When it comes to time management, let’s face it — there is really only so much you can squeeze into a day, regardless of how organized or disciplined you are. When we try to do too much, not only can our families suffer from a stressed out mom or dad, but our health and productivity can suffer as well. If you’re anything like me, you probably try to find more time to get things done by sleeping less, but that usually backfires. In fact, I read an article in Focus on the Family that quoted a study showing that people who consistently get less than 7 hours a sleep a night are as unproductive as those who have not slept in 24 hours. I know that this is true for me.
Chances are you’ve heard plenty about paring down your commitments and becoming less busy already, so I won’t specifically address that. However, there is one area that I do want to address, and that is becoming overburdened by the expectations of others.
First, I have to issue a second disclaimer. Frankly, this is not an area I struggle with. I often struggle more with the exact opposite – not wanting to do something simply because it is expected of me. I am a nonconformist by nature, and while that can be a good thing, it’s not always, and I have to be careful not to automatically react negatively to expectations simply because they are there.
I know that a lot of other people – especially women – struggle with the expectations of others, though, and it makes me sad – and to be honest, a little angry – when I see my friends stressed out and exhausted because they’re trying to live up to someone else’s expectations.
So my second time management tip is to evaluate your commitments and decide which you’re doing because you want to be doing them – or feel called by God to be doing them – and not just because other people expect you to.
It’s okay to say no.
It’s okay to step back, step down, step away.
For example, maybe you love to bake at Christmastime, and the joy of giving baked goods is worth losing a little sleep. But maybe not. If it’s not and you’re just doing it because it’s expected, take a break, tell those who expect it that it’s too much, and don’t feel guilty about it!
I don’t know what this may look like in your life, but I firmly believe that it’s okay to say no to something – especially if you have young children who need not only your presence, but also your attention and focus. These are probably not changes you can make overnight, but as we approach the New Year, it may be a good time to consider which things you’re doing for your family or for God and which things you’re doing solely because of others’ expectations.