Every day I am more convinced that one of the tricks evil plays on us is to keep us busy. If we spend our lives running around keeping the plates spinning, then we think we are somehow successful as a person. Over time we wear down and become susceptible to the temptations that surround us. We neglect things that are important, and we lose precious days we will never recover.
Here are a few random ideas for Christians who are perpetually busy.
1. Prioritize. List the five things that are the most important to you. Devote yourself to them. Be warned, for every priority, you add to the list of five, one thing must come off the list. For example, if you decide to coach your child’s team then something else will get less attention. If you try to keep everything on the list, you will be busy simply for lack of priorities.
2. Stop Glorifying Your Busyness. How many times a day or possibly a week do you tell people, “I am just so busy.” You wear it like a badge of honor. While you say you hate it, the reality is that it allows you to have excuses for poor behavior. It makes you feel important as a person as you are always needed. It does something for your soul that you can’t explain. Meanwhile, it is slowly destroying you and your relationships. You need to stop talking about how busy you are each day.
3. Avoid Multi-Tasking. Everyone believes that can do two things at once. Studies have shown over and over that you are only partially doing each job. Your attention is distracted, and you are not giving anything your whole attention. The result is that time on a project is less fulfilling and meaningful because you are not fully present. You will need to spend twice as much time on any task to get the same result because you are only half there.
4. Less is More. Let’s say your child loves sports. The school provides them with a 12-game season, and they love it. You want them happy, so you sign them up for travel teams, special tournaments and every opportunity to play. Now they are involved in 36 games a year. The final result is not that they have three times more fun. In fact, they usually love each game less. Each win is now less important because there are more games. Here is one way to see this shift. If a snow day comes and cancels a tournament when you tell your children, are they happy it will not happen? If so, they are on overload.
5. Ask a Big Question. Ask yourself, “If this were the last year of my life, would I live this way?” None of us know how many days or months or years we have been given. Last year I lost my dad and what I would give to spend a few more days with him. Then I think of the days I was given and must ask, “Did I spend those wisely or was I too busy with unimportant things?”
6. Say NO. You need to learn to say no to people. You need to accept that some people will not like you for it. If you have a priority list, then some things will merely not make the cut. You do not need to apologize. The more you live to make everyone else happy, the busier you will become.
7. Fine is Okay. Not everything needs to be done to perfection. Some things in life do not need your focused attention. The bed can stay a mess. Your yard can be flawed. You do not need to keep your Facebook status updated to the minute. It is okay to be half-hearted in some areas of life so that other areas can get more attention.
8. Some Things Can Wait. Here is a test for the importance of an activity, delay doing it for a day or two. Does it seem more or less significant later? I know it feels urgent to send that text or email today, but is it? Yes, sometimes it is. And there are times it becomes less critical. I usually use the quote, “An emergency to you is not always an emergency to me.” Many times, I have left a job for to do till tomorrow only to find out everything had already been handled.
9. Create Margin. Leave blank spaces in your schedule for things to pop up. If you try to schedule every minute, then when something takes longer you are forced into an overloaded busyness. Leave free time on your schedule. If nothing claims that time, then just relax, don’t feel the need to fill it.
Being busy all the time is a decision. Not being on overload is also a decision. You might be the type of person who is always on the run from one event to the next. You blame it on this and that, but I would bet that you have never done an in-depth self-evaluation. Today might be the time.
As a believer, this is significant because the first thing to get bumped off our list are the spiritual and relationship tasks because they have no immediate consequence. We understand that we are not losing our faith or our marriage because of one busy season. Unfortunately, it slips into two seasons and then three and one day your marriage is over and your faith are gone not because of some big sin but rather because you were too busy with other things.
Maybe it is time for a change.