In this series, we’re talking about serving our household during Lent. In the last post, I explained that I felt God was calling me to serve my household instead of stacking up a bunch of spiritual practices, which is what I enjoy doing for Lent. He gently asked me to set myself down and to do what He asked which is to serve my household. To be fair, I’m not very good at serving my household, so it doesn’t surprise me that God wants me to die to myself, experience some discomfort and tackle homemaking and quality time with my family.
Despite knowing that God has asked me to do this, I know I’m still going to struggle with it. I’m naturally quite lazy. I like thinking about doing … much more than actually doing. A better way to describe laziness is acedia. This can come in the form of procrastination or flat-out not doing what we’re supposed to do. Really, acedia is so common and yet few us name it and work to fight against it. Here is a great video on acedia by Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Recently I discovered two tools that help me overcome my own acedia, and I want to share those with you mamas today!
- Plan your day the night before.
- Visualize having a successful day!
- Employ the Five-Second Rule.
- Use 15-Minute Sprints
Let’s break each one of those down. First, planning your day the night before. This is so helpful when it comes to having a productive day. Now, I don’t believe in making productivity or efficiency an idol. There’s a danger, especially in America, of always wanting to get MORE done. Planning my day is more about putting work in its place and putting family time and rest time in their respective places.
When I make this plan, I don’t overcommit. It’ll drive you bananas if you never get done what you were hoping to get done. I make a reasonable plan for what I’m going to tackle knowing there will probably be some spills, messes, and fights that I don’t yet know about … maybe even some potty accidents!
I plan to take care of the important things, the things I’ve said yes to, and I also take time to rest and spend quality time with my family.
Next, I visualize having a successful day. This is so important! When you close your eyes and picture yourself getting out of bed, you can choose in that moment to imagine that you have a smile on your face. I’ll go downstairs and start some tea. I’ll do my Bible reading before the kids get up. We go to daily Mass or we get Rose ready for school. I see myself getting the children ready and I’m calm. I’m helping them find shoes and put jackets on but the flurry of activity does not steal my peace. We get in the car and listen to the rosary.
You get the idea! I go through my whole day like that. I imagine opportunities when I could make a bad choice but I picture myself making a good choice instead. I grab an apple instead of chocolate chips as a snack. I do my chores quickly instead of putting them off by sitting on the couch and staring at my phone.
I’ve been using those two strategies for a while, but recently I discovered two new tools for overcoming acedia!
A friend recently told me about the book, The Five Second Rule. I Googled it and found that the author, Mel Robbins, has a Ted Talk (Watch Here) about the same topic. For those of you who want to read instead, Mel Robbins also wrote an article summing up this idea.
“The 5-Second Rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.”
This was like a lightning bolt for me! I know, all too well, what it feels like to know that I should get up and do something but to instead sit there and think of all the reasons why I shouldn’t or what else I could do. This is especially true when we choose “noble” things over things we really ought to be doing. I’m really good at praying when I ought to be cleaning or cleaning when I ought to be spending some time with the children.
So the five-second rules says that we have about five seconds from the moment an idea pops into our mind about something that we ought to do before our brain starts talking us out of doing that thing. We have five seconds before our brain starts to tell us, “We can do that later.”
Robins recommends that we don’t even let our brain have a say. As soon as we know we’re supposed to be doing something, we say, 5-4-3-2-1 (a la astronaut count down) and we get up and immediately begin doing the thing. Check out the book, the TedTalk, or the article I linked above to read more about this awesome idea!
Last is, the fifteen-minute sprint! It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the length of our To-Do list but I find that most of the things I have to do are small. They take less than 15 minutes to do. I will spend a great deal of time fretting about doing these things when I could have actually just DONE them in less time.
What I do to take advantage of the 15-minute sprint is that I try to turn everything I do into a game. Can I fold all the laundry in 15 minutes? I once folded 3 baskets of laundry in 15 minutes, no joke! I was ridiculously pleased with myself.
How much can you get done in 15 minutes? You know you’re capable of amazing things because when you get a call that your mother-in-law is stopping by in 15 minutes, you can Wonder-Woman-tidy your house like WWIII depended on it.
I find that this strategy works even better if you have a list of things you can do in 15 minutes. If you have a go-to list that you’ve already written up, when you find this piece of time, you can quickly scan the list, pick something out (employ the 5 second rule) and do it!
So while this might seem more like a housecleaning article than a Lenten article, keep in mind, my Lent is focused on serving my household. I will be cleaning, organizing, and spending time with my family whether I feel like it or not. I plan to use all four of these strategies to stay focused on what God has asked me to do and to not let myself get in the way!
Which one of the four strategies do you plan to try out this week?
Copyright 2018 Sterling Jaquith
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