Americans are too busy. Have you noticed? We run to kids events and activities, we run errands, we run to get our coffee. We zip here and there and everywhere, barely pausing for breath. And while we rush, we multitask by answering emails, texts and doing our mobile banking. Is it any wonder we feel stressed out and overwhelmed. Increasingly, even kids are saying they feel it, too. And the stress is killing us. As we have increased our pace, we have also increased the host of medical issues we face.
Most people I know really don't seem to like living this way. Oh, some of them may be impressed with their own ability to keep all their plates in the air, but they don't seem to have that serene, contented demeanor of one who has truly learned how to live. Mostly, I think we are too busy to even ask ourselves if we are too busy.
Sadly, our hurry-scurry lifestyle has crowded out the most important things, like our relationship with God and with our loved ones. Maybe it's time we rebelled. Think back to your high school days. Some of you may have been really good at rebelling against the establishment. Maybe its time to turn that skill to a more useful purpose. Maybe it's time to rebel against what society thinks you should be doing with your time. When was the last time you asked God what you should be doing with your time? He always leads us into the paths that will fulfill us and cause us to be the most useful to Him and to mankind. Um...society doesn't do that.
There are a great number of things we do each day because we think we have to, or because everyone we know does it. Sometimes our busyness is just habit. But we can simplify our lives. When was the last time you were able to do the things that you really love? When did you last do something that truly replenished you? If you can't remember, maybe it's time to simplify. Here a just a few ideas to get you started:
1. Reduce the clutter -- I recently did a post on this one, but did you know how stressful clutter is? You may not realize it, but it will drain you. It steals your time (think of all that time you waste looking for things that are lost in the clutter). It strains your relationships (like when you lose patience with a loved one during your increasinly desperate search). It steals your money (when you give up your search and go buy a new one.) Clutter can also be a reflection of your spiritual condition. It can be daunting to tackle it, but so freeing when you conquer it.
2. Run all your errands in one place -- Map out your errand route to stay in the same area of town and reduce your road time. Get as much as you can in one or two stores. Better yet, buy online. I do a lot of my shopping online. For the past several years, I have done all my Christmas shopping online. It has been wonderful. I shop in my jammies with a cup of tea after the kiddos are asleep. I am rested, I have avoided impulse buys and stayed within my budget. Most stores offer free shipping around the holidays, too. Mr. UPS is my friend. He delivers the packages, and I wrap them as they arrive. The kids have a peaceful, rested mother throughout the holidays. I use the time I would have spent running all over town to bake cookies with them. Everybody is happy.
3. Live within you means -- Do you know how complicated debt can make your life? So much of what we go into debt for are things we really could have lived without anyway. I don't have a personal problem with a car loan or a mortgage, but I think it should be reasonable. If you work at McDonalds, you probably shouldn't be shopping at the BMW car lot. Or hanging out at the mall spending everything you earned and a whole lot you didn't. It is incredibly stressful to know you can't pay for what you bought. It clutters up your insides.
4. Drive the speed limit -- No really. This reduces so much stress. If you leave early, you aren't in a big adrenaline rush. If you get behind Maud Slowpoke, you can relax. You have time. You aren't late. I learned the importance of slowing down and leaving enough time in the early days of teaching the Prayer School. Have you ever tried leading a Prayer Group after a mad rush to beat all the traffic? God is Peace. Yielding to peace brings you closer to His heart. Honking the horn and yelling (or at least wanting to yell) at the other drivers isn't exactly what I would call peaceful.
5. Do one thing at a time -- I saw a study done a couple years ago about multi-tasking. What they found was incredible. First of all, they found that those who did more than one thing at a time didn't do either task nearly as well as when they just did one thing at a time. They found the brain could not hold its focus. It was kind of like the old time switchboard operators, only you are trying to hold a conversation with all those people on the lines, a couple words at a time. It doesn't take long to get things jumbled up. They found that creative problem solving was greatly diminished. Here was the kicker -- the better a person thought they were at multi-tasking, the worse they proved to actually be.
6. Say "No" -- It is such a little word, but so hard to say. Honestly, do you really need to be on that committee just because they asked you? What horrible thing would happen if you said you were unavailable? Would the sidewalks fold up? Would the organization close its doors? Would everyone go home, close the blinds and sink into deep depression? Most likely, when they realized you really meant "No", they would just ask someone else. If a family member thinks you must do what they want when they want it, they will probably whine a little, but if you keep your cool and treat them with love and respect, they will learn to live with the new you. And you will be free to follow you own heart about what you should be doing with your time, and with whom.