Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Too Busy

You don't have to talk long to someone or ask many questions until inevitably the issue of time or schedule comes up.  I hear stories of how overtime, games, parties, hobbies, and homework are stressing use of time to the limits.  For Christians, this can cause more stress because of the guilt felt by all the things that "should be" included in the schedule that are not.  It seems that time for prayer, studying of the Bible, meaningful conversations with our family members, and even church attendance get left out when time gets tight.
We all have 168 hours per week, 24 per day.  All of us have to make choices.  All of us will have a myriad of good things presented to us as possibilities.  So how do we determine which things we will do?  Here are some suggested guidelines for deciding.

1.  Put the non-negotiables in first.  The things that are essential for your well-being as a disciple of Jesus.  You will eat at some point.  You will sleep at some point.  Put in there that you will take time to study your Bible.  You will set aside time for your family to be together without interruption.  You will set aside time for spending time alone with the Father.  Church is a high priority.  Exercise is important.  Put these things in your calendar first.

2.  Put your required responsibilities in second.  We have to work or go to school.  There may be a few other things that you "must do."  Careful here.  There are things that we can do and might do and even feel pressure to do.  But they really aren't musts.  Put the things that are responsibilities in second.

3.  Decide what activities or people are the most important places to invest your time in.  Consider time as valuable than your retirement funds.  Since you have limited time (like funds), make choices based on what is going to be most beneficial for you and for honoring Christ.  You may react to the idea of being discerning with people.  But the reality is that there are very needy people who will monopolize all your time if you allowed them.  They need a team of people to deal with them, not you alone.  Plus if you invest time in a few key people they in turn will help you deal with others.  Learn to say "NO" to some good things so you will say "YES" to the most important.

4.  Don't forget to schedule some margin.  You don't have to be busy 24/7.  That is why God established the concept and requirement of Sabbath.  He knew that by nature we would be workaholics or busyholics.  So He scheduled a "time-out" once a week, once a quarter, once a year, and once every so many years, so we would stop and have some margin.  Read for enjoyment or improvement.  Have some no background noise think time.  But schedule some no schedule time in there.  Its ok.

Some years ago, my schedule got out of control and it was causing friction for Pam and me.  It was a defining moment for us in addressing the animal we can call the tyranny of the urgent.  All the things I was involved with were good. But they were not all necessary.  We sat down and worked through the process I listed above.  I began to say "NO" to some very good opportunities so I could focus on the "BEST."  Life changed.  Stress levels came down.  Enjoyment increased. 
I will tell you that this animal does not die.  You must constantly fight with it.  But by putting these guidelines in place, the battle is easier.  So go for it today.  And see how life can improve for you.

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