“The essence of effective time and life management is to organize and execute around priorities.” ~ Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
God knew what he was doing when he gave us the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day. He didn’t tell Moses to “try to go to church once a week.” No, he was quite specific that we were to honor and worship him on the Sabbath day. This is because God knows we have a little time management problem. We are easily distracted and prone to overwhelm. So he made rules that are non-negotiable. In fact, he felt so strongly about the Sabbath day ritual, that he had this message carved in stone along with his other highest laws.
It’s interesting how, even centuries later, human beings still hold that ritual sacred by spending Sunday mornings in worship. I have a feeling if God had been a little less structured, we might not have the same loyal church-going practice in place. Imagine yourself saying, “Gosh, I really need to figure out how to find time to go to church this week.” Or, “Wow – it’s been such a crazy week and I’ve meant to get to church but I just couldn’t fit it in!” No, God knew what he was doing by establishing a specific time for worship and creating the expectation that we set that day aside and plan everything else in our lives around it.
The same practice holds true in other areas of our life as well. Think about the people you know who are “religious” about their fitness habits. Do they try to squeeze in a workout when they find the time? No, they most likely have a very specific time and place in their schedule for exercise. Maybe they are morning exercisers, rising before dawn to hop on the treadmill before the kids wake up. Or perhaps they spend their lunch hour at the gym or unwind every evening with a quiet yoga practice. The more dedicated they are to fitness, the more structured their routine is. I have neighbors who tell me they know what time it is when they see me pass their house on my morning run. I’m a creature of habit, which can be a detriment at times, but it is a tremendous asset when it comes to establishing routines and managing my time.
Rituals and habits are also important in protecting our personal time. I’m sure you have a list of things that you value – your top priorities. Think about the rituals and habits that you put in place to ensure you devote adequate time to those things. For example, my list includes “spending time with my husband,” so we have a standing monthly date night. We put it on the calendar and hire a babysitter even without knowing what we will do or where we will go. My list also includes “friendships,” and one of the best ways for me to nurture my relationships with girlfriends is to have lunch dates. I intentionally keep my calendar free every other Friday to have lunch with a friend.
No matter how good our intentions are, if we don’t have a ritual or system in place to honor those intentions, our goals will fall victim to the chaotic pace of life. We are easily distracted even by the most noble of endeavors that will ultimately throw us off course. As moms, we feel the pressure of an endless list of responsibilities and important activities. We are surrounded by others who are eager to tap into our brilliance and experience the benefit of our generosity. Of course, we want to be there for them—to give of ourselves freely. Because we are people-pleasers. We want to be loved. We love to be needed. And we truly receive joy in helping others. All of this is good. But we know what happens when we have too much of a good thing.
So what are you doing to create rituals in your life? I’d love to hear from you!
Copyright 2011 Theresa Ceniccola