Freedom to Hear God, Part Ten: Regain Control of Your Schedule
Missed Part Nine? Click here.
Warning: The following post is not for the faint of heart. It is for those of you ready to buck your flesh, your culture and a bunch of other people who are demanding your time. It requires backbone, heart searching and soul-digging. It’s for those serious enough about your crazy schedule to actually take control and do something about it.
Are you ready???????
I, for one, am sick of this busy cycle I keep walking into, and I’m making a change. Lots of changes, actually. Here is the process I’m following. I’m a pretty methodical person, so this works for me. If following a step-by-step process drives you bonkers, then Method Two may be more your speed. Both are challenging, but both are totally worth your sanity.
Method One: Gradual Elimination—for those who need to cut somewhere, but don’t know where to start
1. Make a list of everything you do: work, leisure, entertainment, home, ministry. Everything. This list will be lengthy and will take several days to create.
2. Circle the things that only you (and no one else) can do. I’m not asking if you can afford to hire someone, or if you desire someone else to do a task for you. If hypothetically, someone else is able to perform the task instead of you, then don’t circle it. You should only circle things like nursing your baby, spending intimate time with your spouse, instilling values in your children, weekly pedicures, etc. (kidding)
3. Now circle things that are vital to your physical and spiritual health. These are things like eating, sleeping, bathing, exercise and prayer. All circled items will remain on your list and in your schedule.
4. Now look at the items that are not circled:
a. Are there any time-wasters that are screaming to be crossed out? Television? Facebook? Reading everyone else’s blog but this one?
b. Are there any social/extracurricular activities that either you or a family member can eliminate or cut back? Kids’ sports? Husband’s golf? Volunteering? It’s time to have a family meeting and speak frankly about the family schedule and how it’s impacting you, individually and relationally. Then decide on what things can be cut back or eliminated. I highly recommend the golf one.
c. What can someone else do? Are there things that need to be done, but maybe you can find someone temporarily or permanently to do them for you? Highlight those items and jot down names of people who could help you. Think outside the box. Get creative.
i. What can I pay someone else to do? (Cleaning, laundry, eating out instead of cooking, lawn care, basic jobs at work, etc)
ii. What can be delegated? (To your spouse, a subordinate at work, children, etc)
iii. What can be shared or bartered with someone? (Carpool, dinner co-op, babysitting trade, etc) By the way, I highly doubt I’d ever find someone crazy enough to do a dinner co-op with me. Can you imagine? “I only feed my family organic. My kids refuse to eat anything with sauce or weird texture. I’m an “almost vegetarian,” who hates mushrooms and walnuts, except when I’m fasting, at which point I also won’t eat meat, grains, sugar or dairy. Please don’t serve the meals in plastic, because I’m anti-BPA. And just because it says “0 grams trans fat” on the label, doesn’t really mean there is no trans fat in the food…”
d. What can be left undone altogether or left to do for another season? (Organizing photo albums, filing paperwork, redecorating, dusting baseboards). Cross as many items off your list as you can. Rewrite the rest on a list entitled “Things I’ll do Later” and tape it inside a kitchen cabinet. Don’t worry about that list until you are in a less busy season. I have a gigantic pile of papers on my desk in the basement. It has been accumulating for over a year. I’ve affectionately dubbed it, “the hyperventilation pile.” It’s on my list of things to tackle later. Much, much later.
5. Now go back over the list and ask yourself
a. What can be done less completely or less perfectly? (Shorten lengthy business luncheons, vacuum every two weeks instead of weekly, check e-mails only once a day instead of constantly)
b. What does not reflect one of my top priorities? (socializing after work with co-workers, chatting with other moms after school, getting caught up in long phone conversations)
c. What is not a good use of my gifts and talents? (Serving in the nursery when your gift is writing–not that I know anything about that.)
d. What does not have eternal value? (Matthew 6:19-21) (Hello…golf!)
Remember, every little change will make a difference. An hour here, a few hours there. It all adds up. If not on your literal schedule, it will definitely affect your psyche. Just knowing you don’t have certain commitments hanging over your head will help to declutter your mind. Cut, cut wherever you can. I’ve done this method twice. Once about 8 years ago when I was up to my eyeballs in baby diapers and ministry commitments. And once last week. I’m telling you, if you take the time to do this, it works.
Method Two: Cold Turkey—for the extremely weary and overcommitted
Drop everything that is not vital to your life. Keep only the circled items from Method One. Take some serious time to rest and recharge. Focus on God. Spend some time doing absolutely nothing with your kids, your spouse and your best friend. Allow yourself to remember or to experience for the first time what life feels like when you slow down and stop running at such a hectic pace. When you are ready, add one thing back at a time, starting with your highest priority. Stop adding things before you come anywhere close to reaching your stress limit.
I’ve actually done this method twice, as well. Once when we moved from Ohio to Florida and once a few months before we adopted Elliana (which I wrote about here). Both times ended up being the most spiritually rich and relationally satisfying seasons of my entire life.
It’s not easy, quitting everything. Most people won’t agree or understand what the heck you’re doing. Some may actually get upset with you. But if you are experiencing physical symptoms and you feel like your high-priority relationships and your health are seriously suffering, please prayerfully consider doing something radical. And don’t worry what others think about it.
Be forewarned: it is human nature to defend each and every item on your list. I urge you to spend some time in prayer—and maybe even a *gulp* fast—before you do this so God can speak to you about your time. He will give you wisdom. Don’t be afraid you are going to cut something vital and accidentally miss His will for you. God lavishes grace upon you, even when—no, especially when—you screw up. Even if you unintentionally slash God’s Plan A off your schedule, He has a miraculous way of redeeming your plans and somehow turning Plan B back into Plan A.
Now…get off the computer and start making your list. And if you slash my blog off your schedule, I will lavish grace on you, too. Just put me on the your “Things I’ll Do Later List.” Or delegate me to a subordinate at work.
Thanks Sandy..I need you to be my accountability partner! Big time!! My problem..as its been for a while, is my lap top! I spend way too much time on it..or I'll get tired in the afternoon and just be online..or lay down..I probably should lay down for a few to get rejuvinated…Anyway..I know what I need to do, just don't know why I have such a hard time committing..I need to go to bed at a certain time, I need to get up when the alarm goes off so that I can have my quiet time..and exercise, etc…I've struggled w/ it for years!!
"Reading everyone else's blog but this one?" Ha ha ha ha ha…cute wya to sneak that in there 🙂
Also loved the dinner co-op. You are too funny!
What hit me the most (SERIOUSLY HARD) was stop serving in the nursery when your gift is writing. I have been doing exactly that, and letting writing go because of a little doubt and a lot of self-reflection about priorities. And you are right; I need to get rid of the stuff I do to "please" people and get on with the stuff that "pleases GOD!"
I've been known to defend my "list" of "I am the only one that can do this" but as the years have passed, I've done better with it. What have I accomplished? I've learned to delegate. Yipee, yahoo.
What has that turned into? Googling, Facebooking, Blog hopping, etc. And it's seriously a problem. Right now, I have a load in the washer (I'm prepping for the cleaning lady tomorrow). It should be in teh dryer so that at least she can fold and put the clothes away.
It's late, I'm tired. I need to get some good sleep so that I can wake up to work out — which is difficult to do when you work 8 to 9 hours a day and survive on 5 hours of sleep and spend the rest of your waking time caring and parenting a toddler.
So yes, while I gave up Diet Pepsi…I am now an Online Addict. Ahhhhhhh!!!
And….I don't do plastic either. But I do like mushrooms and walnuts — as long as they aren't in brownies.
Whoa! Awesome post. Your list of what to bring/not bring your family for dinner co-op had me laughing out loud.
This will help alot of people and I think is something we all should do at some point.
Btw, I serve brownie blobs. Are they on the Cooper's "ok to bring for dessert" list? They don't have walnuts.
I am out doing some blog hopping and it seems we are like-minded. I am participating in a Bible study I think you might be interested in.
I would like to invite you to join us for an online Bible study for MOMMAS on the book of Ephesians. We are using my (Jean Stockdale) workbook called “High Stepping in Heavenly Places.” The 10-week study will begin Sept.24. A workbook is available with homework for 5 days a weeks. You will also be able to watch a 45-minute weekly video or download a podcast of the message, and then share in an online discussion with other moms. Interested?
Get more details at http://highsteppinginheavenlyplaces.wordpress.com or at blog at http://jeanstockdale.typepad.com. We would love to have you join us! Blessings.