Here are four things to do when you have too much to do.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO
Give thanks for your long list of things to do? Yes. You can thank God that you have worthwhile responsibilities and relationships in your life. Imagine if you had nothing to do all day? It's not as fun as it sounds. There are people in this world who just stand by and wish for a job, for a spouse, for children, for worthwhile activity, or for a goal to pursue. For whatever reason, they don't have that. Maybe they don't have the skills to do a job like yours. Maybe they don't have the education. Perhaps they are aimless, with no goals and no purpose. Or maybe their ill-health prevents them from being able to work. The first thing to do on a very busy day is to thank God for the privilege of responsibility!
2. Spend time with the Lord.
George Mueller addressed this need for busy people when he said:
I look upon it as a lost day when I have not had a good time over the Word of God. Friends often say, ‘I have so much to do, so many people to see, I cannot find time for Scripture study.’ Perhaps there are not many who have more to do than I. For more than half a century I have never known one day when I had not more business than I could get through. . . but I have always made it a rule never to begin work until I have had a good season with God and His Word. The blessing I have received has been wonderful.
What if you don't?
Just as God has dealt with people who didn't tithe by allowing them to put their money into pockets with holes, He sometimes also deals with us regarding our time. Because we haven't spent our first and best part of our day with the Lord, we make foolish decisions that end up sucking even more of our time. Of course, God is gracious and He often helps us accomplish things even if we haven't given Him the first part of our day. But how wonderful it is to go into your day knowing that, although you may have a lot to do, the most important thing in your life has already been accomplished.
- What can I delete? Is there anything on your list of things to do that doesn't need to be done? Perhaps it was put on your list back when you had a different set of priorities and goals, but it has outlived its purpose. Strike it off. Sometimes we have to jettison unnecessary goals. Or maybe there is a task you took on simply because you had a hard time saying no. Can you back out of it at this point? Just because a task is a good thing doesn't mean it is your thing. Perhaps, on the other hand, there are tasks on your list that are actually intrinsically unhelpful for your life. They neither draw you closer to God nor to accomplishing your goals. Delete these things.
- What can I delegate? Can someone else do some of the things on your list? Would they enjoy doing them? Learn from the experience? Profit from it? Grow through it? Pass the task on to them. This requires the ability to let go and trust other people to take the reins of responsibility, and that might be challenging for you. But at the end of the day, you will probably thank yourself for it.
- What can I consolidate? What tasks on your list can be dovetailed? Are there errands you can group together in order to save time? Are there appointments you can place back-to-back so that you can have a separate block of time to focus? Is there any way to combine any of the items on your list so that you can accomplish more and with greater efficiency?
- What can I procrastinate? I know that parents and teachers and well-meaning people of various levels of authority have told you never to procrastinate. However, we often feel pressure to accomplish a task before its time. Christ commanded us not to worry about tomorrow, and although He was speaking primarily of our worries about our physical needs being met, our worries can often extend to other areas of life. . . like accomplishing our goals or finishing a task. Sometimes we move forward with work on a task before its time only to find out later that the project has changed form or--even worse--is no longer needed. That time we spent working on it will never be recovered. Look at your list of things to do and ask yourself if there is anything that is on there that you are trying to do before its necessary time.
Martin Luther is often quoted as having said, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." In other words, prayer is the key to a truly productive day. Once you have asked yourself the four questions above and thoughtfully deleted, delegated, consolidated, and procrastinated, again take the remainder of your list to God and ask for His guidance in accomplishing the things He wants you to do.
Yes, life can often be stressful and our lists of things to do can be overwhelming. If you find yourself reacting blindly to this kind of pressure in your life, take a little bit of time to step back and look at the big picture. Give thanks. Spend time with the Lord. Ask yourself the four important questions. Then pray and ask God for supernatural help. Continue to pray as you move through your day. You are not omniscient and have no idea what your day holds. But He is, and He is very good at prompting you to do certain things at certain times.
When you take the time to do these things, even though you are very busy, your day will undoubtedly be more productive and less stressful.