One of the biggest issues in most American homes is time. How do we save it? How do we use it? How do we create more of it? The truth is, time doesn't stand still for us. It did stand still one time in the scriptures when ?? prayed for God to make the sun stand still so the battle could be won. Here's the truth girls, we are all in a battle on our home front. We are fighting for quality of life. Unfortunately, we cannot create more quantity of life. We have twenty-four hours in one day and three hundred sixty-five days in one year. That's all we have.
So how do we address that problem? One way is to stop managing all our stuff. I'm not talking about stopping management of our things. I'm talking about getting rid of the things that we don't need to manage. Most of us have way too much stuff, and we spend countless hours managing that stuff. In truth, our stuff is managing us. It's taking away valuable time and energy we could be using in other places and in other more valuable ways. So this month I want to share a simple principle using the number nine. I've come to realize that less is actually more. Less stuff is more time to spend with family, friends, and time to love on the people around me versus my stuff that surrounds me.
How does this idea work? I know you've heard the saying "if you haven't worn that sweater in the last year, get rid of it." But what about all the other things in our homes that we haven't used? Here's my challenge to us all using the Rule of Nines. I chose that number because of it's definition in scripture is the end of a matter as far as God is concerned. Here's what you do.
1. Make a list of nine areas of your life that need to be better managed. It can be electronics, rooms or drawers in your home etc. Your going to tackle one of those items a day for the next nine days or a week for the next nine weeks. It's your choice. Choose the one that will guarantee your success.
2. Next, visit each of those areas and get rid of nine things in each area that you don't need.
3. Shake the dust off your shoes and move on. You will feel a thousand pounds lighter and you will be surprised at the difference it will make overall.
Here are the areas that needed work in my own life. They may be the same nine things in you struggle with so I'm sharing the details. My nine: E-mail box, my closet, my gadget drawer in the kitchen, my make-drawer, my book shelf, my magazine rack, the children's toy box, my shoe rack, my office, and my social media.
A. First, I visited my email box and identified nine emails I receive on a regular basis that I actually don't read or need. I unsubscribed to those nine things. Now, a lot less mail! It actually takes up time to delete and check mail you never open.
B. Next, I went to my closet. It's a new season. There are fall and winter items I never wore last fall or winter. I made it a point to get rid of nine things. No less but more if necessary. Then we donated them or gave them away to someone in need.
C. Next, I went to my kitchen gadget drawer. There are things in that drawer that I don't even know what they do or things that I will never use. I love to cook, but the truth is, I don't want to spend all my time in the kitchen because there are more fun or important things to do. Visiting this drawer required me to be honest with myself and admit that I really don't want to learn how to decorate professional birthday cakes. The pre-made flowers and super hero's at the local grocery store are perfectly fine. It doesn't make me less of a good mom. It wasn't hard to find nine items I will never use there.
D. Next, I went to my bathroom and opened up my make-up drawer. I first looked for out dated items. Mascara is supposed to be discarded every 2 to 3 months for safety reasons anyway. And what about the toothbrush while you are at it. That needs discarding every 3 months. Next, I had to get honest about that wild colored lip stick that I am too old to use. Then I got rid of old facial brushes that were beginning to leave little pieces of hair on my face and anything else I wasn't ever going to use. I'm in middle age now. I need anti-aging not "I'm only 30" make-up. That felt good. I've earned my gray and fine lines.
E. Next, I visited my book shelf. Lets be honest, all those amazing books that sound good, but I don't have time for in this season of life might actually benefit someone else. I pulled the ones from my shelf that I had been hanging on to for years. They seemed like a great idea at the time, but I no longer need that book or bible study. Then I really evaluated the reading books to see what I truly would love to read or need to read. If they didn't fit that bill I donated them all. Then I prioritized the books that I knew were more pressing for me to read, and I put them in a book bag. Don't we always have too many book bags laying around that were either gifts or freebies? I took one bag and filled it with my top 5 books to read. Then I put them in my car. Now, when I arrive at an appointment or visit the salon, I grab one of those books out of the bag and carry it in to read. That way they will be read. one way or another!
F. On to the magazine rack. There were hundreds of magazines gathering dust. I grabbed a 2 or 3 file folders. Then I went through and made a pile of those magazines that actually had value and those that had nothing to offer. The "nothing to offer" ones went into the recycle bin immediately. The ones with value I quickly scanned the table of contents for titles I could use for parenting, projects, or current events. I tore those articles out and put them into my file folders with those categories labeled, parenting projects, etc. Then I placed them in the same book bag with my books to carry with me when I have to sit and wait with reading time on my hands.
Wow, I'm starting to feel more energy already!
G. The toy box. I've written on toys before in an earlier month. If you need ideas on how to rotate toys scroll down where you'll find a method that creates more gratitude in your children for what they have and frees us up from buying more toys. There are always broken or missing pieces in the toy box. Those all need to go. They're dangerous anyway. There are also toys that our children never touch and they never will. Those need to go. Get your children to help. Don't let them talk you into keeping something they don't need or use. Teach them the value of managing their stuff. Nine things should be pretty easy to find. You can also teach them the value of being generous by donating what they don't use so others in need will use them and love them.
H. On to the shoe rack. I love shoes and I find it hard to part with those shoes I love and have seen better days. This time when I visited that area, I tried to be more smart. If they aren't comfortable, they have to go. If they are broken but fixable then I bagged them up for repair at my favorite cobbler's shop. Then the shoes that I loved, but were out of style (believe me they will return), I put in plastic bins with lids and stored them on a shelf in my closet for future use. That way they won't collect dust and when they return I won't have to buy new ones.
I. I hate a messy office and this particular project may take more than one day to do. If so move it to the bottom of your list so you don't get bogged down. Just make it number 9. Sometimes in our business we push the less important things aside where they do nothing but collect dust. Let's get serious. We can't be all things to all people. I bought a few organizational items for this task. Threw away the things that needed to go. Filed the things that needed filing and organized the things that needed my immediate attention. The best way I know to handle this is set a timer. Give yourself one hour to make a quick buzz through the office area. More time than that and you will second guess your every move and nothing goes away. You can do it girls. Just hop too it. Plan a reward if you make the hour limit. There's your motivation.
J. Now onto the social media. Truthfully, as I have asked myself what is it driving my frustration and impatience with my children, and what has changed in my life. I realized it was the compute/phone. Our social media lifestyle is sucking the life right out of our human relationships. Let's deal with two biggies in this area. Facebook- it's a great way to connect with old friends and distant family and to promote something you are passionate about. It's also a great way to get addicted to games and measuring yourself by other people's life. I once heard a great quote, "Don't measure your private life by other peoples public displays on social media." Facebook can be a downer if we are measuring our life by the things people post that make their life look perfect. No one is perfect. No one has a flawless family. Share the things that really matter to you. Encourage others. Promote that book or ministry and then move on. The rule of nine on Facebook was an opportunity for me to remove myself from groups or lists that I no longer needed the information or feed. It was also a focused to time to block certain feeds that contained offensive items. Sometimes that means remaining friends with people but blocking their posts from my page. My number one pet peeve on fb is the game requests. I don't have time for games. They have no eternal value so I blocked all games from making requests on my feed. Pinterest-its full of great ideas, but let's get real, none of us are ever going to have the perfect Martha Stewart life. We can lived a blessed life through a relationship with Christ, but he calls us to pursue loving him and people versus the pursuit of a lifestyle. Use pinterest when you need ideas for a birthday party or an event already on the calendar. To sit and scroll for hours, when you have nothing planned, only stills from you. It's not that different than flipping channels on a TV. It takes you no where and at the end of it all you're left asking yourself, "What did I just spend the last four hours accomplishing". Use pinterest, don't let it use you. If you struggle with addictive type behaviors and social media then set a timer and pick a time in your day when no one else needs your attention. Then do your thing until the timer goes off. When it dings, move on. Maybe consider doing it for nine minutes a couple of times a day, or look at nine things and then move on.
That wraps it up. Give yourself nine days or nine weeks to address the nine areas that need addressing. One a day for the next nine days or one a week for the next nine weeks. The Rule of Nines is a task that I try to do every six months. Twice a year keeps the time theives out of your life. Trust me, you'll thank yourself when it's over!