If you’re anything like me, your schedule can be either be one of the greatest aids in your day, or one of the biggest detriments in my day.
If we’re not careful our schedule can easily keep us away from the things that really matter to us.
But before we continue, take a moment and consider what really matters to you.
Stop reading this blog post and make a list of 4 or 5 things that matter most to you.
Here’s my list:
- My faith
- My Life (aka Laurie), my family & my close friends
- Building community
- Caring for the under-resourced
Now take a look at your list.
Is busyness on the list? Is working overtime for someone else on the list?
I’m guessing that if you’re still reading this things like family, friends, hobbies and your passions are on you list.
So why are you spending so much time on other things?
My biggest struggle continues to be the guilt that comes when I decide to tell someone “No.” So rather than feel guilty or struggling through conflict (have I mentioned I hate conflict?) I simply agree to way too many things.
And before long my days and weeks are full of things I’m not passionate about or don’t care much about and the things I really care about, my relationships with my wife, my family and friends start suffering.
The other possible outcome is I say yes to everyone and end up overwhelming myself by staying up later and later at night to finish all that I’m doing. Before long, I’ve worn myself ragged and have no desire to spend time with others or I become a zombie just moving from one event to the next.
So rather than enjoying the time with my family and friends I’m struggling to keep my eyes open and stay focused on the conversations and fellowship at hand.
So what do we do?
- Realize your priorities.
Guess what, you’ve already done this! You just wrote out a list of the four or five things most important to you. Now just be sure they’re prioritized and you can begin to make all your scheduling decisions based on this list.
- Set a hardfast work schedule.
What are your work hours? Don’t allow work to extend outside that time. If you manage your time wisely and cut down on distractions there should be no need to bring your work home (if there is, it may be time to re-examine your job and/or your bosses expectations).
- Schedule actual time for the things you’re most passionate about.
Schedule time to spend with your wife — in fact, schedule a regular weekly date night with her. Just you and her. No phones, no distractions, just like when you first met.
Schedule time to spend with your kids — even if its an hour after dinner, let nothing get in your way.
Schedule a weekly time to spend on your hobbies.
And perhaps just as important as setting these schedules, be sure and share them with everyone so they know what your priorities are.
- Stick to your schedule.
Don’t let phone calls, e-mails, television or work get in the way of your schedule — especially when it comes to the things you’re most passionate about.
Once you let people know what your schedule is, they’ll be far less likely to bother you during those times. But if you’re always available, even if it’s by text message, phone or e-mail, people will take advantage of it.
If some emergency does happen and you’re forced to cancel something be sure and make up the time to the people who missed out.
- Learn to say no.
Like I said, this one is tough for me but realize that saying no won’t be the end of the world for anyone. There are always plenty of other yes-men out there — and continuing to say to everyone else may be the end of you.
- Realize there’s NOTHING WRONG with saying no.
It’s worth repeating. The world will keep spinning even if you’re not at the center of attention.
As you can see on my list, two of the things on my list are building community and caring for the under-resourced.
It’s easy for me to get caught up in both of those areas in my life and continue to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way — however — you’ll also notice that they’re not at the top of the list. But if I’m not careful, they can quickly move to the top of the list in my schedule and energy.
I have to realize that even though these areas are on my list, I can’t let them overtake other priorities that are far more important to me.
Raising awareness about clean water or caring for the under resourced are both great things but my wife only has one husband to care for her and my two boys only have one dad to care for them — so they must come before everyone else.