The Costs of Overprogramming Our Life & the Benefit of Downtime

Life Overload

Are you over-scheduled? Over-committed? Over-programmed? I know for sure that I am. In fact, I’m one of the worst offenders of piling on more things to my “to-do” list and feeling like I’ve only had a good day if I’ve accomplished something significant.

But you know what?

It’s not really meant to be that way. I think we all do better when we have regular periods of “Down time.”

Further, continuing to “pile on” to your schedule will quickly lead to problems in almost every area of your life.

So what do we do about it?

I’ve had a book on my shelf for a year now that has caught my eye nearly every time I look in that direction:

Overcoming Overload by Steve Farrar

Earlier this month, I identified it as my next “to read” book, & yesterday I finally started it. (On a side note, if I had it in Kindle format, I would have started 2 weeks or more ago. I’m addicted to the Kindle way of reading.) In the first 30 pages, I’m already completely “hooked” by the concept.

Too often, we believe the lie that “I can do it all.”

We prove we believe it by all of the things we sign up for. We have work commitments, but then we add on to it with half a dozen (or more) kid activities (which we generally control) not to mention our own extra activities.. And yet we wonder why we always feel so “out of control?” We are so tempted in our society to join into the “rat race” and go, go, go 24/7. I’ve been a chief offender of this in so many ways. And I’ll even include our constant “on-line” status in the mix (because how many hours are wasted each day in each household in America on Facebook and the rest?)

The Costs of Overload in Our Lives:

1. Time with family.

2. Time to play with our kids (games, sports, legos, etc).

3. Reading for leisure.

4. Eating dinner together with family.

5. Building real relationships in the family.

6. Time to work out or work through conflicts with those in the household.

7. Prayer & spiritual time.

8. Sacrificing healthy sleep patterns.

So, here’s a serious question:

Are all of the kid activities (or other commitments you make to fill up your time) you allow more important than any of the things above that we generally sacrifice to allow the activities? 

If you are a Christian, there are tons of examples in the Bible of how we are created to need that downtime. God started it all by taking a rest on the 7th day. Then He commanded us to take a sabbath. But it is also present in nature – without the winter of rest, there could be no spring of vigorous renewal, summer of growth, and autumn of harvest. Even in our own growth pattern, the need for rest is paramount – our bodies synthesize GH (growth hormone) mostly while we sleep. 

The benefits of “downtime” may be harder to quantify than that pet project I’m working on. But they’re there. Looking back on my past, MOST of my most memorable times occurred at times of rest or relaxation. I know for sure that relationships thrive on these times, and relationships are invaluable. They say kids spell love “T, I, M, E.” I think there’s truth and wisdom in that. The same is true in marriage. 

The first step in reversing the process of overloading our lives is to recognize that we can’t do it all. And that it is damaging to ourselves, our family, and our marriage to try.

For me, I have decided to be intentional about relaxing and taking down-time. I’m horrible at relaxing. So it’s going to be my focus for the upcoming year. It is my goal to fight the urge to always feel like I’m “accomplishing something.” I’m going to look for rest every week. And I’m going to say “no” to more commitments and be intentional about it. And I’ll be encouraging Holley to do the same. 

How about you?

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