August 23, 2009

Busy are the ants...

“NO”.  So easy, yet so hard to say… At least for me. 

I am a busy-body.  I fill up my time and busy myself with both important and unimportant things.  I know that if my plate is full and someone offers me yet another time consuming opportunity I will likely say the words… “oh sure!  I can do that”… but most often I can’t… at least not and still keep my sanity. 

What’s the point?

It seems that busyness is now seen as a sign of productivity and importance.  A person must be very significant and needed if their time is filled up with responsibility.  But is this really the case?  And am I any less of a person if I do not fill my time with every busy opportunity that presents itself?  Or are there underlying reasons for why we make ourselves so busy?  I know for myself… I am a people pleaser and hate to think that I would disappoint someone by turning down whatever it is they’ve asked of me.  The truth is… nobody expects me to do everything and if someone asks me, they know there are two possible answers “yes” and “no”.  And I have a right to say either.  I’d love to think that I could take it all on and in my mind I think I can… but oftentimes I end up doing things that just keep me busy and aren’t necessarily the best use of my time.  I need to slow down… learn to say “no”, or at least “maybe”, before I say “yes”.  And I need to consider why I would choose to spend my time on this or that.

This is something that I am continually evaluating at work.  In the small office I work in, I am one of the most technologically savvy employees.  I get a lot of questions of how to do this or that – or can I make this or that flyer, etc.  I do not mind this at all, and honestly, most of these little side projects are things that I truly do enjoy doing!  However, I need to evaluate my reason for being there.  What is the best use of my time?  How can I be most productive in the 8 hours I spend in the office each day?  As development director, there is always someone to call, always another meeting, another fundraiser, another dinner event… but I need to prioritize my “to-do” list and be intentional about how I spend my time.  It took me awhile to learn this lesson, along with my boss reminding me a few times that how I was spending my time was not in my job description (whoops) although I was doing “good things”.  I have since learned to delegate and this has gotten easier now ACCESS has a Communications Coordinator that is responsible for much of the social networking and out-going communications.  I am continually passing things off to her, and she is okay with that, because she knows where my priorities lie, and it is her job to assist staff with such things.

Back to the Basics.

I have found that saying “yes” is more or less a habit that I needed to break.  There is such thing as a work/life balance and it is an art I am slowly learning.  I know that too much of any one thing can be harmful.  There is so much I would like to do… I’d love to volunteer at this and that place, be part of this and that book study, do music, be on this or that board or committee, oh and maybe I’ll dabble in graphic design, help plan this party or shower, etc. etc. etc.  But there is a bigger issue at stake here… and that is evaluating our priorities and what we let define us.  Jordan and I have attended Crossroads Bible Church for the past couple of weeks and they have been studying the book of James.  Last week we were challenged to examine our actions and our beliefs.  Our beliefs and values that we hold inside will always line up with our actions.  So I ask – how does what I spend my time on represent who I am?  Is it making be a better person or is it draining me?  This week we talked about idols of the heart and we were challenged to examine what in our life defines us.   Too much of any one thing can be dangerous, as they begin to let it define who we are.  So, I need to step back and look at how I am spending my time.  What am I putting into myself and how will that be reflected in my actions?  What am I letting define me?  I need to passionately guard my mind, heart, and time.  If I am lazy with how I make decisions about my time, then my stressed-out, drained actions will show it.

Love Life.

I don’t think that we were created to be busy-bodied workaholics.  We each have our own desires and things we find enjoyable.  The sad part is, as I look back on the summer, the times I spent doing those things are few and far between.  There must be balance.  Just as I schedule time for the things that need to happen, I need to protect my time and schedule time for enjoyment.  I need to make sure that I go on a date with my husband weekly and take time to read a book just for fun.  These are things that we need to maintain balance in our lives.

I hope it is clear that I am not saying to neglect your responsibilities.  That is not it at all.  My point is that we need to take a step back and look at ourselves and how we spend our time… are there ways we can improve?  What does how I spend my time saying about me?  What in my life defines me?  Am I enjoying life?  It is easy for me to let these probing questions slip by and continue to just let life happen and let my plate get full without looking at what I am busy with.  As I stated in my last post, I have decided to take this next semester off of school for many of these reasons.  I need to take a step back and examine how I am spending my time… where do I need to be… what is important to me and why… and take the time to pray about the next steps.  I refuse to let life “happen” but instead choose to be intentional about how I spend my time.  I don’t know what this means for my future, but I know that I will have a say in it. :-)

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
- Henry David Thoreau

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