Thursday, March 25, 2010

Time Management

Last week Matt at Becoming Last posted an interesting article about time management. First he suggested we take a time inventory of our lives. Write down how much time you spend on different areas of your life for a week: work, sleep, preparing and eating food, driving, leisure (tv, games, hobbies), working out, church activities/volunteering, internet, etc. Then he posed this question,

“Does the way we use our time match what we claim to value?”

I thought for a while and came up with a list of things I value in my life; things I want to be a priority. It was hard for me to put into words the things that I value. As I’ve said in previous posts, the main goal for my life is to live missionally. But that is a little broad for this list, so I broke it down a little. I managed to come up with 4 things that I want to be priorities in my life.

Loving and serving my family
This includes any quality time that I spend with my family; going for a walk, watching a movie with them, sitting and talking with them. It also includes any time I spend serving them: making their dinner, folding their clothes, giving them a massage.

Loving and serving others
This includes any time I spend serving other people; giving someone a ride, verbally affirming my friends, or serving at a soup kitchen.

Increasing my knowledge of God
This includes any time spent in prayer, reading my bible, attending church, or leading bible studies.

Taking care of my mind and body
This includes any time I spend doing things like exercising or gardening.

Starting this Sunday I am going to keep a rough estimate each day of how I spend my time. At the end of next week I will share my results, and see if how I spend my time matches what I value. If it doesn’t, I’ll try to determine what I can do to change that.

What about you…how do you think you spend your time? What do you want your life to reflect about your priorities?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Money Proverbs - Weath and Plenty

Each Sunday I am going to take a verse or passage from the book of Proverbs and share it with you. Some weeks it will be one verse, some weeks it will be a passage to help put the highlighted verse in context, but every week it will be relevant.


Today’s verses are a subject that causes a lot of division within and outside of the church. But regardless of the arguments of either side, it is a passage that I have seen prove faithful in my own life. When Mr. DFx40 and I started honoring God with our money (and that means giving faithfully and willingly, not begrudgingly) our finances were blessed. We were able to sell a house we bought with my parents for a 55% profit, pay off my student loans, pay our car off 2 years early, and take our net worth from a negative $56,500 to a positive $18,000. And even though we were using most of our income to pay down debt and increase our savings, our giving has actually increased also.

9 Honor the LORD with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Proverbs 3:9, 10

What about you…how would you apply this to our world today? How have you applied this to you life already?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Happiness Project for March

Do you ever struggle with being happy with your job? Most people do at one time or another. For the past few months it has been very difficult for me to go to work. I have felt bored and haven’t enjoyed the time I spend there. Considering I spend anywhere from 40 and 50 hours a week at my job, that is a lot of dissatisfaction.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Gretchen Rubin, who wrote a book and manages the Happiness project blog, suggests focusing on work this month. To be able to increase your happiness at work, you first have to figure out what is making you unhappy. There are a two big reasons I have been unhappy at work. First, sometimes I get bored. So I sit and do nothing, and the time d r a g s. Second, I tend to dwell on the unhappy things. For example, when I get bored, I sit and think about how bored I am, or how I would rather be somewhere else, instead of doing something to fix it. That doesn’t make much sense! But what can I do to change it?

Stay busy. This might seem obvious, but it isn’t something I’ve been practicing. There are definitely things I can do during the boring times that would increase my productivity. What I am going to do this month is make a list of things to do during the boring times and label it Stay Busy. Every time I have 30 minutes or an hour of “free” time, I will open up this list and get busy! A few things on that list: purge and organize files, file project information, update project lists, return drawings to file room, make my office more beautiful.

Don’t Dwell. I have to focus on not dwelling on all the things I don’t like about my job. I need to dwell on the things about my job that are a blessing. I’m big on lists, so every time I start thinking about a negative thing in my job I am going to do two things: figure out how to turn the negative into a positive, and make a list of the blessings from my job. A few examples on my list: I have a stable job in an uncertain economy, I have room for improvement in my job, I receive free insurance and substantial profit sharing, I have the ability to telecommute in the future (which was a large factor when I moved), I have a boss with good morals.

What about you…how can you increase your happiness by focusing on Work this month?


For future topics and past entries on my Happiness Project, see the list below.

February – Love
March – Work
April – Money
May – Mindfulness
June – Order
July – Spirit
August – Fun
September – Family
October – Friends
November – Attitude
December – Boot Camp Perfect

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Money Proverbs

I know that the majority of people are not Christian, and do not consider the bible as the authoritative Word of God. However, regardless of whether you believe as I do or not, the bible has some very practical advice for many areas of your life. Money is one of the most discussed topics in the bible. Because of this, I am starting a new series called Money Proverbs. I am going to read through Proverbs and each Sunday I am going to take a verse or passage from the book and share it with you. Some weeks it will be one verse, some weeks it will be a passage to help put the highlighted verse in context, but every week it will be relevant.

11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 thrown in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse” –
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
Proverbs 1:11-19

What about you…how would you apply this to our world today? How have you applied this to you life already?

Friday, March 5, 2010

February Firm Determination Update

At the beginning of 2010 I made a few Firm Determinations. I am very excited about my progress in some areas, and just a little disappointed about my lack of progress in others. Here is how I’ve done with my Financial, Health, Faith, and Blog FD’s.

Save $5000 towards student loan repayment by May – We have saved $3715.98.00 towards this goal. That’s 74% towards our goal and a 29% increase from last month.
Increase Emergency Fund by one month’s living expenses by May – We have saved $2665.22 towards this goal, which is more than one month’s living expenses for us. Consider this officially checked off the list.
Open a Roth IRA with retirement money in Money Market Account – We are still looking into this. I have the option of opening one up with the same people who do our company’s 401K so I’m going to set up a meeting within the next few months.
Reevaluate goals in May 2010 – Mr. DFx40 is on his second round of interviews at the hospital he wants to work for after graduating so I'm getting excited about this!

The weather continues to foil my plans in a few of these areas. But enough excuses, on to the updates!
Run/log 600 miles – I logged 0 miles this month. Zero. That doesn’t even come close to the 50 miles a month it will take to fulfill this FD.
Ride my new bike to work 24 times – I rode my bikeone time in February, which is short of the 2 times a month I need for this FD. I’m expecting this to pick up once it starts staying above freezing at night.
Do back exercises/stretches 3 times a week – I’ve only been doing this about once a week, but it helps so much when I do! Hopefully this will be the month I fulfill this FD.
Try one new meatless meal a month – I’m looking forward to this FD, even though I forgot about it last month. Here is a picture of the delicious smoothie I had for breakfast last Saturday. It was made of strawberries, bananas, a handful of blackberries, and 6 oz of yogurt. Yum!

Volunteer to lead college small group once a month – I volunteered to lead 7 of the 8 times we met.
Spend time with children from bus ministry once a month – We took 6 of the kids to the local golden arches after church Wednesday night. You have never seen a group of kids so excited to get something off the dollar menu. And when they got three items each, I thought they might explode. If we could all be so thankful for such a small thing!
Spend 3 hours a week reading and studying my bible – I count 30 minutes each for our Sunday and Tuesday college bible study and Sunday small group bible study in this. It is actually more like an hour for each, but I can’t make it that easy! I ended up averaging just under 3 hours each week.

Post a new article once a week – I met this goal this month, without technicalities. If I continue to meet this FD I will expand this to include an actual schedule instead of whenever I get around to it.
Track all of my input/output and share it once a month – I successfully tracked everything in a spreadsheet, but I think there is way too much information to share, and I don’t see the benefit. I’m rethinking the last half of this FD.

Once again I fell short in some areas and excelled in others. It may take me all year to have a completely successful month, but I am still optimistic.

What about you…how have you progressed towards fulfilling your Firm Determinations? Have you reevaluated or modified your goals?