Avoiding the BusyMess of Life

Do you have waves in time where the busyness just consumes you? Don’t let busyness turn into a busy-mess!

Often times it is predictable. However,  if you are like me, you are so caught up in the daily grind and the “To Do” list that you forget about the tidal wave about to overtake the Sea of Life for a period of time.

For our family it tends to be mid spring.  This is when we have to begin getting back outside and tending to the yard work again after the LONG Michigan winter.  While I love the fresh air, green grass, and colorful spring flowers – I can quickly find myself resentful or anxious if I have not done some PREplanning for the onslaught of extra activities.

You see I am a Type A, overly optimistic gal who thinks, ” ‘sure I can do that’ and that and that….and that too, why not?”  Reality has shown me otherwise.  It has confirmed that there are indeed only 24 hours in one day and no matter how I tried to cheat my way into more hours in one day…..like pulling LITERAL all-nighters doing work so that I could have “quality family time”. Surely you can imagine how this turns out.  Eventually your body WILL require rest and it simply cannot function well when it is not provided rest for your brain’s best and healthy food and exercise for your body!

If you can relate to these waves of busyness and want to avoid the resulting busy-mess: I would like to share with you some proactive planning tips that help me to enjoy every season and to keep priorities in order. 

First, identify your top 5 relationships in life and view these as your top priority.  There are some things in which I am not willing to compromise:  Quality time with God and family. 

Next, identify time stealers or activities that do not promote your top priorities and have little effect on other goals. I have identified a few things that can give, if necessary, during busy seasons:  such as dusting and some home-made meals.

Plan meals ahead to ensure nutritional balance and quick preparation.

Put on a smile! Laughter is good medicine — so enjoy the work.  Whistle while you work. My son is ALWAYS whistling.  In fact, sometimes, we just have to ask him to tone it down a bit, but I have to say it is such a happy sound, it can be infectious.  Whistle a tune together for fun!

Did you choose this project or did this project choose you?  For example, I have several (okay maybe too many) flower gardens.  I can still hear my husband saying…..’you are just making more work for yourself!’  Yes, indeed, I did.  So in the spring I evaluate:  Is the joy which these flowers bring to me throughout the summer and fall worth the time and effort I must invest in the spring?  If the answer is yes, it then becomes my CHOICE to weed them.  This promotes a better attitude and makes the process enjoyable.  What will happen if I do not weed them?  I will become unhappy because 1) they will not be pretty and 2) I will be embarrassed because my neighbors will not be happy to look at ugly weed gardens 3) They will remind me of all the work I have not done and have YET to do! STRESS.  So for me, I realize that I have one FULL day of weeding at the cottage and one to two full days of gardening at home in the spring to create an environment that serves and pleases me throughout the next two seasons.  This helps me to enjoy the work all the more! 

What is it that you feel STRAPPED or forced into doing?  Do you really need it? Can you eliminate it?  Okay, this does NOT apply to your spouse and/or children!  Is there a way you can make the process easier by involving others or cutting out excess?  I heap mulch on my flowerbeds when the weeding is done so there is minimal weeding in the summer time. Is there a component of your project that you might do differently? Perhaps it will cost more money or a little more time up front, but will the pay off be worth it to you when it yields you more quality time doing what you really desire?

Review your past calendars for trends.  Look for months with little white space, indicating especially busy times. It seems all field trips, awards nights, special sports programs, band/choir concerts all come to a head in May.  I am learning not to accept work/volunteer/home responsibilities in May when I am already adding: 3 houses of yard work  (between our home, cottage, and a rental unit); extra school activities; sporting events and family and special event outings.

I am realizing now why my nerves were so overextended a few weeks ago when I went against this understanding.  I knew I had gotten in over my head after the second new commitment.  However, after committing my promises to the Lord and being confirmed to move forward, God allowed me to be used to help a family and a ministry and He blessed me monumentally over the coming weeks with the fruits of my labor becoming more than I could have ever imagined!  That being said, always commit your ways to the LORD, he may very well lead you to take more during a time of seeming chaos.  He will supply your needs.  All things are possible with Christ.  Let us agree, however, not to take on more responsibility during busy times, without first consulting with our Master Project Manager!

So when you have an understanding of God’s purpose for your day and you are ready for the rubber to meet the road, there are many great tools to help you strike a healthy work-life-play balance.  I have benefited greatly from Stephen Covey’s Quadrant II planning method, among others.  For a very practical and simple approach to gaining work efficiencies check out this resource: http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV.

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