Last week I was with pastors from around the St. Louis metro area. While talking about our people, we discovered one of the greatest challenges people face is busyness.
"People's schedules are horrendous."
"Everyone is over-committed."
"No one has extra time."
Being too busy is a major issue in our fast-paced society. There are more demands on people than ever before. And it's leading to stress, depression, divorce, burnout, and health issues.
So what do you do if you're too busy? Martin Luther's theology of vocation is all about setting priorities. Here's how you can begin to set clear priorities and defend against unhealthy busyness.
What are the top five priorities in your life? List them. Post them on your mirror, your refrigerator, anywhere you look every day. These should be the key things God calls you to. Faith in Him, a spouse, children, friends, career . . .
Does my schedule reflect my priorities? Look at your last month. Just by looking at your calendar, could someone identify your top five priorities? Are you busy with the wrong things?
Schedule Everything. You have a work schedule. You schedule doctor’s appointments. Do you schedule family time? Do you schedule time for rest or exercise? Do you schedule time for worship and prayer? Often the items at the top of our priority list don’t make the calendar. We assume that we’ll get to them, but if they don’t make the calendar, we don’t follow through.
Create Boundaries. What lines are hard? What lines cannot be crossed? Draw those lines right now. Boundaries protect priorities and give you focus. For instance, I have drawn a very hard line around my day off. I don’t check e-mail, mostly set my phone aside, and do nothing work related unless there’s necessary exception.
Manage Notifications. One of the great challenges to priorities today is our ability to be contacted anywhere at any time. E-mail, social media, calls, and texts. Our phones have the ability to push lower priorities up higher. Notifications can make unimportant things urgent. Limit your notifications to high priorities. Only check e-mail or Facebook at designated times, not 20 times throughout the day.
Let Some Things Go. If you seriously evaluate your God-given callings, you’ll recognize that you have to let some things go. You have to say "no" to lower priorities. You may have to decline some commitments, not do the baseball league, or work that overtime shift.
Time and energy are finite resources. You are limited. You can’t do everything . . . and that’s OK. God is "on" all the time. He takes care of you even when you don't complete all the tasks you wanted to.
God is gracious enough to give you a few really important callings. Do those things really well.