Becoming more intentional means doing life with planning and purpose. I want to embrace each day fully charged rather than trudge through with an empty tank and an overflowing schedule. I want to become more intentional with my time, my well-being, other people, and things.
Becoming More Intentional with Time
Time is a currency we must budget carefully if we’re to become more intentional. Some ways I am currently trying to do this are by shifting my schedule, paring down my distractions, and prioritizing by deferring tasks.
Shifting the Schedule
As a homeschool mom, who relishes sleeping in, my personal time often doesn’t come until the kids are tucked in for the night. By then I am usually too tired to achieve my goals. So this year I’m trying something different by shifting my schedule. I am intentionally setting my alarm and getting up early enough to accomplish some personal tasks before I greet my kids for the day. With my husband’s accountability and encouragement, I can confidently take this step toward becoming more intentional with my time.
Paring Down Distractions
Several years ago I was addicted to Candy Crush Saga. I also enjoyed Words with Friends. These games consumed too much of my free time and distracted me from my family. Though I haven’t played them for a few years, I still have to be intentional to pare down distractions as they appear.
Last year I noticed that I spent too much time on my phone. Facebook was the main culprit, so I removed the app. I also restricted how my phone uses cellular data. For example, if I’m away from home (Wi-Fi), I receive alerts for text messages, but my phone doesn’t automatically check email. Receiving fewer notifications while out and about has helped me become more intentional with my time.
Prioritizing by Deferring Tasks
Last year I learned about an organizational method called the Sunday Basket®. This method for dealing with household paperwork, tasks, and errands essentially works by deferring all tasks that can be postponed so that remaining tasks rise in priority. The Sunday Basket continues to help me become more intentional with my time.
Becoming More Intentional for My Well-Being
As a wife, mom, and homeschool teacher, it’s easy to put myself on the back burner so that everything else gets done. This year I am becoming more intentional with my health, my spirit, and my skincare.
I am slender but sedentary. As I approach my forties, eating fairly healthy is no longer good enough. I feel like my body is breaking down. I thought my diagnosis of May-Thurner Syndrome explained my sometimes sharp abdominal pain, but at a recent appointment my vascular surgeon claimed it’s not the cause. My general practitioner wants me to strengthen my weak abdominal muscles while we continue looking for the root cause of my pain.
For the first time in my life, I’m motivated to exercise for physical fitness rather than my figure. To become more intentional with my health, I’ve begun indoor rowing and stretching. Since I no longer sleep in everyday, I have the time to invest in my health for the present and the future.
It is easy to fall into the trap of missing out on time with God when I don’t make it a priority to read His word and spend time in His presence. Sadly, I’ve let the busyness and weariness of everyday life lead me into this pit far too often. In addition to my time and my health, I need to become more intentional in my relationship with God.
I recently learned about She Reads Truth (and He Reads Truth). These are online communities of women (and men) who study scripture together. I scheduled the She Reads Truth studies into my personal morning time so that I can start my day by feasting on the Word of God.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
– Psalm 119:105
I don’t wear makeup, paint my nails, or color my hair. I joke with friends that my husband doesn’t know how good he has it. My skin is always dry in winter and is starting to show some early signs of aging. Rather than resorting to makeup to hide flaws, I’ve decided to become more intentional with my skincare. I asked for and received some moisturizing products for Christmas and hope to make taking care of my skin a permanent part of my routine.
Becoming More Intentional with Other People
While writing this post, I’ve been reading a biography about Mother Teresa to my son for school. Although she died in 1997, her legacy and wisdom is still relevant today. Mother Teresa served the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India, and her missionary work spread around the world. As I seek ways to be more intentional with other people, I am inspired by her great love for all people.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.”
“We must make our homes centers of compassion and forgive endlessly.”
“Spread love everywhere you go; first of all in your house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
“Never be so busy as not to think of others.”
Mother Teresa implores us to let love begin at home. Under my roof I have five other people I can minister to daily. Imagine the long-term effect I can have on my husband and children if I become more intentional in showing them love on a daily basis. Will this help them combat loneliness now and in the future? Will they in turn show love and kindness to others?
Keeping up with Friends
I do not like to fill up my calendar, but I cherish friendship. I will be more intentional with my friends by making sure that I connect with them on a regular basis whether in person, by email, by text, or on the phone. May I never let myself become so busy that they feel lonely or abandoned by me.
We have had the honor of reading many missionary stories in our homeschool. So many times I’m convicted by what I read. Our family tries to be generous with our resources, but often that winds up being a monetary gift rather than our service. Besides serving in our church, I want our family to become more intentional in finding ways to serve others in our community.
Last year I wrote about lessons learned from friendship lost. I had experienced the unexpected pain of a broken friendship – a wound that ran deep and continued to hurt many years later. When I wrote that post, we had turned a corner and were trying to reconnect. A few months ago, we met in her home and truly enjoyed our time together. I hope that we will continue down the path of restoration by intentionally staying connected and meeting together.
Becoming More Intentional with Things
Things are not as important as people, but we must still be intentional with our possessions. I’m not a minimalist, but sometimes I’d like to be. I find that I can easily become overwhelmed by my things. Here are a few “things” that I find less overwhelming as I become more intentional with them.
Over the past few years, I’ve become much more intentional when I shop for clothes. First, I simplified by better defining my style – particularly that I prefer more modest fashion that appropriately covers me no matter how I move, lean, or sit. Second, I pay more attention to which colors and styles spark joy for me so that I actually wear what I buy on a regular basis. Third, I no longer limit my shopping to steeply discounted items. Instead I focus on buying a handful of higher-quality pieces each year that fit my style and budget.
We bought a fixer-upper again. After about six months, it began to feel like home. But we still have seemingly unlimited remodeling ideas and a very limited budget that relies solely on savings rather than loans. Thus we have to be intentional with our remodeling projects – both in scope and sequence.
During our first six months, we’ve focused on integral systems: plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. While our savings builds back up, we’ll focus on small-scale projects like painting and updating lighting fixtures. Eventually we may move some walls to create a better use of space, and a second kitchen remodeling project will definitely happen someday.
Most importantly we have to become more intentional about being content in each stage of the remodeling process. Contentment is not complacency, but we need to be happy with the present state of our home rather than focusing only on its future.
I’m a sentimental person, but I don’t save a lot of things for my kids to remember their childhoods by. Sometimes I feel guilty for not making lots of photo books for them. For the last several years we’ve created a commemorative Christmas ornament with pictures of our family and the year. We used to order just one ornament for our family, but a couple years ago we decided to order a duplicate ornament for each of our children. I hope that this small, intentional step to save memories for our children will bring them joy when they have their own families and Christmas trees someday.
Becoming More Intentional
Each new day is a gift. Think about ways that you can become more intentional with your time, your well-being, your relationships, and your things. What specific steps can you take to become more intentional?