5 Ways to Get Your Schedule Under Control

I had lofty plans for the Christmas break.  Lots of writing, planning, and getting ahead of schedule.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Instead, I rested – a lot.

I’ve been running with a very full schedule of self-imposed deadlines for the past month and it caught up with me.  I knew going into it that I was setting myself up for a busier than normal season.  I thought it was reasonable since; after all, it was only for a season.  I convinced myself that it was doable and necessary.  When work slowed down a bit over the holidays, I realized how completely exhausted I was and that something had to change.

Have you ever been there?  You overcommit yourself all the while convinced that it’s just for a season and completely necessary.  I’m a huge advocate for taking care of yourself, not working long hours (at least not often), and spending time with loved ones.  Unfortunately, it’s easy to justify to ourselves that these “seasons” are mandatory.  According to whom?!

I’m convinced that the vast majority of the time, we’re the ones who’ve decided that overbooking ourselves is mandatory.  Not our boss, not someone else’s expectations, but our own.  Fortunately, there’s hope.  You can take back control of your schedule and get to a more realistic set of commitments.

Here are 5 ways to get back on-track:

#1: Evaluate everything

Evaluate all the items on your to-do list, your schedule, your personal and professional commitments.  What can you stop doing?  What tasks can you outsource or delegate to someone else?  What deadlines have you set for yourself that you should adjust?

#2: Set goals outside of work

Include personal goals on your list.  What kind of friend or spouse do you want to be?  How should your health look throughout the year? God didn’t create us solely for what we can accomplish; He created us for a relationship with Him and with others.  Your ministry work is important, but it’s not the only area of your life you should focus on.  Make yourself and your relationships a priority.

#3: Give yourself permission to rest and have fun

You don’t have to accomplish a certain set of tasks to “earn” a break. It’s often after we take a break that we’re more productive.  What activities are refreshing and fun for you? Be intentional about making time for those activities.

#4: Create margin

If a friend called and asked for help, would you hesitate before saying yes? If so, you’ve probably packed your schedule too much. Leave some white space on your calendar for those moments when God prompts you to talk with someone or when your family or friends need extra attention.

#5: Review your schedule with an objective third-party

Run your to-do list and goals by a trusted friend or mentor who doesn’t work with you.  Give him permission to be brutally honest and listen carefully to his advice.

Part of why I advocate taking care of yourself, making your family and friends a priority, and not overworking is because I’ve felt the impact of not handling this well.  I’m much better about this than I used to be, but it’s easy to fall back into old bad habits if I’m not careful.  You and I are worth so much more to God than what we can accomplish.  If we’ll keep that in the forefront of our minds and consider where our current steps are leading us, I’m convinced we’ll have stronger relationships and be even more effective in serving God.