Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Ways to Unload Your Life (Part III)

Many of you enjoyed Overloaded Lives are Powerless Lives and Unloaded Lives are Powerful and asked for more. As we approach what to many of us is the busiest time of the year, why not resolve to have it be different this time around? We can manage our time proactively starting now. We can enjoy a true Advent - the time of preparation leading up to Christmas - by setting aside time to ready our hearts and nurture our spirits along the way. As you consider these steps we can all take to unload our lives, I invite you to put them into practice now to avoid another frazzled, hectic month that will leave you exhausted - just in time for Christmas!

So here are some more choices we can make to help us recover the precious gift of time. They are from Dr Richard Swenson's book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

  • Sabotage Your Fuse Box. The author shares, "Our family enjoys Wisconsin winters where a two-foot snowfall is a thrill, not a torment. When the world is snowed in, cars can't move, businesses can't open, and schools can't convene. A spirit of holiday reigns. Part of the reason for this is the unexpected gift of time margin." Make today a "snow day" and decide to enjoy the gift of time! Can you even remember what it is you love to do when you suddenly have a free day? Do it now! And build it into your schedule more often.
  • Get Less Done But Do the Right Things. Some people lead such hectic lives that even hearing about their day is stressful. How they can continue to live with such daily chaos is beyond me! Even "good things" can become too much if they fill up our days to such an extent that we are no longer kind to ourselves or to others. "'For many people,' says pastor and author Rick Warren, 'the barrier to spiritual growth is not lack of commitment, but overcommitment to the wrong things.'" Remember, when you say yes to something, you have just said no to something else. Are your answers consistently in agreement with your values and goals? 
  • Enjoy Anticipation, Relish the Memories. Is your schedule ever so busy that there's little time to anticipate a wonderful event, enjoy it when it arrives or reminisce about it afterwards because you've already moved on to the next thing? Consider saying no to a few invitations next month so you can fully enjoy the ones to which you say yes! Do you feel obligated to go? Perhaps this question can help you as you discern when to say no.
  • Don't Rush Wisdom. Take your time when making decisions. "If life's pace pushes you, push back. Take as much time and prayer as you need for (clarity) to develop. And wait for your decision to be affirmed by peace."
  • For Type A's Only. Dr Swenson shares this advice from Dr Meyer Friedman, who first described the type A personality. "Practice smiling. Purposely speak more slowly, stop in the middle of some sentences, hesitate for three seconds, then continue. Purposely say 'I'm wrong' at least twice today, even if you're not sure you're wrong. Listen to at least two persons today without interrupting even once... Seek out the longest line at the bank." Although the old me could be the poster child for the type A personality (and still, at times!), I have learned to receive such previously frustrating annoyances as long lines in the supermarket as gifts - opportunities to breathe, to pray, to rest. "In repentance and rest is your salvation," says the Lord in Isaiah 30:15, "in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." These are sobering words if we haven't learned to desire inner quiet more than we want whatever it is we want right now. To those of us pursuing the abundant life each day, the need to wait for some things becomes a gift. Outer chaos in our lives often reflects or leads to inner chaos. Having to wait builds patient endurance and is often a path to greater wisdom and love. 
  • Create Buffer Zones. Wouldn't it be nice if we all learned to create buffer zones around our daily lives? Whether at work or running errands, we can set aside even five minutes an hour to rest our minds and nurture our spirits. A song on iTunes. An inspiring poem. Enjoying photos of our children and spouse. Closing our eyes in prayer or reading a psalm or two. These short but powerful infusions of hope and joy in the middle of a busy day can make all the difference.
  • Plan for Free Time. "Christ's teaching, His healing, His serving, and His loving were usually spontaneous. The person standing in front of Him was the opportunity He accepted. If He chose spontaneous living, isn't that a signal to us? Overloaded schedules are not the way to walk In His Steps." An inflexible, over-scheduled day lacks buffer zones and leaves little room for the Holy Spirit to move. If your day is packed, move some items to another day or delete them altogether.
  • Be Available. "God... exalts faithfulness over productivity." Do we? Have we scheduled ourselves so full that we are unavailable to God? Can our agenda be interrupted to serve God and His people in need?
As we approach Advent and the celebration of Christ's birth, let us resolve to prepare our hearts, making room for God to use us like never before, giving Him our time and choosing to glorify Him in all we do.

Be free!
Dr Mari

* Photo by James Randkley, Stone/Getty Images. 

Visit Overloaded Lives are Powerless Lives for Part I and Unloaded Lives are Powerful for Part II of this series based on Dr Richard Swenson's book, Margin.



    1. Beautiful reminders for living a life full of God's intended peace. This one I'll be working on, "Listen to at least two persons today without interrupting even once..."
      Thank you!

    2. Thanks Dr. Mari. Great and important points! ~ Ann

    3. Thanks for such practical and balanced ways for us to steward our time at Advent!! ~ Ann

    4. Dr Swenson's book is full of pearls and helpful paradigm shifts. I pick it up again every so often and find something new that will help bring more sanity and purpose to my life. I look forward to meeting again with our small group to discuss it.

      Thanks for all the comments!


    Blog Archive