Once you’ve examined what’s at the root of your family’s over scheduling (see Part 2), it’s time to start making some changes. It might be a slow and painful process, but that’s okay. There’s no one-size-fits-all standard or method, but taking the following steps will help set you on your way.
Log or Track Your Time
Just like before you establish a financial budget and you start tracking your spending to see where your money is going, you’ll want to try to write out all the things you and your family are doing. You can probably start with a look at your (probably pretty cluttered!) calendar. You’ll also want to write out what takes up your unscheduled time; perhaps you can keep a log for a week or two so you realize exactly where each of your 1,440 minutes are going, each day. (Okay, maybe you don’t need to log each minute, but at least record every 30-minute segment.)
Re-Evaluate Every Activity
Only you can decide what to keep doing and what to eliminate. Of course, if you’ve made a commitment for a certain time period, you need to very carefully evaluate the situation before you go back on your word. (If you’re to a point where you or your children are reaping the unhealthy results of over-scheduling, you may want to pray about admitting your weaknesses and requesting to be released from a commitment.)
You’ll want to make a (short) list of your primary priorities and consider whether each activity is helping you achieve your goals. You also need to figure in “margin” — unscheduled hours that allow you to enjoy life and be spontaneous. To return to the earlier comparison with financial budgeting, margin is to your schedule what “blow money” is to your budget: We all need a little wiggle room.
Practice Being “All There”
According to Ann Voskamp, author of the bestselling book One Thousand Gifts, the only way to slow time is “by being all here.” Seeing life as a gift, not an emergency, is key to this ability to embrace the moments that add up to lifetimes. It’s good to remember that the feeling of time running out, slipping throughout fingers, is not a struggle that’s uniquely ours.
Even from her Canadian farm house, Ann describes the angst: “Time is what we all have, now, that which we never need to merely find enough of, but rather the gift we are given to make something of. Finding time’s impossible. We’ll have to be intentional and get down to just make time, something out of it all invisible. Every hour has sixty jeweled minutes no matter who you are.” She encourages us to slow down and, in that intentional slowing down, experience the beauty we can see only when we “slow time down with weight of full attention.”