I just needed ten more minutes. That’s what I told myself. Just ten more minutes. I was just getting to my morning routine when I heard my toddler start babbling in the next room, thanks to my dog. I just wanted a few more minutes to myself and that time was gone now. But this is something I tell myself a lot, and I rarely find it to be true. There’s always so much that needs to be done and so much that I want to accomplish. How’s one person supposed to do it all?
Often, to make up for time, I try to create some time by doing more in “less” time. For instance, in the morning on the weekends, I try to do the dishes, and the laundry, and the vacuuming and sweeping, and, oh yeah, I still need to make breakfast for everyone (and did someone feed the dog?) and prep food for a toddler who will be hungry again in about five seconds. Other times, I’m trying to finish a blog post, or I’m going through another edit of my book. Sometimes I’m beta reading a friend’s story or trying to get a few more details into a painting. And every now and then, I’m just trying to catch a few more moments of sleep or peace in the wee hours of the morning (at least, I was until the dog woke the toddler up). But during all that, there is always something else calling to my attention. Most of the time, the fact that I squeeze so much into so little time is of my own doing, but that doesn’t change the fact that stuff needs doing! And every time, I always say to myself, “If I could just have a little more time!”
Time is a funny thing. We don’t have any more or less time than anyone else, not really, anyway. We have the same 24 hours every day with the same number of minutes in every hour and the same number of seconds in those minutes. We know what will be, and yet we start each day anew in surprise at how quickly that time goes away.
When my husband and I moved to Ohio 2 1/2 years ago, we never knew how much our time would be demanded of us or how much that demand would cost. Just the other day, my husband asked me how long ago I thought an event he attended happened. “I don’t know, ” I said, “A year and a half ago?” It hasn’t even been ten months! But about two years ago, I agreed to teach 6th-12th graders on Sunday. Then that fall, I taught 4th-6th graders a history class (with a curriculum I wrote, by the way) every Wednesday night. Along the way, we adopted a dog, had a baby, and I finished writing my book. Without realizing it, my life was getting sucked into a cycle of busyness. I couldn’t keep up. I kept asking myself, “Where is all my time going?”
What are you spending your time on? More often than not, I find myself spending my time on things I don’t want to do, at least not at that moment. I often find that I’m not present in whatever it is I am doing. I’m writing when my child needs me. I’m cleaning when I should be writing. I’m teaching when I just need a break. I make a lot of lists and post my sticky notes everywhere (and I mean that literally), but I rarely take a moment to focus on my priorities. I’m always busy, but I rarely feel like I’m getting anything done, let alone what needs to be done.
There’s a verse that speaks to me at these times.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12
There is also a quote I heard one: “Focus is deciding what NOT to do.” I think both of these quotes hold something we all need to do. First, we need to take a moment to step back and think about our lives. What are we working towards? What are the priorities in our lives? How do we gain balance? How can we do the things we need to do without letting them overshadow the things we love?
Perhaps you are like me, and what you do plays a lot into who you view yourself to be. If you’re not being the best at everything and fulfilling every task, part of your identity feels like it is lacking. This is not healthy nor any way to live your life. It’s also not true.
The Psalmists asks the Lord to teach us to number our days, or consider what time we have, that we may be wise and use time wisely. The other quote says we need to focus on what we need to do, not on what we don’t. It seems obvious enough, yet how often do we ignore that simple truth? This is more than just time management. It is about recognizing our priorities for what they are. They are our families, our callings, ourselves, our time. We aren’t supposed to do everything or be perfect at every task. We are supposed to care for the things we are called to and do them well. Perhaps if I took that to heart, I wouldn’t be regularly asking for just ten more minutes!
Not everything is going to be perfect, and we will often let certain activities bleed into others. In fact, I now need to wrap up this post as I can hear a toddler waking up early! The key is to find balance in life with our time. Take control of your schedule. Own your time. Make your priorities known. Embrace them, and let them and your values dictate your days. All those other things are responsibilities and need to be done, but finding balance in your life is your responsibility as well, and it’s an important one.
We ask Lord to teach us to number our days not so that we will fear how short or long they are, but so that we will value the time that we have and use it wisely. God gave us this time and our abilities so that we may fulfill our dreams, live our callings, and glorify Him in the process. It’s a tough job, one that I am constantly working on. But that’s ok. The point is that we recognize the chaos in our lives, trim it down, and refocus on what matters. In that way, we will live the lives we want to live and take care of the things we love. Time is precious, so let’s treat it thus.
Blessings to you and yours,
~Madelyn Rose Craig