Life Hacks with Richelle
Life for anyone carries a similar theme – busy. I get it, we are all busy. Whether you are a young married wife, a mom with many children, a daughter taking care of elderly parents, a pastor’s wife carrying a load in the church or all the things in between – busy is sometimes where we live. I can definitely be classified as one of these “busy” people, but I still am always looking for ways to simplify and make my life just a little bit easier. Today, I am happy to bring you my LIFE Hacks for just a few areas of life. I trust and hope you’ll find a few of them useful!
If you are anything like me, I find myself using Google a lot these days. Whether it is to find a way to get a stain out of my child’s clothes for the tenth time this week or even how to fix my washing machine that is suddenly making a noise, or even to look up symptoms to see what is wrong with me, Google can be our friend. It can also feel overwhelming and frustrating when you can’t locate the answer you are looking for. Here are my top three tips when searching Google.
When you are looking for how to do something, in the Google search bar add the actual words, “how do I _______?” to the beginning of your question. This will help filter your results to include information that will address your question directly.
If you really want to take it a step further, add the word “solved” to the end of your “how do I?” question and you will immediately filter out everyone else who was also looking for a similar question. The difference is now you will get results that include people who had the question and the answer has already been provided.
Here is another one that is a lot of fun to explore! If you are ever looking for an image to use in a document or on a flyer but you want it to not be on a background, almost like the picture itself stands out, add the letters, “png” to your google search. For example, if I want a picture of a tree to use in a lesson on Sunday but just want the tree not the extra things in a photo, I can search “tree png”.
Saving Money If you spend any time around me, you will learn a couple of things… I love creative things and I LOVE saving money. I am down for a bargain any day of the week. I follow a lot of blogs about saving money, couponing, and even finding freebies. It’s an adventure with me for sure. My husband tries to be annoyed by it, but even he can’t deny the crazy number of items arriving at my house for free or the things I get for very little money. I also use a lot of other great resources to save money and here are a few of my favorites.
My first and most important tip is to simply use a budget. I know, I hear you – budgeting is not always a “fun” thing to do. Trust me when I say that if you create it and stick with it, you will be AMAZED at what you discover about your finances. My husband and I have attempted budgets for years and we have had seasons where we follow them and seasons where we ignore them. I’ll let you guess which of those seasons have been much less stressful. You need to know what money you have and where you want that money to go! There are a lot of online tools that make budgeting today quite easy. My personal favorite is an app called YNAB (You Need A Budget). It is a subscription-based app but one I feel is worth every penny! If you want to check it out and use my referral code, we both get a month of the service for free. You also get a free trial so check it out for two months for FREE! Referral Link: https://ynab.com/referral/?ref=mq9-aCxXfMQ5jAOQ&utm_source=customer_referral
Another great idea is to use subscription-based services. This is when you pay a fee in exchange for a service. Often the fee is much less than paying for the service outright. For example, when I needed ink for my printer once, I looked up the cost and it was just around $65 to get both cartridges needed. I did some research and discovered a new program at the time called HP Instant Ink. It seemed too good to be true, but I decided to give it a shot. I actually went to the store and purchased myself a brand-new printer for $50 (less than the cost of the ink I was originally going to purchase.) This printer came with a three-month trial of HP Instant Ink which meant for three months I could print as much as I wanted for FREE. I was so impressed, I started telling everyone about it. As people used my promo code, I kept earning more months for FREE. This continued for over three years! I just recently in 2021 started paying for the actual service. I pay $11.99 per month and I can print up to 300 pages of paper in both color or black and white. I can also rollover up to 600 pages if I don’t use them all. They offer lots of plans so I recommend you check it out. It might save you a lot of money in printing costs. If you try it out and use my referral code, you will get a free month of printing as well. My referral link: http://try.hpinstantink.com/gS2CJ
One other one to mention is Amazon’s program called Subscribe and Save. This one is a fun way to get the household items you already need shipped to your door on an automatic rotation. If you choose at least five items in each of your deliveries, you can save up to 15% per item! I order things we use all the time like toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, and even deodorant. Sometimes, I’ll hunt the Subscribe and Save store for any items that cost $1-$2 just to get my delivery up to at least five items.
Saving Time Saving money is one thing, but I think saving time is far more important! In our world, we often hear the words, “I don’t have time.” I read a blog once that encouraged you to replace those words with “that’s not a priority to me.” When you replace that with simple day to day requests you will have a reality check of what you don’t have time for! When your child needs your attention and you respond, “I don’t have time,” we are really sending the message, you are not a priority to me. Woah. Gut check. Here are some of my favorite tips for managing time.
In my house, cleaning up is what we seem to not have time to do! Anyone with me here? To conquer the clutter, we set a timer as a family and spend about 20 minutes every evening. We will divide and conquer and, within 20 minutes, our house is mostly clean. That’s a win in my book! Use a timer even for work tasks. I often find myself getting distracted by the constant ding of the next message or the incoming emails. To manage this, I set a timer for a standard amount of time – maybe 15 minutes or 30 minutes and I try really hard to focus on that task until the timer stops. At the end of the time, I will take a short break and respond to messages, get a snack, or even go for a short walk. I then come back and start it all over again!
My biggest tip for saving time is a tough one for today’s technology driven world – turn off the devices. Turn off the phone, the tablet, and the TV and unplug for a moment. Allow yourself to focus on what is around you. These devices have become complete time suckers which is EXACTLY what their manufacturers set out to do. Beat them at their own game and put them away. Enjoy the here and now and don’t let those devices take away the time that we have.
My last advice here would be to carve time for specific things. Sometimes, if we don’t have a plan, our schedules simply fill up with all the things life brings our way. If we intentionally schedule blocks of time for certain things, it helps protect those windows and prevents them from being overtaken. Schedule time with your kids for fun. Schedule date nights with your spouse and keep to them. Schedule time for naps, if needed, because we all know us ladies could use one of these.
Relieving Stress Have you ever been so busy that you can’t even accomplish what you are trying to do because you are overwhelmed by the to-do list and the stress that it brings? I used to live in this state full-time. Thankfully, I have spent the last few years trying really hard to focus on not allowing myself to get to those points. I have a few systems I follow to help me in these times.
First and foremost, I invite you all to try something I do on a nightly basis, which is what I call “dumping your brain". I honestly couldn’t even tell you where I learned this, but I have been doing it for years! Especially in moments of high stress. Before you go to bed or maybe before you leave to go home from work, take a moment and write down or type out everything you can think of that needs to be accomplished the next day. EVERYTHING! This can be work tasks, personal tasks, tasks that you plan to tell someone else to do, phone calls that need to be sent, emails that need to be responded to – Write. It. All. Down. Once it’s in written or typed form – walk away! You have just removed a load of stress from your brain and can allow yourself the freedom to relax and let’s be honest…not think! The next day, or when you are ready to work on your list, you can take a few moments to organize it and sort it. In fact, my next tip is my favorite way to tackle this list.
Choose the top three things you need to accomplish and put them at the top. Don’t do anything else until those three things are completed. Once they are, cross them off and then begin on the rest of the list. First of all, this will give you an immediate sense of accomplishment because you got something done. Second, you might have some great inspiration and be ready to tackle 15 more things on the list. When we don’t focus on the most important things, we get overwhelmed by the entire list and don’t know where to start. Another thing I like to do is to group all the calls, emails, errands, and other similar tasks together. This allows me to knock out all the emails at one time. I can then run all my errands and be focused instead of playing zigzag with my car across town because I forgot something while I was out.
Relationship Renovations My last and final area to bring to you today is a little bit about marriage. Of all the things on this list, this is by far the one I have had to learn the most. A lot of the things I wrote about above are things that come naturally to me. Marriage is an area that I had to grow and learn. When my husband and I were living in Hot Springs, AR, working for a national ministry, we attended a local church. We also attended a marriage class and, for about three months, they asked us to teach the class. We politely declined multiple times, but God kept revealing things to us and we decided it was time to go for it. We didn’t feel qualified AT ALL, but we were willing. We also kept it real. If we had a fight on the way to church, our class heard about it! Do we know it all? Absolutely not. Marriage is a constant area that we can all work on. Here are some of my favorite marriage tips.
Not too long ago, I read another blog about how to have effective communication in your marriage. The writer stated to clarify to your spouse before a conversation what you needed from them in that conversation – comfort or solution. Do you need your spouse to comfort you and make you feel better, or do you need their help solving the issue and finding a solution? Men like to fix things and women like to talk. Sometimes when a woman is ready to talk, her spouse is already in "fix it" mode and then the wife doesn’t feel heard because the spouse tried to fix it. This can be true vice versa, as well. By using comfort vs. solutions, you can help your spouse know what you need in that exact moment.
The best and final tip I can offer is my FAVORITE subject on marriage – Love and Respect. If you haven’t ever heard of or read the book yet, please check it out. It’s by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and it is rich with information on marriage. Basically, in marriage, a wife wants love and a husband wants respect. When this is out of balance in a marriage, the crazy cycle begins, according to Dr. Eggerichs. It’s a fascinating book and I promise you’ll get a lot out of it!
Are all of these life hacks going to change your life?! Probably not! But I do hope that you walk away able to use one or two of them to help you. In fact, snag just one to try this week. Start with one small change and work from there. You've got this!
Richelle Wingo is a wife and a mother of three. She and her husband Joel are born and raised Oklahoma natives. They have served in a variety of ministry roles over the years, including Chi Alpha campus pastors, staff pastors, and leading roles in Assemblies of God ministries such as COMPACT Family Services and Teen Challenge. She currently serves as the children's pastor at Calvary Assembly of God (Stillwater, OK). She has served in children's ministry for 22 years. Outside of the church, Richelle serves as a virtual assistant for 12 clients all across the nation and teaches online English classes to children in China. In her free time Richelle enjoys time spent with her kids and loves finding new and creative ways to do things. Richelle also serves as the Let's Connect coordinator for Sanctuary and personal assistant to Sanctuary founder Bridgette Tomlin. Take a listen to Let's Talk with Sanctuary, Episode 15, to hear more life hacks with Richelle as our featured pod-guest.