It seems like you’re always letting someone down. Your flatmate wants the dishes done, your lecturer wants your assignment, your old schoolmates want you at the barbie, your parents want you on the phone, your boss wants you to work another shift, your church wants you at youth group and the campus Christian group wants you on the committee. How do you make priorities and find balance?
You’ve got to figure something out, or you’ll make a mess of yourself and possibly a bunch of other important things too. Often it’s not that you don’t have enough time, it’s that you haven’t figured out how to use it well.
If I were going to write an essay on this, I’d spend some time talking about the humble recognition that we all have our ‘lot’ in God’s world: we can’t do everything, we must instead ask our Father for wisdom to figure out what’s important in life and what our duties are. We need the Holy Spirit of power, love and self-discipline to lead us to live out our little lives in a way that pleases him (2 Tim 1:7).
Unfortunately, I don’t have the space for that. Instead, I want to share some very fundamental and valuable advice about making priorities and finding balance:
- Get a diary. It can even be an old pen and paper one, that’s what I use, or it can be something more robotic. Now that you’ve got a diary, take it with you everywhere.
- Make big picture plans and revise them. Before things get crazily busy, sit down write a list of the important things in your life and the major commitments you want to make in the coming year. Now find a place to put the list and put a note in your diary to return to it every month.
- Take responsibility for capturing everything in your life. I don’t trust someone who doesn’t write stuff down. Either they don’t think things are important, or they don’t want to be responsible for anything. When in doubt, write it down. You can always scribble it out later. Get some kind of inbox to store the non-electronic stuff that comes your way too.
- Get your inboxes empty. At least once a week, scoop up everything in your inboxes and go through it piece by piece. Do this or you will most probably die. This means your phone inbox, your email inbox, your Facebook inbox, your paper inbox, your pockets, the back of your hand. All the junk that’s come into your universe. To get your inboxes empty doesn’t mean actually doing it all, but deciding what you need to do and writing that down somewhere. An inbox is a lousy place to store reminders – even if you have ‘starred’ them.
- Order your 'To Do' list by place rather than priority. ‘Urgent’ lists are more stressful than helpful. It’s far better to have lists broken down based on where you need them: @computer, @church, @home, @shops, @phone, @uni.
- Remember that the morning exists if you really need it. Dropping the ball with Christian stuff because of assignments is the lamest thing. If you’ve got a busy week, go to bed earlier, wake up earlier and then you can still follow though on your other commitments. 6am exists and it can be your friend.
- Take a day off every week. It’s amazing how much rest helps you work. If you’re always ‘kind of working’ and ‘kind of resting’, then you’re being inefficient. If you’re always working flat out, then you’re being inefficient. Resting well keeps us fresh and sharp to work smart, not just hard.