... And This is How I Work

Our (rather underutilized these days) schoolroom

My husband, Tim, likes to read Lifehacker. Periodically they run an interesting feature called “This is How I Work” which profiles an individual, typically someone in the tech field, explaining their way of getting things accomplished. Tim thought it might be fun for me to do one about myself. My daily life is about as different from some techie in Silicon Valley as possible, but here goes...

Location: small farm in the rolling hills of southern Indiana

Current gig: wife, mom to 9, and Nonnie to 3. This is a long-running gig - 32 years so far! I've been a product reviewer for Practical Homeschooling magazine since 2000 and for the past couple of years have written a small column as well. 

Current computer: Nothing fancy. I use a Win 7 desktop with a monitor large enough for my aging eyes.

Current mobile device: haha – I don't like cell phones, but I'm giving it a go for my third time. We'll see how long I keep this one before passing it on to a teen driver who needs it more.

One word that best describes how you work: Eclectically. I don't say I have adult-onset ADHD for nothing.

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Tools: Planner Pad for scheduling my days and weeks.  Spiral notebooks for prayer lists and scripture to pray through. Binders and more binders for recipes, garden info, school planning, and homemaking.

Computer helps: Evernote, Pinterest, virtual sticky notes, Pear Budget.

Kitchen tools: crockpot, cast iron skillets of all sizes, and my Bosch mixer are my favs. 


My bedroom desk
See all those sticky notes on the monitor?
What's your workspace like?

My workspace is our seven bedroom farmhouse! I can't imagine being cooped up in a single office! (Even when I worked outside the home, I was able to roam between an office and two labs. Sitting still is not my forte!) School takes place throughout the house, but principally in the living room, kitchen, and in the older teen girls' bedrooms. Our designated schoolroom doesn't see as much action as it once did and is slated to be remodeled and incorporated into a larger living room later this year. (She say, hopefully.) Tim and I both have desks in our bedroom, which makes things a bit cramped, but it works. I have another desk in our schoolroom, though that one is not used much.


What's your best time-saving trick?

My daughters painted the dining room and front entry over Christmas break
Helpful children

and menu planning.

What's your favorite to-do list manager?

Planner Pad!

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?

My Kindle! I love books, especially old ones, so much, I wouldn't have expected that I would ever be an e-book enthusiast. But I am! I do almost all my daily Bible reading on my Kindle, and it is my preferred way to read books in bed at night.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Tim says it is streamlining things I have to do, trying to figure out optimal procedures for the routine aspects of life so I can have more time to do everything else.

What are you currently reading?

The Bible, Morning and Evening (Charles Spurgeon), In Trouble and In Joy (Sharon James), The Food Police (Jayson Lusk),The Riddle of the Sands (ErskineChilders), and (reading aloud) Mary Emma and Company (Ralph Moody).  And yes, I most always keep too many books going at once. I also have been on a Spurgeon sermon reading jag and read Practical Homeschooling and The Economist magazines.

What do you listen to while you work?

Children. As I write now I can hear conversations in the kitchen and Faith playing the piano.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Introvert. According to the iPersonicPersonality Test, I'm a “Harmony Seeking Idealist.” Over Christmas we did this with everyone in the family and came up with scarily accurate results. Great fun!

What's your sleep routine like?

By the time we've interacted with the older children, grabbed some moments for the two of us, and done some reading to unwind, Tim and I are often up til near midnight during the week. I used to wake regularly to care for little children. Now I wake during the night, well, just because, I guess. I call it quits at 7, quickly fix breakfast, and then spend time with the Lord before beginning the day. School starts at 8:30.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

As seventeen year olds, Tim and I heard a sermon which forever changed our lives. It was about sowing and reaping based on this text:

Gal. 6:7-9 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

In explaining how he makes it through so much reading material, Doug Wilson says, "Plod intelligently. Plodding generally goes in the same direction, while pottering doesn't" (Wordsmithy, p. 39).  This advice applies to more than books! So often, especially when we have young children around, it is hard to find sustained time to do anything. But if you take advantage of little windows here and there to do what you can, all those small pieces add up! Before you know it, you can read a book, make a quilt, or plan a year's worth of lessons, by capturing little segments of time. I don't mean you should feel guilty any time you decide to spend 15 minutes on Pinterest instead of on some homemaking task because we all need down time. But if you feel you never have time to do all you want to do, start looking for lost moments here and there and you'll be surprised at how much difference those reclaimed minutes can make.

Our kitchen work station. The crates hold the younger boys' schoolbooks.

Most important advice:
Don't lose perspective on what really matters. Yes, you want to serve your family healthy, yummy meals. Yes, you want to express your creativity and make your home a warm, attractive place. Yes, you want to help your children learn to read, do math, and express themselves coherently in writing. Yes, you want your children to have lovely warm memories of their childhood complete with awesome birthday parties or whatever you consider essential. But as you pursue such things, don't let them crowd out what really matters. Teach your children to fear and love the Lord. Pray diligently for His mercy and work in their lives. And give yourself to serving Him and others wholeheartedly.

Hosea 10:12 Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.


Kara said…
This was a fun post to read! The pictures are pretty too. Although, you might want to take a look at your mobile device response. It sounds like you are planning on failing at cell phone ownership for the third time! How about saying, "I finally have a cell phone that I will occasionally share with my teen driver until she gets her own." :-)
theologista said…
It was great to meet you in person tonight!

I love this peak into your personal and family life. Thanks for sharing!
Anne said…
I was very glad to meet you and Alex tonight, Sarah! And I'm happy to find out about your blog, as well! We'd love to have your family over for dinner some time soon.
Anne said…
And Kara, I'm afraid you are right. I need to change my defeatist attitude about the phone. ;) It is handy to share with Amanda, though. (Plus that means she can help remember to charge it!)
Michal said…
I love lifehacker! And I really enjoyed this post. Thanks! I enjoyed iPersonic too.

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