January 7, 2018

Busy or Full

Is your life full? Or is it busy?

We've all heard it. "How have you been," you ask an acquaintance. "Oh, busy as usual," they say in response. This is heard even more around the holiday season. I try to be conscious about using the word "busy" to describe my life. It is certainly full and there are times when it is fuller than others. Busy communicates something, to me at least, that I do not experience or want to convey to others. Busy implies that life is over-occupied with things that are not desirable and that life is moving potentially frantic and unsustainable pace. That is not how I experience my life ... but it is full.

My schedule is full. I get up every day by 6:00 a.m. at the latest. On most days, I am active until 10:00 p.m. Yet, it is not undesirable, it is not frantic and it is not unsustainable. It's actually quite fulfilling. Certainly, there are days–even weeks and seasons of life, that have been miserable, chaotic and have felt unmanageable but the difference between those moments and the rest of my adult life have been two practices: prioritizing and planning.

To be clear, I am not an overly organized or disciplined person but I know from enough experience in doing it the wrong way that without the work of establishing priorities and making a plan, life is busy in all the bad ways described above. I want my life to be full. I want to go to bed tired at the end of every day. This is what I've found to work.

Prioritizing
In the book Traction, author Gino Wickman talks about "rocks." In our home, we talk about priorities. These are the non-negotiables. The things that have to be attended to sink or swim. My wife, Brooke and I have always been clear on the importance of our relationship and our kids. It's a priority. We are not idealistic, or even romantic about this. We just ensure that we spend time together. This doesn't mean we have a "date night" every week. Due to budgets and seasons of life, this has often been no more than going to the grocery store together or run errands. We made whatever sacrifices we've needed to ensure that we spend time with our kids every day, unorganized and organized time. In other words, we make all the other stuff that bombards us work around the priorities. Not the other way around.

We have other priorities but the principle here is determining what your priorities are and making all the "busy-ness" of life work around these.

Planning
Like I said, I'm not the most organized person but I've learned the value or planning. Every day, I make a list of those things I need to get done and tick things off that list one by one through out the day. I do this before I check email or look at social media but after I exercise, meditate on Scripture, pray and write. It's the difference between a satisfying and unsatisfying day for me. What I have discovered is that the more consistent I am to the practices I have embraced in my routine the more my capacity grows. In other words, my ability to take on more responsibility and activity seems to grow with how disciplined I am. If I don't get up and exercise, read, pray and write out my daily to-do list I actually get less done. If I do these things, even though they take up time I could use elsewhere, I get more done.

Reject busy-ness. Embrace fullness.

My hope is that your life is full–full of the things you have prioritized and full of the things you find satisfying in accomplishing.

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