Do you ever find yourself frustrated with your life, and wondering how to make it better?
And you think: if you just tried harder, you’d get more done.
If you weren’t so lazy, the house wouldn’t be such a mess.
If you were just better at keeping things under control, like your friends are (and like your mother-in-law likely is!)–life would be better!
Yeah, that’s what we tell ourselves. But I’m willing to bet it’s not that you’re lazy. It’s just that we often live in the moment (which can be a good thing sometimes, after all!), and we don’t always focus on where we want to be.
I want to tell you a story about something Keith and I did yesterday afternoon, and allow me a little leeway, but it relates to the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. Be patient, because I’m going to make a broader point!
I’ve been talking about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle for the last few days, because it’s on sale right now (though it’s gone tonight at midnight!). It’s 129 ebooks, ecourses, videos, and printables, which would normally retail for $3648, on sale for just $29.97. Seriously. They can afford to sell it that cheaply because it’s available for such a short time!
And it covers everything in your life from organizing and meal prep to self-care, wardrobe planning, and even faith.
I’ve been going through a lot of the products, and one challenge really stood out to me.
The Date Night Kits gives you printables to create a year of date nights. (They also have some links to some great ideas for date nights!). Keith and I have been getting into a rut with Netflix lately, because I’m on a knitting binge. I love to knit. And so sitting in front of movies at night is great fun for me. But it doesn’t necessarily help our relationship, and things can get stale. I wanted to make some memories!
So I asked him to sit down with me and we’d each create 6 dates to do this year. We printed out their generic date night forms, and away we went!
I honestly thought this would take at least an hour. I think we were done in 16 minutes or something.
- On Saturday, when birdwatching for Keith’s birthday, I saw a lovely bakery in a small town about 45 minutes away. I looked up the address and planned a day visiting the bakery and other cool places around our town, buying fresh food everywhere and making some amazing bruschetta when we got home.
- I found out when a movie we wanted to see was playing this week.
- I googled ballroom dancing in our area. I didn’t think there were any social dances near here. I was wrong! And now we have somewhere to go on September 14.
- And Keith and I love board games. So he googled board games–and found a pub where there’s a board game night tonight (and that’s where we’ll be! I’ll post on Instagram!) You bring the board game, and you can play right in the pub! So fun.
It didn’t take much time. Just a bit of googling and remembering the kinds of things we like doing anyway.
And now we have a year of fun dates!
Honestly, it took about 16 minutes. That was it. But now we’ll be able to build some memories.
I don’t know why we didn’t do this earlier, but here’s the truth:
When we don’t think ahead, we default to what is easiest to do in the moment. And then we’ll never meet our goals.
If your goal is to have a close marriage, then you need to be intentional about creating memories!
Here’s another challenge I did using the Bundle and the idea of being intentional–this time about finances.
I tried to find some great tips to suggest to you on how to save money with the absolute minimum of effort, using great tips from The Bundle. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Allow yourself to buy the ingredients for a fast and easy meal (even if it’s not as cheap as usual or as healthy as usual) to avoid ordering pizza or takeout.
From: The Perpetually Prepped Kitchen, which lists a ton of great ideas to have meals that take 10 minutes to make on hand at all times.
Savings: $30 a month, or $360 a year.
Time: 30 minutes/month, 6 hours a year, $60/hour
2. Make lunches for your kids, your spouse, or yourself
From: Healthy Lunchbox Ideas for Kids, one of the books with packed lunch ideas
Savings: $2.50/day for 2 kids (and far more for adults!), or $450/year
Time: 25 minutes/week, or 15 hours/school year, $30/hour
3. Find $500 worth of stuff to sell
From: How to Make a Budget Work For You: A 31 Day Guide to Creating a Personal Budget that Fits Your Lifestyle
Time: 2 hours, or $250/hour
4. Avoid one late payment a month on a bill
From: Crush Your Week: The Complete Guide To Designing An Intentional Weekly Routine
Savings: $20/month, or $240 a year
Time: None (you have to pay it eventually anyway!)
5. Make your own cleaning products in bulk
From: The LWSL Ultimate Cleaning Guide
Time: 1 hour, or $75/hour
6. Cancel cable and find more time to connect!
From: Unplug + Unlock: The Step by Step Guide to Conquer Screen Time Battles for Good (It shows you what to fill your life with if you get rid of the TV, too, and what streaming services to use instead)
Savings: $70/month or $840/year
Time: None! You GAIN time with your family! (and you can substitute with Netflix or other services)
7. Plan one date night a month that isn’t dinner out
From: Date Night Kits. A Date-In-An-Envelope for an entire year!
Savings: $30/month or $360/year
Time: 5 hours of planning and prep over the year, or $72/hour
Total per hour: $96/hour.
None of these things is rocket science (though the budgeting books on how to be intentional with your money can teach you a ton of in-depth tips, and the make-your-own lunches books have a ton of ideas I hadn’t thought of). So why don’t we do them?
Because we’re not always intentional.
This is something I learned early in my marriage when I read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was actually a life-changing book for me, because it was after reading that book that we got rid of cable and I started reading more and writing more. If I hadn’t have read that book, I honestly don’t think I ever would have become a blogger and an author and a speaker. I was simply watching too much television. And then I realized that when I turned off the TV, I had to fill my life with something else. All of a sudden I got much more productive!
But the impetus for turning off the television was this one thought:
Begin with the end in mind.
Know where you’re going. Know where you want to be. And then make sure you’re heading in that direction!
But when we don’t have an idea of what we want our home to “feel” like, or what we want our family to be like, then it’s easy to just keep going from crisis to crisis, putting out fires. Or it’s easy to sleepwalk through life. I didn’t want to do that.
Once I had grasped that thought–that I had to figure out where I wanted to be–I started picturing the kind of family and marriage I wanted. I thought about how I wanted us to be a safe haven. I wanted us to be a place of great fascination with learning. I wanted us to take adventures! And you can’t do that if you spend your life in front of a screen (hmmm….seems I needed to learn that again this weekend, too!).
I added another thought from Stephen Covey that goes along well with that, and it was simply this:
Put first things first.
He explained that we can spend our lives on things that are either important or not important; urgent or not urgent. And the problem is that most things that are truly important, that will get us to our goals, are also not urgent. There is nothing demanding that you do them. So it’s all too easy to ignore them.
Instead, we spend our lives on a lot of things that are urgent but not important (texts and Facebook updates), or just time wasters. How do we start spending our lives on things that are important? There’s only one way.
So that’s what we did this weekend. I’m glad. I’m finding that as we’re empty nesters, in some ways it’s even easier to get wrapped up in your own stuff, and not really know what’s going on in your husband’s mind or heart. And when I’m stressed or worried about something, my instinct is to keep it inside and try to deal with it, because to explain it to someone else takes too much time. But if I do that too long, soon I feel like I have this whole inner life that he knows nothing about. That’s not healthy! And that’s why we need some dates that aren’t in front of a screen.
Being intentional can save you almost $3000 a year. That’s huge. Being intentional can bring you closer together as a couple. Being intentional can grow your relationship with your kids so that the teenage years are easier. Being intentional can help you create a cleaning routine that makes your life easier.
And here’s the cool thing: Being intentional does not actually take any more time, really, than NOT being intentional. In the case of cleaning, for instance, it still needs to get done. The question is simply WHEN and HOW you do it for the best results. The bills still need to be paid–the question is whether you do it in a way that leaves you no stress and no late payments, or do it haphazardly.
Sometimes all it takes is that mind switch, like I had, where you decide that you’re going to begin with the end in mind.
Above all, though, know where you’re going. And then make sure you’re on the right road!
Why do you think it’s so hard to spend time on the important things, and to get sucked into time wasters? How have you managed this in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!