It physically hurts me when I am rushing so fast through my patient schedule that I can’t relax for five minutes when my father steps over from his office to see me. I need to reorder my time: the time before my office practice, the time after my office practice and the number of patients I see within that practice, so that I can spend five minutes communicating with the greatest man I know if he should happen to pop in to visit. There are less important things on my agenda that I really wouldn’t miss … if I just cut them out of my schedule.
–Al Weir, M.D.
Sometimes there is just too much to cram into each day. Then we are either forced to do things too quickly, resulting in poor performance or forced to leave out activities we had planned. Cramming is how we usually handle it, with canceling as our escape valve. We see patient after patient with life-changing problems where we only take care of the technical issues, ignoring the more important social, emotional and spiritual ones. We just do not have the time to spend with them. Week after week we plan to get to this conference or that ball game until the time pressure builds up so much at the last minute that we cancel those plans. Many of us live the same kind of lives. Often our families suffer the most.
If this is the way we are living, we need to simplify our lives. We need to decrease the number of activities we try to accomplish each day. How do we decide what to drop? Dawn Reno in her book The Unofficial Guide to Managing Time suggests we look at the activities that fill our schedule and divide them into three categories:
- Those you can not live without;
- Those that are important;
- Those that you would not miss [that are not important].
Perhaps we should add a fourth:
- Those that interfere with the important.
Then we should make some choices, moving from the bottom of the list up. There are some activities that are harmful to the important activities in our lives. We should identify those and drop them. These may be sinful or innocuous or even good in themselves, but if they prevent us from moving toward our foundational purpose in life through important activities, they should be reduced or eliminated.
Those inhibitory or harmful activities will be different for each of us and may include recreational time, hobbies, a second job or even church communities. Examine your life, cut out the inhibitory or harmful, and then cut out some of the third category—those that you wouldn’t miss.
Dick Swenson, in his book, Margin, says it is better for us to have some margin in our lives to allow for the unexpected important than it is to pack our lives with extra activities of little importance.
I am convinced that God is holding out to many of us wonderful blessings and responsibilities that we cannot take hold of because our hands are filled with the less important. Most of us need to remove a less important activity or responsibility from our lives so that we can grasp the fresh, new plan that God has fashioned for our future.
Help me discover the ways You would have me simplify my life so that I am more ready to move forward at Your command. Amen.