As we look ahead to a new year and manage the commitments on our holiday schedule, it is easy to get caught up and feel overwhelmed. We feel the need to be all things to all people. We fear being left out, so we say “yes” to every invitation despite all of the other “normal life” stuff we have to manage. We have hopes of saying no to some of the things, yet we choose not to protect our calendars. What if we chose to protect our calendar, and as a result protected ourselves?
Sounds Necessary, Right?
Protecting our calendars is incredibly important for our sanity. I recently had the privilege to speak at a couple of events on the topic of protecting our time. Some of those in attendance were already working to protect their calendar but didn’t know it. Others were desperate for guidance on how they could it. To me, it all comes down to understanding the word “Shabbat.”
What is Shabbat?
It is derived from the Hebrew verb meaning to rest, cease, or stop. “Shabbat” is commonly associated with Jewish traditions, but at the most basic level, it is a verb. We all NEED Shabbat in our life. If we continue with all of our go-go-going, then we burn out. We get cranky, tired, overwhelmed, and have nothing (of worth) left to give to ourselves or others.
In extreme situations, chronic over-scheduling can lead to stress which over time can result in mental and physical illness. Even in a world that glorifies being “busy”, ain’t nobody got time for a nervous breakdown.
So, how do we Shabbat and protect our calendars?
We write out what a typical week or day looks like for us.
We take a moment to notice the trends in our week or day.
We adjust to find balance.
Shabbat teaches us that we cannot have obligations all the time. We have to find a balance between maintaining what we should do with what we would like to do. As we live into this, we will have to say no to things that jeopardize that balance. Sometimes we will say no to things that would bring us joy. Sometimes we will have to say yes to things we would prefer not to do (#adulting). In the grand scheme, our calendars will become less burdensome.
How does my calendar look?
It’s a work in progress, but my calendar has something on it almost every day of the week. In addition to taking care of my family, I work full-time and, have a side hustle. I also volunteer and stay involved in my church. Like most people, I enjoy spending time with friends as well. As I take time to assess the state of my calendar, I try to find a balance and leave room for Shabbat. I have to regularly remind myself that no one else is the boss of my calendar except me. I am the one who knows me best. I know when I am most productive (morning) and that I need to plan time to Shabbat so I don’t end up exhausted and blowing off something in an effort to catch up on rest. Being honest with myself about these truths will help me make better choices with my schedule.
I am not perfect at doing this, but I have a rule of thumb. At least one day of the weekend, I plan to not have plans. My husband and children and I so enjoy spending time with friends and loved ones on the weekends, but we know we need our downtime too. Last weekend, I had every intention of passing a leisurely Saturday, but a spontaneous family trip to the Illuminate Light Show with my mother-in-law sounded too good to pass up. Even though we had a delightful and relaxing Saturday, we still took a little extra Shabbat on Sunday because, why not?
I have found that it doesn’t have to be the same time or day every week, but the act of prioritizing Shabbat is our first step in achieving schedule equilibrium. By leaving ourselves room to “chill” or go with the flow, we protect our calendars from excessive commitments and our hearts and minds from burning out.
Being real with ourselves: knowing and respecting how we work best, and finding balance without feeling guilty. Even if that balance means we say no to things once in a while.
It is up to each of us, individually, to decide how we spend our time. I hope you are inspired to make Shabbat a regular focus of your week. We do not have to do everything, and more importantly, we can not physically handle a life full of obligations. As we prepare for a new year, let’s be a little more selective about what goes on the calendar. Let’s leave room for Shabbat and look forward to our most productive and restful year yet!