Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What Does Your Schedule Say About You?

I recently learned that just because I can fit something inside the box on my calendar doesn't mean that I can squeeze it into my life.  This may sound silly to you, but I tried to live this way for way too long.  My solution will sound even sillier.  I've started writing bigger on my calendar.  Seriously.  On days that I have to go to the office, I write "work" really big so there's not much more space in the box.  I do the same for doctor's appointments, church and other things that need large chunks of my time.  This way, when I try to add something to that day, I have a visual reminder that it's not going to fit without making some adjustments.  As good as this feels for me, my husband and kids have also noticed that I'm not over scheduling myself (and them) like before.

I've also learned to live out my priorities throughout my day.  It dawned on me that our family spends a lot of time talking about what's important (God, family, serving others, etc.), but our schedule wasn't reflecting those priorities they way they should. This really hit home as I was teaching a lesson about fractions.  We did great in the morning by starting our day with family Bible study and sometimes even some worship music, but it quickly dropped off as we got busy with schoolwork, chores, and craziness that comes with a family of six.  As my day progressed, the pieces of time that was given to the things I say are important were smaller and smaller in comparison to the insignificant things.  For example, I spend about 20 minutes a day listening to worship music.  In comparison, I listen to the news while I'm at the bathroom sink n the morning and driving in the car.  When I'm at my craft table, I will generally put on a home improvement or D.I.Y. television show.  While there's nothing inherently wrong with any of the things I watch or listen to, they take up time that I could be using differently.  Our family has been working out this idea of making our schedules more accurately reflect our priorities.  Here are some of the ideas we came up with:

  • Work more efficiently.  Knowing that some things like work and school are necessary, we look for ways to complete those tasks in the best way possible, freeing up some time for other things. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.  Colossians 3:23
  • Multi-task.  Yes, I said it.  While we are doing chores, getting ready in the morning, driving, or whatever else comes up, we are usually praying or listening to my iPod (see more on that below).  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18    
  • Download an audio Bible, classic literature, quality music, and anything else you want your family to hear onto your device.  We always have something to listen to (if we're not enjoying a good conversation) while doing chores, eating lunch or doing activities that don't require our undivided attention.   My husband uses an audio version of one of our textbooks to review the current lesson with the kids when they are riding with him.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
  • Limit our {my} media time.  Rather than listening to a half hour news show, I get the highlights at my favorite news website.  I watch shows on Hulu, Netflix and online to avoid the commercials. We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. I Chronicles 29:15
  • Keep a donations box handy.  We keep one in our garage and it helps us to be more efficient in our giving.  Every time it fills up, we take it to the thrift store instead of letting things collect around the house. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35
  • Have intentional conversations.  I don't wait for conversations to happen with my kids.  I want a strong relationship with them and I'm not going to wait for it to happen by chance.  I seek out opportunities for conversations and dive in with both feet, whether it's about something going on in his/her life, a lesson from church, or just building our bond. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
  • Always have a book with you.  This week the kids and I found ourselves sitting in the hospital parking lot while my husband visited a friend in I.C.U.  I overheard our middle daughter ask our son, "haven't you learned yet to always bring a book?  You never know where we'll end up."  It's so true!  I have read more books while sitting in waiting rooms, at sports practices, and in various parking lots than I could even begin to count.  I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8
  • Schedule time for the things that matter to you.  My calendar now includes things like taking the kids to the park and backyard BBQs.  I know myself and if I don't write it down, it won't happen in a way that will satisfy me.  Scheduling it gives me the freedom to focus on that activity for that time. So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Romans 14:12
  • Schedule time for all of the other stuff.  I have a feeling that God will not judge me based on my laundry pile, but it needs to be done anyway.  To help our family stay on top of all of the little stuff, we have a list of the things that need to be done daily, weekly and monthly.  Every day, we attack that list.  We don't have to wonder what needs to be done when and by whom, because the list has it all spelled out. But all things should be done decently and in order. I Corinthians 14:40

None of these ideas are earth-shattering, but they all push us towards being more aware of how our time reflects our priorities.  What do you do to stay on track?

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