August brings the intensity of summer heat and the return to school schedules and full calendars. I enjoy looking at a calendar that appears to have balance and margin, yet with a new school year upon us, I can become easily overwhelmed as I try to fit all of my responsibilities into each month.
In the past, by October I have found myself exhausted and feeling resentful toward certain obligations that used to bring me joy, simply because of over scheduling or poor scheduling. After some soul searching, I realized that the only person I have to blame is myself! When I look back at my crazy calendar I can see that I said “yes” to many things that were good, but not necessary. When I really evaluated what filled my hours each day/week/month, I realized that my calendar did not represent my priorities. So, this year I’m determined to say yes first to the things that match my priorities and then fill in the rest as time allows.
So what does this look like and how do I make it happen?
1) Determine your absolutes.
Decide your non-negotiables. It is easy to say that I want to be up early to have quiet time, but if I schedule late meetings too often, I know that I won’t get up to make it happen. I know I need to set aside time with my family but if every night of the week I have a church/work obligation, then my calendar shows that my family is not truly a priority.
2) Schedule rest.
Rest will not naturally happen when you have a full calendar. Wise people will include times of rest, relaxation and reflection in their lives. In our culture, we are prone to produce, produce, produce. The reality is that we are more productive when we are better rested. The demands of your ministry will never slow down. It is up to you to set aside a Sabbath time each week for you to recharge and refuel, as well as look at times in the month and an extended time during the year. However, if it isn’t put on the calendar, it will be the first thing to go when a time crunch happens. Making this one of your absolutes will take stress off other areas like relationships and your own health.
3) Don’t apologize.
Keep the main thing… the main thing. You have to live with your calendar and you certainly want it to reflect the priorities that you believe are right. So decide NOW what that will look like and make sure it happens. Don’t let your calendar dictate your life and therefore your health. In other words, don’t let your calendar be the boss of you! Some people may not like this. They may want you to be available to them more often and may not agree with how your priorities play out. In the end, you answer to the Lord for the way you steward your family, your relationships, your time and your health.
Wise choices in time management and calendaring at the beginning of a busy season can bring life and order instead of chaos and weariness. Far too many friends in ministry are facing burnout each year, and often it can be attributed to overworking as a result of no healthy boundaries. A calendar is designed to help set those healthy boundaries in place and keep your time following your priorities.
What changes will you make in the way you calendar this year?