The phone hasn’t stopped ringing – the kids are fighting again – the teacher called to schedule an emergency conference about your child’s schoolwork – your boss is uncompromising as the company instigates new policies, little time for training and additional workloads for everyone – you can’t afford to lose your job – nobody seems to care – and you are exhausted.
All you want is a quiet evening of peace and quiet, free from any more problems. And then the phone rings, and you cry, “Not another problem, Lord. I can’t take anymore.”
But this time the phone call is from your best friend, who patiently listens as you unload your frustrations. But when you hang up the phone, although some of the pressure has been lifted, you know it will begin again. You have asked God for strength, thanked Him for your special friend and the daily strength He gives you. But the problems are still there and you know you can’t continue like this.
There are many times when we will be expected to do more than what seems humanly possible. We become stretched to the max. Our stress levels skyrocket as we try to keep pace with the demands and pressure. It seems as though a huge garbage truck full of messy and difficult problems has been dumped on you, and you feel buried and trapped.
No, don’t stop in the middle of the freeway, or go home from work and lock yourself in your bedroom while the kids continue to battle. But it is time to take a few minutes, halt the crazy busyness and focus on the demands on your time. In order to bring some kind of order to the chaos you are experiencing, you need to evaluate, prioritize and strategize.
First, make a conference date with “you”, a meeting to have a serious discussion with “yourself” about all your responsibilities and duties. Mark this conference date on your calendar. Highlight it and circle it in red. Don’t allow yourself to say, “I don’t have time.”
Second, take a few minutes and write down everything you feel you should be doing, must do, ought to be doing, or believe only you can do. If it is putting pressure on you – put it down, regardless of how trivial it may seem. Everything you are currently doing is of vital importance.
We are very capable of handling large amounts of stress. However, when we feel there are no options and nothing we do can change our situation, the dis-stress created can become very harmful over time.
Third, take your list and quickly prioritize it
- Which items cannot be ignored? Ex: your child is struggling in school.
- What extra tasks is your sole responsibility? Ex: an aging parent becoming more dependent.
- What do I need to do every day simply to live? Ex: shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
- Which things impact my ability to survive, pay the bills and support myself and family? Ex: maintaining a job, devoting extra time for training, keeping up with new technology, etc.
With your list in hand, tell yourself that with God’s help you can get through this difficult period of time. You have taken the first steps to resolving some of the problems, ferreting out the trivial and frivolous time wasters, and becoming a better and selective manager of your time.
Remind yourself that the conference you have scheduled with yourself is not a frivolous rehash of what you can’t do. It is a time to find the ways you can take charge of your life and initiate tactics and strategies that will bring order out of the current chaos. It is a time to organize, restructure and prioritize.
In my next blog, STOP, Part II, I will give you some of the ways to problem solve, create new goals and plans of actions when you have the conference date with “YOU”.