How Busy Are You? Know Your Priorities

“Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom.”
– Bhante H Gunaratana

I’m at home in front of my laptop, looking at my schedule for the day. I hear the ping of a text. It is Jeff. He is at the grocery store buying groceries; would I like chicken for lunch and do we need lettuce?

Yes, please. And yes again.

One less meal to cook is always a pleasure to me. It gives me time to do other things. (Plus, Jeff is a wonderful and eager cook.)

I cross off “prepare lunch” from my list and immediately fill the slot with other things.

My phone pings again. Another text. This one from a friend I haven’t seen in ages. She has a rare opening in her schedule in an hour. It’s short notice, she says, but am I free for lunch?

I apologize and say no but thanks. I ask how she’s doing. So very busy, she says.

“There are hundreds of words we could use to describe our feelings, but most of us use one or two: ‘fine’ or ‘busy.'”
– Marc Brackett

Most everybody says a version of it. “I’m so busy.” “I’m too busy.” “Life is so busy.”

I’ve grown to despise the word busy. I cringe when I hear it. I try to avoid using it myself, even when it’s accurate.

There’s nothing wrong with being busy, of course. Many people are legitimately busy. They have no time for one more thing because life is coming at them hard. It’s all they can do to keep up.

But for the rest of us, some of our busyness, at least, is a choice of priorities.

I know. I often feel overwhelmed even by my at-home busyness choices. I have my fingers in a lot of pies, projects that I value, things I want to do.

But when they leave me feeling scattered and too depleted for the things that matter most to me, something is amiss.

I pause to ask myself:

  • What are my values?
  • What is most important?
  • Am I too busy, or is this just not my priority?

My ultimate goal is to prioritize people above projects (although the two often overlap).

But I fail at it again and again.

It's not a priority right now

Years ago I remember Teresa, an acquaintance at church, toss out a casual comment about how she prioritized her time. It struck me as profound then. It continues to strike me as profound today. She said she had a hierarchy: family first, church second, work third.

I decided that day to determine my own hierarchy of priorities. If conflicts arose between time commitments, I wanted to choose immediate family first, extended family second, church family third, etc.

Decisions were easier to make with that rubric in place.

When we consciously prioritize who needs our presence the most (and the list may vary from season to season, depending on needs), and who we most need, our calendar will reflect it.

Presence takes time. Love can’t be rushed. John Mark Comer says, “There’s a reason people talk about ‘walking’ with God, not ‘running’ with God.”

If the greatest command is to love, we must slow down, give it time, as a priority.

As Laura Vanderkam says, “Time is finite, so we must make smart choices about it. But time is also abundant: there is enough for anything that truly matters.”

What truly matters today? Who truly matters today?

Presence is more important than productivity. Take ownership of your hours. They’ll pass just the same whether you use them foolishly or intentionally. And once they’re gone? You can’t get them back.

Time is too precious to leave to happenstance. Prioritize. Fill your hours with meaning, significance, and love.

Use your time on purpose.

How busy are you? Know your priorities.

Do you feel too busy? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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8 thoughts on “How Busy Are You? Know Your Priorities

  1. Heather Hart

    Hi Lisa, I’m visiting today for the first time in a long time. I had a great hiatus, but am thrilled to get back to blogging. I loved this quote from your post, “Love can’t be rushed.”

  2. Jerralea Winn Miller

    It is true that back in the day, I viewed being busy as a badge of honor. Not so anymore! Whenever life is too busy I’m aggravated with myself for not saying no! Some things you can’t control; but some you can.

  3. Theresa

    Thank you for this lovely post. I’ve been very intentional about planning my weeks lately. I’m so happy I’ve taken time for unexpected social outings and fellowship, even when it wasn’t according to the plan. This post is a reminder that I’m choosing the better options.

  4. Heather Dalzell

    Thank you Lisa; l think people use the word busy to you will give them sympathy. They are attention seeking.
    What they are really saying, “please feel sorry for me as I’m com
    exhausted from all the work l am doing.”We all choose our coming and goings except an emergency. I love your list of priorities. Those are the ones whom God will give extra strength.

  5. Lynn

    I’ve never liked that word “busy” either, Lisa! Sometimes I’ll say my schedule is “full.” And it has been lately, with planning for a wedding, work that takes me 11 hours out of my home at least three days a week, and keeping up with family, friends, daily stuff…. I struggle against being so “full” yet also need to give myself grace during this season. Maybe part of being intentional of our time is giving ourselves grace for not being able to “do it all” that our minds imagine? When I hear someone say they are “too busy,” I hear their struggle to find time to breathe, to be who they want to be, and just to be still. And pray they take a moment to be present, even if it just gazing at the birds out their window…nature stills us. So true, that practicing presence can realign us to God’s presence, too.

  6. Bev Rihtarchik

    I thought when I retired from heading up a non-profit, I’d be less busy, but somehow “busy” seems to overtake our lives no matter what stage of life we’re in. We can’t love others in a hurry — it takes time and attention. Thank you for the much needed reminder to keep my hierarchy of priorities ever before me!
    Bev xx

  7. Esmé Slabbert

    Busy – I tend to always say ‘yes’ and in doing that always add more and more to my plate! I must admit I love being busy, but sometimes it does catch up and we do not have a moment to relax, or smell the roses.
    I visited you via Grace at Home party
    If you are not already part of SSPS, this is a personal invite to hop over and come and share your posts with us at Senior Salon Pit Stop, every Monday to Saturday.
    See my entries: 49+50 and then navigate to the bottom of my page for the Senior Salon Pit Stop linkup, we hope to meet you there virtually.

  8. Michele Morin

    I try not to describe myself as busy if I can help it because EVERYBODY is busy now and the word has lost its meaning.
    Someone described me recently as “protecting my time,” and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it until reading this post!

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