Do you find yourself stretched too thin between work, school, family and friends? Western culture is renowned for its slavery to “busy”: the constant pursuit of a full calendar and an even fuller life. Our time is filled up before we even have the chance to consider what’s filling it, which leaves us on the brink of burnout instead of enjoying the days God has given us.
Time is a precious commodity; we only have so much of it. Just as we budget our money—another limited commodity—we must also budget our time, setting boundaries on when, where and how it is used. Here are four ways you can do this as a busy fall season approaches!
1. Learn to Say No
One of my favorite books of all time is Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson. In this book, Larson articulates just how impactful our “yeses” really are. Each time we say yes to something, we’re saying no to something else.
If we say yes to distraction, we say no to time with God.
If we say yes to another extracurricular commitment, we say no to more time with friends.
If we say yes to a party, we say no to time spent on homework.
Sometimes these yeses are necessary or even healthy! But other times, we fail to set a boundary on how many “yeses” we give out in a day. We start saying “yes” without thinking or praying, and instead of having the strength to face what God has called us to do, we end up depleted—because we tried to do things God wasn’t asking us to accomplish in this season. We have to learn to say “no” and only say yes to the things God has for us.
2. Determine Your Priorities
We need to determine our priorities. What is the most important thing on your plate in this season? Ask God to guide your mind and heart as you narrow this down. My favorite way to do this is to use Lara Casey’s PowerSheets, a goal-setting workbook that helps you define your priorities and establish daily, weekly and monthly goals. You can then track your progress accordingly.
Because time is so precious, we need to have a sense of order to how our time is spent. That starts by setting a direction before setting appropriate boundaries.
3. Ask God for Wisdom
Throughout the process of setting boundaries, ask God for wisdom. There will be seasons when we are overextended on behalf of others or because we are fulfilling God’s call on our lives. But there are also seasons of rest. We need His wisdom to determine which season is in front of us. We need to His strength to remain fully present there.
4. Don’t Be Dictated by Guilt
Finally, don’t let guilt motivate your decisions! God does not use guilt to accomplish His purposes. When we say yes out of guilt, we’re not walking in wisdom OR in the will of God. Only accept time commitments that reflect God’s heart for your season—which means you’ll probably have to take some time to pray before committing. It’s better to take that time beforehand than to spend the next weeks or months overwhelmed by stress.
Setting time boundaries is a habit we all need in our lives, and it’s a progressive one—something we must consistently cultivate as we draw near to God. But as we lay our time before Him as a sacrifice, our lives become more intentional, and our hearts more aligned to His will, than they were before.