Once upon a time, I took an immense amount of pride in having an impossibly packed schedule. I was always leading something, on my way somewhere, working on something, meeting with someone, or volunteering someplace. When someone asked how I was doing, it stoked my ego to gush, "Oh! I'm just SO busy!" or "I've got SO much going on!" I wanted people to be envious of how much I was capable of doing.
You know where that got me?
Utterly. Burnt. Out.
Also? Utterly not dependent on God. I was running my life my way, thank you very much. He fit in when I led Bible study on Wednesday nights and flew off to my leaders' meeting afterwards, went to Challenge on Thursday nights, and dragged myself to church on Sunday. Other than that? I made the calls on how I spent my time. I was doing good things, but I was making God fit into my schedule...not the other way around.
About a year ago, the Lord graciously slapped me upside the head with this idea:
(I say "graciously" because it's in His love that He shows us hard things)
After Hans and I got married, I realized I needed to lean deep into Jesus in order to have a relationship with my husband that glorified Him. Marriage was going to take time, so we made the decision to "take our first year off". My priorities shifted because God was leading me to a new place in life.
Hans and I pulled out of all of our ministry and extracurricular activity commitments. Cold turkey.
My chaotic schedule cleared up. God and I have time together in the mornings. Hans and I have date nights. I get enough sleep and exercise. I have time to read. We don't eat out a lot because we have time to make healthy meals. We spend time with people we love. We're not perfect at this, but we really like how it's going so far.
It's made a world of difference for me, and I know it will for you, too.
So, how do YOU start simplifying your schedule?
1. What are the things that God has called you to?
Above all else, He's calling you to have a relationship with Him. After that, there are probably only a handful of "main things" He has called you to do. Matthew 11:30 tells us that His burden is easy and His yoke is light. If you're overcommitted, you might be taking on more than He intended. Simplifying means setting your sights on the things that GOD has called you to do, not society or other people. Ask: What roles has He placed you in? What ideas keep you up at night? What fires will not die inside your heart?
2. Main the main things the main things.
Once you know what God has called you to - being a student, spouse, parent, small business owner, ministry leader, whatever! - and what He has given you a passion for - writing a book, singing in the choir, fixing dirt bikes, abolishing sex trafficking, whatever it is! - go and do those things, and cut out as much "extra" as you can. Simplifying means focusing on the essential, and eliminating the excess.
3. Say No.
Create firm boundaries for yourself. No, I won't go to that thing because it interferes with my date night with my husband. No, I won't sign up for that event because I haven't had a weekend of rest in three months. No, I won't lead that group because I need time for _____ thing that God has given me a passion for. It's ok to say no, even to good things! That's one of the hard but essential things to learn about simplifying. Just because someone asks, doesn't mean you have to say yes.
I won't go into organization here, but suffice to say that a good planner system (paper or electronic) does help with simplifying your schedule and KEEPING it that way!
Other posts in the Simplified Series...
Your Simplified Challenge: write a list of all your "irons in the fire" - all the commitments and obligations you have in your life. Decide to quit three of those things.
What are ways that YOU can be simplifying your schedule?
PS - Want to remind yourself to "Stop the Glorification of Busy"? Download the phone or computer wallpaper here.