1. Thank God - If you have two meetings scheduled on the same evening, you obviously can attend only one. Don't overlook the possibility that this might be God's way of being kind to you.
2. Get Less Done but Do the Right Things - Busyness is not a synonym for kingdom work -- it is only busyness. All activities need to be assessed as to their spiritual authenticity. Again, if we have one hundred things to do and can do only ten, how do we select from them? We must have God-authored criteria with which to judge our activities, and we must be willing to use them.
3. Don't Rush Wisdom - Seldom is true wisdom a product of speedy deliberation. As a matter of fact, wisdom is almost always slow. Wait for clearness. The more important the decision, the longer the time you should take to make it. If life's pace pushes you, push back. Take as much time and prayer as you need for clearness to develop. And wait for your decision to be affirmed by peace.
4. For Type A's Only: Stand in Line - Cardiologist Dr. Meyer Friedman, one of the first to describe the type A personality, offered this practical advice to his patients: "Practice smiling. Purposely speak more slowly, stop in the middle of some sentences, hesitate for three seconds, then continue. Purposely say, "I'm wrong" at least twice today, even if you're not sure you're wrong. Listen to at least two persons today without interrupting even once.... Seek out the longest line at the bank. Verbalize your affection to your spouse and children."
5. Create Buffer Zones - If you have a busy schedule with nonstop appointments, consider creating small buffer zones between some of the obligations, a kind of coffee break for the spirit. Even ten or fifteen minutes can allow you to catch up, take a deep breath, close your eyes, pray, call your spouse, reorient your priorities, and defuse your tension.
6. Plan for Free Time - If God were our appointment secretary, would HE schedule us for every minute of every day? Time urgency was not only absent with Christ, it was conspicuously absent. Christ's teaching, His healing, His serving, and His loving were usually spontaneous. The person standing in front of Him was the opportunity He accepted. If He chose spontaneous living, isn't that a signal to us?
7. Be Available - Margin exists for the needs of the kingdom, for the service of one another, for the building of community. It exists, just as we exist, for the purpose of being available to God. Being useful to God and other people is a large part of what life is meant to be. And yet "usefulness is nine-tenths availability." When others need help, they don't need it two days from now.
I am slowly working several of these into my life and I must tell you that they really do make a difference. I'm finding that focusing on what REALLY needs to get done instead of every little thing on my list right at this moment helps temendously. Purposely slowing down and making myself be still is great. Creating buffer zones is working well for me, too.
Another area somewhat related to this (at least for me) is stress. Next week I'll share some steps to help in alleviating some of the stress in our lives. Can you imagine how freeing it could be to give ourselves additional breathing room in our lives AND alleviate some of the stress? WOW! :)