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Melissa’s Note: As I thought about my charge to manage my home, it slowly sunk in that a lot of wisdom about how to manage a company for the glory of God is applicable for how we should manage our homes for the glory of God.
Matt Perman, former Director of Strategy at Desiring God, blogs at What’s Best Next. His aim is to help equip Christians in good works, “because that’s what productivity is really about.” His thoughts about real work vs. busy work prompted me to think about the real work of motherhood and I asked Matt if he and his wife would share more thoughts on how productivity serves the homemaker. His wife Heidi has sent us her thoughts about how Matt’s upcoming book [update: it’s available now!], What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, is helpful for homemakers.
Enjoy her post and be sure to check out Matt Perman’s blog and book for his ideas to grow in efficiency so that we can be prepared to walk in the good works God has for us!
by Heidi Perman
Matt and I both like to organize and plan, so it has been really fun to be a part of the evolution of his planning system. I have been able to test pilot much of what he talks about in his book. I really want stay-at-home-moms (SAHM) to know that there is so much that is applicable to our lives in the theology and practices that Matt puts forth in this book.
Before I had children, I worked as an RN full-time in a clinic setting. The first thing that struck me as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) was that my day was no longer based on a schedule of patients to see, handed to me each morning by the receptionist. I now had each day before me as a blank slate. I had heard stories of moms who stayed at home with their kids and watched TV all day. Aside from not even seeing how that is possible, I had a desire to spend my time in a more purposeful way. As with any other vocation, our main purpose is to glorify God with our time and energy by having a quest for the good of others. For SAHMs the “others” we are first concerned with are our husband and children.
In order to make the best use of time, the most helpful thing to me has been having a “default schedule.” By this, I mean that each week has a sort of template schedule from which to work. An example might be to clean on Mondays, get groceries on Tuesdays, fun outings/play dates on Wednesdays, office tasks on Thursdays, etc. Now these do not take all day, but the main point is to have a place for the “big rocks.” This is not unlike the pioneer days when women had a day for washing clothes, a day to bake, a day for churning butter, etc.
In addition to having a day to do certain “big rocks”, we also need to know what part of the day those big rocks will fit into. To determine this, I also break up my day into sections of morning, nap time, after school, evening, and after bedtime. It is helpful because each of these parts of the day allow for certain activities. For example, I plan to do office tasks during nap time. Likewise, I will plan for a trip to the zoo during the morning time slot because that is when the kids are most energetic.
Of course there are many other smaller (in terms of time, not necessarily importance) things that we want to do as well. This is where keeping track of projects and next actions comes into play. I capture these in a planning system and then do the weekly review that Matt talks about in order to move forward on them. Each week I identify what needs to be done that week and then find a spot for it in the calendar. A weekly review is really essential to keeping the household running smoothly. For a SAHM some examples of things that may go into this weekly planning time are meal plans, grocery list making, planning for guests, and planning outings with the kids.
As Matt has been writing the book, I have been reading the chapters along the way have felt inspired to do more of what he talks about–like spending some time implementing Part 4–Freeing Up Your Time for What is Most Important. My prayer is that SAHMs are encouraged to excel in their vocation as they discover What’s Best Next.
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