One of the things that really helps me to stay on track during the stress of the school year is trying to be productive early on each day.
I'm not a good "sleeper-inner", but there are also mornings that I get up early and do more sitting and wasting time than doing my best work.
Because of this, I've developed a morning routine that is built on habits and not a lot of random time-consuming choices.
My morning routine really starts the night before when we lay clothes out and prepare for the next day (more on that coming in another post).
However, in August of this year, I decided to make my bed every single morning and build the habit. It stuck. I don't even think about it anymore and when I leave my bedroom, I've already got a little bit of productivity under my belt.
I used to shower and get dressed & ready for the day right after that, but I have realized that in the wintertime especially, I love drinking my coffee and doing my morning Bible reading and prayer time in my warm and cozy jammies. I just have to be sure to set a timer or I would sit there all day!
I have found that taking a nice chunk of time each morning for my coffee, Bible study, prayer time, and running through my day BEFORE THE GIRLS GET UP really starts my day off on the right foot.
I am usually going through a few Bible studies at the same time on my YouVersion Bible app. You can see the ones I was working on this morning in the images below.
I have found that I HAVE to set a timer during the morning to keep myself on track or I will get carried away reading or during my prayer time and before I know it...I have forgotten to get the girls up and we are running late.
So by 5:45, I like to have the girls up and going before I jump in the shower. I get dressed, fix my hair, and occasionally whip up some eggs. A lot of the time I don't even eat breakfast...fancy people call it "intermittent fasting" and I call it "I'm just not hungry yet."
My girls always grab something to eat...they are breakfast people.
We are...er, really try to be, out the door by 6:30.
Once the girls are up and running, I know that my day won't be quiet again until they all climb into bed that night.
This is why that morning time in the peace and quiet of the farmhouse seems so valuable to me.
I'm working hard to be centered and intentional with my time and getting up early is just another piece of that puzzle for me.
My morning routine helps me to be the best version of myself, for Mr. Farmhouse, my girls, the rest of my family, my staff, and my students.
Trying to "rise & shine" from the farmhouse,
There are 56 days left in 2018.
A few friends and I have been following along with Rachel Hollis's "Last 90 Days", where she has challenged people to make the last 90 days of the year count.
Well, I was successful in following her "Five to Thrive" for about 15 out of 31 days in October.
And now...that 90 days has dwindled down to 56 days.
So this weekend, I've taken some time to regroup and do some planning for the next two months.
The girls and I did some deep-cleaning in our bedrooms and the rest of the house.
I planned out our meals for the next few weeks.
We set some goals for ourselves and made a commitment to make these last few months of the year meaningful.
If you're feeling like things have gotten out-of-control and you just want to gain some peace and calm in the near future, feel free to join me in building some habits in the next 56 days that will help us to enjoy the holiday season.
More info to come in the morning.
I am an over-thinker.
I often complicate things that should be simple.
I sometimes spend more time writing out a detailed and systematic to-do list than actually working on the task at hand.
I have often created elaborate New Year's Resolution plans and intricate systems for managing my work- and home-life.
These systems are almost always difficult to implement long-term.
Every day is a new day, full of surprises and challenges.
My work calendar has been filled up with meetings, webinars, and out-of-town conferences for the last few months.
I knew this year would be an adjustment period, but to be honest...it's been pretty overwhelming.
We've had some situations come up in my department that are uncharted territory for our district. We've had students transfer in and students transfer out. I've been working with and learning from several outside agencies.
I've been reading several books about leadership and project management and not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself.
Through my reading (and YouTube & blog exploration), I've come up with three goals for myself to really focus on from now until the end of this school year.
There are a million things biding for my time every single day.
I have some choices about what I allow to take my energy every time something new comes across my desk, across my phone or email inbox, or in front of my door.
I have choices about when to say "yes" and when to say "no"...and I can assure you that when it comes to my family, the answer should always be "yes".
I need to be intentional with my time, with my commitments, and with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
Some days, this might look like closing my office door and pushing through the items that haven't gotten enough attention that week.
Some days, it might look like closing whatever I'm working on at school and heading home right after school.
Some days, it might look like laundry, dishes, and sweeping the kitchen floor.
Being intentional is so important.
I have always been a "just in case" person.
I'd better keep that piece of paper "just in case" we ever need it again (even though I could print if off the internet any time I want).
I'd better save those toys and clothes in a tub in the basement "just in case" (even though I trashed boxes that hadn't been cracked open in over eleven years when we moved last summer).
I've realized through the years, however, that I have hardly ever needed those "just in case" items!
Thanks to the KonMari method, I pared down quite a few of our belongings right before we moved to the farmhouse.
I tried to be very intentional in my decorating and purchases made when we moved in.
I've tried to transfer a lot of my "paper clutter" from paper to digital copies.
My complicated systems are now simple and intentional daily reminders...a checklist that I move through during my free time at home and school.
Less is more.
A simple and manageable system is so much more effective than an over-complicated and unattainable plan.
One Day at a Time.
At the end of the day, we can't be all things to all people.
We WILL NOT mark every single item off of the "to do" list and even if we did, there would be more tasks tomorrow.
We have to be intentional with how we spend our time each and every day.
I wake up in the morning and do my Bible study, have some prayer time, and then I crack open my calendar app.
I look at my list of the things that must get done that day on my Trello board and I schedule them into my little pockets of open time on my Google Calendar that used to be wasted.
As I work through the day, I mark items off my list as I complete them and I move the tasks down through the day if something comes up that is a higher priority item.
If I don't finish the tasks for the day, I have learned to forgive myself and move them to the following day.
We can only do what we can do.
We can do our very best...
give our best effort...
try to strive for perfection...
and still we will fall short.
We will never be "caught up"...but do you know what we can be?
We can be present.
We can wake up every morning renewed and full of purpose, ready to try again.
We can be intentional and we can strive for the beauty of simplicity...one day at a time.
Have a great week, friends.
Love from the farmhouse,
the shortest summer ever.
It's been just over a month since I blogged on the last day of school.
I had big summer plans for the blog.
I would share the continuation of our decluttering journey.
I would post about our garden.
I would showcase our farmhouse projects with everyone, as we finally marked some of the items off the list that we've been putting off all school year.
I would finally get those items finished that we had been procrastinating on.
And I will say...we have made progress.
I am so excited and looking forward to my new position for the 2018-2019 school year.
I have thoughts and dreams and a vision for what the Special Education department will look like in the future.
However, there are still some responsibilities lingering from last school year and I would like to take care of these things before going back to school in August.
This is a time of transition and I need to be proactive in my planning and preparing.
I need to be intentional in my learning and my personal summer professional development.
I need to be "vision-minded" as I close out last school year and look forward to next year.
I want to be able to start fresh in August and to offer a fresh start for my staff members and students.
And to do that...the groundwork must be laid now. This summer.
This last Friday was my predecessor's final day.
He's now retired and already enjoying life in Galveston, Texas. (Congratulations, Fred!)
We took him out to eat on Friday and then I went back to school and starting moving my personal belongings down to my new office.
When I walked out of the building that day, I vowed to not come back until July 9th...taking this week to relax and enjoy my family.
Taking this week to watch our town's annual 4th of July parade, to shoot off fireworks, to get some projects completed around the house, to go to the lake, and to just spend time with Mr. Farmhouse and the girls.
There is still much to be done...on the farmhouse and in my new office, but those things can wait.
Happy "Stop Week" from the Farmhouse, friends.
30 books: the 12-week-year
Back in January, I made the goal to read 30 books in 2018.
Well, it's mid-April and I am in the middle of books number SIX and SEVEN.
Book number six is The 7 Experiment (Jen Hatmaker).
And book number seven is The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact (Michael Fullan).
I will post a completed list at year-end, but for today, I would love to talk to you about the book I finished just last week, The 12-Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Get Done in 12 Months (Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington).
I immediately downloaded it and started listening to it that night.
The concepts in the book were so obvious and yet, I needed to hear them so badly.
How many of us wake up on January 1st every single year with so many hopes and dreams for the year?
We make goals (New Years' Resolutions, if you will), whether on paper or in our heads.
There are so many things we want to accomplish by December 31st, and yet by the time February hits, adequate progress towards most of our goals has not been made.
We don't have to work too hard in January and February because December is still SO...FAR...AWAY.
We push through March and April, making excuses as to why we are not moving towards our goals.
It's so cold.
When it warms up, I will get to work on those goals. I promise!
When the school year ends, I'll have so much more time to focus on my plans.
There's still PLENTY of time to meet my goals before the end of the year! We're not even halfway through the year!
May, June, and July come and go.
The summer is just so busy. When school starts, I'll be able to focus more.
It's too hot!
Summer is for rest and relaxation.
By the time we hit August and September, we are ready to get the kids back into the routine of school and get to work on those "New Years' resolutions"!
But it's just crazy when everyone is trying to get back into the grind of school.
On October 1st, it hits us...we only have three more months to reach our goals.
We start to get a glimpse of the urgency that is needed if we're going to hit our goals before January 1st, but by this point...it feels like it's too late.
We'll try again next year.
I knew I couldn't continue this cycle forever.
With all of the changes coming in our life over the next six months, I knew that I needed to get it together.
I'll be starting a new job on August 1st and life will be different at the farmhouse at that time if we don't start to mark some things off of our giant to-do list.
The basic premise of the 12-week year is that we get rid of our "annualized" thinking when it comes to goal-setting and working towards making our vision for our life a reality.
We start to think of each 12-week section of time as a year.
Instead of putting off tasks until the end of the year when the urgency starts to take over, we keep that sense of urgency year-round, while setting realistic goals and focusing on the execution of daily tasks to help us reach our desired result.
"If you want to know what your future holds, look at your current daily actions. Those are the best predictor of your future. Not your hopes and dreams and visions. Your daily action. Because daily action is what moves a person forward."
We can have the most well thought-out vision and the most wonderful plan in the world.
However, if we don't execute well...none of that matters.
So remember as you think about your vision, your goals, and your plan that we need to also think about the effectiveness of our execution.
We have to DO the hard work every stinking day. Even when we don't feel like it.
Just do it.
We are in Week 2 of our first 12-week year and we are LOVING the results we are seeing.
I'm going to take you through the process of how Mr. Farmhouse and I set up our first 12 weeks.
This is, in no way, a substitution for you reading the actual book and following the plan.
But I'm hoping it can at least inspire you to get started!
1. Write out your personal vision for your life 10 or 15 years down the road.
Be specific! Close your eyes and picture the life you've always dreamed about! There's no goal too lofty. Just write it all down!
2. Based on that vision, think about what parts of that vision you could work towards for the next three years.
We are zooming in at this point.
We're taking that lifelong vision and breaking it into more measurable and attainable chunks.
We went through our vision and wrote some attainable goals.
I'm not going to share every single part of our personal family vision because your vision should be your own.
However, on our long-term vision, we wrote that we want to be completely debt-free in ten years.
So for our three-year plan, we want to work towards having everything paid off except for the farmhouse and my student loans.
3. Based on your three-year goals, set goals for the next 12 weeks.
We are zooming in even farther at this point.
What can we do to move ourselves closer to meeting that long-term vision and that three-year goal in the next three months?
At this point, we broke down our 12-week plan into fourteen very specific, small, and attainable goals.
It includes blogging goals, a plan to get my classroom completely cleaned out before I move into an office next year, and a plan for our first garden here at the farmhouse.
On this step, be specific.
And be realistic.
4. Create a weekly plan including activity that needs to be completed every week to help you reach your goals.
We did this on the Sunday evening before we started into our first week.
These are very specific tasks that will move you toward your 12-week goals.
Here's an example of this from our 12-week year.
We want to finish the wall and closet for the fourth bedroom.
During week 1, we needed to measure the closet and wall space and make a materials list. We needed to order the supplies from Sutherland's. These are the only two tasks for that goal that we could realistically finish in Week 1.
But we finished those two tasks and moved farther along in the process than we have in the last six weeks.
We aren't putting that task it off any longer because now it seems manageable.
It seems attainable.
We can do this!
5. Every single week, check your progress from the previous week and plan the next week.
This part is crucial to the success of the 12-week year.
What daily action did you carry out regarding each goal?
How much progress did you make towards your goals?
Were you diligent in doing the hard work every single day?
If not...OWN IT and vow to do better this week!
After checking your progress, make a new weekly plan!
In the book, Moran talks about three different blocks of time we need to religiously schedule each week.
Strategic Blocks - 3 hours of protected time early in the week where you knock out a lot of your weekly activity work (1 time per week)
Buffer Blocks - 30 minutes to one hour blocks of time where you do those mundane yet necessary daily tasks like checking emails and social media (1-2 times per day)
Breakout Blocks - 3 hours of time later in the week where you BREAKOUT of the work cycle and focus on pouring back into yourself (1 time per week)
I tried this schedule this week and could not believe how much more I was able to accomplish during that first strategic block when I wasn't distracted by emails, my phone, or other daily (sometimes meaningless) tasks that I spend so much time on each week.
Week 13 in the 12-week year is for reflection and celebration!
Because you're not thinking about the annual goals that are looming over you, you are able to be more focused on a few attainable goals and the tasks that will get you to the end result you desire.
I would encourage you to grab the book or at the very least, try to plan your own 12-week year soon.
You won't be sorry.
Happy Windy Saturday from the farmhouse, friends.
Week 2...here we come!
This time of year can be exhausting for teachers.
This year it seems to be even worse...probably because this seems to be the winter that will never end here in the midwest.
A few weeks ago, my throat started to get really sore one afternoon.
In the night, it became so painful that it woke me up.
I decided that morning that I would need to visit the doctor to get a strep test.
After contacting three different offices and not being able to get an appointment, I ended up getting in to a clinic about 11:30 that morning.
Sure enough...the strep test was positive.
I picked up my prescription and was on the road to recovery by noon on Monday.
I went back to school that week and taught like nothing ever happened.
Throughout the week, two of our three girls ended up with strep, as well.
No rest for moms with sick kids, right???
We all did ten days of antibiotic (actually, the girls are still taking theirs!).
I finished my ten days and felt great for three whole days!
Then this last Monday, after teaching all day and speaking at two board meetings that night, I thought I had overdone it.
I tried to rest my voice on Tuesday as much as I could.
However, Wednesday morning, my throat started to feel sore. And more sore. And more sore.
After a quick strep test Wednesday after lunch, it was confirmed...the strep was back.
With strict orders from the doctor, my boss, and most everyone else that I had come into contact with that afternoon...I headed home to rest.
I laid around a lot of the afternoon and took today off, as well.
Sometimes I think our bodies have to force us to rest.
Friends...we HAVE to make time to rest.
I struggle so much with this, but I am going to try very hard to start scheduling in downtime for every member of our family.
Life is too short to be running, running, running...doing, doing, doing.
Take some time to recharge this week, friends.
Love from the farmhouse.
I'm struggling. Oh, I'm so sorry...I'll be praying for you.
I'm guilty of using these phrases.
Sometimes to avoid a long, drawn-out conversation, we answer a question with a word or two...a word or two that are sometimes far from the truth.
Most of the time, I really am fine. Times that I really am great.
But there are days. There are weeks.
There are moments in life where I am NOT fine.
I am not great.
And yet, to avoid real connection, I just go through life pretending like it's all okay.
I'm afraid this happens more than we would like to admit.
We tell people to "take care" as we leave a conversation and then we walk away and don't even "take care" of ourselves.
People give us a glimpse into their difficult life situations and we promise our prayers and then we walk away with a quick prayer thrown up and don't ever think about it again.
I'm afraid that we are becoming a society who hides behind our smiles and our one word answers to real life questions.
A society who hides behind our computer and cell phones.
A society who would rather pretend it's all going great than connect with someone face-to-face.
I think these social platforms that were created to keep us more connected with one another have caused more division than the creators had ever anticipated.
So let's get real.
This year has been difficult for me.
Trying to transition from a job I absolutely love and adore to another job that I know I will love and adore...eventually.
Navigating the new waters of having a preteen in the house...and a threenager.
Having both of the older girls in the same school as each other...but a different school than me.
Selling a house. Buying a house. Losing weight. Remodeling a house. Farming. Gaining weight. Taking pictures. Teaching. Losing weight (again). Wife-ing. Mom-ing. Gaining weight (again). Blogging. Churching.
And guess what?
It hasn't always been wonderful.
It hasn't even always been good.
It has been hard and complicated and emotional.
It has been beautiful and challenging and full of growth.
My Instagram doesn't always show those difficult days.
My Facebook doesn't always show those difficult days.
This blog doesn't always show those difficult days.
Heck...my own face doesn't always show those difficult days.
So for today, just know...
I'm not always fine.
And that's okay.
You don't have to always be fine either.
Let's be real, friends.
Love & hugs from the Farmhouse.