This post was originally published February 19, 2014. I am republishing in celebration of Intentional By Grace and the next chapter of living quietly for a bit.
There are so many things I want to accomplish each day. The task list is ever growing, and most days the minute I check one thing off my list, I need to add ten more to it.
As a work-at-home-mom, I have be intentional every single day in order to keep my house and business running, yet I can’t do it all. Not even close!
What’s surprising is being intentional isn’t as hard as you think! Living intentionally doesn’t mean you’ll get to do everything you want, nor does it mean you’ll do everything perfectly.
I forget to make dinner, leave clothes in the washing machine for four days straight, and put off making a dentist appointment so long I eventually forget about it altogether.
Even though I seek to be intentional every single day, it doesn’t mean I never drop the ball or that my house isn’t ever a wreck. And I’m okay with that because I will always try again tomorrow.
As I seek to be intentional in order to live for Him, I’ve come up with a list of ten tips that help me be more intentional with my time.
Get your sleep
It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. ~Psalm 127:2
Too many of us, me included, get into a cycle of burning the candle at both ends. You need your rest. When you’re rested, you can think more clearly, which means you can get more done.
Being purposeful about getting enough sleep will help you be more intentional every single day.
Prepare the night before
My days always go more smoothly when I take time to prepare the night before. Creating (and sticking to) an evening routine makes mornings easier. If I can start the day off on the right foot, the rest of the day has a better chance of following!
Routine, routine, routine
In order to be intentional every single day, you have to get some key areas of your life on auto pilot! Creating habits and rhythms to your day will go a long way in making you more productive (and ultimately more intentional!).
I do this my sticking with a simple schedule and routine for my family. We have morning, afternoon, and evening routines that keep our days flowing smoothly (or at least get them back on track!). Creating routines is essential to being intentional.
Be sure to check out this post on how to create a routine that actually works for you!
Make a list
Making a list helps me to prioritize what needs to be completed each day, and then I work really hard to stick to the list. If it’s not on the list, I’m probably not going to get to it that day.
For example, as I’m writing this, I have three baskets of clean laundry sitting in my bedroom floor. Every time I walk by them they scream at me to put them in their proper places. However, laundry is not on my list for today. My day is already full of what is most important for today. Laundry will get a turn soon.
Making my list and purposing to stick to my list protects me from following a million rabbit trails throughout the day.
Determine your “win”
Let’s be honest, we rarely accomplish everything on our to-do lists. When we do, we can certainly rejoice! But when we don’t, we tend to get disappointed. I usually set myself up for failure when I first draft my to-do list. Anyone else over zealous in what you think you can realistically accomplish each day?
Therefore, I’ve found that placing a star beside three tasks that if accomplished would make my day a success, helps at the end of the day to know I was intentional with my time.
Being intentional is all about motivation. If you feel like you fail every day, then you’ll give up. So determine your “win” for today and rejoice when you accomplish your top three tasks!
Implement the timer
I’m so competitive with myself. I love to set the timer and see how much I can get done in fifteen minutes!
Implementing the timer keeps you from spending too much time following rabbit trails (see a trend?), and forces you to stay focused because you have to beat the clock.
I try to limit my work time to when my children are asleep, but with two little ones, getting them to rest at the same time can be challenging.
Sometimes I need to hop on the computer to do a few things while my toddler plays independently or waits patiently beside me. I’ve started using the timer throughout the day to set expectations with my toddler.
I set a timer for fifteen minutes. I inform my little guy that Mommy is going to work for fifteen minutes. When the timer goes off, I will play a game with him, or we’ll read a book, or do school, etc. Setting the timer helps him to know that my work time is not indefinite, and I will be with him very soon! Then, I set the timer for how long we will play together.
Being intentional means I set expectations for everyone involved – the timer helps me do that!
Plan down time
Each day I seek to slow down in the middle of the day and just rest. It’s usually only five or ten minutes, but it’s just what my body needs to recoup and rejuvenate for the remainder of the day. I’ll squeeze in some reading or just sit and stare at the wall (true story!).
Taking time to just breathe allows your brain to clear; thus enabling you to stay motivated to finish your day well. No one likes to be running on fumes when 5 o’clock rolls around!
Turn off electronics
We are a super connected society. When we hear the buzz of our phones, we instantly want to check to see what we’re missing.
Turning off electronics and being fully present helps you be more productive and intentional each day.
One thing I do to keep my phone from ruling my life is putting it on silent! I know this won’t work for everyone, but keeping my phone set to silent means I can check in when I need to. I do not have to respond to any and all notifications right.this.instant. This has significantly cut down on the temptation to be connected at all times. Being intentional to turn off electronics helps me stay focused on the task at hand to be fully present right where I’m at!
Look at the people
It’s easy to get caught up in my to-do list and forget to connect with those around me.
Taking time to look at the people around you helps you to be intentional to stay focused on what matters most – relationships.
- Kiss your husband
- Hug your kids
- Dance in the kitchen
Be sure to connect with those around you each day. Don’t let your to-do list rule your life. You rule your to-do list!
Spend time with the Lord
This one is obvious, but I want to bring it up. We must spend time with the Lord each day. It’s hard with little ones, and I often fail miserably at making time with God a priority, but purposing to spend time with the Lord is imperative to living intentionally.
We don’t live intentionally so we can do what we want and be good people who can get a whole lot of tasks accomplished each day. We seek to be intentional every single day because we want to glorify God!
So be intentional to spend time with the Lord each day, even if it’s just five minutes.
If you need a little extra help, check out this post on how to create a daily Bible and prayer routine that works for you.
Want even more help living intentionally?
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