We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by the cover” and that’s what I’m afraid might happen with my book. Which is why I wanted to have a live call Tuesday night so I could share my heart about my book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day.
It’s not that I don’t love the title, I do. But I have this fear people will think it’s a time management book, when it’s so much more than that.
I love what my friend Sheila Mangum called it: “the Christian War of Art.”
While I didn’t start out to write a book like that, it evolved into a look at why we so often resist doing our highest and best work … and that can be called “art.”
Anyway, last night I took questions and answered them live. But I couldn’t answer them all. And I promised to answer the rest on my blog today.
CLICK HERE to hear the recording
Here are the questions we didn’t have time for:
What famous person would I like to send a copy of Taming the To-Do List to?
This was probably the hardest question for me. I wasn’t sure if she was wondering who I thought needed it the most. LOL But I would love for David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) to read my book, so he would know what an impact he’s had on my life.
What made you want to write books? And at what moment did you know that’s what God had called you to do?
I actually didn’t grow up wanting to write books. I wanted to teach. But God called me in a different direction and I ended up with a degree in Journalism and Public Relations. It wasn’t until God called me to Proverbs 31 and I was around women who were writing books, that God birthed that dream in my heart. So I can see His plan all along to get me to this place. (I was pretty stubborn)
What are a few things you procrastinate in doing because you don’t enjoy doing them?
I don’t like anything to do with numbers. So organizing tax information is a big one for me. I used to procrastinate on balancing my checkbook until I decided it was a waste of time. Another area of procrastination is housecleaning. My house is pretty organized, but with 2 big dogs, 2 cats and kids, it’s not always clean.
Are you a digital to-do list girl, old school paper and pen to-do list girl or combination?
I’m actually a combo girl. I like to write my master to-do list on a Word document and keep in my computer. Then I transfer the week’s assignments to a spiral notebook.
Do you put relaxation or entertainment on your to-do list? If so, does it count as an accomplishment? If not, why not?
I do not put relaxation or entertainment on my to-do list. I keep my evenings and Sundays free for those types of things. But I will admit that I need to have more fun. So I probably should put it on my to-do list.
What area of your life do you struggle with the most, to keep it “tamed”?
Emails. Since I work remotely (I’m in Glendale, AZ and the P31 office is in Charlotte, NC) all my work centers around email communication. Maybe 2 times a year will my emails be at zero. This is something I’m still trying to tame.
How do I stick to a to do list and what should be a priority?
I would recommend only putting a few things on your to-do list every day. Keep a master list somewhere else, and only pull a few things you know need to be done. Having a due date will help you prioritize your work. If everything feels like a priority, try to reset your expectations. What can you really do next week?
With all the distractions in life, how do you prioritize and stay focus on your to-do list?
Like I mentioned in the answer above, a key is keeping a short to-do list. I seriously only put 2 or 3 things a day on my list. That’s manageable. Otherwise, I’m just overwhelmed with all I have to do. I always have a master list going though, and that brings me peace knowing my work is recorded somewhere.
How do you prioritize when you are essentially assistant to many people and their priorities can change with the wind?
That’s a hard situation. But I would say you are the manager of your workload. You have some authority over when you do what. Being calm and in control will convey your authority, even as an assistant. I would review my workload in the morning, set the agenda and then try and communicate that. I often have to balance work requests from other people. And when I tell them I’m working on a close deadline for someone else, they always understand it.
Who is your favorite author? Who is your hero?
Good question. I’m a huge fan of C.S. Lewis as an author. His book Mere Christianity changed my life. And I don’t think I have a “hero.” But there are so many people I admire. My husband is such a hard working man. I so respect and love my mother and sister, Paula. Two godly women who serve Jesus with their whole lives. My oldest sister Helen Ann passed away a few years ago, and I admired her greatly for her love for her children and grandchildren. I admire Lysa TerKeurst for so many things, her generosity of spirit, her love of God and people and her vision to expand God’s Kingdom. That’s a good start!
How do you “tame the to do list” when you have commitments that are critical such as caring for a parent with major health issues and getting them to the doctor appointments or hospital or just care they need and caring for a home to a minimum at the least. It just seems like so many things are critical. I can’t say no to a lot of things.
Sometimes life does get crazy. There’s no getting around those times. We just can’t plan health problems. So sometimes we just have to make it through the storm, and admit we can’t manage it all. I’ve had to back out of commitments when there have been other emergencies. People understand. And sometimes you just have to let things go, and accept a C when you’d rather get an A. Hopefully if we can build margin in our lives, these times won’t be chronic.
I am having a hard time getting motivated….I start feeling overwhelmed with having 4 kids ages 13 to 1 years I’m tired and a lot of times don’t want to do anything. What has helped you?
Blessings on you sister. You are in a busy season of life. I remember clearly when I realized I’d lost myself in those years. I had to start building back in things that made me happy. Even little things like buying myself some fresh flowers or a special coffee. My suggestion is to take care of yourself as best you can. Prioritize sleep (if you can). Build in things that make your heart sing. And let things go that aren’t that important. These years will pass.
When there are so many things that are worthy of getting involved in, how do you say no without feeling bad or guilty?
I have actually written out scripts to say no. I believe it’s important to honor the person making the request and see the value of the request itself. And then make sure the door is completely closed. For example:
Thank you so much for asking me to serve on this committee. You are doing an amazing job of leading it and the work is so important. However, I can’t add one more thing to my schedule. But I’m so honored you would ask.
Always be honest and honoring, and people should understand.
In your journey with the Lord in this area to “conquer” you’re very long list of to-do’s everyday how long did it take for noticeable changes to happen in you and also being able to hear God’s voice, and too overcome the hindrances. I have my 25 item list. I want to be free from this craziness.
I was overcommitted to too many things, and it took me about a year to bring my responsibilities under control. Identify what’s most important to you, and what isn’t a priority and start editing your life in little bite size pieces.
I am having some difficulty even getting organized to DO a to-do list. Looking forward to tips on this.
My suggestion is to make a master list of everything you need to do. Start it on a one page in a notebook (big enough for a long list) and leave it on a counter so you can add to it. Then as things come to mind, add it to your list. Ask other people in your family if they can think of things you need to do. In a few days, you’ll have your master list. Then pull a few things each day off of it (based on deadlines or due dates).
What’s your power scripture that you really cling to?
I love Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (NIV)
How do u keep from disappointing someone?
See answer to saying no.
How do you have peace about the stuff you just cannot do?
I feel very confident about what God has called me to do. That is a confidence based on God, not myself. So I can only explain the peace as from God as well.
I am a list-maker – LOVE my lists. But I find myself so bogged down in the “duty” of my lists that I lose joy in the process of going about my day and working through my lists. I’m out of balance. How do you get organized without going too far and losing your joy?
I’m still a work in process when it comes to carving out time for me. But that’s so important. We all need rest and refueling in our day. God designed our bodies to work better with rest. Try to take 5-10 minutes for you every 60-90 minutes.
When my schedule is overwhelmed by work, family, and other demands, I feel pulled in several directions at one time (figuratively and literally). What’s the best way to keep Bible study and writing a priority?
Although I don’t schedule it, I know lots of people who do. Make an appointment with yourself that’s non-negotiable. And start small. Even 10 minutes will change your day. Try our First 5 app if you are looking for an easy way to get started.
I’m a list collector!! I grab a piece of paper and jot things down to get them out of my head while I’m working. My intentions are good, but the list gets longer thru the day. How do I organize and conquer!!?
Hopefully I’ve answered this one in previous questions.
I feel so much confusion over my list. I find myself wasting so much time trying to decide what to do. I even spend hours trying to pick something that is important, and then I get to the end of a day having done nothing. How were you able to stop the craziness and begin to move forward. Hearing GOD’S voice also?
I bring my to-do list into my time with God. There are times I just sit and tell Him I’m so overwhelmed I don’t know where to start, and I ask Him for wisdom. He promises He will give it. Then I trust my instincts and pick one thing to do next.
I shifted from working from an office to being a work from home mom after giving birth to my second child. Now, when I sit at my desk at home and start writing for long hours, I feel like I am missing the point of working from home. I feel like I am not really able to do everything on my list which is to be a mom to my babies and to be able to earn while working from home. How do I choose which duties as a mom I should focus on and which I can delegate to their nanny?
As a work-at-home mom of 5, I know the challenges you are facing. Three live at home now. And I take lots of breaks throughout the day to just sit with them when they wander in to the room. The key for me is to fully engage with them. This means they have my full attention when I’m with them. And kids know when we are distracted. Try and build breaks into your day where you step away from your work and just enjoy your children. You’ll all be blessed.