Frugal Friday - Being Productive and Staying Content (Financially)

I tend to be a rather discontented person.  I spend a lot of time wandering in the land of the "If only...".  If only I had finished this PhD before we had kids... If only I hadn't gotten so sick...  If only I had a cleaner house... If only I had a different figure...or weight...or hair type...or dissertation topic...or food for dinner...or...

You get the drift.

The reality of the matter is that dwelling in the land of the "if only..." just makes a person more discontent.  I can't change things in the past - like doing this PhD thing earlier in my life or that I have two chronic medical conditions or that it took 18 months to get diagnosed properly.  I can't change the body type I was born with or the food that's already in my refrigerator. 

The only thing I can do is make the most of what God has given to me - as imperfect as they may be and as imperfect as I am.

I realized a long time ago that having time makes me content.  Time to do things like play with the kids, and watch a sunrise (or sunset).  Time to spend on my work and time to spend with my husband.  Time to finish a project or two or three or four. 

In examining my life over the last year, I've discovered that I tend toward laziness. I spend time analyzing a situation to death and not acting.  I spend time frittering away time doing things that aren't necessary (net surfing, pottering around the house not accomplishing things, chatting with a coworker about nothing reasonably important). 

I realized that when I am not productive I tend toward discontent as well.  And I often look for 'better' ways to do things.  And that usually involves buying something.

If I just had that shelving unit, my books would be organized. 
If I just had that electronic gadget I would be able to do (Fill in the blank here).
If I just had that day planner (or other organizational widget) I could get a handle on my time.
If I just had that set of storage boxes my house would be uncluttered.
If I just had ....

And I go shopping to fill my discontent and come home with more things to declutter my house, organize my time, or assist me in some other way. 

When in reality if I were just productive I wouldn't be so discontent.  I wouldn't be wondering where my time went.  And I certainly wouldn't be prowling the isles at Target looking for yet another little organizational widget to help me be content with my life.

The reality is, if I took care of some of the things that take up so much of my time (cleaning out my house, writing my dissertation) they would be off my plate and I would have more time.

And time is what I'm looking for. 

Not widgets or gizmos or pretty storage boxes, though the storage boxes are lovely indeed.

My 20-year-old pink and green Rubbermaid totes work just fine, thank you very much. 
My computer has all the external devices it needs and then some (I have 2 mouses - mice? - for my laptop in addition to the touch pad!).
My research group has the audio and video equipment I need for my research, I only need index cards. I purchased those very pleasantly on back-to-school sale a few weeks ago, thank you very much.
My refrigerator and cupboards are full of food to make tasty meals without adding much from the store.
 My plain Mead spiral-bound day planner works just fine.
And I have more household, craft and work projects than I can possibly finish in a year - the list in my side bar is just the beginning, by the way. 

I just need to be productive with the time I have.
I have more than enough to keep me 'busy'.  But being busy isn't the same as productive.  And the more productive I am, the more time I have and the more content I am.

Without spending a precious penny.

What more can I ask for?

For more Frugal Friday, check out Jessica's blog at Life As Mom!


  1. Wow. I could swear you've been reading my mind this week. I too fritter away time on the unimportant while thinking "if only" and am trying to get a handle on productivity. Thank you for this post.

  2. Thanks for your words. I can relate to pretty much everything you said. I needed to read this, especially at the front end of a 3 day weekend! God bless you!

  3. A great post with lots to think about. I agree the more I surf the web the more I want things to make my life different. I also find it leads into thoughts like "if only God would have given me talents like that person" not a very grateful soul at all when I am like that!


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