October 05, 2015

The Habit of a Morning Routine

The daily routine was hard for me to embrace at first because, after much reflection, I have realized I am the sort of personality that does not love routine and the same things over and over again.  I like a varied schedule that allows me to work with my moods and whims a little more.  I had to come to terms with the fact that blocks of routine could allow other blocks of unstructured time for creativity.

I have read many books on the topics of organizing, purging your stuff and scheduling your days.

This is a sampling of books on the topics...

Emilie Barnes and her More Hours in My Day

Sandra Felton and her Messies Manual

Don Aslett and His book Clutter's Last Stand

The Sidetracked Home Executive (SHE) by Pam Young and Peggy Jones

and Flylady

I have learned how important a morning routine is for the sanity of me and my home and family.  I fought it for years thinking I did not need such things but I have been convinced in recent years.

Part of my struggle was that working in a 9 to 5 job or an office or classroom setting drove me crazy! I prefer the variety of a job where each day is a bit different.  This could be why I loved working for a caterer and the culinary world.  Our menus were different for every event and our prep days were always new and exciting with different recipes and planning.  I love the creativity that can come in the industry.  I did not love restaurant work as much but the menu and prep aspect were awesome for me.  Catering is different... very creative work.

I am one that likes to experiment and try new recipes and projects and learn new skills continually. The practice of daily routines, oddly enough, provides more time for creativity for me.  I get the mundane out of the way first thing and move onto something more exciting.  I must admit, though, that my study time and dinner prep are enjoyable parts of my morning routine.  They are never the same and never dull.  Laundry, one the other hand.... LOL

I am now using my Bullet Journal to do routine checklists to keep me on track.  My morning list looks like this...

One of the things you don't see here that I want to add is an exercise time.  I am still feeling a bit crazed by our mornings since school started.  With the cooler weather coming and getting a few of these other things moved into habit mode I am hoping to add it to the week ahead.  I want to start making it a habit, too.  I will revise my schedule later to reflect that as I write the series...  hopefully in a pdf format chart.  That would be cool if I could learn how to upload those!

The key here is discovering how you work best and planning your days accordingly.  I don't have to love everything I do all day... dishes, laundry... etc... are not my favorite but I can fit them into the day, with other things I enjoy, to break up the time and tediousness of the things I don't love.  It is important to keep things flowing so that we can stay on top of the house and have time for other things we love as a family.

Take a look at the Flylady plan and adapt it to fit what you need.

This is a good article to help you find your morning focus...  7 Habits to Add to Your Morning Routine

Here is another article on designing your morning routine... How to Create a Daily Routine (be aware that there is a video that starts when you enter the page and if that is annoying to you then mute it or pause it before reading the article.  I am annoyed by those...  it is just who I am.)

Here is a great old vintage video that I found at Modern Retro Woman...  an interesting perspective from 1949.

My next book in this realm will be by Marie Kondo.  If you are a member of Amazon Prime the Audible version is free right now.  I don't know for how long, though.  

Here is a link to a video interview with her.  It is translated for us.  She is so adorable!

 My goal is better habits for a more efficient day.  The more efficient the work is the more time I will have for other things.... crochet, sewing, music, calligraphy, etc...

Do you have a morning routine or a daily routine?  

Do you struggle in an area that you want to change?

Do you have an organizing guru that has inspired you and your your system?

Share with us in the comments below... we love to hear from you!

Follow my habit series here...

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October 04, 2015

Be Still and Know...

This is a directive from God and a habit we need to make a regular part of our lives.  I am taking time to be still this weekend in the midst of the busy stuff of life.  It is important to be still and listen to the still small voice of God.

How are you taking time to be still this weekend?

October 03, 2015

The Habit of Reading - How, then, shall we read?

At this point in the series... three days in, you have probably already guessed I am not doing these habits in any particular order outside of God's Word being the first habit we should establish.  I wish I had another six months to prepare for all I would love to learn and say on this topic but I don't so we are going with it.  LOL

I am planning to do a little bit lighter writing on the weekends with five sturdy habits and then some more lighter topic types of posts... like reading and family play and such.  My Sundays may have something a little shorter but devotional in nature.  We will play it all by ear.

How About Those Reading Habits?

This is one I have struggled with and let me tell you why.  When I was growing up I often felt "guilted" about reading.  It was one of those things that I was not suppose to do unless it was for homework or all my other chores and such were done.  It wasn't shaming and it wasn't like I never saw my parents read because I did.  My Mom read all the time!  It was just an attitude of work before play and reading was classified as play.  I still carry this with me to a great extent.  I have to give myself permission to sit and read for enjoyment.  This is probably why I don't read a lot of fiction.  That is just fun reading and I feel compelled to be "working" at learning and accomplishing something instead.  The funny thing is... I love fiction when I get to read it!  I didn't say it was right to approach reading like this but it is what has happened to me over the years.  I am still working on overcoming it.

I have tried to encourage my children to read some every day.  They are far better readers than I was and have read far more books than I did by that point in my life.  They feel no shame in sitting and reading for hours at a time and it shows in their vocabulary and understanding of the world around them.  Reading makes you smarter... there is no debating that.

For me, the habit of reading looks like this:

1.  Keep a book close by at all times

2.  Take on some books for reviewing so that I push myself to read more and varied kinds of books.

3.  Stop and sit down at some time during the day to read outside of the Bible reading and study time.

4.  I have a morning book that I only read in the mornings and an afternoon book for down time and an evening book that I only read before bed.  I keep one for all three going at the same time.  I often have a study book to go with my Bible time in the mornings, too... like a commentary or topical non-fiction theological book.

5.  I shoot for at least 50 pages a day outside of the Bible reading.

6.  I have joined reading challenges and read-a-thons to push myself to read more over shorter periods of time.

7.  I move between shorter books and longer books as well as adult and young adult fiction and non-fiction to give myself bouts of quick success in finishing something shorter while I push through on the longer texts.

8.  I have reading places.... a chair outside, a chair in the living room and one in the bedroom and I am definitely a librocubicularist (simply 'one who reads in bed').  Every space has a blanket and a place to set a coffee cup when necessary... which is often.

Areas in which I struggle:

*  Technology is a huge time waster for me some days.

*  I often feel like all the chores and jobs for the day have to be done first.

*  I also struggle with the overwhelming amount of books I want to read sitting in stacks around my home.  I have gotten rid of over half of my stash but there are still shelves and stacks to read.

*  The level of activity and noise on any given day in our home is not typically conducive to quiet reading time.

*  The overwhelming amount of free and cheap e-reader books out there fill my devices and taunt me.

How I am solving these issues:

*  I am trying to stay off the internet until later in the day.

*  I am refraining from checking my phone and took FB off so that I am less tempted by that.

*  I am working on doing chores earlier in the day in a big block so I can set aside afternoon time to chill with a good book.

*  I have a small stack of books by the bed that have to be read before I can add anything else to the stack.

*  I make lists of books (in my Bullet Journal) that I want to either check out of the library or find at the local used bookstore.

*  I have cut my spending by unsubbing to all the free and cheap book finders to keep them out of sight and out of mind.  It is working!

I am not a huge fan of electronic books but on a trip they are fantastic.  I do own both a Nook and a Kindle because I got great deals on both at the time.  When you see me, though, chances are very great that I will have a hard copy of a book in my bag or hand on any given day.

Bookish places to visit

Book review site for libraries

I love this site when looking for series because I am a completist.

(another one)

So, for you...

Do you struggle to find time to read or do you have a balance with allotted time to read each day?

Are you an avid reader?

How many books do you strive to read in a year?

Any suggestions for more bookish sites or tips on reading more?

Share below with us in the comments, please!  :)

Click my logo below to read more on habits for this month.

October 02, 2015

The Habit of Reading God's Word

For me, I would say that, having a daily time to read God's word is second only to sleeping and eating. Oh, who am I kidding... He is before those, too!  Everything hinges on knowing God more. The only way to know God is to spend time with Him.  So many of us, including me, have had times in our lives where we set Him on a shelf and forget to open His word and spend any real time with Him at all for long periods of time.

Throughout this series it is my intention to share things to help you to build better habits.  Some days the habit I talk about is something you may not need and some days you may need it badly.  This particular habit is a key habit that EVERYONE needs in their life on a daily basis.

We have all been there.  That moment when our eyes open and we reach for the Bible on the bedside table and then there is a scream or a cry or an "I need you mom!" or "I need you honey!" and then, in a split second, you move past the Bible and full force into your day whether you wanted to or not.  It has been my experience in these times that I don't go back to it and I move through my whole day and sometimes weeks at a time without opening that Bible except for Sunday mornings at church.

So, how do you avoid this scenario?  How do you make time with Jesus the priority during the very first moments of the day?

What does God's Word Say?

In God's word there is a passage called the Shema (Hear, O Israel) section in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Note that we are instructed to:

1.  Teach God's precepts to our children DILIGENTLY.

2.  Talk of His words when you sit in your house

3.  Talk about them when you walk

4.  Talk about them when you lie down and when you rise

5.  Bind them as a sign on your hands and forehead

6.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and gates

I get the impression that we are to constantly have God's word before us throughout the day from this passage, don't you?  

How can we do that?  This is such a personal question and we each have to find ways to make this happen as we move through our days.  We cannot teach and talk about God's word if we don't KNOW God's word so the goal is to start putting it in... all day.... every single day... for the rest of our lives.

The Priority of Scripture in Our Days

- You have to be intentional.

- You have to make it a priority above all else.

- You have to anticipate the road block before it happens and have a contingency plan.

- You HAVE to spend time with God!

I have developed ways over the years to make this happen for me and it varies with the phase of life I have been in at the time.  Anything can get in the way... from waking up late for college classes and having a full study schedule to having a newborn in the house or school mornings where nothing is going right to sick kids, early rising kids, lost socks and shoes, nothing to pack for lunches unless you make leftovers of bread and fish multiply, and so forth.

One of the first things I had to learn was to make my Bible/God's Word available...

*  Have the Bible or study right there... next to the bed and ready to go before my feet even hit the floor or shortly after the bathroom trip ends.

*  I have also had a designated chair that I move to as soon as the coffee is poured in the cup and I plant myself there to make it happen.

*  I have had Bibles scattered around the house and left open so that when I would sit with a crying or nursing baby I could read it readily.

*  I have utilized technology in recent years and one of my most recent favorites is to listen to God's word being read to me on my YouVersion Bible App on either my NOOK, Computer or phone.  I have actually been bathing in it this year as I read the Bible in a Year plan on that app.  I have had God's word read to me every day this year and I love that!

*  I have put scripture reading on my i-pod to listen to while I walk.

*  There are verses on note cards or sticky notes around the house.

*  We have art with scripture in it or screen savers with verses on our computers and phones.

Not one of us has this mastered fully.  There is always room for improvement.  I know I can find new ways to get God's word into my mind and heart and as I study more about the habits of our daily lives this one is at the top of my list to develop more deeply.  

I have had times in my walk where there was a Bible study I could plug into locally like a Workmen of the Word program or a Bible Study Fellowship group.  I have had studies in my home or other women's homes or at the church in the fellowship hall.  In recent years, with the Lupus and the crazy schedules, I have found some online places that have kept me reading and have a Facebook group of women that encourage and pray for one another as we study together.  There are so many possibilities but you have to make the effort.  You have to make a plan and have the contingency plan ready to go because some mornings you will need it.

This life is not easy but with God you can have direction and purpose and a constant companion for the journey.  He is waiting for you.  Put Him into each day as a foundation that every day needs. Make time with God a daily habit starting today.

Study Opportunities

Here are a few places I have found encouragement in this realm.

Find a BSF group near you - Bible Study Fellowship International

Start your own Workmen of the Word study in your home or church with this resource list.  These are FABULOUS studies!

Love God Greatly has a plethora of free online studies to encourage you to dig deeper.

If:Equip is another great resource with a daily reading through a book passage and a video to pull it together with other women. 

Bible Study Tools offers some great resources to help you explore the Word, too.

Women's Bible Cafe utilizes some studies by women like Beth Moore and Kay Arthur that are very inspiring.

Women Living Well has a great resource archive for study and encouragement.

When we go to God's Word there is something that happens... it changes us, it gives us direction and hope and purpose.  

Psalm 119:103-105 (KJV)

How sweet are they words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through they precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

What are ways you have been able to fit God's Word into your day that might not be that conventional?

Are you an early morning reader or do you have another time of day you prefer to study?

For further reading...

9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible

6 Habits Every Christian Should Develop

Check out more posts on habits here...

October 01, 2015

Beginning at the Beginning with Good Habits for a Simpler Life

I am a research minded person if you have not figured that out yet.  I love to learn through reading and research when I feel I am ready to embark upon something new in my life.  Over the past few years I have been contemplating the power of habits in our lives.  I have only just recently begun to really dive in and read more about them, though.  When starting something new I begin at the beginning.  So let's start with a good working definition.

What is a habit?

The Merriam/Webster Online Dictionary defines it for us as follows...

:a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way

Habits can be positive and negative.  For me, the goal is to diminish the negative habits and replace them with positive habits.  Good habits can take a great deal of stress out of our days when utilized effectively.

Self Improvement Mentor. com adds this...  In simple terms, it is a behavior or a set of behaviors that you do automatically, without thinking and consciously intending.

Make or Break Habits gives us this...  Habits are routine behaviours done on a regular basis. They are recurrent and often unconscious patterns of behaviour and are acquired through frequent repetition. Many of these are unconscious as we don’t even realise we are doing them.

Books on habits

I have read two of the four I have listed here.  I know there are many more but these are the ones I will be using as reference for much of what I will be writing.

I will be reading this book throughout the month as I write the series.

The Jesus Habits by Jay Dennis - 
this one is currently on my Kindle ($.99 but subject to change on a whim) and will be read during October as well.

Take a look at Duhigg's research thinking process as he wrote this book.

Want to see more from Charles Duhigg?  Check out this video.

Meet Gretchen Rubin here as she speaks about the importance of habits.

Favorite Articles on Habits

For the month of October I will be looking at some habits research as well as evaluating and forming my own plan for building good habits in many areas of my life.  I don't want everything to be on cruise control.  I suspect, though, that if some things are on cruise control it frees up my brain to work on other things.  We will take a look at all of that as we move through the series.  

What habits do you want to develop in your own life?

What habits do you want to ditch for good?

Do you have a favorite book on habits you would not mind sharing with us?

I am glad you stopped by and hope that this series will help you to find the habits that make your life more simple and productive, too.

September 28, 2015

31 Days in October... Our Habits

It is almost time for the 31 Days in October challenge.  

It is a writing challenge for bloggers to write on a topic for 31 days.  

I have jumped on this bandwagon for several years in a row now.  

I found my stride last year and the secret to posting every single day.  

I am endeavoring to write again this year with the topic of habits.  It is so fresh in my mind since reading Gretchen Rubin's new book called Better Than Before. (which I highly recommend if you had not guessed by now).  I am revealing the topic a little early and starting the posting process behind the scenes so you will get the full 31 days of writing.  My button is done... simple and to the point and the writing is in progress so stay tuned in October for...

September 22, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Yes, I actually read one and here are a few things you need to know about this book.

This book has been translated into English from French so it reads a little funny sometimes but once you get used to the flow it is fine.

This book is not a Christian book.... 
for my Christian readers out there you will want to know that I suspect.

With those two things out of the way here is a quick summary without giving spoilers.

Summary of the Book
(no spoilers)

This book is a love story in several ways.

It is a love story between men and women in several walks of life.

It is a love story between people and their country (France).

It is a love story between people and the books they read.

It is about relationships.

It is also about books and their authors and travel.

It is melancholy in nature with some very thoughtful moments.  It is very introspective.

There are recipes at the back of the book of a few French classics for the foodies among us.

The book is told from the perspective of a man named Jean Perdu (the melancholy main character) who owns a Literary Apothecary (yes, a book pharmacy) that is housed on a boat.  He has a gift for being able to recommend the perfect book for any mood of his customers.  Books are a huge part of his life and this story.  He will not let anyone read a book that will not speak to where they are at that moment.  He is adamant about that.

There are journal entries scattered throughout from the perspective of another character named Manon.  She is a colorful sensual creative soul.  I have always loved books that utilize journals, diaries, and letters to tell a story.  This book uses travel diary entries throughout the text.

It is very telling about the difference between men and women.  The characters are realistic and varied with no plastic people to be found in this story.  Not everyone is lovely and nice but that is the way of the real world.  Some characters are struggling with their past and relationships in their lives.  Flawed characters make this a charming and believable story.  It is extremely relational in nature and I enjoyed that very much.  The author did a beautiful job with that aspect of the book.

My Response to the Book

It was a little slow going in the beginning and took me a few chapters to become engaged but once I did I enjoyed the progression nicely.

There are some lusty passages so it is definitely an adult book.  I don't remember much language... just the lusty aspect.

I loved how the author talks about books and reading.  He has a deep love for how books affect people.  I also loved the tour of the river ways and countryside.  The people are charming as they travel and meet new people.  There is food and dancing and beauty.

I mentioned before that I love the use of diaries and journals in stories and the author used that element nicely.

I was suppose to read it on my Kindle (Blogging for Books sent a free digital copy for an honest opinion).  I began to crave a book in my hands as I read this particular story (about books) so I actually went out and bought the book.

It was an enjoyable book that was a little different from other books I tend to gravitate toward.  I was glad for the change of pace and recommend it if you are a book lover and dream of France and it's culture.  It is a quiet romantic melancholy read that is written well.  I am interested to see what Nina George brings us next.  I would give it a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Want to meet Nina George?  Check out her website!

Not sure how I rate books?  I made a little graphic for you guys to help you out... 3-5 means I recommend it!


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