Calendar 101

I have a calendar obsession. Seriously. I purchase a new month at a glance calendar not once, but twice a year. I pick out a new school-year calendar every July to begin using in August. Come December, I buy one to begin using in January. Let me tell you, it is quite a process when I buy a new calendar. It involves online research as well as time spent in multiple stores so I can actually put my hands on them. It takes me as long longer to pick out a calendar as than it takes most people to buy a new car.

Picking out and purchasing a new calendar is a big deal for me and rightfully so… used wisely, your calendar can be a priceless tool.

It can serve as your:

Personal assistant

Brain

Social chairman

Marriage counselor

Personal trainer

Money manager

Productivity secret weapon

Prayer partner

…you get the picture.

You might be a digital calendar person. Bare with me and discover how a paper calendar can rock your world.

Start with a MONTH AT A GLANCE calendar, prepare to be amazed. Have you dreamed of knowing where you are supposed to be, when to be there AND arrive on time. Giddy up!

My personal calendar specifications are as follows:

  • Again, it has to be month at a glance
  • If it includes pages for each day, be aware that it will add weight and you want it small enough and light enough to take it everywhere
  • 7 inch by 9 inch minimum
  • 9 inch by 11 inch maximum
  • Space for each day (date box) 1 ½ inch by 1 ½ inch minimum
  • Tab for each month
  • Enough space at the top of each page for writing a horizontal list
  • “Notes” space on the left or right hand side

Your calendar is a visual representation of your life, your passion and your priorities. Use one, I repeat- use ONE calendar for yourself and your family. If you have things written in multiple places, it will defeat the purpose of this method. Additionally, only write in pencil on your calendar!

Let’s dig in: Open up to the current month. At the very top, keep a list of your ongoing jobs, elected offices, volunteer roles, any big events you are working on that month, etc. These are called your “dailies”. They need attention every day. Are you running out of space to write them all down? Guess what?! It’s time to start quitting some things! You need to take a few things off your list. Eliminate roles and responsibilities that aren’t in alignment with your personal mission and priorities.

If you have a specific “goal of the month” you are working on, (such as drink ___ ounces of water) it can also be listed with the dailies (maybe even highlighted). If you have a daily personal mantra or scripture, find a prominent place to write it. Examples:

Who will I bless today?

Be a blessing today.

Dream big.

Conquer your fears.

In the space for each day (date box), write down every deadline, meeting, practice, performance…. and a time. Keep them chronological. For instance, an 8:00 am meeting should be written near the top of the date box. A 7:00 pm soccer practice should be written at the bottom. If you have to use your eraser to keep it chronological, it is totally worth it.

Every time you hear or read about something that needs to be done on a certain day or something that is scheduled for a certain day, write it on that “date box” immediately.

Let your calendar help you achieve balance. When a particular date box starts to fill up- NO MAS! That day is full- just say NO to other commitments. If you struggle to say “no”, read Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes”. It will change your life!

REMEMBER: when scheduling back-to-back commitments, plan for travel/preparation time. If one meeting ends at 10:00 am on one side of town and the next one starts at 10:00 am on the other side of town, you either need to change one of the start times, or, inform the person leading the 10:00 am meeting that you will be late. Your calendar can help you arrive on time to every commitment. Please be on time. Being late is rude 😉

If you have certain things you do on certain days of the week, write them above the day, example: Above Friday, I write “purse/car” meaning every Friday I clean out my purse and car. About once a month I have my car washed/detailed on a Friday.

Look at your calendar every night. Ask yourself these questions:

1) What can I do tonight to prepare for tomorrow?

2) Does my calendar reflect my purpose and passion?

Block-out time for self-care (down time, exercise, meal/snack times, hair appointments, journal time, date night, etc). If you don’t write down your self-care “recharge time”, it won’t happen.

If you work from home, block out “office hours”. Otherwise, when people message you to schedule a breakfast meeting, a lunch, a volunteer obligation, etc.,  you will say  yes because you are “available at that time”. What a bummer when 5:00 rolls around and you have completed zero income producing activities!

If you have a family, block out time to spend together. If sitting down for family dinner at the table is important to you- plan it. Write it on your calendar and be fiercely protective of that special time. If you are married, date nights are mandatory! Schedule them weekly if you can, monthly at the very least.

For a running to-do list, keep a 4 inch x 8 inch lined sticky note on your calendar. Start a new one each Sunday. The sticky note to-do list is for tasks that aren’t already on your “dailies” list or on a particular “date box”. These are things that need to get done, but aren’t required to be completed on or by a particular date/time.

Anything that can be done in less than 5 minutes, just do it. If you are crazy in love with marking things off your list, just do it, THEN write it down so you can still mark it off. Hahahaha!

On the first day of each month, set aside a little time (15-20 minutes) to get your calendar ready. Write down your dailies, choose your mantra, move your sticky note to-do list to the new month. Begin each month with an empty “notes” section. Use this space to jot down dreams, ideas, movies to watch, books to read, date night ideas, prayer requests, a list of friends with whom to connect, etc.

In conclusion, the goal of mastering calendar 101 is not to cram more things into your life, it is to prioritize and plan so you can create space for your purpose and passion.

Do you have any questions about time management? Email me at jennmilroy@entremoms.com! I would love to hear from you.

“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people, but wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

Be a blessing today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy

Busy. Try to go one day without saying that word. You might be surprised by how often you use it. I confess, I am guilty of using “that word” too often.

To re-frame your relationship with “busy”, think of it as a dirty, bad and inappropriate 4-letter-word.

When someone asks us how we are doing, and we reply “busy”, do we lament the fact that we are busy? Or, do we wear it as a badge of honor? Do we say we are busy because we think  it makes us special? Please tell me we don’t think we are showing off by saying we are busy!

When someone tells me how busy they are, I automatically want to help them be less busy, because I assume they want to be less busy. However, I have found that many most people don’t want to be less busy. Many people feel that busy is the opposite of lazy. Some people actually relish the overwhelm and chaos. Could this be a form of self sabotage?

One thing is for sure, we all have the same 168 hours each week. We get to decide how to spend those precious hours. Laura Vanderkam is a time management ninja. She is phenomenal. From her, I learned that we have enough time to do the things we WANT to do. We had the opportunity to interview her for the entremoms podcast recently.  You should listen! http://entremoms.com/show-12-laura-vanderkam

I am a fanatic of all things productivity and time management related. However, I like to keep it simple. Very simple. Do you want to know the trick to being less busy? Here is my super-secret, profound and brilliant solution (sarcasm):

DO LESS STUFF.

Period. Do you want to know how to do less stuff? When your are asked to do things that you don’t feel you have time for, that overwhelm you, that you will have to show up late for and THEN be late for your next commitment, or you just don’t want to do- just say no!  You are the boss of you. When you say yes- remember you are saying no to other, possibly more important, things.

If your days are filled with meaningful, purpose-driven tasks and commitments… fantastic!  However, this isn’t usually the case. More often than not, people (particularly women) fill their days / non-work hours with commitments simply because they can’t say “no”. Learn to be fiercely protective of your time. Slay the “beast of busy” by saying no to things that don’t align with your personal goals and mission. Ask yourself:

Is (whatever thing you’ve been asked to do) the best way for me to serve others with my time, gifts and talents?

If the answer is no, try this response:

No, but thank you for thinking of me.

That is ALL. No explanation. No apology.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you mastery of this teeny-tiny-2-letter-word can transform your life. I am working on this very thing. I am a work in progress. I can’t say I am in remission, but I am in recovery. Compared to this time last year, I say “no” exponentially more often. It has truly been life changing for me. I am less stressed, more intentional and making time for things I previously thought I was to b@%y for.

If you had an extra hour every day, how would you spend it? Then put it on your calendar! Block out an hour to (whatever you want to do).

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every person under heaven.” Ecclesiates 3:1

Be a blessing today.

 

 

 

Reflect

STOP!!! WAIT!!! Don’t psyche yourself out over your new year’s resolutions just yet! First-take time to reflect on the past year:

Identify your greatest achievement.

Identify your biggest failure.

What healthy habit did you establish?

Which unhealthy habit(s) held you back?

What was your biggest time waster?

Was your prayer life hot, cold or lukewarm?

Did you master your mindset?

Did you tackle and eliminate clutter from your home?

Did you cultivate meaningful relationships? With whom?

Which books inspired you the most?

Did your schedule reflect your values?

Were your morning and bedtime routines effective?

Did you demonstrate generosity in a massive way?

Was gratitude a guiding principle?

Thoughtful reflection is vital to the process of establishing resolutions/goals. It can prevent you from “doing the same old thing and getting the same old result.” Reflection is vastly different from dwelling on mistakes or living in the past. Used correctly, it can be your best shot at serious incremental self-improvement. It can give you a hear start on achieving your goals.

When you write your 2017 resolutions/goals, be realistic, be specific, be mindful of what motivates you and remember to plan ways to celebrate your success along the way.

I like to make resolutions/goals in 6 key areas:

  • personal growth
  • professional growth
  • relationships
  • physical/health
  • faith
  • financial

For a moment, imagine this: it is December 31st of 2017. You have set aside time to reflect on the year and establish your resolutions/goals for 2018. You are overwhelmed with  strong feelings of satisfaction, accomplishment and JOY because you had your best year ever. Your commitment to growth and excellence in each area of life helped you succeed in ways you never imagined.

Start NOW to make this your reality! Check out the entremoms virtual life coach monthly membership at http://www.entremoms.com. My business partner and I have created a way to virtually coach women through each of these areas (plus a bonus 7th area that we call the “secret sauce”) for the entire YEAR! At a price that is less than you would pay for one HOUR of one-on-one coaching. Also, tune into the entremoms podcast to be inspired by amazing women who are moms and entrepreneurs!

It is my prayer that 2017 will be your best year ever. I pray that you will bless others in BIG BOLD ways. I pray that you will be blessed beyond measure and loved beyond your wildest dreams. Happy new year!

 

 

Thankful

Someone please tell me how it can already be November? Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Well, hold onto your hats- Thanksgiving is this week, two minutes later it will be Christmas and then it will be 2017 faster than than you can say “what were my 2016 resolutions again?”

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I need everything to slow down so I can enjoy it!

I had the privilege of leading “Kids for Christ” this morning. What a great way to start the day- discussing how important it is to be thankful with a room full of 4th, 5th and 6th graders.

We created a “thankful jar”. Each student received a penny. They closed their eyes, bowed their head, held onto their penny and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving. Before they left, each student placed their penny in a mason jar.

Wouldn’t it be impactful if each of us had a “thankful jar” or a “gratitude jar”? We could add a penny each day or write down what we are thankful/grateful for each day on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. A visual representation of a year’s worth of gratitude would be so powerful!

A gratitude journal is another great way to incorporate thankfulness into every day life. At the very least, you can write down a word, phrase, sentence or paragraph with the writing prompt “today I am thankful for…”.

Recently I read Janice Kaplan’s “Gratitude Diaries- How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life”. Wow! It was so inspiring to discover how focusing on gratitude transformed every aspect of her life. She also went into great detail about the pathophysiological benefits of gratitude. Amazing!

Consider starting your very own “year of gratitude” on Thanksgiving Day! Who says you have to wait until January 1st?

Let’s make a promise to be thankful every day. Even on the bad days. Especially on the bad days.

Enjoy this adorable video. Thank you Kid President!

 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Be a blessing today.

Affirmations

Wow! The school year has officially started! My one and only child, Jake, started  6th grade. It is CRAZY! Just like they say, “the days are long, but the years are short”. I’m not so sure the days are even long! Everything is going so fast these days. I blinked and the summer was over. Now it is time for me to get my “before school morning routine” back in action.

There are several important components of my morning routine. One of the most important (and first) things I do each morning is to master my mindset!  There are a few steps in this process. The one I want to share right now is verbalizing positive affirmations. Does this sound silly to you? Then you NEED to commit to practicing this step daily.

There are so many negative things entering our minds each day. First of all, you need to limit the amount of negative input.  Secondly, you need to open the flood gates and literally flood your mind with positive input.

Affirmations are a great source of positive input. Start simple! A couple that I have used for a while are:

  • I am a joyful loving child of God.
  • I am a child of the one true King.

I recently discovered some new ones by Lysa TerKeurst (she is amazing):

  • He is the potter and I am the clay.
  • I am the treasured daughter of our heavenly Father.
  • I am the object of His love.

Just read them aloud. What a powerful tool!

Next, if you have a specific struggle, convert it into an affirmation statement. For instance, if you struggle with low energy, this could be your affirmation:

  • I am full of energy.

-OR-

  • I feel energetic all day long!

Here are a few more to consider:

  • I don’t worry about the things I can’t control.
  • I am confident.
  • I am enough.
  • I am grateful.

Write down 3-5 affirmations that you will say each morning. Commit to this action daily for 30 days and see what happens. I’d love to hear about your results!!!

I shared this video on Facebook recently. I have to share it with you here. This little girl NAILED her morning affirmations! I’m afraid I would break my neck if I stood on my bathroom counter to do mine…

 

Be a blessing today!

Blank Slate

Thank you for visiting! I need to ask a huge favor. Pretty please with sugar on top!

When I started my blog in October I was totally clueless. I recently discovered (following multiple requests) how to enable readers to follow my blog. See what I mean- I was totally clueless. I probably should have figured that out on day 1. So…here is the huge favor: if you haven’t already,  please scroll down on the right side of this page and click “follow jennmilroydotcom”. It would mean the world to me.

Now- back to our regularly scheduled program:

It’s June. How are those New Year’s resolutions workin’ out for ya? Ha!Ha! I am so sorry. I hope you didn’t throw your phone, iPad, lap top or milkshake across the room when you read that. The great news is this: you can set monthly goals, weekly goals and even daily goals. Each day is a blank slate.

goals

I am an avid goal setter. Do I accomplish every goal I write down? HECK NO!!! But, I accomplish more goals than I would if I  1) didn’t set them 2) didn’t write them down.

In addition to being an avid goal setter. I am also an epic failure. I mean EPIC! Here is a great example. I am not proud to say it, but this is how it has gone down year after year:

January 1 – Cue the fitness goals. Work out, eat healthier blah, blah, blah. No dice.

On or around February 1st –  I am in the check out line at Target with more than my fair share of processed foods in my cart. I spot the fitness mag with the twenty-year-old celebrity “it  girl” du jour on the cover with the headline “now is the time to get bikini ready”.  I  buy it, read it, flip through it and even tear out some pages. No dice.

Fast forward to March 1st- My spring clothes feel a little tight. I’ll fix that. I just read somewhere about this great workout to get in shape for summer over the next 3 months. Fantastic! Just 150 minutes of exercise a week and no junk food. It will be so easy! No dice.

End of April- My legs are so pale. I think if I just got a little sun, I would look a lot better.

May 1st- I am in the check out line at Target (with too many processed foods in my cart) I spot the fitness mag with the 35-year-old supermodel who gave birth to her 5th child last month and is now ripped and chiseled on the cover with the headline “3 weeks to bikini ready”. Fantastic! I haven’t waited too long- I only need 3 weeks!! I buy it, read it, flip through it and even tear out some pages. No dice.

June 1st- Pool day. It would have been a GREAT idea to embrace ANY of the exercises I read about or to skip at least ONE of those drive thru meals. It must be the baby weight. He’s 11-years-old, but he DID weigh almost 10 pounds!

Then something amazing happened.

Lo and behold… within the past few weeks, I have actually set AND ACHIEVED a fitness goal. I discovered that the missing link was a need to change my mindset. In reality, I’m not motivated by seeing skinny models on magazine covers. I AM motivated by the promise of increasing energy and boosting brain power/mental clarity.

thinking and results feedback

 

I am also motivated  by the fact that increased energy, brain power and mental clarity = increased ability to make a greater impact. Just as with money, the more you have, the more you have to GIVE.

My husband and I both set some healthy goals during a recent “date night with a purpose” (I created a self-guided worksheet for couples that I will happily e-mail to you if you contact me).

I committed to  20-30 minutes of walking each morning. As I was writing down specific actions steps, I initially considered walking Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Then it dawned on me… I know myself better than that. Monday, Wednesday and Friday will roll around and I will think of 42 good reasons not to get up and walk. Instead, what works best for me, is to create a daily habit.

Another thing I know about myself, is I need to increase the perceived value of that time spent walking. Presto-during my walks, I listen to my You Version bible app and my favorite podcasts (this is called the strategy of pairing). It’s a modern day MIRACLE! I never in a million years thought I would look forward to my morning walk as much as I look forward to my morning Dr. Pepper! Don’t judge me.

What is the one goal you continue to struggle with?

How might changing your mindset help you achieve it?

What motivates you to achieve it?

How might the strategy of pairing help you establish a new daily habit?

How might achieving it enable you to bless others?

 

Bonus video: Here is Gretchen Rubin, my favorite “habit guru” talking about the strategy of pairing. I use this strategy with my new morning walk habit.

 

Be a blessing today.

Treat Yo Self

treat-yo-self

If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Donna Smeagle and Tom Haverford called “Treat Yo Self” the best day of the year. I will argue that we need to “treat ourselves” waaay more often than once a year. When we forget to take care of ourselves, we ultimately pay the price (and our loved ones do, too).

We’ve all heard the flight attendant say “in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others”. We know we have to take care of ourselves first so we can take care of others, but it is SO HARD!!

Have you seen the video of the mom who bought a Chewbacca mask for herself as part of her “birthday joy”? I am in love with her smile, her laugh and all of the joy that radiates from her. While recording the video and struggling to get the mask out of the package (we know all about that don’t we moms and dads?), she said something that I found particularly powerful. She said, “Stay patient. This is gonna be worth it. I promise.”

When you see her laughing hysterically, you know that “treating herself” to that silly mask (even struggling to get it out of the package) was TOTALLY worth it. A simple treat that brought her joy!

 

You have to take care of yourself consistently because 1) YOU are worth it and 2) so many people are depending on you.

I challenge you to commit to one, two, three or ALL of the following:

  1. Be grateful
  2. Have fun
  3. Laugh out loud
  4. Eat well
  5. Drink tons of water
  6. Commit to 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week
  7. Schedule a physical
  8. Talk to a friend
  9. Journal
  10. Pray and meditate
  11. Take a break from social media
  12. Listen to your favorite music
  13. Read great books
  14. Listen to inspirational podcasts
  15. Be generous
  16. Create a vision board (In the Tulsa area? Check out significanceproject.com)
  17. Create a sanctuary space in your home
  18. Get a massage- treat yo self
  19. Get a mani pedi- treat yo self
  20. Buy a Chewbacca mask – treat yo self

That thing that you are struggling with, you will get through it. Stay patient. It’s gonna be worth it. I promise!

Take care of YOU today. You are a blessing.