October 24, 2018
As a part of my ongoing effort to be a healthier person, I have started making small changes to my routine every few weeks. For example, months ago I started adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet. I’ve also cut out most processed foods. These changes have been easy. The one I recently started has proven significantly harder. I’ve been tracking my sleep in an attempt to get the recommended 8 hours every night. Oddly enough, I rarely get over 7. In fact, I find myself stretching to make time to sleep. It’s so much easier to sleep a little less and drink a little more coffee in the morning.
The crazy thing is that there is just too much to do every day to get to bed early enough to sleep as much as I should. I don’t think I’m alone in my sense that there’s just too much to get done most days, which makes it hard to fit in a huge chunk of rest time. As I write this, I am fighting a cold. I know I should take a day to lay around and sleep in order to fight it off, but I’ve worked almost every day for the last 2 weeks. Those days I haven’t worked, I’ve done car repair or house maintenance work. A few times I have caught myself saying: “I just don’t have time to be sick right now.”
Our culture has decided that busyness is a virtue. We schedule our own lives so densely that it’s not unusual for folks to work 6 or 7 days a week. It’s unusual to meet folks who build margins into their schedule so they have time to rest or extra time to deal with unforeseen obligations that pop up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard folks say: “I have to do
I talk to married couples routinely as a part of my job, a recurring sentiment I hear is that they’re so busy they don’t have time to go on dates together or sit and have conversations. We also do this with our kids. When I was a youth pastor in Indiana, I knew many students who participated in multiple sports and activities to the point that they rarely had an afternoon off to waste time.
I have known students who would skip practice for one sport in order to play a different sport. I’m not saying that extra curricular activities are a bad thing. In fact, it’s important that parents teach their kids to engage in such things. However, teaching your child to rest, relax, and enjoy their familial relationships is just as important a lesson as teaching them to engage in activities.
The value of building margin into your life isn’t immediately obvious, until you need the extra time to take care of something important or you get sick because you’ve stressed yourself to the point that you’ve become vulnerable to the cold bug or the flu. The reality is that running your life in the red constantly will eventually catch up with you.
One of the things that I’ve discovered is that the things I make a priority are the things I manage to make time to do. Exercise is a high priority in my life, so I find an hour a day to spend at the gym. Reading is a priority, so I find time every day to sit and read. What gets us into trouble is when we set too many things into the “high priority” category or we don’t bother differentiating things that don’t matter from things that do. The solution to this is slowing down, trimming obligations from our lives, simplifying our existence, and learning to say “no” to additional commitments. This doesn’t happen automatically. We have to do it intentionally and keep at it daily.