What happens in your life when things get crazy?
Do you have great systems and routines in place that serve as guardrails? Or do you go off the rails and suffer?
Today I have a devotion running about a time when life was pretty nutso in my family. Everyone was on hyper-speed and we let go of many important family priorities just to get things done. It was a time when there was no margin for anything unplanned.
I learned a lot during that season, and one of the life-long lessons I learned was to set healthy boundaries around my time so there is margin for the unexpected. Maybe you are thinking, that sounds great, but what does it really mean? And how can I do something like that?
Setting healthy boundaries looks different for each of us because we are wired differently. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that have helped me avoid a repeat of my crazy fall.
1. Make sure your external demands don’t exceed your internal resources.
Let me explain what that means. If you and I take on the same responsibility at church, it might take us both two hours to do. On the surface this looks comparable. However, if this responsibility fuels you but drains me, then you have a greater internal resource to be able to manage it. You might be able to move right on to the next project, while I need time to recover.
As we look at our schedules, we can’t just look at time. We must take our internal resources in to consideration, and build in more time around activities that are draining.
2. Look at your life as an editor looks at writing.
I’ve been an editor for almost 20 years, and one of the most fulfilling parts of my job is when I have to shorten a document. I love looking at sentences and deciding how to make them shorter. This process involves either removing unnecessary words, or selecting one or two strong words to replace a series of weaker words.
Here’s an example:
- They decided that they would make pizza.
- They decided to make pizza.
The sentence is so much stronger and clearer without those extra words. We can all be editors in our own lives. We can look at the areas that are “wordy” or padded with unnecessary activity, and decide what we can remove to strengthen our lives. Ask yourself: What is taking up time or energy that you should let go?
I often find myself holding on to something from a past season, when God wants me to open my hands to receive what’s new in this season. By paring down our commitments, we will naturally find ourselves living with more margin.
3. Identify what’s most important to you and schedule it.
Many times when life gets chaotic, I shift into fire-fighting mode. I just solve one problem after another and neglect what’s most important. It can make me feel like I don’t really have control over my life.
But by taking some time to think about what is really important, and scheduling time for that to happen, it shifts my sense of control. I realize I do have the ability to make choices, and it feels empowering.
I remember when a friend told me she scheduled time for a bubble bath. At first I laughed, but then I realized how smart she really was. That bath time refilled her heart, and reset her attitude. It wasn’t just relaxing, it was restoring. And if she had to make an appointment with herself for a bubble bath, then so be it!
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In Doing Busy Better, Glynnis Whitwer helps you examine your heart and your schedule in order to seek a healthy, holy, and enjoyable balance between work and rest. She shows you how to prioritize your goals and your time, how to be present in the moment as Jesus was, and how to find the freedom of true soul rest. Most importantly, she shows you that your worth is found not in your accomplishments but in the love of the One who made you for work and for rest.
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