Almost everyone I talk to is busy. Moms are busy. Teenagers are busy. Pastors are busy. Even elementary school students are busy. You know exactly what I'm talking about because you are likely among throngs of Americans who have fallen prey to the tyranny of the urgent.
Despite the fact that doctors and experts have proven that we can only focus on one thing at a time and that our addiction to busyness increases stress that increases the likelihood of certain diseases, cancers, and anxiety disorders, we seem unable to pull away from the constant magnetic attraction to doing more.
So whether you're a youth minister, a stay at home mom, a corporate executive, or a soccer coach, you need to re-frame the discussion. Stop being so vague in your assessment of your routine by saying things like "I really need to slow down." That statement is useless. Get specific. Be accurate and deliberate. This is how I now talk and think about my daily and weekly routines that have the potential to spin out of control.
I ask myself, What should I REPEAT and what should I DELETE from my day?
Here are the things I choose to REPEAT:
1. Daily time in prayer, quiet reflection, study of the scriptures, and meditation on the gospel.
2. Face to face, focused conversation with my bride and best friend, Sharie.
3. Play time with my boys, including football practice, wrestling in the floor, riding the four-wheeler, etc.
4. Exercise (basketball, running, a brisk walk, a heavy workout, and yes, even occasional Yoga with my wife).
5. Reading - the newspaper, a good internet article on health issues, theology, history, a novel, a mystery, or a helpful blog.
6. Meals, coffee, and fellowship with brothers in Christ, both those I work with and those I share community with.
7. Pastoring and ministering to the people God has called me to lead serve, especially pastors and leaders, husbands and dads.
8. Rising early, usually by 5:30 AM, to get a jump on the day and be ahead of the game when the world wakes up.
Here are the things I am constantly trying to DELETE:
1. Checking email more than 3 times a day.
2. Facebook - I try to log on once a day and get out without being distracted by all the nonsense.
3. Clutter in my office - If it looks like junk mail, I chunk it, and I pay my bills the day I get them to avoid the piles that result from procrastination.
4. Wasted time on the phone - If I can communicate simple facts, needs, or share information through text or email, I will opt for that instead of playing phone tag with voicemails for a week with someone...because nobody answers their phone anymore.
5. TV - My wife and I have honed in on the shows we really like, and we DVR them, skip the commercials, and never channel surf
6. Staying up late to catch up on work - while this has to be done sometimes, it is a bad and unhealthy habit that results from lack of focus during the normal business day. If I am not traveling, I am in bed by 10 PM. This is necessary for me to get up at 5:30 AM.
7. Responding to every single communication - If I answered every single email, Facebook message, voicemail, text, and Twitter message, I would be an obese, depressed, divorced hermit glued to a screen in my basement.
What is it in your life that matters most to you? REPEAT those things. Be willing, at least, to DELETE the rest.