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Do you ever feel like you have a million things to do, but you only have time and energy for about three things? Do you often ignore the important things in life because you’re too busy doing the million things in life? If so, you’re in the same boat as most of us. We’ve all experienced this at some point. The question is, “How do you stop feeling overwhelmed when you have a million things to do?”
We’ll be talking about that today in the Christian Habits Podcast (but I’ve also included a summary below if you don’t have time to listen to the podcast).
How to Listen to the Christian Habits Podcast:
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How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed
1. Do the important things first.
In Dr. Stephen Covey’s book First Things First, he gives an example of how to put a few big rocks and lots of little rocks and pebbles into a jar. If you start with the big rocks and fill in with the little rocks and pebbles, it works. But if you start with the pebbles and fill in with the big rocks, they don’t all fit.
In like manner, when we focus our lives on all the little details, we ignore the important things we need to do (the big rocks) and that completely stresses us out. We can avoid that by starting the day with this question: What are the three most important things I need to do today?
2. Don’t let others choose your important things.
Often we let other people answer that question for us. We’ll open an email and all of a sudden that email item is first on our list. We spend an hour working on it, ignoring our other to-dos, even though the email to-do wasn’t all that important.
Or we’ll get involved in projects and goals that aren’t important to us–all because someone else wants us to do them or we feel like we should do them.
Sometimes when we feel like we should do something, it’s legitimate. God wants us to do that thing too. But other times it’s not legitimate. It’s on our list only because others want it on our list or because experts tell us we should do that thing.
This happens on a daily basis, but it also happens on a monthly and yearly basis. If you look at your life, you may find all kinds of things in it that don’t belong there. Not because they’re bad things, but because we don’t have time to do them.
3. Eliminate the things that don’t belong on your list.
Sometimes we’re overwhelmed because we’re procrastinating or not managing our time well, but other times we’re overwhelmed because we really do have too much on our plate. We’re trying to fit too many huge rocks into that quart-sized jar.
When that happens we need to take a close look at our lives and visit with God about what to keep and what to eliminate. If you need help with this, I have a chapter on reducing overwhelm in my Freedom from Procrastination Bible study.
4. Don’t let the little things distract you.
This happened to me when I was writing this blog post/podcast. I had the outline all ready and turned on my computer to start typing. Then I thought, I wonder if I’ve ever written on this topic before? So I did a search, and sure enough, I had a blog post on it. I started reading it, wondered if that outline was better, and before I knew it, 15 minutes was wasted.
This happens to me all the time, and I’m guessing it does to you too! We have so many options for distraction these days, it’s not even funny. Since a whole post could be written on how to focus, I won’t go into that here. Just be aware that this is something to think about and keep reeling yourself back in when you find yourself being distracted.
5. Go to God for help.
Last but not least, we need to go to God for help. Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Here’s the problem, though. When we read that verse, we have a tendency to focus on the “I can do all things” part of that verse, and we use it as proof that we can do all things.
We forget that the important part of that verse is the second half: “In Him who strengthens me!” It takes time to go to God for strengthening, just like it takes time to go to the gym for strengthening.
We don’t get strong by walking into a gym and looking at the weights; we get strong by walking into the gym and interacting with the weights consistently and time-consumingly.
It’s like that with God. The more we interact with Him and actually take the time to develop a habit of relying on Him–the more we’ll be able to do, because He will strengthen us to do it.
So what does that look like on a practical basis? For me, it’s taking the time to renew my mind when I feel like I can’t do the next thing on my list. God speaks truth to me and strengthens me, and by the end of our visit I actually feel like doing the next thing on the list.
If you’d like some help with going to God for that strengthening, see below.
Freedom from Procrastination Bible Study Online Classes
If you need help with the relying part of your relationship with God, I’ve just published a new Bible study called Freedom from Procrastination that will help you develop the habit of relying on God for your daily to-dos. I’ll be teaching both an evening and a daytime class with the study beginning the week of November 4, 2019. For more info on those classes, click here: Freedom from Procrastination Classes