How to Get Your Life Back from Your Hectic Schedule

How to Get Your Life Back from Your Hectic Schedule

If you’re anything like me, you might feel inundated with what C. S. Lewis called “the tyranny of the urgent” — the power that busyness holds over you. In the West, we live in cultures that glorifies busyness. When someone asks how we are, “busy” is an appropriate answer and usually met with a commiserating, “Me, too.” We’re supposed to be living a good life if we’re busy. We’re busy with work, running our children to their activities, and then we add in church activities and it suddenly feels like your schedule is running you, not you running your schedule. All of sudden we don’t have time for the things that bring us joy — let alone allowing for free space in which to dream, plan, and be open to opportunities God sets in our paths on a daily basis.

A hectic schedule isn’t just about too much on the calendar. When we feel too busy and ruled by our schedule, we’re often using our time as a cover-up for what’s in our hearts. It’s easier to stay busy sometimes than dealing with our underlying fears, failures, emotions, and worries. No calendar overhaul will change our hearts. But we often find that as we make concrete changes our hearts, too, change.

So how do we get our lives back from a hectic schedule? How do we break free from busyness to live lives that are peaceful, reflective of our goals and our faith, and work towards the health of our families, our neighbors, and the world around us?

Here are a few ways to start:

  • 1. Stop and Pray

    We have to first stop and take account of our schedules. Get your calendar out and sit down with those in your family who make the decisions and discuss what you’re already committed to. What brings you life and joy? What furthers your purpose as an individual or a family? What are you doing just because you think it’s expected of you?

    Pray over your calendar. Our time is a precious commodity we can use to love God and love others. When we’re so busy, we don’t have the space in our lives to love others well. Pray for guidance that God would allow your commitments to reflect what He loves and what He’s doing in the world. 

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  • 2. Set Goals

    Assess your goals and create a personal or family mission statement. What are your goals as a family? If you want your children (and you!) to increase in kindness, faithfulness, and love of God and neighbor, does what you have on your calendar reflect those goals? Spend some time articulating your long-term goals for growth. Then take these goals and look at your commitments.

    Evaluate how you spend your time. For instance, if hospitality and welcome are important to how you live out your faith, then make sure that’s reflected on your calendar. 

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  • 3. Say “No” to Make Room for “Yeses”

    We can’t be superheroes and we can’t do everything. If you’re a working mother, it might be hard to join the PTA and volunteer in your child’s class. That’s okay. We don’t need to do everything. But it may be possible to invite another family for a barbecue on the weekend and help out by teaching Sunday School at church.

    Remember your goals. We have to constantly re-evaluate our schedules knowing both what God is calling us to and how he’s equipped us as individuals to work as a body of believers. That means that we have to say a lot of “no’s” before we’re able to say “yes.” Saying “no” will free up space in our hectic schedules for us to say the right “yes” that will not only make us feel less harried, but more than that, will help.

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  • 4. Evaluate

    You might end up limiting your children’s activities after the season is over. You might cull your own volunteer activities. Likewise you might need to think about the needs in your church and community, and see where you can begin to get involved. Breaking free from the “tyranny of the urgent” isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. It is, rather, prayerfully considering what you’re doing, how you’re made, and how it fits into where God is calling you, right here and right now.

    Evaluate your calendar and the changes you intend to make (or are making). Are you and your family (or friends or co-workers, whoever you’re journeying with) moving toward an increase in the fruits of the Spirit? Are you allowing space in your calendar for God to surprise you? Are you stepping out in faith more? The answers to these questions will begin to shape your future schedules and commitments. 

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  • 5. Schedule

    As you continue to work with your calendar, and as you pray, set goals, say no so you can say appropriate yeses, and evaluate, schedule the things that further your mission statement. Make room in your calendar for the long-term projects and dreams that get crushed out by daily minutiae. Pray for your eyes to be opened to needs around you and allow the Holy Spirit to move in you to work for God’s kingdom right where you are.

    May our calendars and schedules reflect not only our own goals, but more importantly, may they be instruments to love God and love our neighbor.  

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    Ashley Hales is a writer, speaker, church planter’s wife, and mom to 4 littles in southern California. Ashley has written for places such as The Gospel CoalitionBooks & Culture, and ThinkChristian and is writing her first book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs (IVP). Be sure to connect with her at her blogFacebook, or Twitter. Subscribe to get a free booklet on how to practice sustained attention and chase beauty right where you are.