The Necessity of Planned Breaks

I used to be the girl who pushed herself to the absolute limit. After having a a complete and total meltdown, I’d beat myself up for failing to manage stress well, and wonder how I ended up all mangled and worn out. Then, out of desperation, I’d go into total seclusion, where I’d sleep my way back to health and recovery, so I could emerge renewed and ready to do it all again. After repeating that cycle on a fairly regular basis throughout my 20s and 30s, I decided I was sick of living that way.

Enter my 40s.

This is a decade of wisdom and courage and insight (and also weird, wire-like hair and large leg veins and short-term memory loss). These days, I rarely push myself to exhaustion and then wonder what the heck happened. I mean, I still have the occasional meltdown, but, when I do, I know EXACTLY what happened. I didn’t properly balance my chaos with quiet.

Now that I’m older and wiser (and veiny-er), I’ve discovered the necessity of planned breaks.

I look ahead to my day, my week and my year, and proactively and deliberately schedule periods of complete rest. Even when I’m not yet exhausted. Long before exhaustion has a chance to even creep up on me, actually, I’m penciling in silence, solitude, rest, and recovery.

And so, it’s time for me to take an extended blogging and social media break.

(I always get so nervous and excited and scared when I announce this!)

I’ve been anticipating this break for weeks, toying around with different versions of a “break.” Even as I’m typing this, I’m wrestling with what the break should look like. In the past, I’ve scheduled guest posts. Other times, I’ve done a “Best of The Year” series. Still, other times, I’ve gotten off line completely until January.

Because my entire online life is interconnected, it’s impossible for me to break from only one medium (say, Facebook or blogging) without all the others being affected, too. It’s hard to truly “break” from anything when I’m still receiving notifications and comments. It sucks me in completely. That’s no break!

After years of trial and error, I find my writing is richer and my ministry more meaningful when I live periods of time completely away from social media. Who wants a weak and meaningless life, anyway? Not me.

I’ll be gone completely from on-line stuff until January 2016. I’ll be tending to super-important things while I’m away:

I’m looking forward to doing all the holiday-type things with the fam.
I have a ridiculous amount of books on my nightstand begging to be read.
I have several dangling projects I’d like to complete around the house.
Pumpkin bread!
And I promised Elliana we’d watch Elf at least once, every day, from now through Christmas.

So, bye-bye for the remainder of 2015.

I pray you all have a Well-Balanced Thanksgiving, a Peaceful and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I will see you right back here in January.

Breaking from Social Media for the Holidays


A Simple Balance Tip: Schedule Three Things

I’m constantly trying to tweak my schedule to successfully balance my priorities. It’s an art-form, for sure, since every season is unique and every day looks a little different from the day before. But, recently, I’ve settled into a great routine that works for most days and allows me to accomplish what’s important to me over the course any given week.

A Balance Tip:  Schedule Three Things

Last week, I attended the Storyline Conference and heard best-selling author Donald Miller share a similar strategy. He based his technique on tons of research. I based mine on trial and error and moments of sheer desperation. This tells me I’m onto something. And maybe I should submit my findings to important people who publish research, and such.

This will work for you whether you are a stay-at-home mom (like me), work from home (kinda me), or work outside the home. It goes like this:


Basically, for about seven hours a day, my kids are in school. This is my “work day.” During those kid-free hours, I set out to accomplish three categories of things: Housework, exercise and writing. I do a lot of other things every day, too, but I save those other things for early morning, after school and weekends. These three categories of things are my top priorities during my work day. You can plug whatever three things are priority to you.


The night before, I decide one thing I’ll work on in each category. This takes me about one minute. I don’t over-think this. Sometimes I try to decide first thing in the morning, but my days go much more smoothly if I know where I’m heading from the moment I open my eyes. Plus, if I wait until morning to decide what to do, I may get sucked in to emails and laughing baby videos. (If getting sucked into emails and laughing baby videos are top priority to you, then, by all means, go crazy with that.)

So, for me, a typical day, choosing one thing in each category would look like this:

Housework: Girls’ laundry and vacuum (technically two things, but I can do laundry while also doing other things).
Exercise: Yoga
Writing: Work on “Letter to Christmas” post.


I am most productive, creative and energetic in the morning, before 11 am. Therefore, the thing with the highest priority goes first. My mental acuity generally peaks mid-morning and decreases steadily throughout the day, so that by bedtime, my brain resembles little more than a pile of mashed potatoes with gravy. This is true for most people. I’ve been told there is research to support this. Feel free to look it up.

Based on my anticipated brain function, I split the day into sections. I’m not married to these times, but it helps me to know generally when to stop and how long I have for each thing. I work better with a time limit. I think most of us do.

Now, my schedule, in order of priority with times assigned, looks like this:

#1 Writing: 8 am-11am Work on “Letter to Christmas” post
#2 Exercise: 11am-12 pm Yoga
BREAK: 12 pm-1 pm shower and lunch
#3 Housework: 1 pm-3pm Girls’ laundry and vacuum


Now, here’s the revelation that helped me so, so much: I have discovered that my first priority always gets done, my second one gets done–but not as well, and my third one sometimes falls off the list entirely.

For a long time, I’d write first, exercise second and leave housework till third, every day. Guess what happened. My writing was great, my workouts were meh, and my house was trashed, every day. True story.

So, that is why I ROTATE the categories each day. (I know. I can’t believe you are getting this advice for free either!)

So, if Monday is

#1 Write
#2 Exercise
#3 Housework

Tuesday will be:

#1 Housework
#2 Write
#3 Exercise

And then Wednesday will be:

#1 Exercise
#2 Housework
#3 Write

And so on, and so on, and so on…

This helps me keep my highest three priorities in constant rotation. By the end of the week, I’ve made significant progress in all three categories. If something falls off the wagon one day, it becomes highest priority the next.


On Fridays I try to plan my errands that require me to leave the house, like shopping, meetings, lunch/coffee with friends, etc. This is so I don’t become a recluse or forget how to interact with other humans. But it also helps me use my time more wisely because I’m not always running around on small errands.

At the end of each week, I can look back and see progress in every area, nothing falls off the agenda completely, and I can direct my full attention to the needs of my kids and husband when they are home in the evenings and weekends.

Keep Life Simple