purging (or tweaking) your to-do list {day 11 of 31}

I say yes too often. To too many things and too many people and too many projects that seem like they’re going to be small and/or quick but they aren’t. I get in over my head, I get overwhelmed, and then everybody suffers.

Well, me, my family, and the people I let down because I said I’d do something and just couldn’t (or procrastinated too long).

Coming home from a four-day weekend full of speaking and people-meeting and prayer-request-gathering is tough. Because I come home to laundry and soccer games and dishes and homeschooling and grocery shopping and a million e-mails and catching up with friends. And I just want to curl up in a ball.

As soon as I finish this post, I’m going to tackle some of the To-Do’s hanging over my head. But I’m also going to purge (or tweak) some things from my list. Starting with book reviews. I get a lot of free books that people want me to review. A lot of them are from people I like a lot, either because I’ve already read one of their books or we’re friends online. I know what it’s like to hand out your books to a million people and have two of them actually follow through with a review.

But I can’t do it all.

And I know that October is already taken which leaves November and just a little bit of December before we leave for Cambodia (TWO MONTHS from TODAY!) and I won’t have time to do all of these books (and their authors) justice.

So I’m going to write about several of them right now and fight the feelings of guilt and learn from my mistake of thinking I can do it all. I can’t.

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

I love Emily. I love her blog, Chatting At The Sky. And goodness, can I relate to her good-girl-ness. I’ve been one all my life. So much pressure, so much trying hard, so much agonizing that I’m going to screw up and it’s all going to be over. Emily’s book is comforting and easy to read and brings you back to the only thing that matters–who you are in Christ and what HE wants for your life. Thank you, Emily, for sharing your heart in these pages.

Amish Values for Your Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I am so intrigued by the Amish and their simple, faith-&-family-centered lives. Gabe and I have driven through some Amish pockets lately and have talked about the perks and pitfalls of this lifestyle. Simplicity, not being affected by the world, hard work. But what about isolation and not knowing anyone who is different from you? What about going into all nations and sharing the gospel? This book has a lot of charming stories about people who are probably related to me (a Yoder by birth) in some way, and I liked getting to know my kin a little better.

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

Renee and the other gals at Proverbs 31 Ministries have been faithfully serving women for a lot of years. I can’t remember when we first connected online, but she’s always been so sweet to me and was even kind enough to chat about my books on her radio spot several times. Renee’s first book is going to speak straight to the hearts of so many women. I can’t tell you how many times I get comments or e-mails that say, “I’m not good enough. Why should anyone care what I have to say? I’m scared to take a risk.” “How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God’s Promises” is the sub-title of the book, and Renee bravely shares real-life examples that will help and encourage others.

Questions for You:

1. Do you pile too much on your plate? What’s something you can either 1.) purge from your to-do list, 2.) do a quicker version of, or 3.) just get it over and done with?

2. Any suggestions for how I can start setting boundaries when it comes to commitments and promises (especially those that don’t fit in our family’s purpose statement)?

3. If one of those three books appeals to you, let me know, and it just might show up in your mailbox.

26 thoughts on “purging (or tweaking) your to-do list {day 11 of 31}

  1. Deborah

    Just in case you needed someone to make you feel better about being you, I’m going back through and reading your 31 Days of Purging, because I MUST work on it and get better on it. While waiting for my breakfast to cook, I’m on October 11th. On October 15th. How’s that for a whacked out to-do list?!

    And then, there’s the post I left in my secret facebook group for my closests (sisters, cousins, best friends) –“So…I just made myself use a Target bag that had “For Deborah G” written on pretty paper and taped to the side of it in tape that could not be taken off without the bag ripping for cat trash. I am continuing to tell myself that my relationship with Jody is NOT dependent on a piece of paper taped to the side of a Target Bag. My rational self believes this wholeheartedly. My anthropomorphisizing/memory making/loving self felt the need to post this here to persuade it that my rational self was correct. :-D”

    Anyways, I am SO THANKFUL that you posted that link to Grace for the Good Girl. That is one that *will* be on my bookshelf and that I will probably be giving to my cousin who has turned her struggle with that into over a year’s worth of self-destructing depression. Praise to the Father Who sovereignly uses even my crazy ‘must go back and catch up on what I missed’ tendencies (that I’m working to be rid of in many ways) to provide for definitive needs. 🙂

    Love you, Friend…

    Praying for you!!! <3

  2. Amy P

    All those books look very good and I would be excited to see any of them show up in my mailbox!

    We’ve been very intentional about not committing to too much. We homeschool and that is my top priority. I teach Sunday School and we attend one family bible study each week. We let our 8 year old be in one additional activity. I’m not on Facebook because I think it would be too time consuming for me. I miss out on a lot of great coupons, deals, and info about my friends, but they are usually pretty good about making fun of me and then they fill me in on what I need to know!

    This is a constant topic of conversation in our family. Should we let our oldest join one more thing? Can we commit to helping with this or that at the church? I think it is just important to talk it through as a family and decide together.


  3. Beth

    I would love to read Grace for the Good Girl! And I’m with you in needing to purge my to do list. Actually, I had to purge it fast and hard a year ago for my mental health. Now I’m working back to a good balance of do/rest. It’s hard, isn’t it?

  4. Danielle

    I loved Grace for the Good Girl (I am actually almost done, so loved is totally right….love would be better)! Also, I very wise woman told me this little strategy about people asking you to do things. It has been really helpful!

    1. If they ask and you have no check in your spirit, and have a complete peace about doing it, say yes and move on!

    2. If there is even a slight check in your spirit, do not respond with an answer, but tell them that you need some time to think, pray, consult the hubs…whatever. After doing that if you still don’t feel peace, just say no, but don’t worry about giving a reason. Just say that at this time, you can’t commit. If you start giving reasons, your going to get pulled back into doing things that you might not be able to follow through with. If you pray, think, consult and feel a peace, say yes, and do it!

    The idea is to not give responses to requests right in the moment, or to get into a discussion about reasons. Your reasons will always seem small and insufficient, but are between You and God!

    It has helped me some!

  5. Kathy

    Yes is a good word but when used to pile on more commitments than can be done, it is a negative. I try to pause before accepting another task and inwardly ask the Lord for His approval. It is a workable solution only IF I listen to His voice and obey His leading. God is slowly prodding me to slow down and enjoy each day in His presence and not frantically trying to please others with their needs and demands.

  6. Jen Hanson

    Speaking of book reviews – my dad pinched my copy of “Consumer Detox” this weekend. He wanted to only borrow it for their four days in town, but he got so excited about the content that he started highlighting it for future reference (which knowing my dad, I honestly kinda expected ;-)). He’s going to get me another copy from Zondervan via Family Life Radio, but my review might be a little later than anticipated.

    1. Jen Hanson

      Good news is – he’ll be referencing it for an upcoming blog series on Radical Stewardship that he’ll be doing for FLR, so the book will get even more exposure.

      1. Marla Taviano

        That’s awesome. I had just written my friend at Zondervan to tell her what you said (I had some other Consumer Detox news to share as well) so I had to go back and e-mail her your 2nd comment too.

  7. gini

    I am super impulsive and say yes to way too many things… like a summer job that didn’t hardly pay me gas money and took my entire summer from 7am to 8pm! From now on I am saying, “Let me talk to my husband” (pass the blame to him one way or another, haha) or like many have said, let me think about!

    I have gotten into too many situations (not necessarily bad) that I don’t want or need to be in because of my quick mouth that says, “YES!”

  8. Lori

    So I started the Strong study this week (Sanctuary is doing it too right?) And of course this week is PLAY. As I wrote in the journal about things that energize and refresh me, I found myself writing these words:
    – Cleaning and Organizing around my house
    – Checking things off my to do list

    Seriously???? That is the sign of someone who’s to do list is way too big. That I find myself energized and refreshed just to cross something off? ding-ding-ding-ding-ding….that is NOT what they intended by play I’m thinking 🙂

    It’s tough for a busy working mom to take things off the to do list. But my suggestion is to focus on what you called ‘quicker version’. I don’t have time for the deep clean on the house. But keeping Clorox wipes next to the sink allows me to do a quick wipe down after I wash my hands. And having cereal for dinner occasionally is A-OK!

  9. Emily Kay

    Oooh, I’ve always been curious about the Amish lifestyle. Something about the simplicity seems so appealing.

    I’m usually the opposite of one who bites off more than they can chew. I guess I’d chalk it up to my issues with insecurity, but I nearly hyperventilate when I’m put outside my comfort zone (which is pretty much everywhere other than home with my family). It practically takes someone PUSHING me into a new situation. Although I did start MOPS this year, which was a BIG deal for me.

  10. Brooke

    my life is exactly as full as i want it. i know i don’t have the complications of caring for others, so that helps out a lot. i’m not sure how to set boundaries properly, but i have been able to say “no, i’m sorry i can’t” to a few things jay wanted me to do with his family. hard, since i rarely see them, but necessary due to prior committments.

    i’d love to find the confident heart book on my doorstep. i struggle with being confident at all, and when i have found confidence in the past its in myself, not God. then of course i screw up and lose confidence again.

  11. Sharon W

    Before saying yes or no, you could say, “Let me think about it.” Or “Let me check with Gabe.” Then run it by your hubby (or a friend) and realistically think about what other things you will have to say no to in order to be able to say yes to this thing. Or as I do, just say No. A lot! I am so uninterested in living a crazy busy life (not that my life isn’t busy, but we just don’t say yes to a lot of outside activities right now). I think the more you say no (it can be gently), I think it becomes easier to say. It also helps that my husband hates to be overscheduled, so I know he’ll back me up and be grateful when I say no. P.S. I’d love the Grace for Good Girl book.

  12. Valerie

    I’m another one that is guilty of biting off more than I can chew, trying to solve everyone’s problems when I should be healing and coping more with our situation. Between baby, doctors, school, family commitments, and volunteering for multiple projects I was overloaded. I’ve slowly begun backing out of things, and am slowly beginning to filter what is and what is not important to the direction we want to go in as a family.

    If it’s something that requires our whole family unit’s time, or is something that is an evening or weekend obligation if I’m unsure I just tell people I have to ask Mike and I’ll get back with them. Mike is better sometimes at filtering what would be good or wouldn’t be good for us to do. And, if I don’t want to tell them no…he will. We’ve found that being spread too thin, I feel like a failure, which isn’t good for my mental health.

    Unfortunately our new outlook has cost us to lose some friends however, if they are a true friend they’ll understand that you’re busy and simply may not have time to whatever it is they want. The friends I’ve lost were the ones I only heard from when they needed something, but if we needed help or support they were no where to be found. Biggest sticks in the mud still are no support at all after we lost our babies…. and the failed baby shower. A couple friends here were planning one, then decided apparently I wasn’t worth the effort or something…somehow lines of communication got broken somewhere…and these were “friends” I’d had since middle school.

    Boy that was a long response…short version if people really are your friends they will understand that you can’t be there all the time, that you need to put yourself and your family’s needs first.

      1. Valerie

        Mike has booked us up on the weekends…not what I really wanted to hear since my course project is due on Sunday, finals are next week then I start Fall semester on the 24th. During the week Sean and I are free for the rest of the month…unfortunately the hubby will be at work.

  13. Sallie

    My suggestion for setting boundaries is (other than prayer, which has already been mentioned) to ask your husband to help you decide what to take on. I found that my husband is Excellent in this role! He knows better than I do when I need rest and how much I can tackle. Also, my first responsibility after serving the Lord is to be available to my husband, so this allows him to have a say in how much of my attention he’s willing to give away. It works for both of us! (I can’t say that I’ve ever been a “good” girl but would love to read the book.)

  14. ellen

    setting boundries begins with prayer — I once read a great article about the urgent and the important — if we stamp out or take on the urgent little fires, we never get to the important things God really wants us to do — sometimes everything seems urgent — the quiet time to sit and say Lord what shall I do – is so very important

  15. Shannon Wheeler

    Before agreeing to anything (unless I know without question it’s a “YES!!!”), I typically try to buy a little time, which lets me get away from an emotional response and give it more thought and prayer. Often I may ask for more information, and sometimes I’ll say (if it sounds great but I’m just not sure I ought to), “Let me give it some thought – I think it sounds great, and I really want to be sure that if I commit to it, I will be able to do it as well as it deserves to be done.” Usually I find even if I end up having to say no, people then understand that I really value what they’d asked of me, and that makes me (and I hope them as well) feel better about the no. (Then there’s the plain-old-no stuff, which is best to nip and move on.)

    I have a secret desire to have a farm (I blame this on Ann Voskamp’s beautiful writing!), which my husband maintains is not actually something I would enjoy, but the Amish Values book sounds so intruguing as I’m seeking out a simpler-feeling life (and we’re always trying to teach middle schoolers the value of hard work – yikes!).

    On the other hand, my teen daughter struggles with the try-hard life and also having a confident heart, so I’d love to receive a copy of either of those to give her. She’s so precious, and it’s a hard swim upstream for her many days, out in this world… Sweet, strong girl…

  16. Danielle

    Oh the multiple piles on multiple plates that are tumbling! I have had to come to grips lately with the fact that I can pour into relationship and neglect my house, or have a clean house and neglect the ones I love. So, I’m working on creating routines that J and I both follow so that the house is livable. I feel very much like I have to do it all, and have a BH&G house while I’m at it, which just isn’t possible. Hearts are more important.

    I say that I need to ask my husband before committing to things. Often people roll their eyes at me, as if I’m freakishly submissive OR he is horribly controlling, but it is much more a way that he can protect me. If I go to J with something I want to do, he is wise enough to ask the questions I wouldn’t ask myself, and get down to whether or not I really should commit to something else. It also allows me to honor his leadership in my whole life, not just the things we do together.

    BTW, Marla can you email me your address? I have some stuff for you to take with you on your epic adventure of amazingness.

  17. Ruth Chowdhury

    I can tend to pile too much on my plate, but I really think I’ve gotten better about it lately. I do tend to hold myself to too high a standard when it comes to housework & school work though. So that increases my to-do pile unnecessarily or at least makes me freak out about it.

    Suggestions? Just say no. My husband has taught me that you don’t have to give an explanation or anything. Be confident that you’re doing what you’re supposed to, and stick by your family purpose statement.

    I’ve always been the “good girl”. I’m a recovering legalist. I’d really like to read that book. Thanks for being a great example for us, Marla!

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