Imitating Worker Bees Helps Me Stay Sane and on Top of it All

What type of a worker are you?  Do you prefer to work on one project at a time, and see it all the way through until it’s finished before starting on another job?  Or, are you a multi-tasker — one who prefers to work on many different jobs at one time, moving from one to another, like a busy little bee, and finishing at many different time intervals?

bee gathering pollen from radish flowers

I am a horrible multi-tasker.  I get stressed out when I’ve got too many loose ends dangling.  I perform much better when I can see a job all the way through, from start to finish, in one sitting.  But, that is not always possible.

Now that the weather is warming up, there are a buzillion jobs that need to be done around My Happy Homestead.  Seedlings need to be potted up and planted out, flower beds need to be watered, compost piles need to be turned, gophers need to be trapped,  and I haven’t even begun to list the seemingly endless list of indoor chores that also need to be taken care of, not to mention the homeschooling year that still needs to be finished.

“You are one busy lady”, people tell me.

Yes.  I absolutely am one busy bee!

So, how does someone who is averse to multitasking manage to take care of the myriad of tasks that lie before her and not get overwhelmed in the process?

By taking cues from the perpetually busy worker bee,of course!

  • Worker bees have clearly defined goals, and they lead a very structured life in order to achieve their ultimate goal which is to make honey.  Every morning, when I wake up, I mentally set clear goals that I can expect to achieve for the day, like:  pot up half of the seedlings that are lying on the kitchen table, cook 2 out of 3 meals, handwater plants inside of the greenhouse, build one raised bed, complete new math section with kids, etc.  Just like the woker bees, having clearly defined goals is key to task management for me.
  • Worker bees foster a spirit of cooperation in the hive.  Knowing that they “can’t do it on their own”  allows them to successfully work together to create an amazing finished product.  I’m still learning and growing in this area, but I’ve enlisted the help of my family in doing basic daily household chores (with the help of Chorebuster), some outdoor chores, and am requiring my children to be more independent and self-directed when it comes to their schooling, now that they are teenagers.  Asking for help does not come easy to me, but I am realizing that, if I am going to be successful at all that I am doing, then enlisting the help of my family has got to be a top priority.  (Oh, how I need to let go of the reigns when it comes to cooking!)
  • Worker bees just downright know how to work hard!  They are perpetually on their feet; you’ll never see a worker bee just sitting around, letting others take on their share of the workload.  Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”  While this is a maxim, not a promise, I know that in order to manage all of the tasks that lie before me each day, I simply need to diligently work at them, with all of my heart, and guard against laziness – just like the worker bees do.
  • Worker bees are punctual, starting their day when the sun rises, and returning to the hive in the late afternoon, before the sun goes down, whether they’ve collected pollen from all of the flowers in their vicinity or not.  In order to take care of all of my daily tasks and achieve the goals I’ve set for myself for the day, I need to keep good track of the time and begin and end jobs based on the clock, regardless of whether I’ve completed a task or not.  This means that I might have to leave in the middle of hand watering a patch in the garden, and set up a sprinkler to continue watering in another section while I go inside to prepare lunch, or leave the homestead to pick up my girls from a class that they are taking at the local junior college.  I don’t much like doing this – remember, I really dislike leaving a job unfinished – but, like the worker bees, I’ve got to keep the end goal in mind and understand that all tasks will, eventually, be completed if I just keep on at it.
  • For worker bees, duty comes first, self comes last.  In a hive, one worker bee serves as a guard who prosecutes intruders who try breaking into the hive. If threatened, it stings. When it stings,  it dies. “It sacrifices its own life to protect its community and colleagues”, says Dr N Ganapathy, a professor at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Chennai, India.   There is a high calling in the work that I do.  I have a duty to perform it to the best of my ability, with all of my heart, in order to serve others and glorify God.  There is no room for selfishness in the work that I do.  When I focus on myself – on all of the work that I have to do, on all of the work that lies before me, unfinished, and on all of the tasks that seem impossible for me to accomplish, then I become overwhelmed and feel defeated.  Selflessness is key when it comes to finding purpose and motivation for all of the work that needs to be done out at My Happy Homestead.

Do I achieve one hundred percent of the goals that I set for myself, each day?  Am I always quick to ask for help when I need it?  Am I consistently great at time management?  And do I constantly put others before myself when it comes to work?

Absolutely not.

I am human, after all, not a real worker bee.

There are plenty of days when I wake up and don’t want to do much of anything and would much rather lie around and just be served by everyone else.

But, just as honey doesn’t make itself, the multiple tasks around My Happy Homestead don’t simply take care of themselves, either.  So, I have to get over my dislike of multi-tasking, transform into a busy, little worker bee, implementing all of their little nuances, roll up my sleeves and, like Nike says, “Just do it!”  The hive seems to operate much more efficiently and effectively, and I am much more happy when I plan, enlist help, work hard, watch my time, and selflessly work at serving my family, everyone and everything that God has put into my life.

What strategies do you follow to complete all of the tasks that you face, each day?  Do you see your work as a high calling?  Which of these bee tips do you find the most helpful?

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