Hint: how to have a less busy schedule this school year will involve saying ‘no’ on repeat.
As we get ready to head into a new school year, life tends to get busier. After what was hopefully a slower summer, people head into fall full force. The respite of summer quickly turns into the chaos of fall.
First, there is the school schedule to contend with and if you have multiple kids in different schools with varying bus schedules that in and of itself is a lot. Then there are all the sports practices and games that start up as well as lots of options for extracurriculars.
Additionally, there are church and community programs and meetings.
It’s easy to use up all of your margin. Your breathing room is gone and now you’re overwhelmed trying to keep everyone’s schedules straight.
So many people live this way that you can begin to question whether or not there even is an alternative. Is this just the pace of life society runs at and we need to figure out a way to make it work?
Or perhaps there is another way where we honor our minds, bodies, and spirits and say no even if it isn’t the popular thing to do.
How to have a less busy schedule
In order to have a less busy schedule once fall is underway, do the following five things:
1. Determine your priorities
What are your family’s values? Take time to think them through. Create a mission statement. Discuss what is important to you and what you want to prioritize. What is your why?
The clearer you are in defining your value and priorities, the easier it will be to see whether or not opportunities fit within your family goals.
Decide in advance what the non-negotiables are for your family. That could be the minimum number of nights you all are home together for dinner. It can be anything that you as a family want to prioritize.
2. Wait to say yes
If you want to have a less busy schedule this fall, wait before committing to anything. It’s so common to say yes to something as soon as it is asked of you. In the moment it may seem like a great idea or you may want to simply be agreeable.
However, it’s better to wait and look over your schedule and revisit your priorities to see if it’s a good fit first. It is much easier to wait and say no than it is to take back a yes after you’ve already committed to something.
Waiting will provide greater clarity. You don’t want to make decisions on reflex or with wrong motives. Guilt and obligation aren’t good reasons to say yes.
Be sure of your answer. It’s better for both you and the other people involved if your answer is definitive, not wishy-washy.
3. Say no often
You can say no and you don’t need to explain why. People who love and respect you will accept your answer. Often attempted explanations lead to further discussions or hurt feelings.
Just because you are available doesn’t mean you need to make yourself available. I give you permission to opt-out of whatever you need to.
So often I think we begin to say yes by default and find that it’s normal that we’re overwhelmed. We accept this pace of living even when it isn’t how we want to live. It’s easy to forget our own needs in the shuffle.
Let me remind you that you matter. Your boundaries matter. What is best for you and your family in this season matters. It matters that you aren’t burned out and that you’re practicing self-care.
How you choose to schedule your life will impact your attitude and your family. You don’t have to say yes simply because you didn’t have anything else scheduled.
Sometimes our gut says no but our mouth says yes because we feel guilty honoring our own needs above others. It’s great to serve. It’s not great to burn yourself out. Helping is great, but overscheduling and having no time for your family isn’t.
Saying no allows you to have margin. Protect your family time, your self-care time, and your priorities. Create boundaries and keep them.
If you feel like you are already in over your head, reassess your commitments and decide what stays and what needs to go.
4. Create margin
There are so many great things that happen in the margins in our lives. When nothing was planned and something spontaneous occurs. Some of the best memories are found during these times.
Margin creates breathing room in your schedule. It is intentionally not scheduling all your time.
Depending on the stage of life that you are in with your family, you may need a lot of margin. Your personality will also influence the appropriate amount of margin for your life.
With fall quickly approaching, consider creating a bucket list of fall activities you’d like to do. Prioritize them. There is so much joy to be found in doing things you love with the people you love.
Fall is my favorite season. I love the crisp air and the coziness that the change of weather brings. Margin allows you to notice nature and enjoy the present.
5. Choose your pace
There are seasons to life. Some seasons may be incredibly busy and some part of that may be out of our control. There are also times for much-needed rest.
Every person and family has different comfort levels with busyness. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, it’s unhealthy to not have rest and downtime.
Some people thrive on busyness. If that’s your personality, consider if you’re trying to avoid something. Busyness can be a distraction from dealing with bigger issues.
I enjoy being productive and active. It’s hard for me to sit still sometimes when I’m constantly trying to get things done. As I’ve worked towards living more intentionally I’ve been working on slowing down.
My commitments are fewer and I’m clear on my goals and priorities. As we move closer to fall, I’m already looking forward to the change in weather and cozying up to read more books. I also enjoy looking at the changing leaves with my girls.
The change in season and school year bring a new opportunity to do things differently. What do you want to remember when you look back on this year? What changes do you need to make to have a less busy schedule this school year?
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