4 Ways To Take Back Your Time

The last few posts I have written about reducing chronic stress and cultivating greater margin in our lives. Part of the problem is our constant intake of data and information, which is why it is critical that we monitor our use of modern technological conveniences to ensure that they remain tools rather than controlling forces of our lives. Have you tried any of the tips I suggested? Did they help?

Today we are going to talk about budgeting time. Wise financial management means telling your money where to go, not looking back and wondering where it went. Wise time management functions the same way.

I’m a driven person. I thrive when I’m busy, when I have a to-do list, and when I feel like I am contributing to something meaningful. But I’m a “busy junky.” I get caught up in the momentum of constant activity, and suddenly find myself out of control of my time and quickly burning out. I get stressed, tired, overwhelmed, snippy, short-fused, and I lose sight of my priorities.

Any of those symptoms sound familiar to you?

Maybe you have a laundry list of New Year’s Resolutions. Most of those resolutions probably involve some kind of time commitment. I’d like to propose an additional resolution: instead of adding more activity to the calendar, what if you strategically added more space? More time? More room for when things aren’t going according to plan, more rest, more intentionally saying, “No,” to overload, and, “Yes,” to margin?

Here are a few ways to invest into your time bank. The rewards of having increased energy, enhanced moods, and deeper relationships will pay off! Try these, and share your own tips by leaving a comment below:

1. Identify your time wasters and work to keep those at a minimum. 

Are you on Facebook too much? Are you like me and get stuck reading articles on Huffington Post and seemingly can’t stop? Do you oversleep…every single day? As I mentioned in my previous post, if you cut out 30 minutes of one time waster every day, over the course of one year you will have banked a full week—178 hours—of time!

2. Once you’ve identified the time wasters, invest in the right use of your time.

Time is currency that we all spend. It’s either wasted or it’s invested. Choose to be a wise investor of your time. Over the course of a few days or weeks ask God what His priorities for your life are. What are your few (key word: few) areas of strategic focus? Write those down. Seek counsel from your trusted community that you’ve been working on developing (see Part 2: Fight the Battle of Loneliness), and ask for their insight (Proverbs 24:6 says there is safety in seeking wise counsel).  As you are presented with opportunities, weigh them against your priorities. Schedule events and activities (or don’t) accordingly.

3. Exercise  your “no” muscle.

People who use their time well have realized that the word “no” is not a dirty word. It’s not an offensive word. It is a healthy term used to establish a boundary, and apart from learning how to say “no” to those things that don’t fit within the priorities that you have processed with the Lord, you will not have the energy or enthusiasm to say “Yes” to the best things.

4. Plan for nothing. 

 When my husband, Adam, and I find that we are starting to spiral out of control with our calendar commitments, we plan “nothing” weekends. We block off a sacred chunk of time to intentionally have nothing planned or scheduled. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have these times periodically marked out. I encourage you to try it!

Are you enjoying this journey? I sure am! Be sure to like, share, and invite others to join us along the way! Stay tuned: next week we are going to dive deeper into some major heart issues. I look forward to continuing to walk with you as we seek to become healthier, happier people.

Run Hard. Love Strong.


6 Ways To Beat Your Tech Addiction

I have a confession to make. The only way that I remember how to correctly spell and use the words “desert” and “dessert” is to remember a cross-stitched pillow I saw on a couch one time that read, “Stressed is dessert spelled backwards.” There you have it folks. My secret to correct spelling and grammar is a cross-stitched pillow.

Now that I’ve lost all credibility as a writer, let’s talk about a different word on that pillow: stress. It’s January 13. We just started 2015 about two weeks ago. Are Woody and Buzz stressedyou worn out yet? Stretched thin? Working too much? Moving non-stop? Giving, giving, giving, and seemingly never getting what you need? Then this week’s posts are for you.

How do we reduce chronic stress in order to become healthier, happier people? Notice I said chronic stress. We want to focus on the stress that never lets up, even when the deadline passes, the project ends, the party is over…lifestyle stress. This week we are going to deal with the importance of cultivating margin in our lives. Today is all about getting a grip on technology.

Modern technology is absolutely incredible. The advances we have seen in just our lifetime alone are enough to boggle our minds! I remember being so excited to buy my first cell phone fifteen years ago. Remember this bad boy?

Nokia 6110

That’s right. That’s the Nokia 6110 phone. I thought I had reached “cool kid” status when I got that phone with my prepaid minutes plan. I never could have imagined that in just a few short years I would be able to text, take pictures, have a navigation system, check email, and so much more on a smart phone. I’ve found myself more often wishing I could have that phone again.

(Hash)Tag on the advent of social media, and it’s no wonder we move at light speed! We have access to nearly endless information at our fingertips. We can stay in touch with more people than generations before us simply because of Facebook newsfeed. I can easily access what at least 30 of my friends had for lunch today, who has a birthday (by the way, I do love that function! I’m notoriously terrible at remembering birthdays), and so much more.

We have a lot to be thankful for. But our blessings of information and access can quickly cause our demise if we do not intentionally and strategically establish boundaries that protect our time, and protect our minds from overload (I’m sure I’m not the only one that has had the “my brain feels like mush” meltdown at the end of the week after being constantly available to the world around me, right?).

Here are a few practical tips to regain control of your time, your mental focus, and your information intake:

1. Put your phone away during meal times.

Savor your meal. Enjoy the company around you. Look an actual person in the eye. Read a book if you’re dining solo.

2. Use that fabulous little “do not disturb” feature on your phone. 

I had no idea that this function existed until a few months ago, but once I Do Not Distburbdiscovered it’s awesome powers, I have not looked back! If you want to listen to music from your phone, but you just want some time to detach from being connected you can press this little button to send calls to voicemails and to hold text messages until you turn the function off.

3. Delete email applications from your phone. 

I am a creature of habit. I have developed muscle memory that naturally scrolls to my email inbox when I touch my phone, even if it’s a weekend, a holiday, or if I’m on vacation. I can’t simply tell myself, “No. Don’t open your inbox.” I have to go cold turkey if I’m really going to enjoy my vacations, so I have been known to completely delete email from my phone, and then re-download once I’m back “on the grid.” Try it. It works.

4. Take a real break. 

Take a Saturday morning, leave your phone somewhere far away from your person, and get a cup of coffee. Turn on your favorite music, and just sit there. Just sit. For 15 minutes do nothing. Breathe deep, take in the moment, and sit still. Take time each week to consciously rest and do nothing but enjoy the moment.

5. Turn off anything with a screen. 

Turn off the TV, the computer, the iPad, the telephone, and anything else with a screen.  If you cut just thirty minutes of screen time each day, in the course of a year you will have gained an extra 7 DAYS of time to fill! Cutting an hour of screen time each day yields TWO WEEKS of freed up time. What could you do with that?

6. Try a media fast. 

Whether you take one to two weeks to unplug and disconnect from social media, TV, or anything else that has started controlling you, or whether you make it a weekly routine to take a day or two “off,” I encourage you to regularly take time away. Just because people can access your profile 24/7 doesn’t mean that you personally have to be available at all times.

I want to hear from you! How can you tell when you are overloaded with information and need a break? What do you do to ensure that technology remains a tool in your life, and not a controlling force?

Run Hard. Love Strong.