Maybe you’ve seen the memes on Twitter or Instagram — the ones talking about college students and how they have to manage their time. They need to sleep, study and have a social life, but, in reality, to do any one of them well, they have to neglect another. They can get eight hours of sleep and study for their tests and get all their homework done early, but they don’t get to have much of a social life. Or they can hang out with their friends and focus on their studies, but they have to sacrifice their much needed sleep. Or they can get plenty of sleep and hang out with friends, but then they fall behind in school.
And now here I am, more than five years removed from college, and I’ve found myself in a similar season.
It’s surely not as drastic as my time in college, but I still feel like I end up sacrificing balance and health in one area to keep the others going. I get up and go to the gym before work each morning, I work for eight hours every workday, I have Bible study one night a week, I volunteer in kid’s ministry at church another night of the week, I volunteer at my church’s ESL ministry another night, I need to have personal study and prayer time along with my time in Scripture for my Bible study, I go to church on Sundays, and I also need to prioritize time with my family and with my friends. Oh and I’m an introvert so I also love my alone time and need it to recharge. And I just can’t do it all.
The problem of overcommitment
I don’t say these things to brag about how much I do. Full disclosure, I’ve overextended myself. I’ve overcommitted. And the things I’ve deemed “less important” have suffered because of it.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation. You don’t know how to prioritize everything going on in your life and maybe when you examine all the plates you are trying to juggle you don’t see one that’s inherently bad or unhealthy. Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to do everything we want to do.
So what can you do?
My first piece of advice would be to honestly examine your schedule and your commitments. Is there anything that isn’t wise for you to be doing? Or is anything you are prioritizing over the biblical commands we have been issued? Having weekly Taco Tuesdays with your friends isn’t bad or unwise, but if it’s causing you to neglect your study of Scripture, maybe you shouldn’t go weekly, or ask to change it to the weekend.
Next, look at anything you are doing that might be redundant — not bad things, but things you are choosing to participate in multiple times a week. Are you serving in two ministries during the week (like me), are you working an extra job, are you a part of several different small groups? Maybe you need to let one of those things go — even if it’s just for a season.
Focus on the main thing
When you are making decisions on what to do weekly, what to do less often and what to eliminate, the most important thing is to prioritize. I think we can all agree that church attendance and time in study and prayer with God should be at the top of all our lists. And serving in your local body and getting involved with a small group aren’t far behind. Then you’re left with deciding what else you want to fit into your schedule and how to do that in the healthiest way — healthy for you physically, mentally and spiritually.
Personally, I am going to take a break from serving in ESL ministry at the end of this semester. It will free up one more night of my week so my mornings can be less rushed and more focused, and I can prioritize nurturing my relationships with my family and friends.
Your decisions might look different, and that’s okay. Just know that if you are feeling overwhelmed and tired, you are not alone.
What’s important is that you are honest with yourself and are keeping the main thing (your walk with God) the main thing.