You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in the last two weeks. Or maybe you didn’t, I don’t know. And that’s on purpose (mostly). I’ve decided to blog every other week rather than every week. This will hopefully lead to better content instead of just consistent content and it will give me more time to focus on other areas of my life and writing that need attention right now.
I love writing this blog though. So why did I choose to take some of that away from myself? Because I purged my schedule.
In my last post, I talked a little bit about the book Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. The book looks at how “crazy busy” most of our lives are and examines some of the causes in search of some solutions. One especially convicting truth that DeYoung brought up (and there have been many) is that a lot of us like to say yes.
Can you babysit this night?
Yes (even though I have to get up early the next day and it will mean eating dinner in the car between jobs).
Can you organize this event?
Yes (despite the fact that I’m already exhausted from the last event and don’t ever want to check my email again).
Can you invest in this relationship?
Yes (I wonder if a coffee date will fit between that meeting and Bible study?).
You get the picture – and you probably see the picture in your own life day after day. All of those examples I just gave are great things to do! They would make people happy! So you feel like you should say yes to them. But there are too many good things in the world to do them all.
It’s not healthy to run ourselves into the ground saying yes and doing all the good things. In many cases, it’s people-pleasing at its finest. And we each need to learn to seek God’s kingdom first, not our own Fiefdom of Frantic.
A couple weeks ago, I made a list of everything I do in a week. It started out something like this:
And went on to something like this:
– Young Writers Workshop
– Facebook page
– mentor relationships
And so on and so forth. Each area of my life got a segment. I went through each of those things and asked two questions:
- Why do I do this?
- Can I stop doing this without things falling apart?
And then I made a new section:
Get Rid Of
– retail job
– Greek lessons
– written Bible study
As soon as I made the decision to quit my “real” job, I wrote up my two weeks’ notice. I stopped writing Greek lessons into my planner. I printed the Bible study and put it straight in my notebook for the actual meeting without filling it out first.
I felt (and still feel) pressure from some people around me to do those things. And I still do want to do them sometimes. But do you know what? I’ve been a little less busy lately. My schedule leaves a little more time for reading a book or listening to writing lessons.
I worked at that job for almost a year and a half. I’ve been trying to fit Greek in for a few months. I’ve been writing out that Bible study for eight years. Those are just a few examples of things I found to give up.
There are three steps to finding the extras in your schedule that probably need to go. Are you ready for a little more freedom in your schedule?
1. Set your own priorities.
This is another point that DeYoung brought out in his book. We can’t presume to control other people’s schedules, and we can’t allow them to control ours. If baking for the latest church event is not a priority for you right now, don’t do it.
That’s not to say we should never do anything we don’t want to do. I didn’t get to add chemistry to the “Get Rid Of” list. We need to seek wisdom from God in setting our priorities, and then ignore other people when they try to set them for us.
2. Be willing to change.
Remember how I said I’d been writing out that Bible study for the past eight years? Yeah, that’s been one of the harder ones to give up, for several reasons. But one of those reasons is that I don’t like change. However, if we’re going to shed some of the layers of our busy lives and breathe a little bit more freely, we have to be ready for change.
Look at everything as something that could possibly go. Put everything on trial. Pretend you’re sorting through old clothes – there’s a “Keep” box and a “Give Away” box.
Doing dishes is on trial. Why do I do it? Because it’s my chore. Can I stop doing it without things falling apart? No. Throw it in the keep box.
Extra chemistry homework is on trial. Why do I do it? Because I want a perfect grade my last semester of high school. Can I stop doing it without things falling apart? Yes. Give away box.
Be honest and be brutal. You will adjust to the change and you will find yourself with more time for the things you really want to keep.
3. Keep putting things on trial.
As you do things that you forgot to put on your list or as new things come up, put them on trial. Go back every once in a while and put the stuff you decided to keep on trial too. You and your schedule change through different times. Did you realize how long you spend making that perfect breakfast in the morning? Put it on trial. Did someone just ask you for another favor or to pick up an extra shift? Put it on trial.
This is a continuous process. Otherwise, things will just start building up again until you’re buried under a pile of tasks you should have given away long ago.
A few years ago, a mentor told me that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s up to us to spend it wisely. Let’s be good stewards of our time and our minds and bodies. Let’s purge our schedules of all the extras. As the band Casting Crowns put it:
We know were made for so much more than ordinary lives.
It’s time for us to more than just survive.
We were made to thrive!
(“Thrive” by Casting Crowns)
Let’s lay aside every weight and thrive.