.

    Similar to the homosexuals corrupting the word ‘gay’, the marxists misused the word ‘epidemic’, then corrupted it worse it into ‘pandemic’.

    Just as I refuse to use anything other than ‘the homosexuals’ to describe the homosexuals, I refuse to ‘pandemic’.
    Instead, I use ‘this phase of this Economic Lock-Down’ to describe this phase of the global elites attempts to destroy small businesses.

    The marxists use of ‘pandemic’ is disinformation.
    The marxists use of ‘gay’ is disinformation.

    Correct me if my memory is wrong.
    In the old myths, was Pan the god of chaos?
    Is a ‘pandemic’ engineered to keep us off-balance and focused on worldly issues?

    And I am pretty sure a ‘quarantine’ of healthy folk is grammatically impossible.
    And I cast a wary eye on anybody claiming to be a ‘guru’ or ‘expert’.

    And ‘tofu’ is ‘toe-foo’.
    So there!

  6. I agree that words have great power. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. One can say ” I can’t, it’s too hard, it’s difficult! ” Or you can say ” it’s going to be a challenge”, Or, ” I’ll just take the next step”. One way you start defeated, the other way you have hope and are encouraged. By breaking down seemingly impossible tasks you can actually accomplish really big jobs. When dealing with serious fatigue or health issues it’s wise to make smaller goals that take you to accomplishing the larger goal. I find it useful to set a timer when I have to take a break because of fatigue. That way I can totally relax and yet know it’ll be for a limited time. I like the idea of prioritizing your goals so you don’t fritter away your time. Intentional living is more satisfying.

  7. Hey Elli O. Excellent article.

    “Keep the Sabbath. I don’t believe that God is impressed by our excessive work ethics. I do believe that He created the Sabbath so that we would intentionally rest from our labors.”

    This is great advice for anyone, whether they’re religious or not. Aside from the things you mentioned, for me the biggest advantage of a day of rest is that it’s an excuse not to work. No more guilt feelings for not getting things accomplished. I work way too much, mostly on various homestead projects, but it’s still work. It’s nice to not feel guilty about not accomplishing things on my day off, it’s a huge psychological boost.

    The only thing I can add to what you’ve mentioned is that every two weeks or so, I wake up and decide that today, I’m going to only work on all those things I’ve been procrastinating, both big and small. That includes things I’ve lived with, which have a simple solution, but that I never stopped long enough to ask myself, “What is the solution?” My best wooden spoon is very stout and long so it makes an excellent tool for making jam and my 5-quart batches of chili. But it’s way too long to fit in the drawer properly causing frustration when I tried to dig other things out. Solution 1 was to start carving my own spoons which were stout but shorter, then it occurred to me, “Hey Dummy, it already has a hole in the end of the handle, let’s hang it up alongside the kitchen window above the sink.” So that’s it’s new home and it looks great hanging there. So, my point is, those problems that we’ve just been absent mindedly living with, we should stop and think, “How can I fix this?” and add that to our list to remove some of the little frustrations that we just live with.

  8. • Ezekiel 20:12 (NKJV)
    12 Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD (YHVH) who sanctifies them.

    Sanctify: The state of proper functioning; to set a person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer.

    • Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)
    31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good (tov). So, the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

    Genesis 2:1-3 (NKJV)
    1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

    Tov (Hebrew): good, to function in its designed purpose.

    1. Toby,
      Thank you for those quotes from Scripture. Your comment was very timely and appropriate. A passage that comes to mind is the following:
      Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
      Based on the quotes you have already posted we should all know which day the sabbath day is – the seventh.
      Shalom,
      David

  9. Excellent pointers, applicable to most anyone in any situation.

    An adjunct to your comments is that people who set (realistic) goals are likely to get more done, efficiently and effectively, than people who don’t set goals and are easily distracted by this by daily “noise”or react only at the last minute when a task can seem overwhelming. Aesop wrote a few stories about this…
    Setting and prioritizing goals can be calming and satisfying, productive, and time and money saving.

  10. A great article on finding balance between preparedness and life right now. Our family prepped like mad all through the summer and autumn, so that now we have a feeling of “now what…?” With holidays coming, the focus has now shifted to meaningful gifts for the family. Warm hand-knit items to keep family warm if the power goes out. A “real” archery set for our son, who recently earned his archery merit badge, so he can put his skill to more practical uses than shooting at a target. And rearranging our shelves so that it’s easier to locate, and rotate, all of our preps. Let’s not forget that all-important toilet paper!

  11. One of the things I used to do each morning when I worked (now retired) was to list three things I did not want to do but needed to do at work. Then I attacked the list. For some reason creating the list made it easier to take on those ugly tasks. There are really only two ‘secrets’ to doing this and that is make a list and “start” on that list. The “start” is the most important. Even if you cannot complete the list you must start; take action to get it done. It was not uncommon to have to carry an item forward to tomorrow’s list but each day is a new day. Make a list and take action.

  12. I learned at a pretty young age that starting is mental and it’s 90% of the job that also comes with great relief and the feeling that, yes, I can do this task.
    My latest task is total and complete devotion to organizing everything. The “kids” just got a tour when the came for Thanksgiving and they were stunned to see what I accomplished. The final task is a notebook detailing each room, closet or storage area to help anyone who needs an item to know exactly where to find it. I am kind of surprised that I could accomplish this task as it was a big one. Thank you, Lord, for your help and guidance!

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