Picture this: You're at church on a Sunday morning (or on the couch watching from home). Worship just ended and the pastor is about to share his sermon for the day. All of a sudden the thought crosses your mind: Did I move the laundry to the dryer? That thought creates a tangent thought: Did my blouse get washed to wear for my big presentation tomorrow? Again, this thought creates another train of thoughts: My presentation may run past 5pm, that means I need to do a crock pot dinner tomorrow. But wait, I don't have the ingredients to make that. When do I have time to go to the store? Oh yeah, the kids are out of toothpaste and I need more conditioner. Shoot. I forgot I have a hair appointment this week. I think it crosses my Zoom meeting with Cindy. I'll have to reschedule.
Before you know it, the sermon is wrapping up and you have no idea what was just discussed.
Maybe you haven't experienced this at church, but you've probably experienced it in Zoom meetings, conversations with friends or your spouse, doing daily tasks, or finishing that report your boss asked for three days ago.
We have this never ending thought process and of "need to do and get done." I think it all boils down to one common issue: we are a restless people. We have the impulse to do more in less time. Our attention is scarce because we don't slow down from the distraction of rushing. We are a people that now defines success by how busy we are over anything else.
Think about it: How much free time do you actually have? How many hours in your day are spent rushing or multitasking? How many conversations do you have and your mind is going 10 different directions?
If you feel that little nudge in your heart or pit in your stomach right now, well, you're in the right place.
I, too, have the constant push for doing more in less time. I have my core responsibilities of work, paying bills, tidying the house, etc. I also have other things I enjoy doing or see value in such as date nights with Taylor, time with friends, small groups, or running my business. When I think about all of these things, I feel instant anxiety of "how on earth will I get these things done?" I almost feel guilty when I take 30 minutes to watch tv or open a book because I'm not "being productive."
So what do we do?
I'm certainly still on this journey to find balance between rushing and slowing down, taking rest and being proactive. But one thing I've learned through this process is the anxious tendency of doing or the distraction of rushing is not a part of life God called us to.
First things first: look at your schedule. Do you ACTUALLY have too much on your plate? How do you know if you do? Map it out. If there isn't time in your week to take a 24 hour sabbath, you have too much on your plate. It's time to let go of something.
A few months ago, I stepped back from my Monday night small group with other young adult women. Why? Because I was currently in 3 small groups that used 3 nights of my week. I was investing all over the place causing me to be counterproductive in my intentional time in group. Did I enjoy leaving that group of women? Nope. But with this newfound time I'm able to rest, get other responsibilities done or spend intentional time with people - including those women.
Next steps: Spend time planning. I have personal goals with my business, family and career. Outside my required time of sleep, work, driving, etc. I struggle to feel there is enough time to do everything I want to do. This feeling creates the never ending spiral of doing, only to continually find myself exhausted.
We have 168 hours in 1 week. Some of that time is guaranteed: 40 hours of work (if you're a student, probably similar time), 56-60 hours of sleep (I hope you average at least 7-8 hours/night), 4-5 hours of travel, 4-5 hours of cooking, cleaning, and other responsibilities. Maybe some of this time is spent in small group, exercise, sorority, intramurals, or date nights.
Now look at your time leftover: how many hours are left? What goals or activities do you want to do in that free time? Plan it out, and be sure to include time for rest. For me, I have about 40 hours leftover in my week to work on my business, spend time with friends, rest, or have absolutely nothing going on (it's true, there IS free time in my schedule! And the same probably goes for you too.)
Be intentional with your time. If you allow 5 hours of time with friends per week, don't go over that. If you allow 4 hours to watch Netflix, stick to your plan. If it's Wednesday and you've already hit your max in certain categories, honor your boundaries and be done for the week. When we overstep our own time boundaries, the need to rush only increases.
Be flexible. As we change, so do our priorities. If you enter a new season of life, your time and attention may need to change - and that's okay. You may have to let go of certain things as new things enter your life. You may need to allow more time for something which means lessening time somewhere else. After all, there is no such thing as time leftover.
Most importantly, honor the sabbath. One of my favorite things to say that I often find difficult to actually do is this: God can do so much more in 6 days than you can in 7. When we rest, our body, mind and soul is given a much needed break. It means when we return to work the next day we are renewed and able to be more productive in less amount of time than if we continue to do without time off. Get in the habit of resting and you'll be amazed at how much more He gets done.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:1). We often think this statement means physical treasures like money or objects, but it goes for our time and attention too. Where do you most often place your time and attention? If it's in the mindset of rushing and busyness, I encourage you to take a step back and re-evaluate. How much more could we love and serve others if we eliminate the need to rush and be busy all the time? How much more could God accomplish in us if we choose to slow down?
For more encouragement and updates, follow along my journey @Captivatingcommunity on Instagram.
*This blog post is influenced by my current read: Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. His words have been convicting, causing me to reflect and rethink how I spend my time: most often rushing. God has worked a lot in me recently about my need for speed and desire to do and I'm so grateful for how He has opened my eyes in reading this book, scripture and spending much more intentional time in prayer. This book should not be taken as the gospel (because it's not) but I do believe God has used John Mark Comer to address an issue we all face in some capacity.