Relational Smarts: The Balance Between Efficiency and Effectiveness

Balancing Male Female

Who is not trying to squeeze one more To Do or appointment into each day?  This is the age of movers and shakers; work-while-at-home; listen to a podcast while responding to emails — you get the picture.  There are so many wonderful systems to get organized and become more efficient at processing your In-Box and Project tasks. Yet, I implore you not to overlook the Relational effectiveness variable.

Should you focus too much on time efficiency: you may quickly find that you are stealing from relational effectiveness.

Think of this as an example:

A newly married couple, both had former marriages and children from a previous marriage.

Money is tight.

Work load is heavy.

Determined to make this marriage last they decide to spend Sundays together and resist the temptation to work.

Time/money perspective:

‘Well, I don’t know why they both have to go together.  If he stayed home, instead of making the 6 hour round trip to pick up Sarah (grandchild), then he could get more work hours.  They would have more money and be less stressed because now he will have to make it up (the work) during the week and I know they can use the money.’

Relational perspective:

The couple works tirelessly six days a week.  They are exhausted most of the time.  they have little time together to talk and laugh together.  Money is tight.  It is tempting for her to say, ‘Honey, I can go by myself and pickup Sarah. You stay here and finish the work you started.  We always have next Sunday together.’

He says, “No, I am going with you, you are tired and we can share the driving so that neither of us gets too sleepy on the road. We will spend the drive time catching up from these busy weeks that have rushed past us.  And I think we should stop at that Cider Mill you love so much to break up the drive and have a little fun. Plus Sarah loves their doughnuts.”

Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. Exodus 34:21 NIV

There is still so much wisdom in the ancient text and it goes beyond our physical care and needs, this rest extends to our relational health.  We need to make appropriate quality time for important relationships a non-negotiable.  This will help us keep the delicate Relational Balance of Effectiveness and Efficiency.   On the other hand, too much together time can lead to trouble too:  if it steals time from work or other commitments; causes strife, generates boredom, or leads to relational laziness.  There is no magical formula or prescription for the exact amount to time. Take into consideration your personalities, life’s demands, total time available and set your priorities accordingly so that your special someone knows he or she is on the top of the list.


 Intelligence does not translate to relational smarts – do not become complacent – work to develop your relational intelligence.  XXOO



Wise Wednesday: Which Comes 1st: Cluttered Mind or Cluttered Matter?

organized and free flowing brainDo I tackle the clutter around me or inside me first?

I participated in a wonderful How to Make HUGE Projects Feel Easy Webinar today put on by April at Power of Moms dot com. She does a nice job of implementing the tools from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  She has created a niche for helping Moms to get organized using Allen’s GTD method.  She has a beautiful website with many visuals, podcasts and videos to help Moms to get organized and reclaim time to spend on family!  I love her aim and from what I have seen so far, I love her material.

It sparked my thinking, of course, about our minds and organization.  I stumbled upon an article on featuring Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life.” by Margaret Moore.  She is the director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital and the founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation and Harvard psychiatrist Paul Hammerness.  Their theory is that one must first organize the mind prior to organizing the environment in order to see lasting change.

Personally, I believe it is very important to have an organized mind (that is why I teach Mind Mapping! And perhaps why David Allen includes a map on page 71 of Getting Things Done), but I also know from experience that an unorganized environment can cause your brain to be so overwhelmed it becomes cluttered.  When your mind is overwhelmed, it becomes stressed which causes it to freeze, so that you are not able to even begin a project. That is, unless you have a reasonable and incremental process to begin, as April puts it your “next step”.  In other words, focusing on ONE step at a time versus being in ‘overwhelm’ mode by looking at ALL of your To Do’s at one moment.

Check out the wealth of resources on David and April’s sites: — David Allen  — April Perry

Now to you — what do you believe comes first?  Cluttered mind or cluttered environment?  I look forward to your comments!  And then we should all get busy uncluttering both our minds and our matter so that we are better equipped to have more time to enjoy our family and friends during this upcoming Holiday Seasons!  

Crazy Calendar? Lysa TerKeurst to the Rescue!

Lysa's Best Yes Webcast Party Image

When your calendar is so full there is absolutely no white space to squeeze in an unexpected friend in crisis or your husband coming home early……”Houston, we have a problem!”

Unrush me Lord……

Do you live with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul? Are there times you dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no? You are not alone!

Hey friend, are you with in driving distance of  Mid-Michigan? If so, I would love to have you join me at my home church August 12th for a viewing party of the live webcast for New York Times best-selling author Lysa TerKeurst’s upcoming book The Best Yes.  {The event is free but you must RSVP. Details below}

Lysa is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. That is why she wrote this latest book. Join us for The Best Yes Webcast Viewing Party as together we learn to live the unrushed life, making wise decisions in the midst of endless demands. {Check out more}


(1) To view at your home or with your girlfriends online; visit Lysa’s website and click to register at the top of the page


(2) The Best Yes Webcast Viewing Party at Northpointe Community Church

505 E. Webb Drive, DeWitt, MI (Just north of Lansing)

Tuesday, August 12th. Doors open at 5:45 pm.

Live one-hour webcast begins at 6:15 pm

Door Prizes         Light Refreshments        Coffee and Chocolate              

Live Webcast    Details on The Best Yes Bible study coming soon


To RSVP email Amy at Please put “The Best Yes” in the subject line.

Wise-up Wednesday: Let the Light Shine In

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA “You are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine, You make me happy when skies are gray….”

When the dawn’s early light strikes the human eye, it sends a signal to the brain regions that control alertness.  The result: You go from drowsy to mentally stimulated, fast. I admit, I LOVE this phenomenon!

Steps to take advantage of the connection between light and mental alertness:

1) Pull up the shades first thing in the morning

2) Go outside when possible

3) Sit near a sunny window, when inside

4) Only 30 minutes of sunshine increases alertness; go for a walk at lunch time; wear sunscreen or sun hat

5) Turn on lights when you require mental stimulation.  Conversely, dim the lights 30 minutes prior to bedtime to signal to your brain it is time to wind down and rest.


Wise-up Wednesday: You are What you Think


Every thought you have ever had is recorded permanently on your brain. 

The thoughts you have repeated have more of a prominent pathway, literally imprinted on your brain.  The more you think a thought the more likely it is to become a habit because it becomes the path of least resistance.

So what shapes our self-talk?

Is your self talk positive or negative?

Truth-filled or a lie?

Your brain is more likely to respond and thrive where your self-talk is positive and truthful, because your brain is success and truth seeking.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Clean or Clutter: What Gives?

Aug Sept Oct 2013 1086                                                                          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The fact is, we live in a fast-paced age.  An era where something must give in order to keep our priorities in order.  I believe most of us agree that it is important for a healthy home to keep our environments both clean and clutter free.  However, there are times when we must make a choice. Often times it boils down to time.  It requires a great deal of time to keep things clean. It takes less time to keep things clutter free.

If I do not have time for both, I must admit that I, personally, will choose clean over clutter free.  It is a thankless road because the men of my house do not recognize the time, energy, and love I have poured into scrubbing the toilets or cleaning the sinks: but I cannot help myself.  If the dirt remains, I cannot seem to rest or let down and enjoy the movie everyone else is watching.  Now my husband on the other hand, he can totally overlook the dirt in the corner, but a backpack on the ground or dirty dishes in the computer room – no way!

I must admit that I fought against my man for years.  I validated the need for clean over the need for clutter-free.  I spent much time justifying it, mostly in my mind: it is necessary for good health; it is the way my mom would do it; etc.  He would pick up and I would clean up: neither of us appreciating the other’s efforts.

As I matured in marriage matters, and as a child of God, I came to understand the importance of considering my husband’s needs – even ahead of mine! Yikes, that was a transition!  The truly amazing thing is: I learned that picking up was pretty quick and it had a profound impact on his mood and demeanor.

Because I love my husband,  I have learned to pay more attention to getting his sight-lines clear of clutter.  This is a big encouragement for him when he comes home because it is a stressor when he walks into a chaotic environment.

I FINALLY learned that it takes little time to clear the clutter, which leaves me time to do the deep cleaning that makes me content. Sometimes, due to time constraints, I do not clean the creases but let’s face it we are not eating out of the cracks!  So it turns out that balancing the clean with the clutter-free is a perfect mix to keep the whole family happy.

Which camp are you in: the clean or clutter-free?  How have you found ways to make a harmonious and healthy family environment?

Focus for Faster Finish

This is the Day the LORD has made.

This is the Day the LORD has made.

Consider this: as the eyes of a servant focus on what his master provides, and as the eyes of a female servant focus on what her mistress provides, so our eyes focus on the LORD our God, until he has mercy on us. Psalm 123:2

We focus our binoculars to see the brilliant details, missed with the unfocused eye.  The lens allows us to experience the pleasure of seeing the crisp colorful lines of a bird  perched on a branch, or the bouncing white tails of the deer dashing across the field to the shelter of the trees.

We focus our eyes and we focus our attention on details that we cannot appreciate when we look at the whole.  Focus is my theme for the new year.  I have an ultimate goal 0f improved time management, so the word ‘focus’ is keeping me on track.

Kind of like your eyes track better with a guide, my goals track better with a guide. Another comparison is lines on the track that keep the runners within boundaries and aimed in the right direction.  These lines give the athletes a better chance to succeed at their goal of crossing the finish line fastest.  As the runner focuses her eye on the lines she is able to free up her mind from all distractions that are outside those lines.  The crowds, the noise, the clouds, or the sun – none of these factors outside the boundary lines can distract her from her focus of staying between the lines straight to the fast finish.  That is, as long as her focus remains on the lines, when her eyes leave the lines she is tempted to get off track.

I want some lines to work within, some boundaries to help me stay on course.  Using time management as a goal, the lines are set around the tasks that fuel my life priorities and the tasks that are left outside the lines are the ones that are not necessary because they take me “off” track.

The main boundaries I choose are constant: I look to the Lord as my guide and He does not change.  However, my daily focus changes depending on the vision for the dawning of each new day.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

Wise-up Wednesday: Unblocking Creativity – Method One

Last Wednesday we looked at 4 reasons for most of our blocked creativity.  The next three weeks we will take each one of these and counteract them for creativity breakthrough.

The first creativity block is a lack of method or habit for capturing creative ideas when they occur.  

UNBlocking Solution #1:

1) Have a notepad or journal with yo all times (in your car, pocket/purse, day-planner, night stand)

2) Audio recorder – use your old tape recorder or your new smart phone and speak the raw thoughts as they come

3) Text yourself the ideas

4) Mind Map!!  I call this whole-brain writing because it captures key words as they come to you. 90% of what we write in linear fashion are filler words that are not mandatory for your brain to complete the thought….why waste valuable creative energy writing what is unnecessary when you are in idea-generation mode? Download a free trial of mapping software at or use your smart phone and try their free app.

5) If you use more than one method to capture creative thoughts, be sure that you have a way to link these so that you don’t lose any thoughts.  For example you have a notepad in your purse, but you switch purses and it gets locked in the closet and doesn’t make it to your laptop which has your Master Think-Tank document.

In conclusion, the first step to busting creativity-blockers is to capture the ideas before they are lost.

Wise-up Wednesday: Walnuts

The likeness of walnut shell to the human brain is wonder-filled because of its amazing benefits directly to brain function.  The walnut looks like a mini brain with the two hemispheres mimicking the cerebral cortex.

The walnut helps develop more than three dozen neuro-transmitters for brain function.

Walnuts are recommended widely as brain fuel for many reasons, one important one is their healthy supply of omega-3 fatty acids which help keep the brain functioning normally.  If you are low on omega-3 intake, research shows you may be at risk for depression and cognitive degeneration.  Walnuts raise melatonin levels which promotes positive sleep.

The walnut is also considered heart healthy as it reduces cholesterol. This nut is a powerhouse of nutrients – manganese, copper, iron, calcium, phosphorus.  Walnuts contain more antioxidants, folic acid and vitamin E than any other nut, and specifically black walnuts have the highest content (among nuts) of an amino acid called argenine which is essential for cell division and protein synthesis.

Adding this super nut to your diet may help boost your memory according to a new Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease report. Researchers found that eating walnuts as part of a Mediterranean diet was associated with better memory and brain function. The antioxidants in walnuts may help counteract age-related cognitive decline and even reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

Eating a daily ounce or so of walnuts gives you a whole handful of benefits. Try adding them to oatmeal, salads, banana bread, or even crushed as a crumb coating for fish or chicken.  Some are known to toss them in the blender with their smoothies after soaking the walnut halves in water.

So in concluding today’s brain byte:  Picture the brain-shaped walnut in your mind now – it is your visual trigger to eat these healthy nuts to boost brain function!

Note: This is not intended to be medical advice.  Please consult your doctor before making any significant dietary changes.

How to Have Abundance

And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, Genesis 26:12 ESV

Harvest Table Pic

As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. Job 4:8 ESV
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12 ESV
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6 ESV

The celebration of the harvest time is universal.  Food enables our very life.  The law of the harvest is that we reap what we sow.  This principle applies to both the physical and the spiritual.

There is always much ado when a person in charge of the spiritual harvest has an abundant personal physical harvest.  It seems the “world” of news reporters want to report only on the physical harvest, or the possessions, of a man/woman of God.  The news rarely shares what the person sowed. Evidently it is not as interesting of a story if you report this person has donated ten million dollars to charity and now lives in a million dollar home.  It seems much more sensational to report that he is a pastor and lives in a multi-million dollar home.  We think, “how many people could that feed?’  This pricks all of our secular-judgment-buttons, whether you are a person of faith or not. In fact, we tend to think in relative terms: e.g. if I live in a $200,000 home then a $500,000 home seems excessive.  If I live in a $30k home a $100k home seems excessive.  I am not condoning a multi-million dollar home for anyone, but I am reminded that God chose to give great material wealth to King Solomon, the same man who he imparted great wisdom.  When we place our focus on man we will NEVER be content in anything [Philippians 4:11-12].

If we truly believe that a man reaps what he sows, then why should we worry about someone else?  After all, if he has not earned what he has rightly, then what he has will be taken from him.  If not in this lifetime, surely the next. It is not my nor your responsibility to make the judgment.  The law and our perfect Judge will do this from a position of having all of the facts.  As we study the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, we learn that money makes money and it is easily transferred to the spiritual realm: time and effort invested in spiritual matters brings positive spiritual growth.  Jesus promises in Matthew 6 that the Father provides for our every need in this lifetime, and admonishes us not to worry about what we see or cannot see at the moment, because it is seen by the Father!  He gave us the way to conquer worry:  “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV

Our family has experienced this law of the harvest in many ways. One example happened in the year when I finally understood the law of tithing and knew that I must begin giving ten percent of all that God gives us — back to Him.  Immediately after I began tithing, I was contracted again by a former client out of the blue [or from the blue heavens, I think of it!].  God impressed upon me the amount of income that would come of it, out of gratitude I wanted to give the first fruits back to Him.  So the very first ten percent that came to me: I gave to our church.  I did not have a contract from the client which told me I would be guaranteed the full amount of money that God promised, I just had become familiar enough with how God was leading me from reading His Word, that I KNEW that God would be faithful.  And He was. PERIOD. You may think, “well, it is easy to do that with a small amount of money.”  I must tell you that this was equal to my annual full time salary at a corporation, therefore ten percent of it was not a small amount in my eyes. I know if I would have shared this with anyone at the time, even serious Christians, they would have questioned my intellect.  God’s ways don’t make sense to us because we only have a little bit of knowledge compared to the one who knows all [Romans 11:34].

The principles of the harvest do apply and when we are generous to sow into others [our time, money, love, faithfulness, prayer] we are richly rewarded.  Reward is relative because it is sometimes intrinsic only.  Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:11 ESV

So at this present time of the literal autumn harvest, rather than us Christians spending our time judging and criticizing the things we cannot see, like whether or not someone else should have a big house or a little one, which leads to discontent; let us spend our time on the ONE who sees all, knows all and provides all in abundance, doing what is right with all of our assets and talents. So choose this day whom you will serve, knowing that you cannot serve both God and money [Matthew 6:24]. Let us give to God what He asks and take care of the widows and the orphans  – after all, that is what God calls true religion [James 1:27].

In addition to a solid biblical church, there are many trustworthy organizations that feed the hungry, rescue the oppressed, dig water wells for the thirsty and clothe the poor.  Please do your homework before choosing a charity, because there are also organizations that are sowing for themselves.  It is good to check charitable status with the government and with your trustworthy friends who have had direct experience with an organization.

Lord, lead teach us and lead us by your Word, through your Spirit so that we may be found trustworthy.  I thank you for your faithfulness and your desire to reward your children in creative and wonderful ways.  I am grateful for your promise to prosper and not to harm us, and to give us a hope and a future.  I pray that we also may prosper others from the abundance you provide us physically, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.  Make us generous and help us to fully trust in your promise to care for our every need as we sow and reap. Amen.

“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’” Leviticus 23:22 NIV

 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. Amos 9:13 ESV 

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