Thursday, September 19, 2013

Busy vs. Productive

Beautiful MT landscape in late summer. Just wanted to share!

I heard something this week that jumped out in my mind and I haven't been able to shake, nor do I want to until I act on it. It was one of those things where at the end of the five minutes this person spoke, I remembered only seven words. Seven words that could be potentially life changing; the ramifications of taking this seriously and doing some nitty-gritty life overhauling could be monumental. Okay maybe I'm being dramatic...but maybe not! 

Busyness isn't the same as productivity.

Earth shattering isn't it? Before you read on, stop making fun of my excitement over this little sentence and stop to think about this for a minute. Seriously.

What does this look like for you? If you're like most people in America, you are busy. No ifs, ands or buts. And you're probably busy with good things like I am. Kids, family, church, work, maintaining the house/yard, friends and social activities, community involvement, exercising, hobbies...the list could go on and isn't the same for any two people, but we all have our own list. We all complain about how busy we are. Most people I know are up to their necks with 'things to do' and struggling to get through each day without losing their sanity. Is this a fulfilling way to live? Not so much!!! I've always prided myself on not letting myself get too busy and worked hard to be selective about which activities I say yes to, putting a lot of thought into my life's schedule. I watch other people and think to myself, "How sad for them. Glad it's not me!" I like to think I'm better than you at tailoring my schedule to a perfect fit, doing only 'what I feel called to do' and never having my priorities out of order. (Yes, these are my thoughts. Feel free to judge me at any point.)

So if I'm so great at this, why were those words so huge? Why do they keep clamoring inside my brain? And why do I feel convicted? Let me tell you about my busyness revelation I had the past few days. Maybe you'll relate to this and maybe I'm not the only one! First, let me say this: I am an introvert. I love people and have good friendships, but I looove me some alone time. I do best in small groups of people, and to really recharge, I need to be by myself, or just with my hubby. Why is this relevant? Because I think my lack of apparent busyness is due to the fact that I would freak out if I were surrounded by people 24/7, so I don't commit to too many activities. One per day is just fine, thank you.  I like to get us out of the house, have some adult interaction, let the girls play with friends...but then I like to come back to our little nest: home. It's there that my busyness starts playing itself out. Like I said, it's just not as apparent as the person who commits to six engagements each day and is constantly on the go.

That said, I bring to you, a typical day in my life (feel free to skip this part, this is partially for me to see in writing!): Wake up, make coffee, read Bible/pray/devo time, make a quick breakfast before Brad leaves for work. So far so good huh! Do dishes. Check facebook, e-mail, read interesting articles that I see on facebook/e-mail. Get Addison and Lily up, dressed, and fed. Scrub down kitchen counters and anywhere/anything within a 5 foot radius of where Addison was eating. Sing songs/build blocks/color/dance and play with the girls. Go flip through pinterest to find something good to make for dinner. Bake something delicious, because I really, really like making and eating baked goods. Lily takes a nap, Addison reads books, I get ready for the day, taking way too long, because really, it matters a lot what I look like around the house or a trip to Safeway (feel free to judge again). Lily wakes up and we head out to said activity (errands, library for story time, MOPS, Bible study, play group, visit a friend...). A couple of hours later...get home, eat lunch, and cranky girls go down for a nap. I sweep, find something to organize, pin yummy food, call to catch up with someone I haven't talked to in awhile, find something else that needs cleaned/sorted/organized, blog, fold laundry, check facebook/e-mails/blogs I like. Check the weather. Check the news. The girls wake up and I make snacks for them and we walk to the park, go for a walk, or play inside until Brad gets home. The rest of the day is spent making dinner, eating dinner (this takes a good chunk of time with a two-year-old!), catching up with Brad about our respective days, putting girls to bed, and whatever we choose to do with the last hour of the day before we crash. 

I know, that was so beneficial and enlightening for you to spend time reading about the mundane details of our life huh!:) There is a point to it I promise. There's lots of good, necessary stuff in there. In fact, nothing mentioned is wrong in and of itself. But I see a problem, a glaring one. The obvious: I like to clean and I like to read things online. Cleaning is good. Reading and learning is good. BUT a) I have a two-year-old and an almost one-year-old who are going to mess up what I cleaned in an hour or less, guaranteed, and b) my priorities are out of whack. 

You see, I have big dreams and goals, just like you. I think about them and pray about them and get so excited about them potentially becoming a reality. I mentally plan all the steps I need to take to make these dreams and goals take shape. I even make lists! And then...I organize my spice rack. For the love!!!
I don't want to totally bash myself, and don't you bash yourself either! Let's give ourselves some grace, because Jesus does. I know there are things I'm doing right. Like being intentional to spend a good chunk of the day having quality time with Addison and Lily. Spending quality time with my husband. Taking care of/maintaining our home. Being a friend and being intentional in keeping up relationships with friends and family. Spending time with God, although He gets the short end of the stick, time-wise sometimes (or is it me getting the short end...). The rest are fillers. Tasks that keep my busy, too busy to accomplish what the Lord has laid on my heart to do. Yikes. Something's gotta give. As in me and my compulsive need for spotless, impossibly organized spaces. And my false 'need' to read every interesting article/blog post/status update that comes my way. 

What does busyness look like for you, friend? Is it saying yes and feeling guilty if you say no? Is it signing your kids up for every single extracurricular activity that flies over the radar? Being a workaholic? Are you like me, busy in your own home? Whatever it is, take the time to really ask yourself, is my life productive, or am I just plain busy? I for one, choose productive! Productive in the plans God has for me, not my plans. And in order to stay in tune with Him about those plans...we have to not only make time for Him, but center everything on Him. Some days have to be busy, that's just life. But where can I, where can you, create margin? What's gotta give for you? 

Food for thought. Have a lovely day!

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