September 16, 2014

{Review Crew} The 7 Minute Life



I absolutely love planning-with paper planners. I love to make lists and attempt to stay organized. When I heard that I had the chance to review The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner from The 7 Minute Life I was thrilled to try something new to help plan for our new school year.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

What is it?
The 7 Minute Life is a time management company created by Allyson Lewis, a motivational speaker and author of The 7 Minute Solution, The 7 Minute Difference, and The 7 Minute Daily Planner. Through her products, she encourages everyone to prioritize, organize, and simplify.


7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is a personal training tool to take an overwhelming to-do list and divide it into manageable tasks. Through the use of the planning pages outlined in this planner, priorities will be discovered, goals will be set, and manageable checklists will be created on a monthly and daily basis. This planner is designed to help you cut through the chaos, and in 7 minutes, discover your priorities and redefine your purpose. It contains planning pages to record goals, meeting plans, daily tasks, daily contacts, lists of unfinished tasks, and appointments.

This planner is designed for use by adults, or in this case, moms.
It is a 7.3" by 8.5" paper planner that is spiral bound.

Here's a helpful video to explain how the planner works.



How did I use it?
I definitely started with watching the videos and reading through the beginning section of the planner. It contains so many sections and so much information that I had to slowly work through the videos and the introduction before I could jump in.

I finally took the plunge and started filling out the beginning sections of the planner. This section begins with a list of items to prioritize. Things like love, success, efficiency, relationships, connecting, travel, and health were among the many values listed. I spent time choosing which ones I felt were most important to me so I could begin to prioritize before I planned. 

Next I was directed to write out a purpose for my life and list what I loved and record some purpose words to help guide me. The following page had places to write what I loved at work, my strengths, my highest value activities, and how I liked to be rewarded.

The next sections had pages to record 90-day goals for work, personal, financial, and life goals. The following pages had lines to record unfinished tasks as well as action steps to work toward completion of those tasks.

There were also pages for an annual calendar, annual projects, monthly calendars, and meeting reports.



Ok, so there was a lot to fill out before beginning the daily planning pages. I spent about a week working through the introduction and filling out the various sections of the planner. I didn't quite get each page filled in but I felt it was time to jump right to the daily pages, knowing I could come back to the beginning at any time to make changes or to add tasks. I started to get a little overwhelmed with the many sections and blank pages that stared back at me.

The daily pages include a section to record people you come into contact with, the 5 priority tasks to complete before 11 am, a list of people to connect with, unfinished tasks to complete, appointments, thank you notes to write, any expenditures from the day, and voice mails to return. There is also a section for any extra notes as well as a place to record the amount of exercise, sleep, reflection, and reading done each day. Another portion of the daily planner has boxes to write down the meals for the day as well as track the number of glasses of water consumed. At the bottom of each day there is a question, "Did I do what I said I would do today?" and a box to check either yes or no.

Each night I turned to a fresh page and started outlining tasks for the new day. And being the perfectionist that I am, I tried to fill in every line and space. It's quite a lot of information and a lot of planning that goes into each page. You do have to plan with purpose and think strategically as you fill in each section. 



What did I think?
I love the idea of figuring out priorities and setting goals before you begin creating a monthly or daily calendar. It really helped me see that some things were simply not a priority and were wasting my time that could be spent on more important tasks. I really appreciated the page to help me discover my purpose where I wrote down things I love and some purpose words for myself. Some things I wrote that I loved were reading, blogging, lists, family time, and Bible study. My purpose words were disciple, consistent, balance, joy, efficiently, progress, and self-growth. Once I had discovered what was important to my purpose, I was able to plan more effectively. However, this process is not for the faint of heart as it was somewhat time consuming and overwhelming. I was thankful I had some videos to watch to help guide me during the process.

Another section has places to record goals as well as action steps to assist in attaining that goal. This helped me write goals that were measurable and attainable. Then I felt compelled to start completing them! There is also a section to record the outcome of each goal. I loved that I had a place to journal the experience even if the goal was not attained. Looking back on goals and how I tried to achieve them would help me plan more effectively for the future.



I found the annual calendar page as well as the monthly calendar pages to be somewhat small. I had a very difficult time writing in tasks or appointments on those small grids. It made for a messy calendar when I tried to read what I had written. I love being able to glance at the entire month and see the most important tasks recorded, but I really needed a bigger writing area.

My favorite aspect of the daily progress report pages was the 5 before 11 section. This is a place to record 5 tasks of the utmost importance that need to be completed before 11 am that day. It was a good exercise for me to choose the top 5 tasks and write them in those spaces. I loved the sense of accomplishment I felt once I had checked off each of those tasks. However, I will freely admit that my 5 before 11 became my 5 before 3 pm, because I had to do most of the tasks while my youngest was napping in the afternoon. Mornings are not usually very productive for me and I'm trying to accept that fact!



I loved that this planner focused not only on daily tasks but on you as a whole person. There were places to record sleep or eating habits. The pages had places to record connections you made with other people as well as thank you notes to write. This planner encompassed more than just a check list for each day. It helped me find my priorities and then set attainable goals to accomplish tasks that were important to me. It's more than just a daily calendar; it includes ways to organize your thoughts and track your productivity.

As I used this planner I found myself making many changes to the different sections. Instead of recording daily contacts as people I came into contact with each day, that section became a place to record my social media plan for the day. The section to record what I spent during the day served as the three lines that contained my meal plan. The thank you notes area was a place to record the 3 honey-do's for my husband. Instead of a voice mail section, I used that as a place to write anyone who needed a response from me-whether via text, email, phone call, or social media message. In addition, the meeting planner pages in the front section became a place to write my daily plan for different social media outlets.



My wrap up!
I love how this planner takes you through the steps to prioritize, determine goals, and outline the manageable steps to achieve goals. The planner includes places for checklists and sections to help you stay accountable in completing daily tasks. I found all of these areas so helpful in keeping me on task every day.

However, I did find that I had to repurpose many of the sections in the planner since I do not work either outside the home or from my home. This made it more time consuming to use the planner. I still appreciate the ideas and principles behind the planning steps but wish the planner was available in a format that was geared more toward moms and household management rather than working individuals.

More info....

This planner can be purchased for $24.95

You can find The 7 Minute Life on social media here:

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September 15, 2014

What if you're not excited for "back to homeschool?"



This is the first year that I haven't been caught up in the back to homeschool excitement.  For the first time I'm actually dreading a new school year.  I've asked myself why.......this year we didn't move over the summer.  This year I'm not having a new baby.  This year my husband isn't starting a new job.  We have such consistency and stability right now.  Why would I not be ready and excited for a new school year?

I'm not really sure what the answer is.  I'm just simply not prepared to begin another year.  I think I feel terribly overwhelmed with the thought of balancing 3rd, 1st, K, and preschool kids throughout the year.  I'm anxious about trying to school while one of my two toddlers throws a tantrum.  I'm weary of cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, and I can't imagine adding school on top of my regular chores right now.  I feel completely burned out even though we have not yet begun our year.

I know I can't be the first homeschool mom who is absolutely dreading the start of a fresh year.  It makes me feel terribly guilty!

So what do you do when you don't want to go back to homeschool?

Put on a smiling face
Even though I don't think I'm ready for this, I've tried to encourage and excite my children for a new school year by participating in our traditions and talking about homeschooling in a positive way.  They are actually excited and looking forward to our new year and I keep trying to cultivate their excitement.

Find at least one curriculum or extra that you are excited about
Overall, I'm not excited about our year but I chose a few extras that I am excited about.  I feel that I do have a few things to look forward to - a Bible curricula that I want to try, adding in circle time, creating new sensory tubs, an AWANA program, and a Bible study for me.  I'm focusing on the good things that I can look forward to in our year.

Share your struggle
I've shared my trepidations with my husband and a few friends.  They have poured encouragement into me and shared their own struggles.  I'm not ready to conquer the world but I think I can start my year with a smile, knowing that they are cheering for me.  And I can lose the guilt knowing that my other homeschool friends have felt this way at times.

Give yourself grace
Discouragement, anxiety, and weariness happen.  This homeschool thing is not an easy job.  I'm trying to give myself grace to feel less than excited.  I'm not going to feel guilty that sometimes I don't feel that I want to homeschool.  This year we will homeschool whether or not I'm thrilled about it.  My kids will still learn and I will be swept up in their discoveries once we begin our year. 

Dive right in
No I don't want to start our year.  I don't feel like I'll ever be ready to tackle the new challenges.  I feel unprepared and overwhelmed.  I'm not going to put it off.  I've set a start date and we are going to begin.  I'll have to make adjustments and changes along the way but I'm just going to start without expecting perfection.  Once we have an established routine I know I'll feel less overwhelmed. 

So, even though this year I'm feeling rather overwhelmed and just too tired to begin, I'm going to find a starting point and just jump into our year.  And then I'll just do the next thing and the next.  Eventually we'll find our rhythm and I'll be encouraged by the progress I see.  And I've told myself that it's ok to feel this way.  There will be more years like this.  But here's to a great year, whether I'm ready or not!

September 12, 2014

A Peek Inside {My Prayer Journal}

 
Can I admit that I have a hard time staying consistent in my prayer life?  My prayers are randomly tossed heavenward during various times of day.  I suddenly remember a prayer request and utter a hasty plea and then forget to pray for that request for the rest of the week.  Through the mundane and the chaos, I have lost the wonder of what it means to commune with the Creator of the universe and author of my life.  I've been working to remedy this.  Enter my new prayer journal.



I got a cute little journal with lined pages.  Then I got colorful tabs.  These little guys are sturdy!  (They are the Post-It brand).  I made a couple of little categories and have started writing away.

I didn't want to write endless prayer request lists that would quickly overwhelm me.  I've tried that route before.  I learned that I get so stressed over the length of my list that I then feel guilty that I don't pray over each request every day.

I also didn't want to choose one day per week to pray over certain things because then if I miss a day the crazy guilt hits me.

I wanted to keep my plan simple so that I would actually stick with it.  So far it's working. 

I divided my journal into 5 categories.  The first 3 categories have about 6 pages each.  The 4th section takes up the bulk of my journal.  For the last section I reserved the last 20 pages of my journal.



Here is an inside look into my 5 categories:

Renew - Praise, Adore, Thank
This is where I write down any attribute of God that has been ministering to me.  I write down praises and moments of being thankful.  I also include references for verses that have stood out during my Bible reading time.  This is my page to feel renewed by marveling and wondering at the God who is my Savior and Friend.

Reflect - Listen, Confess, Change
Here I write anything that I feel God has spoken to me during my prayer time.  This is my place to write areas that I need to confess or something that God has directed me to change or act upon.  The Still Small Voice speaks and I try to write down what I hear in my heart.

Request - Ask, Inquire, Intercede
Here I write down anything that has been impressed upon my heart to lift up to the Lord.  This is where I write down requests both for myself and for others.

Write - Converse, Share, Relate
This is the big portion of my journal.  Here I write out my prayers and my thoughts.  Sometimes I pray through Scripture and write down my response as I pray over certain verses.  Other times I simply start talking.  I find that my mind doesn't wander as I'm writing - this keeps my prayer time intimate and personal.

Read - Inspire, Encourage, Challenge
Here is where I've saved pages to record any quote or verse that ministered to me.  Any verse that I want to remember to read often or to pray over is written here.  I enjoy skimming back over the verses and quotes that spoke to me during my Bible study and prayer times.



I chose Romans 12:11-12 as my key verse for this journal:
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

Do you keep a prayer journal?  How do you stay organized and consistent in your prayer life?


Hip Homeschool Moms

Linked with Sunday Sharing Pinterest Party at Adventures with Jude


September 10, 2014

Our Prayer Wall



I've wanted to incorporate a more meaningful prayer time into our school day.  I want my kids to voice their requests and take turns praying for each other.  I've tried various methods for keeping track of requests but we often lose the slips of paper or completely forget about them.  I needed a visual reminder to make prayer a priority.  Therefore, we made a prayer wall.

I took colorful post-it notes and chose one color for each category:

  • Adoration - They list what they love about God
  • Confession - They list areas to confess or areas where they are struggling
  • Thanksgiving - They list what has made them thankful
  • Supplication - They list their requests for our own family
  • Intercession - They list requests for people and things outside of our family

I try to make each child be as specific and detailed as possible to make each request more meaningful. 

Each day we choose one post-it note apiece and prayer over that request.  We don't add new requests every day, only when we feel led.  And when a prayer is answered I plan to move that request to another part of our wall to be a wall of praise.

Thankfully we have lots of wall space so we can move our requests around as we pray for them.

It's such a simple system that it is easy to implement.  I'm hoping that this will keep us consistent. 

I have enjoyed having the visual reminder of colorful notes posted to our wall so that I don't neglect our prayer time.  The kids absolutely love choosing one note to pray over each day.  I've found that it keeps them from getting overwhelmed by a long list of requests, and their sweet insight and precious prayers minister to me.



September 8, 2014

Establishing a Circle Time in Your Homeschool



You may have heard about "circle time" and wondered what it is and if you should add it to your homeschool day.  Well, let me define circle time.  This is a time when you all come together (you circle up) and have learning time.  For some this means doing various subjects together as a family, but for others it is a time to work on memory work, cover topics such as calendars and weather, or read aloud together.

We recently implemented a circle time in our homeschool and here is what it looks like:

  • Right after lunch I put Punkin down for her nap while the older kids do a few chores.  Then we gather on the couch for our circle time (really, it should be our "L shaped time" thanks to our sectional couch).  Each child has their own couch cushion - this is essential to cut down on the fighting.
  • We begin our time singing a few praise and worship songs together.  I get help from trusty worship leaders like Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, or Mercy Me as we watch worship videos (with lyrics for the very forgetful me).
  • Next we have our devotion time.  I read out of our current devotion or Bible story Bible.  We are working through the Jesus Calling Story Bible and then I think we will move into the Jesus Calling for Kids along with the Voskamp story Bible. 
  • Then I do a short reading - for the summer we read from Little Pilgrim's Progress and for the school year we will read through a few verses each day of a book of the Bible - maybe starting with some of Paul's letters.  It won't be from Song of Solomon, that much I know!
  • After our reading time we begin memory work time.  First we start with our Bible verses and catechism.  I have a supply of bean bags and I toss them to the child who gets to recite that verse or answer the catechism question.  (They better think quick and catch their bean bag to avoid being hit in the head.  I can't say I have great aim.)  We go back and forth as we learn the new verses and review the old.
  • We then move to our prayer time.  We get our Compassion prayer calendar and our globe and locate the country that we are praying for that day.  Then we each say a short prayer for the request on the calendar.
  • Then we add a new request our two to our prayer wall.  Each child picks one request to pray for that day and we take turns praying.
  • Last I use our memory work binder and work with each child individually on their memory work of verses, poems, math facts, grammar definitions, science concepts, and geography locations.  I start with the youngest and work my way up to the oldest.  As they finish their work they are allowed to start playing nearby until we are done. 


So you can see that our circle time is mostly for devotions and memory work.  I found that having a long circle time with multiple subjects to cover did not work for us.  My kids have zero attention span.  So I keep our time short - to about 30 minutes.  Then we get up and do a new subject afterward that requires us to move into a different room.  It helps us to break things up into shorter, smaller chunks and have more "movement" in our day.  Once my kids are older I hope to increase our circle time as we can do more subjects together.  My goal is that one day it includes a time of discussion of our studies and the books we've read.  For now, I just keep it short and simple so that it gets done!

I found that doing circle time first thing in the morning did not work because it was impossible to focus over the sound of Punkin's chatter.  Having our time right after lunch is a great way to refocus and refuel for our afternoons. 

I keep all of our supplies in the bookshelf near the couch where they are easy to grab for our time.

Now, when I'm doing reading to Punkin I come into the living room to find everyone curled up on the couch trying to decide which worship video to watch for the day.  It's such a fun time of togetherness in the middle of our busy and chaotic days.


Hip Homeschool Moms
Linked with Sunday Sharing Pinterest Party at Adventures with Jude


 
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