Someone said to my husband today, “When you’re too busy, you’re too busy.” I laughed hard when I heard it because it’s so obvious, but do we realize it?
Too busy means too busy for the things that are truly important. So what’s important? Important things lead us toward our larger goals. And that’s the catch. We have to know what our biggest goals are to recognize what’s important.
It’s tempting to put off writing down our goals. But if we don’t write them, we’ll keep filling our time with things that keep us too busy to do what we were born to do. And we’ll probably end up too busy for God.
As productivity expert Michael Hyatt says, we sometimes choose urgent things over important things and then wonder why we are so frazzled.
Naming our goals helps clarify what our priorities should be—what’s most important. The downside to naming our goals and priorities is having to say “no” to less important things. That can be hard. We don’t want to do that, so we end up too busy.
In the Washington, DC, area where I live, some people use “too busy” as a point of pride. As if “too busy” means “irreplaceable” or “necessary for the continuation of life as we know it on the planet.”
Healthy busy-ness is intentionally working to achieve an important goal. For example, I’m creating an online course on the virtues right now. I’ve chosen it as a priority because it “magnifies the Lord” and will lead souls, including me, toward heaven where we all belong.
But busyness-gone-bad can be a spiritual smokescreen that we use to keep ourselves from facing our failings, fears, and real needs.
I read a book recently that has helped me overcome the tyranny of my to-do list. It’s called Getting Things Done by David Allen. First published in 2001, it was revised two years ago. Not the best title because it sounds like how to wedge even more into our already wedgy days. But no. A better title would have been “Getting Important Things Done.” Because that’s the point—once we realize that we choose what gets done, we’re not at the beck and call of everything urgent that floats by calling our name.
Deliberately blocking out time ahead of time for things we have chosen as important strengthens our prudence, the virtue that helps us make good choices. That is, putting what’s important on the calendar and scheduling everything else around that enables us to slow down and consider our choices. When our mind is clear, we’re more able to put God, our families, our health—or whatever we’ve let slip— back into our lives. That creates a virtuous cycle instead of the other kind.
The book is teaching me to write down all the nagging items floating around in my brain and prioritize them. That way, they’re not constantly bugging me. I’m free to focus on the task in front of me right now. And to be more creative in everything I do.
So what priority slips off my calendar when I’m not looking? I need to schedule prayer time with Jesus at the tabernacle. Schedule my dates with Jesus. Ha! This is freedom. This is power.
What one thing will you “schedule first” that will transform busy-ness into holy-ness?