Five Ways to Get More Done

A strong work ethic speaks volumes.  Whether you want a raise at work, want to impress your boss, or look for profits within your own business, your work ethic is the most accurate predictor of success.  If you are a stay at home mom, the same holds true.  At the end of the day, you want some tangible evidence that your presence mattered.  Something accomplished.  As both a small business owner and a sort of stay at home mom, I understand.

While we all have days…or months…when we find ourselves hard pressed to list any fruitful accomplishment, you can increase the efficacy of your labors with just a few tweaks to your daily routine.  That’s right.  I’m not talking about becoming the next Steve Jobs…just a few simple actions make a big difference.

My number one tip:  Make a list the night before.  This is nothing new.  Ever since Ivy Lee implemented this process in a Charles Schwaab company, it’s been the gold standard of increased productivity.  I find it doesn’t really matter if I list 5 tasks, prioritize the tasks, or even fanatically pursue them when I bolt out of bed.  Just making the list helps me focus.  I automatically begin my day in a productive way.

Finish what you start.  My second tip  is still nothing new.  But what a difference it makes.  I remember going through a tub in the basement looking for a particular color of embroidery thread.  To my horror, I found three projects I’d abandoned.  Lost interest.  Lost my focus.  Abandoned.  That changed me.  I started forcing myself to finish what I started, be it large or small, and was astonished at how much more I actually accomplished in all of life.

Put it away when you’re done.  Nothing destroys my productivity like not being able to find the tool, the advertisement, the thing I’m looking for…and I hate it when I find it buried under other things.  We all have a secret place where we stash trivia in a hurry.  Sometimes it’s a kitchen drawer…or in my case, a room!  Either way, it hinders me getting things done when I waste time LOOKING for what I need. Grrrrr!  I hate that!!  I’m learning to put things away.

Do it now!  Whether you’re a Nike lover or not, I live by this!  The Bible calls it being instant in season.  If I realize I have something to do, I routinely do it NOW.  At the end of the day, if I tally up things I did because it needed to be done, like folding laundry, and things I did NOW, because it crossed my mind, I find one list always surpasses the other.  Can you guess which one?

jazzFind a good role model.  We had the privilege of sharing our home with a college student from Taiwan for two years.  Her work ethic put me to shame.  Driven to achieve her goals, I saw her refine her English, learn to drive, push for A’s in every subject, plan a double major…grow into a very accomplished young woman.  When I think I might not be able to get something done, I imagine what Jazz would do.  She’d get up earlier.  She’d stay up later.  She’d get it done.

In short, YOU decide what your day will look like.  Yes, there will be distractions.  Yes, a few divine appointments.  Maybe a few train wrecks.  There are still enough hours in the day to make it a winner.  Just do it!

Threads…How NOT to Unravel the Threads of Your Life

Let me begin by explaining my innocent foray into the world of quilting.  Grandchild #1 came along, and in the rapture of it all I unwittingly made a baby quilt.  Of course seven grandchildren later, I felt rather accomplished at completing my eighth quilt.  By then I found myself knee deep in twin quilts as they grew into bigger beds.  If I could connect the quilted thread from the first to the last finished quilt, I imagine it traverses the United States.  A good, strong thread cannot be overemphasized when it comes to holding together the fabric of our lives.

But more tenuous threads actually connect the designs warming the heart and hearth.  We may exert too much tension on those threads, forgetting that delicate threads can break the hearts within our families.  Arguments.  Unkind words.  Controlling behaviors.  Manipulation.  These seam rippers tear apart a carefully hand sewn family.  How to avoid these destructive habits?

  • Talk often and before disagreements arise.
  • Look at situations together, not separately.
  • Speak circumspectly.  Choose words carefully rather than in the heat of the moment.
  • Listen.  Listen to what is said and UNsaid.
  • Offer no ultimatums.

Jobs come and go.  Friends may wander into and out of our lives, eventually moving on.  Family ties span years, and hopefully, generations.  Their design either create a pleasing pattern or a disruptive jumble of conflicting colors and shapes.  Meant to be firm and lasting, bind your families together with love and wisdom.  Unraveled, we lose the fabric that warms us.  I know it’s summer right now, but it’s a cold world out there, folks.  Stay warm!quilting

Quilting Tips:

  • Evelyn Burns is a genius.
  • I use the same basic patterns to simplify the process.
  • Freestyle quilting intrigues me, but that’s for another lifetime, lol.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist.  My grandchildren will look at it someday, with all its flaws, and say, “She was old.”  I can live with that.

Q

 

Be a Warrior

Another year of summer camps has drawn to a close, and I find myself conflicted with warring emotions.  Of course “glad to be home” doesn’t begin to describe how much I missed my bed and my bathroom.  Naturally I’m sighing with relief to escape the sun, the bugs and dirt.  Unfamiliar schedules and different foods lost their allure the second day of camp.  Yet I leave behind countless youth floundering in difficult life situations.  My own misfortunes pale in comparison.

Their needs break my heart.  And so I find myself humming the theme song of Camp Bountiful every day.  “I fall on my knees and I fight like a warrior.  I’m a warrior on my knees.  I call on the name of the One who is conqueror…”  Gotta’ love Steven Curtis Chapman!  I chose pictures of victory for this post, rather than pics of lives in chaos, because I believe the victory lies before us if we choose to embrace it.

In the aftermath I find two camps of thought.  One judges the kids and their music and their demonstrable cries for help.  The other falls on their knees in intercession.  In my lifetime I have never seen a generation so mired in the landscape surrounding them.  The world’s incessant violence, divisive politics, variant lifestyles and degenerating morals leave wrecked lives in its wake, reflecting back to discerning eyes exactly what they see. As the famous pragmatist William James once wrote, “Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.”  So, do you want to make a difference?  What the troubled kids you know really need is warriors.  I choose to be a warrior.  Why not join me?

Count it All Joy

The new Posh line releases this week…without me.  (sigh)  I love Posh.  I love everything about Posh, except for missing conferences.  Ann Dalton designed this conference with me in mind, I’m sure, because it promises to be right up my alley, it being held in Nashville and with me being a country girl and all.

I wanted to go.  I mean, I really wanted to go.  But alas, I admit it was simply not meant to be.  The conference date this year got rescheduled from August to July, smack dab in the middle of summer church camps.  Dutifully (sigh), I decided to keep my priorities straight.  God first.  Posh somewhere down the line.  (sigh)

Summer camps became a summer thing for me more than 30 years ago.  People always tell me to have fun when I get ready for a camp, and I must look at them with that strange, are you an alien from outer space and do understand my language kind of gaze that leaves us all feeling just a little unsettled.  They do realize I’m not going as a camper, right?  It’s not about me having fun; it’s about me pouring out myself in service for others.  I find it fulfilling, not fun-filled.

Yet serving at youth camps does fill my soul.  The friendships garnered over the years enriched my life beyond measure.  They comforted me in an overwhelming way when Alma died, and I count those friends more precious than diamonds or dollars.  The rich comradeship from working on projects that actually go off without a hitch, or well, with very few noticeable hitches, I find more valuable than a paycheck.  And the moments I feel God smiling I count most precious of all.  Like Paul, I count it all joy.

I’m camping this week, but you can bet I’m humming an old country love song in my heart.  And I promise, no sighing!

Looking for Value-Driven Products?

buy 5 with exclWho doesn’t love a bargain?  Posh delights in being a bargain for everyday people who pinch pennies and agonize over incoming bills, people like you and me.  Let’s face it.  We all need soap.  We all need moisturizer.  Posh products satisfy my need for deodorant, sun block, skin scrubbing, foot softening, mascara removal, hand and cuticle care.  It’s my Walmart in the bathroom, my Amazon of delightful surprises.  It doesn’t clean my house, but who besides Monk finds delight in that?

that good.JPG

Every person on planet earth needs some of these same things, so it stands to reason that every person needs Posh, especially if you have a daughter!  Introduce her to something besides drug store aisle liners.  Yes, I ♥ Posh.  Just this much.  I routinely scrape out every last little teensy-weensy drop of each product.  Buying 5 with the sixth free and getting perks on each purchase besides,  makes it super affordable.  Being a consultant, I also get paid for using it…what a deal!!

I lost my sense of smell many years ago, but I am able to enjoy whiffs of Posh, scented with essential oils.  It’s my happy place.  See if you can count what I use every day:

I like Never Grow Up cream and Serves You Bright, loaded with carrot extract, as part of my morning routine.  I use the broad contouring stick and my moisturizer for a spot of color to highlight my face.  I use the Stripper and one of our fabulous scented coconut oils for deodorant.  A body butter, though I use just one of my five favorite scents, varies each day and works to keep my skin feeling soft.  I use 4 different Posh chunks at various sinks.  A snarky bar lives in my shower.  I use the micellar tonic for removing my mascara.  At night I use Defiant and a bedtime moisturizer.  A big fat yummy hand cream lives in every room of the house, with two in the car.  I leave Cuticle Cuties in the living room and bedroom.  Sitting in the TSC parking lot while Bill bought feed yesterday, I found and used one in the car.  PJs all day is an absolute must at bedtime, because I slather that lavender-infused body butter over my hands and arms to ensure a restful night of sleep.

What number did you come up with?  Comment to earn a coupon to try Posh out.  If you got it right, you’ll be getting some happy mail!  You’ll appreciate its value, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll love it for a host of other reasons!

Quiet Earth Would Have Loved Posh

Now, no judging!  I freely admit we’re hooked on old Westerns.  They’re short.  There’s always a clear cut protagonist, with good versus evil blatantly discernible.  We honestly don’t mind black and white television.  At the inception of our nation we were blessed with colorful moral giants like Washington and Madison.  Now heroes pale in comparison.  Our world seems turned inside out.quiet earth

And watching them, I can’t help but notice how spoiled we are as a nation, how spoiled I am.  My grandparents and great grandparents all lived simple lives.  And me?  I live amid time-saving gadgets galore, with more furniture and comfort than any generation before me.  Do I appreciate it or take it for granted?  You know, since I happen to be writing this piece, that I favor counting my blessings.  I love our comparatively simple home, deficient closets and pea-sized kitchen notwithstanding.  But I’m a simple person.  I mean, I go bananas over all the new Posh.

I’m addicted to the colorful packaging, the delightful scents, the cute verbiage.  The re-emergence of the Beach Blanket BFYHC is something the Posh girls campaigned for, because we love that coco-nutty scent.  The new snarky, packed with bits of loofah, tickles my fancy.  And the new scrub!  I’m in heaven!

My mom loved to tell the story of me running through the house, clamoring to see “Quiet Earth.”  No one knew what I was talking about, until Hugh O’Brien appeared on the screen one day.  Yeah, I love simpler times, and I love the idea of simplicity…but I live in the 21st century, and I need my Posh!  You know what?  Quiet Earth was something of a ladies’ man, and I think he’d have liked it too!  You can find it on my site.  Go to www.madaboutposh.com and click on hand creme.

beach blanket

The Universal Language

One of the most charming things about France is their language. I speak none of it.  Well, take that back.  I came knowing bonjour, bonsoir, merci, and thanks to The Little Mermaid, la poisson.  I now know how to ask for the check as well.  I’m a slow learner.

We are staying at a hotel with only two English channels, one dedicated to sex and the other to violence.  I prefer spending offering my own subtitles to French TV.  I enjoy listening to the graceful, lilting phrases and find myself far more entertaining with my own interpretations.

Yet, despite the obvious language barriers, we thrive, we find our way around eventually, we order food, we enjoy Paris.  We discovered the universal language of a smile speaks volumes.  These lovely people stop and help and smile back.  Countless ordinary people on their way to buy food or pick up dry cleaning took time to give us directions and part as friends.  A delightful wait staff proved ever helpful.  Of course, I gave away a lot of Posh as thank yous.  They always smiled back.

I wonder how different our world would be if we started over at Babel, none of us speaking the same language, reduced to smiles as tokens of good will.  Smiles seem a more valued commodity these days, and yet they also represent the cheapest way to communicate.  We need toothy grins and genuine smiles.  Every day.  I plan to try communicating more that way when I get home.  If I pretend not to understand you and simply smile, it may be I’m hard of hearing…but it may not!

 

Hand Savers!

When Yarn Runs Amok

Gentle reader, I know you crave my unsolicited advice, so I’m going to bless you with the tip of all tips.  Is it the secret to making money?  No, it’s bigger.  Is it the secret to a rich and fuller life?  Bigger.  “What could possibly be bigger,” you ask?  Listen up!  In time buds of promise will enter your life.  This begins many seasons of celebration and gifting, but under no circumstances should you make a quilt for this bundle of joy AND knit a baby afghan as well.  Seven grandchildren later the tale unfolds to yet another chapter.

Never, no never, make a big boy quilt and a big boy afghan when the first grandchild graduates to his big boy bed.  Yarn runs amok at our house because I failed to recognize the error of my ways.  These older children’s adult-sized afghans require a lot more yarn, and their afghans take up to a year of sporadic effort.  In the midst of each one eight or nine gnarled skeins require laborious unknotting, accompanied by the gnashing of teeth and a great deal of moaning.  And when you delight in a rascally puppy who loves to play with yarn, well, I think you are right now imagining the ensuing chaos.

Yes, yarn runs amok at our house.  Again.  Afghan #8 is almost finished, and I am not, I repeat, NOT starting wedding afghans.   I adore my grandchildren, but at long last I admit to the error of my ways.  My next afghan remains undetermined.  It just might be for Bill and I to snuggle under on movie night.

Oh, dear.  Perhaps yarn is destined to run amok at the Rhoads house.  I see symptoms of the madness in future tense in my brain.  Help!

yarn and knitting needles
It looks so innocent. Be warned! Yarn takes on a life of its own and runs amok without the slightest warning.