I’m in a season with very little margin. My calendar is overloaded with important things to do, and each day seems to add to the pile. I literally wrote this post while jogging on the treadmill because there’s just no other time! In this season, I find myself asking God to help me manage and help me see changes that can make me more effective for His Kingdom. Here are a few things I’m learning to do when life gets too busy:
1. Make a strategic list
I have a To-Do list have all the things that need to get done. That list is always growing. But recently, I’ve started to make strategic lists. I got some great ideas from Kenny Conley and how his team is using an idea from Bill Hybels. My strategic list contains the 3-4 things that I’m going to focus on for the next three months. I still have small tasks that need to get done, but the focus of my time and energy is just 3-4 initiatives. So far, this strategic list has helped keep my work very intentional and focused. I may be “doing less” but I’m accomplishing more.
2. Make time for time off
Once I start something, I will not walk away until it’s finished. This is the sickness that makes me stay up till 1:30 am to install a couple of under-the-counter lights. It’s also the sickness that tells me I don’t have time for time off.
In the middle of the busyness when I’m tempted to just keep plugging away until burn out, I have to intentionally schedule minutes, hours, days, even weeks to break from the work. Whether it’s a five-minute walk or a week at the beach (Hallelujah, that’s next week!), time off is necessary. It’s hard to step away from unfinished business, but I’ve realized that I’m much more effective when I return from a time off.
3. Ask for help
I don’t like to ask for help. It’s a pride thing–which is a sin thing. I like to do things my way on my timing, and I hate feeling like I’m putting someone else out by needing their help. But in the middle of this busy season, I’ve learned to ask for help.
I’ve learned that holding “To-Dos” tightly—especially in ministry—is robbing someone else from the opportunity to serve God. He may have gifted them for a task or His Spirit prompted them to act, so who am I to selfishly hold onto it. Asking for help gets others involved, and it helps me remember to focus on people not just tasks.
4. Pray More
It’s funny that I began the year asking God to build the discipline of prayer in my life, and of course He’s doing it in a way I didn’t expect. Instead of a relaxing study on prayer, I feel as though God—in His sovereignty everything—has put me in a position where I’m much more aware of my need for Him.
There are times when I look at the to-dos and I am paralyzed with worry and fear. But those moments are teaching me the power and the peace that comes from prayer. The busyness of this season is teaching me that I don’t need more time, I need more Jesus. I don’t have to stress about the things I can’t accomplish because I am able to rest in what He has already accomplished.
It’s amazing how a strategy and the right perspective can change the feelings about being busy. When I’m able to remember these lessons, I feel much more focused and energized to do what needs to be done.
I’m thankful for the lessons that God is teaching me in this busy season, and even more thankful that my relationship with Him is based on the finished work of Jesus and not my unfinished to-do list!