The trouble is, you think you have time. ~Budda~
I recently wrote an article for our professional art educators’ association about making time to create and now I see how some of the tips I shared with art teachers could also apply to others exhausted by day-to-day stress. Most think we teachers have it “easy” because we get “our summers off”….please! Have you really ever stopped a teacher long enough to hear what they do during their summers?!?! We do NOT have the summer OFF! Maybe we don’t clock in every day at the school, but we work our butts off! Oh, sorry, I digressed…..
Okay, let’s acknowledge what we DO know about time:
- All of our plates are full, too full.
- All of our schedules are cray-cray.
- All of us have overcommitted ourselves.
- All of us are exhausted and stressed out.
- All of us have the same number of hours in a day.
So now you’re asking, “then how in the world do I ‘find’ time to ‘create’ more time?”
I’m glad you asked…..
About this same time last year, I was exhausted. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Emotionally. Someone needed to stick a fork in me because I was D-O-N-E! I was overweight. I was tired ALL THE TIME. I was stressed about work. I was stressed about money. I was stressed about my relationships. I was stressed about not having enough time to get everything done. I was stressed about being stressed! Not good!
I saw a picture of myself around that time and thought, “Oh, my, goodness! What happened?” (No, I’m not showing THAT picture!) I had gone through a battery of tests to become a living kidney donor only to find out I had high cholesterol, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and I was about 20 pounds overweight. Ugh! Not pretty. Not knowing if I would be approved as a donor, but wanting to be healthier if I did and having seen that picture, and determined to change that imprinted image on my brain, I decided I had to do SOMETHING and I had to do it NOW.
I started walking the very next day. Let me tell you, I couldn’t walk very far that hot day in July, but by the end of November, I entered my first 5K and finished in record time (okay, it was MY record time, but it was still a record in my book) and dropped 23 pounds.
Oh, and guess what? I had more energy. I was getting more done. And I was a lot less stressed! And I found time I never knew I had.
Once I carved 30 minutes out of my day to exercise that opened up time to think about other areas of my life. While I walked/ran, my mind was free to think about all the things stressing me out and I actually figured out how to solve some of those problems along the way.
That was the first step….
1-Make the Decision to Start
You know you need to do something different, right?
Okay, check, you’ve done Step 1! Only 3 more to go…..
Find 15-30 minutes somewhere in your day. Mine was a short break in the late afternoon to reboot my energy. Maybe your 15-30 minutes is in the morning before the day gets going or maybe in the evening after everyone is asleep or busy doing other things. Maybe it’s not 30 minutes right off the bat. Start with whatever time you can find to just stop (no distractions – that’s cheating) and step back to objectively look at your life.
You can’t “create” time if you don’t know what you’re already doing with the time you have. ~Kelly Berwager~
2-Schedule some YOU Time & Have a Goal
I’m not sure what you need time for (exercise, prayer, creating, etc.), but you have to schedule it like you do anything else in your life. Put it on your calendar. Put it in your phone. Schedule it just like you do anything in your life that you deem important.
What gets scheduled gets done. ~Michael Hyatt~
You may also need a goal to strive for in order to focus on moving forward. My goal in creating time was to lose weight and gain energy, so I looked at each week and then each day to see when I could schedule a time to run. It didn’t happen every day, but I could fit it into most days and put it on my daily agenda as a scheduled item.
I also put a timer on my phone for other things. I would grade papers or create PowerPoints for about an hour at a time, take a break, walk around the building, stretch, etc. Once I started paying attention to the time I was WASTING actually doing my job, guess what? I found “extra” time in my day! If I seriously spent one hour grading papers and not looking at or answering emails or making unnecessary trips to the copier, I accomplished what I was “suppose” to AND I had time to do what I “wanted” to.
3-Replace Your Time for Other “Stuff”
When finding those extra nuggets of time, maybe look at what you could get rid of first. Is there some television you could live without? What about less “surfing” and scanning of Internet, magazines, etc.?
Try waking up a few minutes earlier in the morning to look at your day, make a to-do list, and schedule a little extra time in your day. Or maybe you’re better at night; before you go to bed make the to-do list and schedule some you-time for the next day. If you know what’s on your agenda for the next day, you’re must more likely to make it happen.
Priorities people, priorities!
4-Learn to Say “No”
The difference between successful people and very successful people is that the very successful people say “no” to almost everything. ~Warren Buffett~
As children “no” was one of the words we let spew out of our mouths all the time; it may have been the “first word” for some. As adults we forget how to say that small two-letter, one-syllable word, yet every time we say “yes” we add more stress to our already stressful lives. Why do we do that? That’s probably an entire post all to itself! For now, let’s just practice saying it. No. No. No.
When you’re asked to do something “extra”, think about it before you give people an answer. REALLY think about it. Don’t just look at your calendar; think about what it will do to your attitude or your stress level more than your already full schedule. Will this commitment take away even more time from your day? (If yes, then your answer should be “NO”.) Will this group or organization fall apart if you say “No”? (And you know they will survive without you, even if just for a little while. If the answer is no, then tell them “NO”.) Will this activity or new responsibility add more or less stress to your life? (You are the only one that knows the answer to this one, but be honest with yourself.)
See, saying “no” is really not that hard! You remember how to do it, right?
Saying “no” to just a few things in your life could actually open up time to deal with other things that need your attention: your work, your wardrobe, your children, errands, bill paying, etc. The list is endless (because we all have endless lists).
I really haven’t touched on what staying stressed out, being overcommitted, burning the candle at both ends, being out of balance, or whatever you call it, can do to you spiritually, but the enemy finds a way into your life every…. single…. time. Think about it….am I lyin’? No.
When your defenses are down (physical, emotional, spiritual, mental) the enemy sees a crack in the door to sneak his way into your mind and life. When things start spinning in your head and you’re exhausted, spent, d-o-n-e, you can’t think straight and you start believing the enemy. Gurl, don’t believe it! This is when you HAVE to make time to take control of YOUR TIME and use it for what God intended you to do. If you don’t know what that purpose is, NOW is a great time to start finding out.
So many parts of your life can be saved (and I’m NOT being overly dramatic here, I’m serious) by stepping back and getting your life back on track. The enemy wants you off-track so he can make you doubt yourself and do things that you normally wouldn’t do. Just think, if you felt good, were not stressed, and had time to think, pray, meditate, sleep, exercise, create, read, spend time with your husband, boyfriend, friends, or children, wouldn’t you be a much happier person and a nicer person to be around? YES, you would! The enemy would lose!
Find time TODAY to create time EVERY DAY – Your [eternal] life depends on it!
My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! ~ Psalm 31:15~
What things do you do on a regular basis to create time for yourself, your sanity, or your life? Please share them below in the comments. Also, don’t forget to sign up to receive the blog straight to your email by signing up here on the blog or find us on Facebook (When We Listen).