The Barrenness of Busyness

Corrie ten Boom once urged: "Beware of the barrenness of a busy life." Her words are still timely.

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We are five weeks into the semester—and it’s already been a full year!

In August, we welcomed 220 outstanding new students into the King’s community, causing the student body to reach a new peak at 465 students. Then came the earthquake (thankfully minor) followed by a hurricane (a first in my 12 years at King’s) and the evacuation of half of our student body.

September didn’t slow down much. We had the drama contest—the image of Ray Davison in a skirt still haunts me—and the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. The following weekend, the majority of the student body was in Pennsylvania or upstate New York for the annual Fall Retreat—the most successful in 10 years by all accounts. This weekend is Homecoming.
In the midst of all this, my wife and I adopted a baby girl. Samaira has brought much joy to our lives—and a hurricane to our schedules.  Thankfully, the intensity of the semester’s start is beginning to abate. As this happens, it’s a good time to settle into a routine that will serve you for the remainder of the semester. I want to offer three brief suggestions to help you do that.

Stay focused on your top priorities. Marie O’Conner observes, “It is not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised; the mosquito is swatted.” Life is busy—something will fill your schedule. But will it be the right things? Your time and energy are limited, so you must keep top priorities in front of you.

You’re studies obviously should be at the top of the list. But even those must be prioritized. Do you work on your Western Civ paper today—or study for your Logic exam? I find it helpful to take a little time at the start of each week to determine priorities for the week ahead; doing so enables me to allocate time during the week to tasks on the top of my list.

Say no. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, prescribes having a ‘not-to-do’ list. There are many good things that we can do, but they detract from the things that are vital. Consider creating a list of things to stop doing in order to make time for the things that are crucial.

Remember Sabbath rest. Several years ago, I discovered the power of Sabbath. As a recent college graduate, I was working 60+ hours per week with no days off. I was continually stressed out. My schedule felt out of control. Then I heard a sermon on Sabbath rest, something about which I had never given much thought.

I began to set aside a 24-hour period each week, generally Saturday 6:00 PM to Sunday 6:00 PM, to rest. I would only do things that recharged me—including naps, leisurely reading, journaling, and exercise. I refrained from tasks that drained me, including anything work-related. That practice, which I’ve continued for 20 years, revolutionized my life. Every week, I gain fresh perspective, recharge for the week ahead, and commune with God. I cannot recommend the discipline highly enough.

Corrie ten Boom once urged: “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.” Her words are still timely.

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