Permission to Breathe

It’s already happening.

Before the Thanksgiving fixings were in the oven, I started falling into Harried Holiday mode. I felt like l was frantically trying to juggle all the balls others (and my own ego) threw at me, and life was inching into a bad place.

This morning, as I went to my first exercise class in months, the reality of my harriedness (is that a word?) smacked me in the face again. As we relaxed at the end of class, the instructor told us to lay back and to simply breathe in and out.

Abdome_superiorIt was so relaxing. Exactly what I needed. But then I thought—“Wow! How sad is it that I need someone to give me permission to breathe!”

So today, I’m giving myself—and all of you—permission to breathe. As soon as I’m done this e-blast, I’ve blocked time to look at my month, consider what I want it to look like, and do some damage control:

  • I don’t want my time with God to turn into devotions on the toilet and study prep time for Bible Study. I refuse to multitask God!
  • I don’t want to get so caught up planning our women’s ministry Christmas dinner that my loved ones find me too busy to interrupt. I don’t want friends and family to lose out because I have holiday chores to do. Relationships are eternal. But gifts wear out and cookies get stale. The decorations we put up today just have to get boxed up again in January!

 

There are things I love about the holiday season. I love baking cookies for my guys. I do like gift giving (within limits). I love how our Christmas tree brightens up the house.

And I do believe God loves a good party and celebrates Christ’s birth along with us.

But there are ways to push back against the crazy expectations. Little ways, and big ways:

  • Maybe I’ll skip make up, hair, and fussing about what I wear, so I can relax in my quiet time. Everyone’s too busy to notice my yoga pants anyway!
  • Maybe we’ll eat a few more meals out of the freezer, so I can sit at the table with my family instead of running around the kitchen.
  • Maybe I can skip hearing that Christmas performance and get to bed early.
  • Maybe I can give fewer gifts, knowing that those who truly love me love me, not what I give them.
  • Maybe I can schedule my time so that I know I have permission to breathe!

What does permission to breathe look like for you? My prayer is that you will rest with God and He will show you how to breathe your way through the
Christmas season immersed in His love, which will overflow into the lives of His Beloved all around us!

Merry Christmas from the Take Heart team!

–Sandy MacMillan, Take Heart Director

P.S. Please check out our Ministry Leaders Breakfast on December 12th and our Leaders Retreat at the end of January (see the Take Heart website, www.TakeHeartTogether.com for details). We don’t want to add more busyness to your schedule, but both will be great opportunities to breathe.

Feel free to come in your yoga pants!

Photo by André R. Maciel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Three Ways to Ease Your Time Management Stress

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by Beth Beutler

Sharon collapsed onto the couch wondering, “Where did the time go?” She looked over her to-do list from the day, and saw only half of the items completed.

The list seemed reasonable when she wrote it out this morning, but she went to bed feeling like a failure.

Has that ever happened to you?

A stuffed calendar and an overflowing to-do list can lead to stress, meltdowns, and discouragement, but there are ways to refine how you manage your time, so that there’s more time for an unrushed walk with God and for building healthy relationships. Let’s look at three.

Develop an Evening Routine

What we do toward the end of the day is the most important foundation for the next day and week. Flylady.net calls it the “before bed routine.” I call it “FINISH” and am working on getting more disciplined with an evening checklist that will set me up for a better tomorrow.

You can do the same. Make a list of a few tasks that would positively impact the next morning if you could do them consistently. These may include:

  • packing lunches
  • getting clothes out (including accessories)
  • having a bit of quiet time
  • reviewing tomorrow’s calendar
  • packing up extra items like gym bags, computer items or coupons for shopping

For me, I use the word FINISH as an acronym to represent certain steps:

  • F – fill humidifier/diffuser
  • I – Inspirational reading
  • N – next day prep of clothes, bags, etc.
  • I –  in-box zero (email and snail mail gone through)
  • S – self care (grooming, vitamins, etc.)
  • H – house tidying

Do whatever works for you to consistently finish your day well.

Develop a Morning Routine

An effective evening routine is enhanced by a smart morning routine. Again, write down what would make for an ideal morning, with items such as:

  • having a quiet time with God
  • exercising
  • eating a good breakfast
  • tidying the house
  • checking mail

I use “BEGIN” to note these items. For me they include reminders of components of my morning such as “neaten the house” and “grooming.”

  • B – breakfast
  • E – email
  • G – grooming
  • I – inspirational reading, praying
  • N – neatening up

Again, make a list that’s realistic and that works for you, and be willing to adjust it. Try to get into a daily routine, using your list as a guide.

Plan for Transitions

One of my weaknesses is a tendency to not allow enough time to transition between appointments. In this season of my life, I spend a lot of time at home. Because I live in a somewhat rural area, it’s more efficient to stack appointments when I do go out. That means it often takes planning. I need to have gather what I want to bring along, take a few moments to leave the house in decent condition, and touch up my personal appearance.  Therefore, I am teaching myself to allow at least 15 minutes of transition/pack up time. If I need to be somewhere that is 40 minutes away at 11:00, I need to stop working on the computer at 10 and take 15 minutes for the transition, not push my computer work to 10:15.

Overcoming our time management struggles takes intentionality. They won’t fix themselves. Getting a handle on these first three will be a tremendous help toward significant improvement!

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Beth Beutler is an author, speaker, and communication specialist who will be conducting a breakout session at the Take Heart conference (www.TakeHeartTogether.com/conference) on “Ten Time Management Strategies for Stressed-Less Living.” She blogs regularly at www.bethbeutler.com, with a goal of refreshing busy people with hope and laughter while helping them incorporate biblical and practical skills into an excellent personal and professional life.