Living an Offline Life

Living an Offline Life | RaisingArrows.net

The internet is a strange place.  On one hand, it is full of wonderful information, on the other, it can be an out of control vortex that sucks you in and sucks the life out of you.

I enjoy writing.  I enjoy the challenge of learning new things about the internet.  I enjoy interacting with people online, and reaching out to others with the love of Christ.  But, I do not enjoy how much time can be wasted staring at a screen.  I don’t want that for me, I don’t want that for my kids, and I don’t want that for my readers.

It’s a balance.  You cannot simply let the internet happen to you and your family.  It is a tool, and like any tool, it has it uses and it’s place.  Use it properly and keep it in its place, and you have a wonderful resource.  Use it improperly and let it get out of control and you have a monster.

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Because I run a blog, I must be online.  But, it is entirely up to me how much time I spend online and how productive or unproductive that time is.  I cannot let it become a mindless escape.

I have to live an offline life.

I just learned of an ebook from Sarah Mae on this very topic.  The title says it all – The Unwired Mom (affiliate link).  As I’ve been reading through it, I’ve found it to be so refreshing!

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This ebook is only $4.99 and could potentially save you from making the horrible mistake of living your life online until the day you look back with regret.

It’s all about balance.  It’s all about living an abundant life in Christ.  It’s all about being present in your family, not glued to a screen.

Live your offline life first so what you do online is vibrant and real, encouraging and inspirational.

What will you be doing this weekend to live life offline?

Yesterday I Did the One Thing That Always Gets Me Off Track!

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Years ago, I learned that if I intend to have a productive day, I MUST NOT get on the computer before getting my day started.  That means no drinking coffee or eating breakfast in front of the computer, no taking a “quick peek” at email, no promoting posts if I forgot to schedule them the night before.  NOTHING.

But, yesterday, I sat down with my Greek yogurt and opened my computer and sat there…and sat there…and sat there…

My entire day ended up OFF TRACK.  It was awful.  Today, I refuse to end up there again.

{this post contains affiliate links}

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

I tell you this story because we all end up with off-track days from time to time, but if your life seems to always be off-track, then it’s time you did something about it!  See those books up on that shelf?  That’s where you start!

In my ebook (which is part of this sale), The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule, I mention the fact that I cannot get on the computer first thing in the morning and have a productive day.  I learned that about myself and adjusted my schedule accordingly. Had I tried to force myself into someone else’s schedule that perhaps included a morning time on the computer, I would have fallen flat on my face.

That’s why I am a fan of time management books…GOOD time management books.  The really good ones teach you about YOU and how YOU work.  They help you order a day that works.  They help you order a day that glorifies a God who created order from nothing.

Oh, the mercy He must show me when I do things like wreck my day via the internet!

Today, I’m back on track.  Praise God from Whom all Blessing flow!

Do you want to get back on track?  Then, this set of ebooks can help!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!

Get this bundle for almost 60% off this week only.

Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews
Tell Your Time: How To Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free outlines Amy’s straightforward, step-by-step approach to controlling your schedule and ensuring the important things don’t fall through the cracks. It’s short and to the point with no fluff or filler. This little ebook will help you accomplish not only what’s on your to-do list today, but what’s on your to-do list for life.

Honoring the Rhythm of Rest by Daniele Evans
In a culture where many of us are simply moving too fast and pausing less often for a break, for time off or for intentional rest, Daniele offers a better way. Honoring the Rhythm of Rest will encourage and equip you to understand the meaning of true rest; to ask of yourself ,”Am I living intense, or intentional?”; to counteract the myth of doing it all; to consider 3 intentional ways to practice rest; and to journey back from burnout!

28 Days to Timeliness by Davonne Parks
Two years ago, Davonne began working on becoming more timely, and she decided then that if she could ever figure out how to be on time, she’d write a book about it.  Throughout her journey, she discovered what makes some people late, tips and tricks other people use to be on time and how to enjoy freedom and spontaneity within boundaries as she made significant progress in her own life. In 28 Days to Timeliness, she shares 28 short, easy-to-read segments that take just a few minutes to go over each day with a practical course of action to help you be on time.

Creating a Schedule That Works by Marlene Griffith
In Creating a Schedule That Works, Marlene offers you the tools to help you create and implement a schedule that works for you and your life. Her simple, straight-forward approach shows you how to break your day into bite-sized pieces by scheduling four blocks of time in your day to help you meet the demands of your day-to-day life.

The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule by Amy Roberts
With plenty of charts, printables, examples and links, The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule includes step-by-step instructions for creating the perfect homemaking schedule as well as a bonus section on creating the perfect homeschooling schedule. Amy shows you how to work with your unique family dynamics, how to make a schedule stick, how to delegate chores and more!

The Task of Staying on Task

The Task of Staying on Task | RaisingArrows.netI have lots of ideas.  They swirl around in my brain all day long.  I’ve told you how I make lists to keep me on task and get my brain in order, but today I want to dig a little deeper.

Why Can I Not Stay on Task?

The simplified answer to this question is,

Because too many things are vying for my attention.

I tell my husband all the time that I forget things simply because there is too much in my brain, and it occasionally dumps information so as to avoid overflowing.

Not sure he buys that.

But whatever the case may be, I know as a homeschool mom and stay-at-home wife and mother, I have to stay on task or watch the chaos ensue.  Here are a few of things I do in order to stay focused throughout the day.

{this post contains affiliate links}

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Make notes

I recently purchased 3 purple notepads just for keeping by my computer to help me remember things.  So often, I have trouble keeping things straight while working on blog projects and homeschooling.  It helps to have my brain on paper.

However, the one issue I’ve found with making notes is the fact that my children really like my notepads.  It is inevitable that I will find my notepads all over the house emblazoned with lovely little doodles.  Lately, my 4 year old has been practicing his letters and writing “notes” to me and Daddy using my notepads.  I really struggle to reprimand for such cuteness.

The Voices in My Head

It is not uncommon for me to repeat over and over in my head the tasks I need to do.  I’ve done this since I was a child.  In fact, I used to sing the things I needed to do!

Switch laundry, change out toilet paper roll, check math…
Switch laundry, change out toilet paper roll, check math…

And yes, sometimes I just say the things out loud no matter the strange looks I get from my children.

The Immediate Method

Sometimes tasks are urgent, and while I despise the tyranny of the urgent, I also know that  when something needs immediate attention, you just have to suck it up and give it the attention it needs.

For instance, suppose my husband is headed out the door to work and asks me to make a certain phone call.  Chances are, if I don’t make that phone call that very moment, I’m likely to forget.  I have to take care of it immediately.

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Office Hours

One thing I encourage other blogging mamas to do is create office hours.  This works for non-blogging mamas too!  There are hours we homeschool, so why not add in hours we work on “office” related things.  Set aside a couple of hours in the afternoon that are your Office Hours.  During these Office Hours, you work through your lists, work on household things, and make new lists for the next day.  This can also be the time you have the children do a 15 Minute Tidy.  This creates the relief of knowing that what you cannot get to right now will eventually get done because you have time carved out for that specific task.

Ditch the Distractions

As I mentioned earlier, there are lots of things vying for our time.  One thing you must do in order to stay on task is shut out the distractions.  For me, this means I do not get on the internet first thing in the morning.  It will suck me in and ruin my day.

Consider the things in your life that distract you from staying on task:

  • your phone
  • the internet
  • social media (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter)
  • too many hobbies/projects
  • poorly planned schedules/appointments/outings

Take back your life!  Don’t allow these kinds of distractions a foothold.  Put them in their proper place and at their proper time.

Be on the Inside Looking In

An online friend recently told me to never allow your eyes to stray beyond the windows of your own home.  In other words, stop comparing yourself with others.  If you spend too much time looking at someone else’s life, someone else’s curriculum, someone else’s marriage, you are very likely to eventually want to be someone else.  You will find yourself in a perpetual state of unhappiness because you can’t be like Susie-so-and-so.  You think the grass is greener, but its not.

Certainly, we can learn from others, but comparing ourselves and striving to be someone we only know from the outside looking in, will end in disaster and leave us far off course.

God gave you this family.  He has a unique purpose for your family.  He has a unique set of tasks for you to accomplish.  Staying on task is more than just making it through a checklist each day.  It is ordering your day according to His purposes.  You stay on task because everything you do is focused on glorifying God and serving Him.  If there is something in your life that is distracting you from this purpose, then it is time to get back on task!

So, what are your struggles when it comes to staying on task?  What distracts you?  Can you relate to any of the things mentioned above?

Taking the Time to Make a Home

Taking the Time to Make a Home | RaisingArrows.net

There are so many things I wish I had the time to do.  I have lists and lists of ideas I want to try, recipes I want to make, and posts I want to write.  I’ve made peace with the fact that many of these things will never get done, but I have to continually look at that list of undone things to make sure that what I’m leaving undone isn’t actually something necessary.

One necessary thing I see many moms leaving undone is making a home.

A home is more than just a house you live in with your family.  It actually has nothing to do with the structure, but rather it is the essence of your family and the little things within the structure that speak to who you are as a family.  It isn’t even the decor or the furniture or the food that makes the home; although, those things can definitely be a part of that essence of family.

What a home truly is goes much deeper and is often lost in the craziness of the day to day life of the family.  It is the connections between family members that make a home a real home.

Have you ever been around a family that seemed to only live together, but really didn’t do much more than that?  They sort of passed in the hall or coming in and out the door, never really connecting with each other.  Their house was void of relationships.

With our online life taking up more and more time, our home life has suffered immensely.  We are connected with people we graduated high school with, but lack connection to the very people who live under the same roof as us.  Sometimes I wonder if people online know more about us than our own families!  How’s that for being disconnected?!

It’s time.

It’s time to come back to our real world.  It’s time to put first things first and work on the relationships we have with the members of our household before we check out the status of our friendships online.

It’s time we took the time it takes to make a home by taking the time it takes to be a homemaker.  And the only way we can be a homemaker is by not only being home, but by building strong relationships with the people we are making the home for.

How to Keep Going When You Can’t Keep Up

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Every mother has moments in her life when she feels like there is no way she can keep up with everything she needs or wants to do.

I’m having one of those moments.

In fact, I don’t even want to keep up!  I told you on Friday I am hibernating and that has a lot to do with it.  I could care less what’s happening on the internet and I wish my emails would take care of themselves (as in disappear), I’ve become a lumbering bear and I often find myself just sitting…not reading, not cross-stitching, not writing or daydreaming…just sitting.  And sometimes, I just lay down because sitting is too much work.

However, as I sit here typing this post (yes, I am sitting, but might need to lay down afterward), I realize there are a few things in life that must go on even when mama doesn’t feel like she can keep up with it all.  Some plates get dropped, but some must continue to spin in some fashion.

Here are my thoughts on how to keep going without keeping up with your normal A-game...

*Meals – While I love perusing my Recipes board on Pinterest and adding all the yummy things I have pinned there to my menu list, there is no way this fits into the Keep Going pile.  My menu for the next two weeks is simple, simple, simple.  Lots of crock pot meals, lots of 3-5 ingredient meals, lots of the-kids-can-make-this meals.  There is no reason to Keep Up with my normal menu routine when a simplified version will suffice.

*School – Every day, I decide what I think I can handle and let the rest go.  How I feel physically changes on a daily basis, so I have to be willing to adapt.  When you are in Keep Going mode, you have to accept limitations as part of your day.  Take school in bite-sized pieces, only chewing as much as you can handle each day.

*Cleaning – Focus on the basics.  Dusting can wait.  Your house will not implode from a layer of dust.  Use paper products to lighten your kitchen load and get the kids involved in keeping the house tidy.  A little bit of tidy goes a long way when you can’t seem to Keep Up with it all.

*Outside Communication & Matters of Import – While I would love to stop answering the phone and delete every email in my inbox, there are still important things I have to attend to.  When it comes to figuring out how to Keep Going with these important things breathing down your neck, the best solution I’ve found is a list.  I don’t even prioritize the list.  I just write it.  I also give myself permission to NOT answer phone calls that aren’t truly important and DELETE emails that really don’t need my attention.  I sort of drop off the face of the earth when it comes to anything EXTRA.  The trick here is being HONEST with yourself about what is extra and what really does need your attention.  Can’t figure it out for yourself?  Ask your husband.

*Outside Activities – Sadly, we aren’t always issued early warning before we realize we can’t Keep Up.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle much come January 1st, so I cut off all outside activities for the month of January and early February.  But, if you aren’t allowed this kind of foresight, you have to find a way to get rid of the guilt and pare down the outside activities.  Outside activities take up a lot of time and energy and really have no place in the Keep Going phase of life.  Let them go until you can Keep Up.

So, there you have it…my guilt-free, sit-and-relax, baby-will-come-eventually B game.  I’ll Keep Going, because I have no other choice, but you won’t find me Keeping Up.  Turn around and wave at me every now and then.  I’ll eventually get up and join you.


The How & Why Of Using a Planner in 2013 {guest post}

Today, I want to introduce to you a sponsor of Raising Arrows, who happens to be a mother of many and the creator of The Homemaker’s Friend Daily Planner.

SueHer name is Sue Hooley.  She and her husband, Dan, have been married for 22 years and have 6 children ranging in ages from 3 to 19.  After struggling for years trying to make her life fit into a conventional planner, she created her own adaptable planner and began selling it in 2010.

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Today, she shares with you why a planner is so important to the daily operations of the home and exactly HOW to make it work for you.  (You can order Sue’s planner at this link and receive FREE shipping!)

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As a homemaker, my daily planner is a friend that helps me juggle dentist appointments and ripe peaches with bulging clothes hampers and potlucks. It is a central location where I can make notations about upcoming church and social events, household jobs, appointments, children’s activities and more. A planner gives me a visual image of present duties and future commitments.

Written tasks and events give me specific direction. There was a time when I spent half the morning trying to decide which “important” thing to do first. I would begin a project, only to realize that I didn’t have what I needed. Then I would begin another project, and by the end of the day I hadn’t really accomplished much. If you have experienced this same confusion, you can get control of your day by making and following a weekly/daily plan.

A planner helps me make the most of my time. If I write ‘send a card to Aunt Elizabeth,’ I will likely get it done. I can easily ignore a small job, but if it is written on paper, I am more likely to find a few minutes for that particular task. In addition, I feel blessed by reaching out to someone beyond my own four walls.

Homemakers have a variety of duties without a specific time allotment. One week we might butcher chickens, plan a potluck and entertain guests. The following week we might be involved in totally different activities. In all of the busyness, we are still a wife, a mother and a household manager. If the days are constantly scheduled too full, someone or something will suffer. We owe it to our families to create a relaxed atmosphere and allow time for spontaneous picnics and sledding parties. A simple planner with month and week layouts will help you to arrange and prioritize obligations and events in a way that will lessen frustration.

How a Daily Planner Works

There are three particular areas that are especially helpful in daily planning. A monthly calendar gives a feel for what is ahead. Weekly/daily planning keeps us in step with what is most important for today. A running tasks list will help us stay focused.

A monthly calendar gives a quick overview of what is ahead. Generally these pages are not for detail, but rather for events and appointments. Make an entry for each upcoming event such as church meetings, weddings, school activities, reunions, holidays, and etcetera. This will help you see at a glance what is taking place. This information is helpful for weekly/daily scheduling.

Make it a habit to post every function that affects your family, church and school. Even if you are not involved in the Easter singing at the rest home, you will know the event is taking place. Then you can pray for everyone involved, offer to baby-sit or just be interested in the affairs of your church family.

A weekly layout with writing space for each day will serve as a guide for your week.  I find it helpful to write basic information prior to the week’s arrival. That way I know for what tasks, appointments and events I need to allow time. Usually at the beginning of the week, my weekly layout has many of blank spaces. Then as I go about my daily work, I jot down other tasks as they come to mind. It might be as simple as ‘sew on a button’ or ‘wash bed sheets.’

Be flexible when planning the week’s activities, and always take into consideration the stage of your family. While paper and pencil are essential instruments in daily planning, it is really the eraser that keeps things flexible and flowing as we learn to adjust our goals to fit our lives.

Begin by establishing an early-morning routine to take care of the everyday essentials: dressing, eating breakfast, cleaning up dishes, packing lunches, combing hair and getting children off to school and your husband off to work. Establish a goal-time to have the morning routine and clean-up finished–perhaps by 9:00. Once the basics are done, you can put more into the rest of the day. It may take some time to develop this habit. If you have a new baby or if you are a late riser, you may need to adjust your morning goal time.

To keep from scheduling the day too full, it may be helpful to write down routine tasks.  If laundry is the biggest task on Monday, write it down. Depending on the ages of your children or the size of your family, it may be the main accomplishment for the day. If cleaning is done consistently on Friday, then consistently write it down.

Decide early in the day what you are having for supper. The longer you wait to make this decision, the fewer options you have.  To lessen the choices, I follow this pattern:
Monday we have a casserole
Tuesday we eat meat and potatoes
Wednesday we fare on soup
Thursday we have a casserole again
Friday we enjoy a Mexican or Italian supper
Saturday we fire up the grill

Doubling recipes and putting half the food in the freezer is a like having cash in the savings account!

Besides the daily to-do list, it is helpful to keep a running tasks list. These are projects to be worked at as you have time, like sewing school clothes, organizing your recipe collection or updating baby books.  There are some projects that must be done and others that are not as urgent. If we keep a list of these projects we can more easily decide when to work them into our schedules. Don’t feel defeated if you never get to the end of this list. It is always “running,” catching more as the days go by. Just write the things down and then forget them until you can make time. Occasionally, I decide to not do a project and I cross it off the list. Maybe I’ll move another one to next year. Tasks list may be categorized by one month, by two months or by seasons.

Sometimes I title my tasks list pages: spring, summer, fall and winter. Since each season brings its own unique activities, I make a list of projects that must be done, and some extra jobs I hope to accomplish. Some projects are so big and time-consuming that I lack the courage to tackle them. In addition, it is difficult to find a block of time large enough to start and finish the project. If I break the project into several stages it seems less intimidating and more do-able. If I want to make a comforter I write it like this: sort fabric, cut blocks, sew top, knot comforter.

If I have a tasks list page for each month, I often pencil out what I need to do in the coming months, too.  The monthly tasks list is often affected by events. If it is my turn to host family for Thanksgiving, November will have many jobs related to that event.  If I want to give the house a thorough cleaning in the spring, I choose a month for that job. I write down every room in the house and as each room is completed, I cross it off the list.

The tasks list helps me to stay focused and it’s a fun challenge to juggle my schedule with all the other events that pop up. I transfer the information from the tasks list to the weekly pages. Additionally, I check the month-at-a-glance calendar for upcoming events to comfortably arrange the week’s activities.

As I mentioned before, carefully consider your stage of life when you are setting goals or using a planner. Our youngest child was born on June 25, so for the month of July, I wrote: “take care of baby, enjoy family, and be happy.”  My planner became a place to record Baby’s weight and other tidbits to transfer to a baby book at a later date. In time, we established a new routine and gradually my planner became more detailed.

Written schedules are not laws that can’t be changed, but rather they serve as guide to help you plan what is reasonable. Freely modifying your schedule is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. It is important to make wise choices that are best just for today.

A planner is a friend that will help you to wisely schedule what is good for you, your husband and your children. Always take into consideration your health, abilities and stage of life. It will be a friend that helps you remember what you need to do and you will be rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction when even the simplest of jobs has been completed.

You can order Sue’s 2013 Daily Planner here!

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