We all have deeply held things we believe in that are in our DNA. For the most part, you and I know what’s right for us, but acting upon it on a daily basis can be challenging. Distractions are a big part of the problem and there are a lot of those today, aren’t there? I heard recently that if you are a knowledge worker you are interrupted every 11 minutes on average by some form of communication. I would guess that number is not far off the mark for all of us—Email, phone calls, text messages, FB posts, Instagram, and on and on. These distractions take our eye of the ball, even if just for a few minutes. But that few minutes can be critical to how our day goes and how good we are at living our values consistently.
So, how we do what we believe is important in a noisy and busy world?
I would first offer this: We have to find islands of quiet during the day and be proactive about it. Relentless even. Solitude and silence are where we plan our daily activities, make lists, pray, listen for what God has for us, and so on.
I am surprised at how many people do not have any quiet moments during the day to pause and think. And, quite honestly, the world is not designed for quiet anymore. You have to put it on the agenda. In ink.
The onslaught of stimuli is never ending if we allow it. So, plan for some time every day to get quiet and get ready. Yes, you may have to adjust from time to time, but if you do it regularly, it will become a habit. You’ll begin to see the benefits, and pretty soon you’ll become protective of this oasis.
When you are on your island, make lists and think about what matters most for TODAY. Jesus said in Matthew 6 that there’s not really any point in worrying about tomorrow anyway. There’s enough to do today. In other words. If it’s Friday, think about Friday. Then, armed with your list of priorities and to-do’s, get going.
I like doing this exercise in the mornings before everybody gets up and starts stirring around. Some people do their planning sessions in the afternoons at the end of each day’s work. The truth is, it doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as it gets done.
We are encouraged in Scripture to be anxious for nothing. God knows that stress is terrible for us, but most of have way too much in our lives. It impacts everything—our relationships, our health, our decision making, and on and on. Some stress is good because it causes us to act. But, too much can be deadly. Let go and let God. He cares about every detail of our lives and He wants us to really give it to him.
So, let’s take a minute and think about this:
What’s really at the root of your busyness?
Is it fun, energizing activity and work that is a natural outflow of who you are and what you really believe in?
- Or is it driven by fear?
- Or pride?
- The desire to impress others?
- Low self-esteem?
Take a moment and really think about the eight things I just listed. What are the emotions that drive your decisions about how you spend your time?
If they are any of these toxic emotions, you can be sure that your False Self is compelling you to hide the imperfect you from others and preventing the real—albeit flawed—you from emerging.
If you can come to grips with the fact that God loves you just as you are—and free yourself up from caring what others think of you—you’ll be able to identify emotionally draining things in your calendar that are only there for the benefit of impressing others. I strongly encourage you to identify the fearful sources of your frantic life and start responsibly stepping away from the things that are holding you back from being the real you God intended you to be.
Identifying and dealing with what’s really going on in your heart will help you create more margin in your calendar than any time-management technique ever will. And the benefit of this introspection and honesty will go beyond a looser calendar: you’ll be on your way toward real liberation, real courage, real freedom—and real joy.