I’ve heard it said before that time is the great equalizer. We all make or have different amounts of money. We each have different gifts, talents or abilities. We come from different backgrounds and live in different family dynamics and different cities. But, we all have 168 hours every week and 24 hours per day. Nothing more, nothing less.
I often get to the end of the week and wonder what happened to my time. Between school, activities and sports for the kids, and work, PTA, and other commitments for parents, those 168 hours disappear before our eyes. A friend of mine reminded me that we basically have 7,000 days with our kids from cradle to college. I don’t want to get to the end of those 7,000 days and wonder where my children went. If you and I don’t do something about our busyness problem, those days will be gone before we know it.
Here are four reasons why we are too busy and what we can do about it.
1. The urgent takes priority over the important.
Time with our family is important. Date nights with my wife are important. Sleep and kid’s sports games are important family times. But, the phone call at work, the emails that need to be returned, the desire to make more money and achieve more at work and the extra practices for our kids become much more urgent. We need to make time for the important or else the urgent will steal all our family time away.
Solution: Re-evaluate your priorities. For example, is it possible for all your activities to fall on one or two nights per week so that you can free up a few other nights? Choose to protect certain times in your schedule. How can you make dinners or weekends a priority?
2. We’re all people-pleasers.
We don’t want to let others down, so when an opportunity arises, we take it. Sometimes this means we choose nights, mornings, and weekends away from our families because we don’t want to tell the other person “no.” In the book of Proverbs, it says the fear of man is a trap and a snare. We get trapped when our lives are ruled by what we want others to think of us.
Solution: Accept the fact that you’re going to let some people down. This is so tough for us people-pleasers out there but more important for our families.
3. We each have our own agenda.
Most of the things my family does are great things (i.e., sports, band, work). But, when we each have our things we need and want to do, we lack alignment and miss out on time together as a family. The individual agenda wins out over time with the family.
Solution: Have a conversation as a family and talk about your schedules. Discuss some ways you could capture more time together. This solution provides a great way for you to serve others in your family with humility.
4. We don’t want to miss out!
You’ve probably heard the phrase FOMO (Fear of Missing out). We don’t want to miss out on anything, so we continue to say yes and fill our calendars. In the process, the thing we miss out on is family time.
Solution: Say no to good things in order to say yes to better things. For instance, I need to say no at work sometimes in order to say yes to my family. You might need to say no to the extra practices. I hate to break it to you, but your child is most likely not going to be the next superstar in the NFL.
Calculate how many days you have left before your children leave your home. How many days are left out of your 7,000 days? This might sober you!