It’s programmed into my DNA. My mother was a worrier.
I don’t ever remember a time when fear and anxiety wasn’t a part of my daily experience.
I constantly fight that gnawing feeling that I’m forgetting something. That I should be somewhere else or be doing something besides what I’m doing. That I’ve messed up somehow.
Where can I find anxiety relief? This is an issue that I have to turn over and over to God. Some days I’m better at letting go of it than others.
Recently, God has helped me discover some methods that are helping to silence those fretful little voices in my brain. I’m planning ahead in a variety of different ways — and like never before. Sounds so obvious and simple, doesn’t it? Does it really take supernatural intervention to learn how to fill in a calendar or make a to-do list?
In my case, it does. I need to be able to take the chaos that resides in my brain and methodically untangle it. But mental and physical organization doesn’t come easily or naturally for me. I’ve had to be very deliberate and humbly dependent on God for this new way of living. It’s been so worth it.
When I plan ahead, I’m more relaxed. I’m able to thrive, instead of just survive. I find the anxiety relief I’ve been searching for — at least for a while. And the whole family benefits because I’m more on top of things and less impatient and irritable.
That knot in the pit of my stomach eases as I use these methods:
1. I compartmentalize my responsibilities. Like most of us, I have several different areas of areas of responsibility in my home and work life. I have a labeled manilla folder for each major area. For example, I have a folder for this blog, one for a new book proposal I’m working on, one for my church ministry, kids’ issues, etc …
2. I make monthly and weekly to-do lists. At the beginning of each month, I make a Monthly Goal List for each area mentioned above. I do this with my calendar handy so that I can look at upcoming work, kid and family events that I need to start planning for now.
Then, I break down that Goal List into weekly to-do lists so I have a tangible plan to accomplish it. I keep these in the folders at the top of the inbox on my desk where they’re easily accessible. I check them each morning and it helps to shape and give purpose and efficiency to my day.
3. Just like I plan for appointments and deadlines, I’ve begun scheduling rest. Rest is a difficult concept for me. I feel guilty when I’m not doing something productive. Somehow, I believe that I shouldn’t need rest. That I should be able to go on and on like the Energizer Bunny. Something changed a few months ago. I took a Sunday off from my usual routine. I made no effort to try to get a little ahead on home and work tasks for the upcoming week. I unplugged mentally and physically from the computer. It felt strange, but I liked it.
I’ve been doing this for several months now. Giving my brain that mental rest once a week and taking the time to honor and worship God has, in many ways, has made me more focused, less anxious and more productive than ever before.
If this organizationally challenged mom can do it, you can, too.