Busyness seems to be an epidemic in our society. You ask people how they are doing and 90% of the time you’re going to get some response akin to “Life’s busy!” Not only is life busy but busyness seems to be a badge of honor for a lot of people. This isn’t how life is supposed to be!
We’ve all heard the age-old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s play things!” but, what we fail to recognize is the opposite of idle isn’t busy, it’s occupied. Our lives should be occupied. Populated by activities that meet our needs, give us joy and help advance who we are as people. Not just activity after activity. Even the Lord rested on the seventh day – it’s Biblical people!
I’m a big fan of the YouTube channel Less Junk More Journey which follows a young family who lives full-time in an RV. Recently, they were talking about how living in a small space doesn’t mean you don’t purchase things, you just need to “guard your yes” because space is limited. Think of how this one principle could transform your life if you “guarded your yes” for every one of your limited resources – your time, your money, your space, your energy. What if you flipped the switch in your mind that your automatic response was not “I guess I don’t have a reason not to do ‘x’ or buy ‘y’” but instead became “what is my reason to do ‘x’ or buy ‘y’?”
When to say “yes” to things
You’re in Target and a cute item from the Dollar Spot catches your eye. Rather than throwing it in the cart because “it’s only $1,” what if you really thought about what that item would be bringing to your life. Is it a décor item that fills a specific spot in your home you’ve been meaning to fill? Is it a party item that’s versatile and meets a need you’ve already identified? Is it a kids’ item that you see your kids actually using or just leaving on the floor?
As consumers, Americans have lost the ability to just appreciate something for what it is. I love to go through the Dollar Spot at Target. I pick up a lot of items and admire them but I’ve learned I don’t have to own them. You can appreciate the design, aesthetic and over-all cuteness of an item without actually taking it home. But it’s also okay to take it home. Maybe it really will bring you joy. But if your default is to question rather than just grab, your home will be full of things you appreciate, not just things that caught your eye in the moment.
When to say “yes” to responsibilities
Are you a people person? I know I am. I love to be needed and get a lot of joy from taking on responsibilities at church and in my community. But I’m sure, I’m not the only one who’s found themselves looking at their to-do list and calendar at 11 p.m. and wondering how you got here and how you’re going to get this all done.
Guarding your “yes” in this area means not just assessing if you think you have the time to fulfill this role but if it’s really what you’re called to do. Just because you have a talent doesn’t mean you need to be the only person who ever fulfills needs in that area. In fact, how is anyone else supposed to grow in this skill if you end up doing it all. Chances are, you’ll burn out and something you once loved will become a chore.
If you have a hard time saying no, you can always say no but offer a suggestion of someone else you think would be a good fit. Maybe someone who’s feeling left out or on the fringes. It’s a great way to bring someone in!
When someone asks you to fill a role, here are some easy questions to consider.
- Do I feel like God is calling me to be involved in this way? Is there something else he’s laid more strongly on my heart?
- Do I actually have the time to take this on? If not, is there something I’m currently doing that I’d be willing to let go to take on this task?
- How will this affect my family and responsibilities at home? Will my spouse be supportive? If it’s going to be a struggle, is that okay? Is this an area my family and I need to grow in and gain some greater perspective outside ourselves?
- What example does this set for others? For my kids? For my spouse? For my friends? For others in the community?
- How will this opportunity help me grow as a person?
Taking time to prayerfully consider these questions along with your spouse will ensure you’re committing to things you are truly meant to do. Not just filling your time with a bunch of tasks others have placed on you.
When to say “yes” to kids activities
This is another sore spot in our culture. We love to give our kids all the opportunities in the world but we miss a lot of important lessons by over extending them and ourselves. It is so important for kids to have some down time during their week. This helps them grow skills of patience, creativity, and the ability to self-entertain all of which will serve them well as adults. It also gives them time to explore interests that might not lend themselves to organized activities.
Of course, the big win here is if you train your kids to guard their “yes” as children, they are going to be better able to manage responsibilities as adults. It’s important for kids to learn they can’t do it all and that they may have to make hard choices about where to invest their time.
If you haven’t already, sit down with your spouse and develop a rough plan for what you want kid activities to look like based on your family dynamic, time and finances. This could be as simple as only one music activity and one sport activity at any given time. Or maybe it’s encouraging them to try a lot of different things until they are a certain age and then starting to pare down. If your family is on the same page, it will make those decisions that have to be made quickly easier and less detrimental down the line.
Remember, as parents, you aren’t here solely to facilitate your child’s dream life. It’s an important lesson for your kids to learn that they are part of a family team not just the center of the family. The way they choose to spend their time, impacts everyone.
When to say “yes” to social activities
This is another area where we’ve come to feel like if we don’t have a concrete reason to say “no” than the answer must be “yes.” But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you find your calendar is overrun with social obligations, it’s time to reconsider your social strategy. What do you and your family really need?
Rather than a play date one day, a walk as a family another day, and some grown up time on a third day, can you find an activity that meets all those needs? Kid socializing, grown up socializing and some exercise? If you can identify your families key needs, then you can prioritize those sorts of events. Maybe you have a lot of family “togetherness” and what you and your spouse really need is grown up time or time to yourselves. That’s okay, acknowledge that and start scheduling more of it onto your calendar.
When you’re mindful of what your trying to accomplish with social activities it also helps you stay away from the “maybe” trap which is a frustration of anyone who’s hosted an event. You can say with certainty “yes” or “no” which allows the host to plan accordingly. Be a good guest, don’t leave the host hanging.
I hope this idea of “guarding your ‘yes’” has given you a new perspective on managing your time and your stuff. The concept can be applied to so many areas of your life, I encourage you to mull it over a bit more. If you have a way you like to guard your yes, please share it below! I’m just a newbie at this and would love to hear your suggestions as well!