Time keeps ticking

One of the most difficult aspects of working from home is time management. The lines tend to blur between personal and professional work. Online research quickly degenerates into rabbit trails.

One of these interesting rabbit trails recently led me to an article on “How to Deal with Distractions in a Web Worker’s World” at the Lifehacker site. The article gives good advice I already implement, such as taking regular breaks and using different spaces for different work.

This morning I noticed that article’s link on how to “Use a Daily Log to Keep Yourself Focused on Productivity.” At the advice of my fellow work-at-home friend, Angela, I’ve used an Excel timecard for years. And I’ve journaled for many more years. But the idea of a log appealingly incorporates elements of both in a more immediate format.

I often find myself looking at my timecard and thinking, “What have I done for the last two hours?” Or worse, “What have I done for the last two days?” I’m beginning a log today as a more immediate way of tracking my time.

My most effective time management tool came from an interview with the prolific writer Leland Ryken, who revealed that he often works in two-hour blocks. That sage advice has been extremely helpful. Limiting myself to two hours on one task forces me to focus. And after concentrating hard on two hours of writing, my finite mind is ready for a brief break before tackling something new.

But I confess that my overloaded brain sometimes seeks respite by squandering precious minutes playing Free Cell. Who am I kidding by thinking I’m keeping Alzheimer’s at bay?

What things do you do to keep on task while working at the computer? How do you structure your time in your home office?

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Surprise!

A few days ago, I was surprised to see these beautiful lilies outside my office window. While its scientific name is Lycoris squamigera, the plant is known as “Surprise Lily” or “Magic Lily” or even “Resurrection Lily.” It has earned its nicknames because the leaves die down in late spring, usually disappearing in May. After months with no external sign of the plant, bare stalks suddenly shoot up in August and burst into these striking blooms.

After seeing the blooms outside my office, I noticed more Surprise Lilies. This clump was near the south end of the bank of flowers (and weeds) on the west side of our front yard.

I found this horizontal grouping about ten feet to the right of the first group.

About another ten feet to the right, I found these.

Almost hidden at the back of bank, I saw these blooms catching the morning sun.

And along a small ravine spanned by a little wooden bridge are these lovely lilies.

I know that this type of lily exists and that we have planted some in our yard, but I am always surprised when they bloom.

My surprise demonstrates the short-term memory of my human nature. I know that God exists and I know that he is good, yet I am always surprised when I see his beauty bloom in life’s dry seasons.

Being surprised by beautiful blooms is a good reminder that God surprises us with blessing and beauty when we least expect it. Thinking about the name “Resurrection Lily” fills me with praise and thanksgiving for God’s great gift of salvation through Christ.

May our resurrected Savior bring surprising blooms of blessing into your life today!

RYS Glimpse

What began as a cloudy and warm morning with a rain shower has turned into a very warm and sunny day here on the campus of Dordt College in Sioux Center where over 800 people have gathered for the annual RYS Convention.

On assignment for Christian Renewal, I arrived yesterday afternoon with time to settle into my room before watching some of the 15 buses discharge exhausted cargo returning from a day away at the Wild West Water Park.

This RYS convention boasts the largest ever attendance and two reasons are its reasonable fees and centralized location.

Following the sounds of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” I found three young women from DeMotte URC in Indiana: McCaela Moes reclines while Kyra Tolkamp turns pages for Megan Wetselaar.

Last night at dinner in the commons, I met many old friends and some new ones. Since Rev. Wybren Oord uses an email address with his wife’s name in it, I joked with Kathy about communicating for years, although it was the first time we’d met.

After dinner, I watched a bit of the volleyball tournaments and Jeopardy with game host Susan Hondred.

This morning I saw some of the runners complete a 5k race in heat and humidity that exhausts me when I walk.

Later I attended two excellent workshops led by Rev. Jeremy Veldman and Jody Lucero.

These times of teaching are interspersed with lots of activities to promote fun and fellowship. It’s a great experience that has exceeded my expectations.

Even the dorm bed exceed expectations; it is not a slab of plastic.