As we embark on our quest for serenity, we need to examine our time schedule. One of the most insidious thieves to serenity is an overbooked schedule. It’s time to examine our commitments and categorize what is vital, important, and optional. Below is a cursory overview of schedule management. We will delve into more detail in subsequent blog posts. Here are 7 easy steps to serenity in your schedule.

We must first acknowledge 4 areas that lead to over-commitment.

1. Technology

With more labor-saving devices in our lives, we have been able to free up time in our schedule. Can’t complain with that! I love the convenience of my dishwasher and washing machine. The problem lies in how we start to fill up that free time. With some people, the 6 hours that they save with technology is spent searching online for 8 hours looking at photos of cats with no productive output in the end.

2. The Desire to Get Ahead

Competition has increased to a frenzied level in all areas of society. We want to be out in the front. We want our kids to be the best. Somehow we must temper our desire to be a front-runner (which isn’t necessarily bad) with a realistic view of whether or not that is really important or necessary. Is it worth what we are sacrificing in order to be in front?

3. Emotional Solace

Our emotions can cause us to fill the void inside with more activity outside. Maybe you enjoy feeling needed. Or perhaps you are struggling with loneliness. Volunteerism is at an all-time high, and yet many volunteers are experiencing burn-out or compassion fatigue.

4. Competency

Everyone knows that you are the one who can get the job done, so people call you first. Actually, everybody calls you first and because each project or task seems simple enough, you say “Yes.” It has been said that 20% of the people in an organization do 80% of the work. Somehow there seems to be a homing device on all Type A personalities – yes, we can find you!

Now that we have identified a few reasons as to why we overbook our schedule, here are 3 steps to reduce your commitments.

5. Review all your commitments.

You’ll need to schedule a decent chunk of time to write down and consider all your commitments. Include your family requirements as well. The more specific you are, the better. Try to be as comprehensive as possible – include even the tiniest commitments because they all ADD UP! This is like a personalized job description of your life.

6. Recognize the non-negotiables in your schedule.

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, we must include the basics for survival – sleep, exercise, good nourishment, and quality relationships (love). If your schedule is out-of-control, these basics usually receive the brunt of the attack. Have you been facing sleepless nights? Putting off exercise until you finish the next project? Eating fast food to keep up with the fast pace? You owe it to yourself and your family to prioritize the basics of your life. As you plan your calendar, schedule the time necessary to care for your health. Schedule your sleep time. Give yourself a curfew. Write down the exercise that your body needs. Allow for enough time to purchase groceries that are healthy and then time to prepare good food for yourself and your family to consume. There may be other non-negotiable items in your schedule, but this gives you a head start.

7. Respectfully bow out of commitments and limit your future ones.

If possible, find a replacement to cover your responsibilities. There is no need to feel guilty about stepping away from a commitment that you can no longer maintain. The best explanation? “I would love to continue in my position, but I’m over-committed in too many areas and I feel that my performance does not meet the criteria for this job. I know there must be somebody equally or better qualified who can take over from here.”

How about you? Have you had to go through a season of pruning with your schedule? Please share your story or tips below.

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