Have you set your goals for the New Year yet?
I have. Mine tend to fall into the same categories year after year:
- My relationship with God
- Home Organization
- Time Organization
I think those tend to be pretty typical categories.
This year I put together a big list of tools to help you meet your goals. Some I’ve used before. Some I use now, and some I haven’t used yet, but have heard great things about and really want to use.
If you have goals in the above five areas, check out the list and see what works for you!
Note: Some of the following links are affiliate links.
Tools to Help Deepen Your Relationship with God
I’m a big believer in spending time in the Bible. After all, that’s how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. And if we don’t read the Bible, how are we to know God?
A systematic approach to reading through the scriptures is important to any believer’s spiritual life. That might mean reading through the Bible in a year or in three years. But whatever you do, make a plan to cover the entire Bible. These tools will help.
The One Year Bible
Reading through the Bible doesn’t get any easier than this. The Bible is broken into 365 daily readings, so you don’t have to figure out where to begin and where to end on your own. And the One Year Bible is so popular, it comes in several different translations, as well as special editions for women, children, new believers, and more. And it’s under $20!
Good Morning Girls Study
If reading through the entire Bible in a year is not for you, Good Morning Girls offers another option for systematically reading through the Bible. Using the SOAK method (Scripture, Observation, Application, Kneeling in prayer), the Good Morning Girls studies will take you through one chapter of Scripture a day.
Last week they began going through the book of Job. A printed study guide is available at Amazon, or a free downloadable study guide is available at WomenLivingWell.org.
Since I’m unable to attend my church’s Bible study this time around, this is what I’m going to do. If you need accountability, several Facebook groups are available, as well as the WomenLivingWell main Facebook page.
She Reads Truth
This is another online Bible study option for those who like to study on their computer or mobile device. Each morning, a new devotional is posted at SheReadsTruth.com. You can also purchase studies on the iPhone and Android apps (some are free).
There is a Facebook group available for support, and if you really don’t want to do the study online, you can order a printed book. She Reads Truth just began a study in Genesis, though you can always start with a previous study.
The popular movie War Room called to attention the need for a deep prayer life. One of the things that helps me keep my prayer life in order is a prayer journal. A prayer journal can be as simple as a single notebook or as elaborate as a multi-tabbed binder with places for different kinds of prayer requests and praises.
If you need inspiration, here is a link to my prayer journal. And if you need to learn a little more about prayer, one of the books on my 2016 reading list is Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer. It’s got some great reviews on Amazon.
Tools to Help You Organize Your Home
Home organization, or a lack of home organization, can affect many areas of our lives. I know from experience that a lack of organization can lead to issues with time management, money management, and stress management.
An organized home is essential to reducing stress in life. I’m not a naturally organized person, but these tools have helped me keep my home in manageable shape over the years.
I’m a firm believer that the first step to an organized home is decluttering. When there’s less stuff to organize, it’s easier to organize. This year Home Storage Solutions 101 is hosting Declutter 365, a challenge to declutter your entire house this year in about 15 minutes a day.
Subscribe to her newsletter, print the calendar, and get to decluttering. By the end of the year you’ll only have to organize the stuff you use and love. And if you organize as you go? Your home will be running smoothly this time next year.
This is my favorite tool for keeping my home organized, though I use it in my own unique way.
Motivated Moms is basically a checklist of chores already scheduled for you. There are daily tasks, such as sweeping the kitchen, feeding the pets, and making dinner; weekly tasks, such as cleaning the bathrooms, and tasks that occur as much as once a month or as little as once a year – like cleaning your oven or the vent over the oven.
If you follow Motivated Moms for a year, your house will be in good shape. You can purchase it in ebook or app (Android and iOS) form. I bought the ebook, then entered it into Todoist (more on Todoist below). Now I have an app based checklist that is customized to suit my needs!
Coming soon: A blog post that explains my Motivated Moms/Todoist process.
Tired of paper clutter? As the mom of a kindergartener, sometimes I feel like my paper clutter is out of control! Five year olds bring home a LOT of papers from school!
Besides school paperwork, I need to keep track of papers for taxes, insurance, bills, healthcare…and the list goes on and on and on.
A few years ago, I begin filing all my “papers” in Evernote. I sign up for eBills and eStatements wherever I can. I scan other papers into my computer. And then I file them away in Evernote. I tag them with related tags (like “2016” and “taxes”). When I need something, I just do an Evernote search, and my file pops up.
Receipts, addresses, articles…everything is in Evernote, and I got rid of my filing cabinet. I have a few papers in one file drawer. Evernote is a life-changer if you’re looking to tame the paper dragon.
Tools to Help You Manage Your Time
Sometimes I feel like I need a 48 hour day. How about you? While we can’t increase the number of hours in a day, there are several things we can do to use our time more efficiently. Doing mundane tasks more efficiently leaves us with more time to do the fun things…like read a book or maybe even…gasp…take a nap!
The following tools will help you use every moment of your day well.
This is my favorite task manager. I use it to keep track of chores, blogging tasks, things I need to purchase…basically my life schedule.
Since you can set tasks to recur, once you input a basic checklist, Todoist self-populates every day. For instance, I input my entire Motivated Moms cleaning schedule into Todoist. Every day when I check off a task, it moves to the next time I need to do it. When I clean the bathroom on Monday and check it off, it automatically shows up again the next Monday.
This saves me some serious decision fatigue every day. No more deciding what projects to tackle. I wake up with a to-do list ready and waiting for me. I add projects that need to be added and work my way through them. Automating my list making process saves me a lot of time every day. And Todoist has free apps for all your mobile devices, too, so your list goes wherever you do.
Cozi is my go-to calendar. I love it because I can color code our family, and the calendar syncs to all of our phones. It also sends me (or someone else in the family) text reminders when an appointment is coming up. Those texts have saved my bacon more than once!
The interface is easier to use, I think, than Google Calendar, and it’s much prettier to look at, too. As a bonus, you can keep a journal, make a shopping list, add recipes, and send messages to your family. I hardly use those features, but the calendar alone is worth it.
Do you have a Facebook addiction? Do you check your email when you should be doing more productive things? I do!
StayFocused is a free Chrome extension that blocks time wasting websites after a predetermined amount of time. Once you install the extension, all you have to do is decide how much time you want to allow yourself to spend on time wasting websites. You then add your problem websites to the blocked website list.
Once you’ve reached your allotted time, say 30 minutes for the day, your blocked websites will be unavailable to you for the rest of the day.
And if you REALLY need to stay focused? You can use the nuclear option to shut down all your blocked websites for a time period that you specify. And once the nuclear option is activated, it cannot be undone.
How’s that for a productivity helper?
Tools to Help You Improve Your Health
Your health can have a huge impact on your overall quality of life. When I’m taking care of my health I have more energy, am more patient, and am more able to handle stress.
When I’m not taking care of my health? I get tired, cranky, and I’m not as great a wife, mother, or writer as I could be. These are some of the tools I use (or would love to use) to help me stay motivated to take care of my health.
While I do not own a Fitbit (yet), some of my friends adore them! They count your steps, monitor your sleep, and give you insights into your fitness habits via their online and mobile tools. The Fitbit Charge HR even monitor your heart rate!
If you’re the kind of person who is motivated by continuous feedback on your progress toward goals, a fitness tracker like a Fitbit might be just the thing to keep you moving forward.
Map My Fitness
Map My Fitness, Inc. is the company behind popular apps like Map My Run, Map My Walk, and Map My Fitness. The website includes a place to track goals, workouts, walks & runs, and food intake. The associated apps help you track your miles and provide a convenient way to record your food and activity while you are away from your computer.
And if you are using a fitness tracker like the Fitbit (or many others), Map My Fitness can easily import the data.
Plan to Eat
While it’s not a healthy eating app specifically, Plan to Eat helps you meet your health goals by helping you plan your meals. Import healthy recipes from your favorite recipe sites or manually enter your own recipes. Plan to Eat provides a place to enter nutrition information, too, so you can keep track of protein, fat, and carbs.
Each week, just click the recipes you want to add to your menu, and Plan to Eat will add the ingredients to your shopping list. You can even customize your stores, so certain ingredients are always placed on the list of the store where you purchase that ingredient. Meal planning is an important part of eating right, and Plan to Eat makes meal planning easy.
If you’re at the point in life where even Plan to Eat sounds like too much effort (believe me, I’ve been there), eMeals is a great option for planning your menu. When you sign up for eMeals, each week you will receive a menu of seven dinner main courses and sides and the shopping list for the ingredients.
eMeals offers several choices for those on special diets – clean eating, low-carb, heart healthy, and more. The upside to eMeals is that it takes all the meal planning work off your plate. The downside is you may receive some recipes you don’t like.
Tools to Help you Manage Your Money
Have you ever lived paycheck to paycheck? Maybe you’re living that way now. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’m still pretty close to being there.
The stress of money problems can have a negative impact on your health and your marriage. Tools like these will help you take the steps you need to step away from the edge of paycheck to paycheck living. Some of these tools may even put a little extra money in your pocket!
You need a budget. No really, that’s the name of my favorite budgeting app – You Need a Budget. I’ve been a Larry Burkett and a Dave Ramsey fangirl for a long time, when it comes to budgeting, and both recommend a zero based budget.
The problem with most budgeting apps is that they track your money after you spend it, rather than make a plan for your money before you spend it. Not so with YNAB. In YNAB you make a plan for every penny. The new online based version makes it super easy to take your budget with you on your phone, so you never have an excuse for overspending.
I’ve used the desktop version for years. I’m still getting used to the brand-spankin’ newly released nYNAB, but I think I’ll like it. It’s not cheap, though. $50 for a yearly subscription. You’ll save at least that much if you use it though (and I’m betting much more). Plus there’s a 34 day free trial, so you can try before you buy.
Every Dollar Counts
I’ve never used Dave Ramsey’s budgeting software, EveryDollar, but it’s another option if you don’t like the new YNAB. Again, this software helps you give each dollar a job before you spend it, which is the whole point of budgeting.
The thing I like is that EveryDollar has a free version. The downside? Directly connecting to your bank is a feature that is only available in the paid version. Also, there is no Android app, so if you’re an Android user, your budget won’t come with you while you shop, unless you use the regular website on your phone.
The paid version is $99 a year, which is why I’ll stick with nYNAB.
Never pay full price, at least when you’re shopping online. One of the best ways to avoid full price shopping is to shop through Ebates. Ebates is a rebate site with links to many major online retailers. When you shop through an Ebates link, you earn rebates for each dollar you spend. The amount of each rebate depends on Ebates’ relationship with that particular store.
Over time these rebates can really add up, and a few times a year, Ebates will send you a “Big Fat Check” with your rebate money. Yep, real cash back. Never pay retail again.
When you’re shopping at regular brick and mortar stores, you can use Ibotta to earn rebates from your smartphone. When you reach the store, just open the Ibotta app to see what rebates are available. If one of the items is on your list, scan your receipt with the app to prove you bought the item. The rebate will be credited to your account.
On my first trip out, I earned $2.75 by purchasing three items that were on my list anyway. Not bad!
If you sign up for Ibotta through my link, you will be credited with $10, and I will get $5. The credit will happen after you verify a rebate. It’s that easy.
Of course there are many more tools that can help you meet your goals for the year. But hopefully this list of my favorites (or those on my wish list) will get you started toward making real progress this year.
Still need to set some goals? Be sure to check out the Grace Goals mini course by Arabah Joy. This little course really helped me clarify my goals for this year.