Have you ever taken a hiatus from life? Maybe sneak down to the lake, or up to the mountains and turn everything off? Maybe spend a couple of days with no phones, computers, television – just you, your family, and the view. At first, it seems so foreign. A life without technology? Won’t everything fall apart? What if someone needs you at work? What if you miss the next viral post on social media? After a while though, the technology cloud lifts and we discover what we’ve been missing. Time.
We are so excited when technology improves. We can get things done so much faster now! Mail arrives in seconds, we fast forward through commercials, and we engage in a face to face conversation with someone across the world at the push of a button. Theoretically, we should have a lot more time. It takes a fraction of the time to achieve desired results than it used to. However, we are more stressed than ever. We find we have less time than we used to for things like family time, self-care, and maintaining a relationship with God.
What are we doing with our “extra” time?
We more than double our work. Tasks take less time now, so we have the ability to take more on. However, it’s very easy to get in a habit of taking more on than we can do. Take a realistic look at the time allotted for a certain task and allow adequate time for each. Be detailed.
We don’t anticipate setbacks. Things don’t always go as planned. In fact, a lot of things don’t go as well as we expect them to go. We don’t leave a little time for hiccups and redos, but they have to be done. So we do them, followed by the rest of the work that needs completing. And it takes a lot more time than we anticipate. This can cause us to work well into our sleep time, family time, etc.
We can’t say no. Let’s face it! We women have a lot on our plates. We have work, a house to run/clean, food to prepare, pets to take to the vet/grooming, PTA meetings, baseball/basketball/football/soccer practices, dance/cheer/gymnastics practices, piano/guitar/drum lessons, martial arts, and girl/boy scouts. And if you’re like me, you’re probably on committees for most of those. It’s too much. There isn’t enough time to do it all. Unless, of course, we don’t sleep.
Our extra time is more than filled up now, and the new overwhelming workload is now the expectation, leaving us a stressed out mess. And the worst part? Most of us haven’t spent our time on what matters most: health, family, and God.
How do we make extra time for what matters most?
Schedule it. Family time, date night, exercise, meal prep, 8 hours of sleep, bible study and prayer – schedule it all. We have a habit of only scheduling appointments outside of our home life and personal goals. Since we tend to do that, our schedules fill up completely with all the other stuff in our lives. Then we give our families, health, and God whatever is left – if there is anything left. Try scheduling those before adding any meeting, sports, or obligations to your schedule.
Make some cuts. I recently had to sit down and make some tough cuts in my life. I recommend reevaluating where your time is spent at least once per year. We go through many seasons in life, and we forget that we can’t do it all right now. If you have young children, you might be in the season of life that doesn’t allow you a lot of freedom to do certain things. But this is only a season. Cut some of the extra stuff out and spend your time where it’s needed. This season will end, and your schedule will change. But your kids will never be this age again – don’t miss it.
Learn to say no. You can’t say yes to everything. Now repeat that three times. Seriously, do it. If we say yes to everything, people will continue to ask us to do things. In most cases, it’s not out of selfishness. They assume you won’t say yes unless you have the time and resources. So if you say something like, “I’d really love to help, but I just don’t have the time to do this right now,” that tells them that you just don’t have the time right now. You could follow up with something like, “Things should slow down in six months” or “Little one starts school next year which will free up a little time. Let’s talk about me joining at that time.” We have to learn to protect our time. Time is precious.
At the end of the day today, I challenge you to sit down with a pen and piece of paper. Make two columns. Write down what you should do on a daily basis in one column, and what you actually did today. In many cases, we will find that we aren’t practicing self-care – adequate sleep, exercise, taking the time to prepare healthy meals. We may not feel good about the amount of time we had with the family. We also might find that we haven’t spent any time with God. Once you have a clear understanding of where you are right now, make a plan. What can you get rid of? What can you cut down? Create your schedule for next week. Start with God, family, health. Your stress level should decrease a bit, and you’ll likely find that you’re much happier.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven Ecclesiastes 3:1
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1