Bring Sanity to Your Daily Schedule – Part 1March 21, 2007
I was leading a seminar recently on the reality of our time crunch. Everyone, everywhere, is experiencing a deficit in the time available any more. I mean, who cannot say in exasperation that they spend every day running from one event to another, from one commitment to another, from one important slot on the schedule to another. Intermixed with all this are family, work, recreation, church, friend and entertainment commitments.
For the next week or so, I want to suggest several ways we can bring sanity back into our daily lives. Of course there will be a degree of sacrifice, soul-searching and perhaps even deep sighs, but each person’s experience will differ.
First, what is the problem?
I mean, if we can’t figure out why we are so maniacally busy, is there any hope of turning off the spigot?
I believe an old fable tells the true story. Listen and remember the moral you were taught years ago:
“I shall have to sell that donkey of ours,” said a miller to his son. “I can not afford to keep him through the winter. I will take him to town this very morning to see if I can find a buyer. You may go with me.” In a little while the miller, his son, and the donkey were on their way to town.
They had not gone far when they met some girls going to a party. They were talking and laughing as they went along. One of them said, “Look at that man and boy driving a donkey. One of them surely might ride.”
The miller heard what they said, and quickly made his son mount the donkey, while he walked along at its side.
After a while they came to a group of old men who were talking very earnestly. “There,” said one, “I was just saying that boys and girls have no respect for the aged. You see it is true in this case. See that boy riding while his old father has to walk.”
“Get down, my son,” said his father, “and I will ride.” So they went on.
They next met some women coming from town. “Why!” they cried, “your poor little boy is nearly tired out. How can you ride and make him walk?” So the miller made his son ride on the donkey behind him.
They were now in town. A man coming down the street called to the miller, “Why do you make your donkey carry such a load? You can carry him better than he can carry you.”
At this the miller and his son got off the donkey. They tied the donkey’s legs together, turned him over on his back; and began to carry him.
A crowd soon gathered to see the strange sight. As they were crossing a bridge the donkey became frightened at the hooting of the crowd. He broke loose, fell into the river, and was drowned.
The miller was angry and ashamed. He said, “There! I have tried to please everybody and have only made a fool of myself. After this I shall do as I think best and let people say what they will.”
The man and his son switched the traveling arrangements four times to suit the observations and opinions of onlookers. None of these onlookers had the particular financial need which drove the man to sell his donkey. Yet, each one of their opinions added perceptibly to the eventual demise of, and loss of profit from, the donkey. What happened is that the man did not consider his goal of selling the donkey to be of greater importance than the opinions and agendas of bystanders. This isn’t far from what too many people face as they look at their schedules. Much of what we do is because others have grasped control of our daily lives and strewn their opinions and desires recklessly through our valuable time.
I am thoroughly amazed when I read biographies of great people. Recently, I re-read the autobiography of Lee Iaccoca, the head of Chrysler Motor Corporation. He is highly regarded for the role he played in rescuing Chrysler from the pits of dissolution hell and getting them back on their feet financially. They are now a very strong company due in part to his leadership. I was surprised to find that he only works 45 hours a week and will not allow himself to be interrupted on the weekends. We have been lead to believe that great business leaders become great by working themselves to death. Iaccoca shows that you can lead effectively by setting significant boundaries around your life and requiring those around you to honor them.
But how do you do that when you work for someone else? How do you do that when your family is in crisis, and health issues arise?
It starts with knowing what God wants you to do on a daily basis. That is the subject of the next blog entry.
But to prepare for it, spend several days examining your life. Keep a record of all the things you do each day on a scrap of paper or in your computer. Beside each entry write one of three letters:
M – beside an activity that is your choice primarily
C – beside an activity that is someone else’s choice, but you have committed to it
U – beside an activity that is someone else’s choice for you and you did not take control over it.
At the end of a couple of days, add up how many “C’s” there are. Are they the majority? If they aren’t, then the next few blog entries may help.