By Jeannie Ewing
The concept of moderation has lost its significance in our modern milieu. Most of us operate at one of two extremes: busyness or business. We convince ourselves we have no time for anything remotely important to us, but if we look at our lives closely, we tend to recognize this to be a glaring fallacy. The business to which we attend involves our professional pursuits, upkeep of the home, and maintaining our personal relationships and self-care.
But the busyness tends to far outweigh the business in terms of time, and these are the fillers of our day – the downtime playing Internet games, fiddling on our technological devices, channel surfing, and other mindless activities we use as time fillers in order to rationalize that we are truly busy people.
The most successful – and satisfied – people of today’s society are those who manage time well. They know who they are, what they want in life, and how to achieve their goals in large and small increments. They live in harmony with their life circumstances and exhibit flexibility when unexpected crises or frustrations arise. Here are some tips on how to achieve that balance of successful individuals:
1. Learn the two second rule. This will eventually add minutes to your days, which you can subsequently spend on what is most valuable to you.
2. Make a list of your priorities. Determine what makes you feel fulfilled and what you feel God is nudging you to accomplish for His glory.
3. Keep a record of how you spend your time each day, using fifteen minute slots. Do this for at least a week. Yes, it is much tedium, but it will offer a visual aid of clarity and truth as to how you can more prudently and efficiently use your time.
4. Once you have a week’s worth of time records, take it to prayer. Ask God what you can eradicate and how. Then pray for the wisdom to balance your remaining time with personal relationships. This first and foremost includes God, family, others, and self-care.
5. Eliminate the fluff in your life. Replace with long-term goals, and write monthly, weekly, and daily short-term goals that are realistic for your state in life. In this case, under- rather than overestimate what you think is plausible to achieve. This will psychologically jump start your confidence in persevering toward your ultimate end.
6. Take breaks. It’s important to know yourself well enough to slow down and take a step back for a while. It may be disappointing or discouraging to you, especially if you are hyper-focused and ambitious, but succumbing to the natural rhythms of our bodies actually enhances our ability to achieve more with less emotional strain.
7. Frequent the Sacraments. Seek out a reputable spiritual director. We all tend to permit our lives to get off kilter every so often. That is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is perfect for getting us back on track. Ditto if you can score a devout spiritual director who will help clarify the more nebulous areas of your life, as well as discern spiritual attack and how to persevere through intense dark periods.
8. Don’t neglect sleep, prayer, or healthy habits. When you are pressed for time, you may feel tempted to skimp on sleep, cut out our daily walk, forget to eat, or skip your allotted prayer hour. Don’t do it. It’s a very stealthy way to slip from balance to chaos.
9. Offer up every moment of your day – the mundane to the inspired – as an oblation to God. In this way, you can maintain interior peace when you have a day (or week or month) that seems to set you back from your original goals.
My husband and I have two daughters, both of whom have different special needs. Ben is the breadwinner in our family, while I stay home with the girls. Many people ask with incredulity, “How do you do everything you do?” My response is simple: “I don’t waste time.”
I don’t play Internet or video games. We rarely watch any television in my house. My days and nights are full, and I am like everyone else – I get frustrated, distracted, behind, and I slip away from healthy habits. But I start over, sometimes in the middle of a bad day, always asking God to bless my defects in order that my life may bear more fruit than if I hadn’t faltered.
I truly believe that when we receive a “call within a call,” or secondary vocation, God fulfills it in us when we are intentional in the way we live. I begin my days at 5 AM with thirty to forty-five minutes of silent reflection, mental prayer, and journaling. If I don’t do it then, it doesn’t happen. And I know when it doesn’t happen, my entire day is skewed.
Put God first, and the details fall into place. God reminded me of this last week when I was driving and fretting over how to market my first book. He spoke quietly to my heart, “Seek first my kingdom, and all these things will come unto you.”
Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing
Image courtesy of Pixabay via photographer stevepb.
Jeannie Ewing is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. She also has a story in the collection As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections. She is a regular contributor to RealHousekeeing.com, CatholicMom.com and CatholicExchange.com and has a monthly column on thepeoplespaper.info entitled, Time Well Spent. Find her at Love Alone Creates.