Have a Happy PRODUCTIVE New Year

If you are like me, you love this time of year! Perhaps you have been anticipating cracking open that new planner, its empty pages drawing you in with grand hopes and dreams.

Why is it, then, that we can repeat this process of buying planners then piling up hopes and aspirations yet not accomplishing the dreams on our hearts? 

Action (not just intention) is the key to a happy, more productive, and purposeful New Year! 

People sometimes ask me, “How did you write and publish 55+ books, speak almost every week, run a ministry, keep a vibrant marriage, raise three great kids, build a wonderful friendship circle and keep your home in order? Honestly, I was inspired long ago by that legendary Proverbs 31 woman. While I recognize this description of a godly woman was penned as a tribute and likely covered the accomplishments of her lifetime, while studying the passage, one VITAL trait consistently popped off the page: She didn’t just hope, dream, wish, plan, or set goals– The girl took ACTION! 

God’s Action Plan Fuels Success

Let’s look at this famous passage. (I have emphasized the action verbs): 

An excellent wife who can find?

    She is far more precious than jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,

    and he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good, and not harm,

    all the days of her life.

13 She seeks wool and flax,

    and works with willing hands.

14 She is like the ships of the merchant;

    she brings her food from afar.

15 She rises while it is yet night

    and provides food for her household

    and portions for her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17 She dresses herself with strength

    and makes her arms strong.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

    Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She puts her hands to the distaff,

    and her hands hold the spindle.

20 She opens her hand to the poor

    and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,

    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes bed coverings for herself;

    her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates

    when he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them;

    she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,

    and she laughs at the time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,

    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

THE RESULT

And what is the positive outcome of her proactive action plan? 

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women have done excellently,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,

    and let her works praise her in the gates.

Inspired by her diligent action, I thought, “How can I replicate this hard-working woman’s “get it done” style?” 

I grabbed a blank page and brainstormed all the actions I used in a typical week: Write, email, create, call, buy, investigate, home front tasks, decide, post, pray, etc. Then I drew up a two-page planning sheet with empty boxes where I could record the goals and To Do tasks. This became my weekly Action Planning Sheet that I still use to this day. A few years after this “aha” moment, our ministry created the Get It Done, Girl! Maximizing Your Moments Action Planner that contains 52 weeks of these Action Planning Sheets, and Sunday Selah reflection pages

Move Goals Into A.C.T.I. O.N. 

In the preface, I share a simple acrostic that helps move plans into A.C.T.I.O.N.:

Ask God: Invite the Creator to give you a heavenly perspective. I begin each week with a listening heart, asking God to order the steps of the days. Prayer stimulates my mind. It helps me recall a person, an opportunity, a need, or inspired a creative thought for a book, a blog, or business. 

Clear the “Must Do’s”: I keep the Due Date next to each task on in my action planner and as a reminder on my phone’s calendar. I ask, “Which of the many things I have written has the worst consequence for inaction?”  I mark these MUST DOs with a 1,2,3, 4, 5 in order of priority. I highlight the week’s “must do’s” in color in my planner and on my online calendar. 

Tackle Tough Tasks: Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day. Your “frog” is the most vital task each day. I manage the hardest things early in the day. I also schedule my priority tasks in my “primetime” when I am most alert and creative. When I hit a goal, I motivate myself with a walk, a latte or healthy treat, or a few moments in the sunshine for reading for pleasure. 

Invest in the Future: At this point, I get to select the tasks and actions to make progress on. For bigger projects, I break them down into more bite-sized portions, assign due dates, then select time blocks to work on these items. I block my days as “Focused” or “Friendly.” Friendly days I take the time to get camera ready then do all my filming, Zooms, and in person appointments. On focused days, I skip the make-up, wear comfortable clothes, and drill down for pumping out words.

Organize Space and Personal Life: Being organized can lower your daily stress and raise your productivity. Decide what actions you can delegate to paid or volunteer staff, or to your children (which helps them grow up to be responsible adults.) In our Marriage Meet Ups book, we share the key to our happy, long-lasting marriage: Clear delegation of who does what. Success comes when you decide that one who has the RESPONSIBILITY has the AUTHORITY to handle that task, their way, their time, with their creative ingenuity and the spouse’s role is to THANK and APPLAUDE their mate for overseeing the job.

Nurture Those I Love: Just because you are a “Get It Done, Girl” kind of woman doesn’t mean you are all work and no play! The most productive people I know have a healthy work/play balance. Their motivation for the work is to provide, protect and bring a peaceful environment to their life and family. A happy family is a more productive family. And while we’re talking about nurturing—in the midst of all this action—treat yourself as kindly as your Heavenly Father would treat you. 

Question:  What A.C.T.I.O.N. will you take to up your productivity in the coming year?

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