The perfectly organized day had just begun. The night before, I'd made school lunches, signed urgent notes, and had the kids stack their backpacks by the door. I'd risen early enough to transform myself from bedhead to beauty, greet the sunrise and the Lord, pry sleepyheads from their blanketed cocoons, and keep life moving toward that 7:30 a.m. exodus. I felt as though I'd accomplished it all.
As I stood, coat on, examining the day's "to-do" list, my daughter asked sweetly, "Mom, how come you're wearing two different shoes?"
Peering down, I realized my left shoe had a turquoise whoosh and the right shoe sported a hot-pink lightning symbol.
So much for being the woman in total control! Sometimes I identify with Job, that Old Testament sufferer who moaned, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle" (Job 7:6). Somehow I have to find the time to take care of my sandwich-generation family (two busy athletic/musical teens, one semi-retired husband, and an 80-year-old mother-in-law living next door), plus work and volunteer in several church ministries.
I don't pretend to be the woman who does it all. But I've learned I can make my limited time count with these six time-stretching principles:
1. List it.
How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life author Alan Lakein suggests dividing our "to-do" lists into three levels. "A" things yield the most value for our time. "B" activities are "maybes." "C" items can wait.
The other day, buying milk was an "A" for me because we were out and my son guzzles nearly a gallon a day. A "B" priority was planning my daughter's month-away 16th birthday (though that's an "A" in her mind!). Steam-cleaning the rug was a "C," but will move up to an "A" when warm weather returns.1