Years ago, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Disorder. Surely that was why I never got through all the items on my to-do lists, why I’m the starter of many projects, finisher of few. I’m like Dug the dog in the Disney film, “Up.” Whenever I spy a “squirrel,” there I go, off in pursuit. In an effort to change what I perceived as my slacker ways, I committed Psalm 90:12 to memory: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Recently a girlfriend asked how I get so much accomplished with three children and a husband, all with busy schedules.
“Me? Get things accomplished? I never get stuff done.”
“I beg to differ,” she said.
Within a week, another friend posed the same question. This made me consider how I live my life. Imagine my surprise when I discovered, I’m not undisciplined. Disorganized? Maybe. Easily distracted? Definitely. As I thought about this, my focus shifted from what I do wrong to what I do right.
I think the key is my minimum standards. Every day, certain things are for me, non-negotiable. For instance, each morning, Monday through Friday, I have a “quiet time” which includes three activities. First, I record blessings in a notebook (Thank you, Ann Voskamp and your book, One Thousand Gifts, for inspiring this practice. It is an awesome attitude-adjuster.) I also read a section of scripture (Currently, I’m reading through a chronological Bible.) Finally, I pray using a prayer list. I learned this technique from Bible Study author and teacher, Beth Moore. A prayer list is an excellent way to ensure prayer needs are not forgotten. Plus, highlighting prayers that get answered is a fantastic faith-builder.
How else am I disciplined? Though our house is far from spotless, I try to keep our bathrooms presentable, the kitchen too. However, credit for the kitchen has to go to my husband. Almost every night, he cleans the kitchen after supper. Trust me, a couple of times a year, that fact gets noted in my blessing notebook.
Years ago, one of my good friends shared her #1 housekeeping secret with me. “Focus your cleaning efforts on the first floor of your house. Rarely do people go upstairs to the second level or downstairs to the basement.” To this day, I follow her advice. Then when I have time, I deal with the second floor. And the third. Then the basement. If you stop by, don’t go in the basement. Please!
Another almost unbreakable discipline in our home is eating supper together. Studies show that families tend to be healthier—emotionally and physically—when they share a meal most nights of the week (The Family Dinner Project). Last year, our oldest daughter surprised me when home from college on a visit, she spoke to her younger brother across the dinner table. “Don’t think that every family does this. Most of my friends do not eat with their families every night. This is special.” A related discipline is praying together before supper. For as long as I can remember, we have taken turns saying grace before eating. Everyone prays differently and it is always sweet to see what is on each person’s heart.
I also floss my teeth and wash my face every night. And I do at least one load each of whites, darks, and medium laundry every week. These disciplines don’t seem as “godly” as quiet times and dinner-time prayers, but they do reflect discipline. Maybe I should develop the discipline of giving myself credit where it’s due.
What about you? Are you highly organized or the total opposite? Do you also have your own list of non-negotiable daily and/or weekly tasks? We’d love to hear your thoughts on discipline.