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family

Time Management

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Pastor Rick gave what I thought to be one of his most inspiring messages ever today. It was all about time management. He’s done some great messages in the past and is probably the most impacting and inspirational speaker I’ve ever heard, but today his message really hit home.

In the service today, Pastor Rick gave a lot of great advice and wisdom about how to manage your time:

Evaluate your time priorities. This can be done (as I’m going to do) by keeping track of how you spend your time over the course of two weeks.

Busyness does not equal productivity. I am always busy with something or another. The whole week it seems I’m never free. But I’m finding that a lot of the time I’m not doing much of anything of any real worth or significance.

Establish time systems. This could mean many things. One example Pastor Rick gave was his own schedule. Every day, he gets up early in the morning and spends time in solitude praying and having study/research time to plan his messages. He’s also at home every night at 6:00 PM for dinner with his family. These two recurring events are set in stone in his weekly schedule, and are obviously very important to him. I need to figure out which things are the most important for me to do, and plan everything else around them on a recurring basis like he has done. Having set things to do at set times and days also makes it easier to say no to people when they ask you to do something, and that’s a big thing for me. I find it hard to tell people no when they ask me to help with or commit to doing something.

Eliminate time wasters. As you’ll read below, I’ve already gotten rid of a lot of my time wasters, but this is something I really need to work on more. Pastor Rick spoke about how you should delegate what’s important and find new ways to use wasted time, such as reading or catching up on something that needs completing when you’re waiting (for example at a doctor’s office).

I have some of the worst skills when it comes to time management out of anyone I know. I always have really good intentions of getting lots done, being productive, and accomplishing everything I need to do. In fact, despite my lack of priority-based planning, I have one of the most immaculately-organized iCal calendars ever (that picture is a screenshot of how my iCal looks on a weekly basis). It’s broken up into sub-calendars, the main ones being home, school, and church. I have everything from my classes at VCU to my weekly breakfast with Tori and dinner with Jen. From the looks of it, you’d think I was one of the most organized people ever, right? Not so much.

So why doesn’t it all work out in the nice, structured way it seems to by looking at my iCal? There are a couple of reasons. First off, I don’t seem to be able to stick to what should be my top priorities. It’s sometimes out of stress, lack of will power, tiredness, or sheer laziness. Other times it’s because something fun comes up and I end up going out with friends. All I know is I need to increase the amount of time I spend doing some things, reduce others, and maybe even completely eliminate a few. Most things are fine in moderation, I just need to find the right balance.

Sometimes the time I allot to certain tasks ends up getting wasted because I’m multitasking while I should be focused on a singular goal. I also get distracted (and spend too much time on) my Mac and iPhone. The biggest distraction involving both devices? Facebook. Up until today, I had a ridiculous connection to Facebook. On my computer, there’s a desktop program that flashes a little box in the upper right hand corner of my screen notifying me when someone writes on my wall or does some other action on my profile, I get an email with the same information, and then a text on my phone. Sometimes the Facebook email also goes to my phone. Now before you send out the “whitecoats” to haul me off to the nut farm, please understand that some of these notifications were in place from the time I first registered my Facebook account (almost two years ago), for example the emails. I just added one thing at a time and now I’m at this ludicrous level. I’m happy to say that as of today, I’ve completely eliminated all of my Facebook notifications on both my Mac and iPhone, turned off incoming email to my phone, and turned off the new mail notification sound on my computer so I don’t automatically open my email client and read it as it comes in.

In summary, here’s what I plan on changing with my schedule starting this week:

  • Allot more time to studying, working productively at church, and exercising
  • Spend less time on the computer, doing less-than-productive things, eating out, and not necessarily hang out with friends every night
  • Come up with the best balance of school, work, volunteering, and fun

I’m excited about finally getting a handle on my life and make time for the things I need to do and be able to accomplish so much more.

2008 New Year’s Resolutions & Goals

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I thought I’d have some time to really go into detail on all of these, but that’s not the case and by the time I have enough time to do it, the year will be well underway. Here’s what I wanna do this year, in no particular order:

  • Get in shape – I’m running each and every day and am going to do some weight training.
  • Eat less – I’m not necessarily going to change everything I eat, just eat less of it.
  • Play the guitar – I have a nice guitar and took some lessons but I need to stick with it.
  • Have a weekly podcast – I did for a while last year, but I need to keep up with it.
  • Spend more time with family – ‘Nuff said.

2007 was amazing and I can’t wait for what 2008 has in store!

The Cure For The Post-Christmas Letdown

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I love Christmas, and am let down every year after the holidays when the lights come down and things go back to normal. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s an excellent article from one of my favorite websites, dumblittleman.com (It’s a great site, check it out sometime). These ten tips will leave you feeling like it’s Christmas year ’round.

Does Christmas Have to End Today?

The buildup to Christmas and all the year end holidays is so long and so pervasive that when Christmas finally comes and then goes, for many people a kind of post-Christmas slump sets in. If this happens to you, I have very good news. You can keep the delightful elements of Christmas alive throughout the year. You can feel the joy of Christmas all year. Here’s how you can incorporate the special aspects of Christmas into your life.

1. Kindness. Who says we have to stop wishing each other a happy day just because the holidays are over. There’s something to celebrate every day. Seek that out and wish those around you a happy day similar to how you wish them happy holidays at Christmas. Today I rolled down the window of my car to wish a neighbor “Merry Christmas.” It made me feel good, and I thought, ” Why do I only take the extra 10 seconds to greet neighbors during the holidays? I’m going to try to do this all year.”

2. Time with Family and Friends. This is the real magic of Christmas. Why not have a family & friends dinner once a month or once a season? A pot luck or a simple dinner is a nice way to keep this element of Christmas in your life all year long. Have some music, get out the board games that never get used, and have some fun.

3. The Tree. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to keep a Christmas tree in your house all year long, but you can certainly bring more plants into your home to bring the freshness of nature indoors. Bring in a new plant once a season and breathe in the fresh oxygen!

4. The Smells. The smells of Christmas are so special from evergreen to candy canes. You can bring these smells back anytime with some scented candles. Try a new scented candle every few months to celebrate each season of the year.

5. You’ve Got Mail. How nice is it to get real mail in your mailbox? Why not share that goodness a few more times during the year with other seasonal cards to a select few friends to say that you are thinking of them. When you print out your Christmas labels, print out a few extra copies so that sending out “thinking of you” cards will be easy. Send a few every other month or so. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a new trend amongst your friends.

6. Giving. You can incorporate the spirit of giving throughout the year quite easily. The first way is through charity. When you give, make the act more of a ritual by taking a few moments to meditate on a sending a special intention along with your gift as well as feeling gratitude for the good fortune to be able to give to others. The other way to give during the year is when you come across a little something that you know a friend would love, go ahead and get it for them. Imagine how good you and that friend will feel. A third way you can give is with your time. This may be the best gift of all. Think about who could use that gift and then find a way to schedule it into your life.

7. Anticipation. The big countdown to Christmas is definitely half the fun. You can create this in your everyday life by scheduling fun activities or making plans to attend special shows, movies, or events. You can create the anticipation by making a simple countdown calendar.

8. Lights. Who doesn’t love Christmas lights? It brightens up our world during the short winter days, unless of course if you are living “down under” where holiday lights are a nice summer time bonus. Who says you can’t keep some light element alive all year long? If this is something that brings you a lot of joy then, by all means, find ways to keep lights a part of your home and world during the year.

9. Seasonal Stories, Singing, and Food. Find ways to celebrate each season of the year through different seasonal stories, songs, and food. We don’t have to wait around for next winter to keep singing, telling special stories, and enjoying seasonal recipies. How do you make sure all these things happen? Schedule them into your calendar, just like Christmas!

10. Nature. The romance of a white Christmas is something many of us hope for. Enjoy the romance that each season in nature brings. Celebrate it with a special seasonal walk with friends and family where the point of the walk is to experience, enjoy, and be grateful for the goodness of that season.

Make celebrating all year long a priority and you’ll never have to feel the post-Christmas slump again!

Have A Very Merry Christmas!

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I just wanted to take a moment to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you take the time to slow down and enjoy the company of all of your family and friends. I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow. Each year Christmastime gets crazier and busier for me, and this year that has proven to be true on an exponential level. But somehow on Christmas Eve everything is put back into prospective. Tonight and tomorrow are the only times the whole year that haven’t and probably won’t ever change for me. I have something come over me every year unlike anything else. It’s a sense of peace and happiness I can’t describe. I hope Christmas is the same for you. God bless each and every one of you, and thanks for your reading loyalty throughout the year!

What I’m Thankful For

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Well it’s Turkey Day. I’m off to Home Team Grill in a couple hours to help serve Thanksgiving meals to the elderly and less fortunate with church, then to the family dinner at my cousins’ house. I just wanted to take a few moments to say what I’m thankful for.

First and foremost, I give the utmost thanks to God for all he’s done in my life in the past year. He has blessed me with so much, taken care of all my needs, and helped me change myself for the better in many ways. He has also provided a way for me to use my talents and skills to help others reach Him through my church with the Impact Arts multimedia ministry. Through the church, I’ve also made some great friends such as Anthony and Tori.

I’m also really thankful for my family. People may come and go, but they’re the one constant that’s always there no matter what. I love them very much.

I’m very thankful for my best friend, Jen. She’s always there to talk to about anything, always keeps me entertained with her crazy stories, and is just an overall wonderful person to be around. Sometimes when nothing’s gone right all day I’ll hang out with her, if only for a few minutes, and my whole day is turned around. She has a way of doing that, and I love her a lot.

There are also so many other things I’m thankful for, but these are the top ones. I hope you’ll take some time today to really reflect and thank God for his blessings in your life. Enjoy your time with family and friends, and eat lots of good food!

P.S. – I’m thankful for all my faithful blog readers, too! 

Fall Festivities

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So I pretty much ate my way through Halloween this year, even more than usual. There was a floor-wide party at work with five conference rooms decked out with every kind of Halloween decoration you could imagine, and more food than I could even comprehend. We’re not just talking candy. Each room looked like a mini Golden Corral. It was great.

Later on, I went over to the church to help out with Fall Fest. It turned out great. I went around filming everyone enjoying the carnival games and all the inflatables. Pastor Alan estimates there were 850+ people this year. Wow… great turnout!

Below are pictures from both events. I didn’t have my camera, so I just snapped some shots on my iPhone. They’re decent, but some are blurry.

Attorney General’s Office Party:

Richmond Community Church’s Fall Fest: