If you missed last week’s post on being too busy, you might want to go read it first (click here to find it). It generated a few comments like, “Ouch!”
I’d say I’m sorry but it wouldn’t be genuine, so let’s just keep going.
Almost everyone I know is busy. Common replies when I ask how people are include treading water, hanging in there, and just trying to survive until [some date in the future]. I’ve been there and said those things too.
To be honest, this is on my heart and mind right now because my doctor recently confronted me with the realities of stress in my life. Nothing serious or life threatening, but definitely something to take note of.
Some of the turmoil stems from sources I cannot control. Thankfully, some of the stress I’d already recognized and have been working on reducing. But the rest of it — yeah, it’s a priority for me now.
Let’s just be completely honest.
So, what are some reasons we are busy. I thought of five.
1. Sometimes busy is for a season.
And that’s okay. We need to accept that, make following God’s lead a priority during this season, cut out what we can, and accomplish what He’s set before us. And we absolutely must guard against this frantic time of activity becoming permanent because it’s so easy to fall into the overly-busy trap.
2. Sometimes we want to be busy.
For some of us, a full schedule makes us think we’re important. Vital. Irreplaceable. And who doesn’t like to think they are an indispensable part of a company or organization. But, then again, this is pride. Ouch.
3. For others of us, busy is an excuse so we don’t have to deal with the request God placed upon us.
Whether we feel inadequate, the situation is messy, or we just don’t like the assignment, we use our busyness to avoid what God’s asked us to do. Oh! Double ouch.
4. Many of us face a crazy calendar because we can’t say no to people.
Well, I’m not sure can’t is the right word. Most of us say can’t because it’s easier than to admit the truth: either we don’t want to say no, or we won’t say no. I bet most of our mothers would confirm we were very good at the word when we were two-year olds, so ability probably isn’t the issue.
5. And, some of us must admit that we like to be busy.
Rest or relaxation doesn’t come easy to some of us. I can identify with this as I have trouble just sitting to enjoy a movie. And, I’ve noticed that I occasionally have difficulty finding motivation when I need it again, so I negate rest and rationalize that it’s easier to keep going than to try to restart.
So, what are we to do?
After all, we don’t want to be like the Priest and the Levite from last week who didn’t take the time to help the poor man left beaten on the side of the road (Luke 10:25-37).
We also don’t want to be like the brother or the neighbors in the story that made national news that I shared last week either. Let us all learn the lessons here before someone we love or live near dies unnecessarily.
4 practical tips to be less busy.
Decluttering comes more naturally to some than to others. I’ve moved a lot in my life, so I’m not overly attached to too much of the stuff sitting around me.
But, when you think of decluttering, you must think outside of your physcial possessions. Also consider who you receive email from, who you send Christmas cards or other mail to, who you purchase presents for, what events you’ll attend, and so much more.
An excellent resource to help you through the process of total life decluttering is Declutter Now!: Uncovering the Hidden Joy and Freedom in Your Life by Lindon and Sherry Gareis.
And, with less stuff (from your email to your calendar to your physical possessions) to manage, you’ll have less you have to manage.
2. Add margin.
Decluttering is a great start, but don’t forget to add in extra space to what remains.
For example, when it comes to my calendar, I often think of the time each appointment takes and how long it will take me to drive there. However, I forget to consider the time I need to prepare for it or the time I’ll need to think about or follow up on what came from it.
By adding in extra time before and after each appointment, I’ve both reduced stress and found more peace and patience. And possibly built in time so I can easily help another along the way.
3. Schedule what’s important.
Our calendars and our check books tend to reveal what is important to us. However, we can leverage those priorities by just planning ahead.
For example, you know your rent or mortgage payment is due on the first of each month, so either in your head, in your budget, or in your check register, you plan for it, right? Well, why not pre-plan for dinner out with your spouse? Or an afternoon at the park with your children? Or coffee with a friend?
If you pencil it on the calendar, it’s much more likely to happen. And, it helps me to tell others no when they ask for that time because it’s already committed to someone else — even if that someone else is me!
4. Renew your mind: Not every minute needs to busy and productive.
This is a tough truth for us to get, but let’s think about it in reverse. What would you do if you had thirty minutes tonight to do whatever you wanted? What brings you joy? What makes you smile?
Why can’t you do that very thing? Tonight. For thirty minutes.
If you’re like me, your mind just raced to everything else that had to get done. My mind fills with dishes that need done, laundry that needs folded, a room that needs picked up, schoolwork that needs checked, and other chores that I have ignored or neglected.
But, is thirty minutes really going to make that big of a difference to the undone items on your To Do list? Usually not.
Is that thirty minutes of doing whatever it is that brings you joy going to make a big difference in your mindset, your attitude, and your health? You bet it is.
Four practical ways to find more time to be available to God’s plan. I know they aren’t easy. They might not even be fun for you.
But God wants to use us. And someone around you is hoping or praying that a person just like you is available.
Will you choose to be less busy so you can be more heavenly good?
I like to recommend books, particularly ones that I loved reading or learned a lot from. So I’ve started a new page to gather all my recommendations into one convenient place.
To see what’s currently listed, click here!
And yes, Declutter Now! is on the list and I would love it if you would start reading it!