There is something about planners and organization supplies that sets me day-dreaming about how my life could be different: less chaotic, more goals accomplished, less stress. Then I look at my calendar and the piles of paper on the counter related to the kids’ school projects, my Bible study, extra-curricular activities for the kids, and on and on. When I’m not intentional about what “yeses” fly out of my people-pleasing mouth, our whole family ends up stressed out and spread too thin. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if I was intentional about crafting my schedule (and that of our family)? What if I had time to do the really important things that add up to an abundant life? Rather than a drowning under a jillion “just because I always have to (or think I’m supposed to)” tasks and places to be?
Would you like to join me in purposefully crafting a “Goldilocks schedule” that strikes the “just right” balance between getting things accomplished and keeping our sanity and soul intact? Then be sure to take the little quiz below and download your FREE “Just Be” Checklist.
Do you know what I mean by a “just right” schedule?
- A life neither too over-scheduled, and therefore a source of stress, irritability, and unavailability to friends, family, and the neighbor in need.
- Nor one so under-scheduled as to lack purpose and meaning.
Depending on our personality and season of life either one can happen if we don’t consciously create a balanced life in line with our values and priorities.
Which Bears the Most Resemblance to Your Schedule?
To get the life you want, you have to know the life you have and what needs to change about it.
I’ve made a fun little quiz to help you think through how you handle various situations.
Note: You’ll see your results after you submit your answers. The percentage score doesn’t mean anything for our purposes here. Focus on the number out of the possible maximum of 50 points that appears below the percentage. I’ll send you a follow up email with a more detailed analysis as well as recommendations based on your answers. But here is a quick reference you can use to determine your outcome:
- 1-14/50 means is a little too cold
- 15-30/50 is just right overall
- 35+/50 is probably too hot to handle without negative repercussions.
If you discovered you’re already a Just Right Bear, you can probably skip the rest of this article and just jump straight to the comments section and leave tips for the rest of us about how you arrived at the “just right” balance.
For the rest of us, keep reading…
Now that you know where you’re starting from, you can begin to craft the schedule that is “just right” for you. The following process will help.
7 Steps To Achieve a Goldilocks Schedule
While we might not get it “just right,” we can move in the right direction.
1. Be still.
Too often, time with God is the first thing to go when our schedule becomes too crowded.
On the other hand, if you have recently undergone a life transition, your prior means for communing with God may have been disrupted. For example, if you move to a new town, you need to find a new church home.
Time nurturing our relationship with God provides an essential anchor and perspective for every other area of our existence. If we don’t prioritize this relationship, none of our others will be healthy either.
2. Be honest.
Our budget can be stretched by items we think are needs which are actually merely wants. Our schedules can, too.
If you’ve discovered you’ve over-packed your calendar with activities, honestly evaluate if some need-to-dos are actually want-to-dos.
If you are a parent, honestly assess if your kids need to be in so many activities. Is the stress and time spent really worth the cost to your (and their) physical, emotional, and spiritual health?
Then again, if you or the kids are watching a bunch of mindless TV, playing hours of video games or surfing Pinterest/social media because you feel isolated or bored, be honest about that situation, too. Do you need to find more productive ways to allocate those hours?
3. Be humble.
If our aggravation level goes through the roof when someone interrupts us or needs more of our time than we had scheduled, we might need a reality check. What we are doing may be important, but rarely is it more important than the people in need of our attention.
Likewise, if we think only of our needs and comfort, we can disengage from and neglect other people because we don’t want to make any sacrifices or commitments.
4. Be responsible.
What if your schedule needs pruning back, but you’ve made commitments you need to fulfill to avoid leaving someone in the lurch? In cases like these, is there a point at which your responsibilities could be transferred to a replacement? If so, recruit a suitable replacement and execute an orderly transition. If not, you will have to cut a few more want to items until you fulfill this need to commitment.
If you’re in a new situation (or step 2 revealed you’re wasting a lot of time), take some initiative and find a way to put your gifts, talents, and resources to use serving someone in need. God calls us to be responsible stewards of the blessings he has bestowed upon us.
5. Be wise.
I hate being a quitter, and I don’t want my kids to think it is okay to take our commitments lightly. But sometimes the cost is just too high to retain something on our schedule merely to avoid being a quitter.
If I teach myself and my kids to be wise about what goes on the schedule in the first place, quitting should never become a pattern. So, when it is wise to cut our losses we can have the freedom to quit.
6. Be ruthless.
Not with people, but with the process. If your activities need pruning, eliminate everything on your schedule you’ve identified as expendable. Then, if it is still too packed, go back and ruthlessly assess your motivations for keeping the remaining items.
- Are you are keeping some because you dread what someone will think of you if you opt out?
- Is your motivation because you want to be considered important or part of a particular group?
If we aren’t ruthless with the pruning we will end up being ruthless with the precious people in our lives because we won’t have time for them when they need us.
7. Be reasonable.
When you schedule things, make sure you are spreading them out over a reasonable time frame. Give yourself some breathing room rather than cram too much in over too short a time period.
An Honest Confession of an Over-Scheduler
I’d love to tell you this article results from extensive research. Unfortunately, I must confess it is the product of my own experience. Honestly, I struggle with all of these steps.
So when I let things get crazy, I got through this checklist and make fresh start. Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward achieving a schedule that is “just right” and serves me and those I love rather than us serving it.
Don’t forget to download your FREE Checklist that includes additional ideas for each step mentioned above.
How about you? Could your schedule use a makeover? Which of these steps might prove either most helpful OR most challenging? You can leave a comment by clicking here.