Friday, May 20, 2011

Time in an Envelope

About 2 weeks ago Bill and I got a little growly at each other. You know what I mean- I think he’s not engaged with us, he thinks I’m all aloof. We had a little heart to heart- really, truly- we didn’t fight. We pulled each other aside and said What gives?! Come to find out, we were a little flexibilitied out. I know that isn’t a real word, but you get the idea. Our previous two weeks had entailed Easter, ball games, musical practices, extra cousin sitting and transporting, lessons, recital dress rehearsals, recitals, garage sales, funeral arrangements, Bible studies, going early, staying late, funeral, work, kids, teenagers, and probably more- we were wiped out.

In the course of our discussion, as we realized why we were feeling the way we were and that none of it was bad. But still, it had taken it’s toll. We had been working hard to maintain our family time, but in all our together time, we felt we had none. I think you know that feeling, also. How do you stop it? Can you stop it?

Several years ago, Bill and I took a financial course by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace University. We loved it and would recommend it to everyone, but that’s not what this post is about. In the course, Dave has you plan a month’s budget and then use cash. He has an envelope system, which you designate for each area of your budget- groceries, household items, clothing, eating out, gifts, etc. Whatever you have in each envelope is yours to spend or save, etc. but it has to get you through the whole month. When you run out, you don’t spend any more. 

I told Bill we need to envelope system our time. We’ve got X amount of time for each item. If we spend our time and our envelope is empty, then we’re done. That area doesn’t get any more time. Sounds great, right?

But we’re talking about time, not as determinate a thing as money. In some ways, I really can say we’ve committed this amount of time towards this activity and after that we’re done. We need to draw that line more often because there are so many times where we can’t quantify how much time is needed. I couldn’t say to my mom, “Sorry, Mom, I’ve allotted 3 days for you. I realize you’re grieving so can you fit it all in in 3 days?” There has to be give and take.

So then I try to do it all, be all places at once, be the super hero. When I try to do that- I become super nothing. I’m left as a grouchy person, grumbling from one thing to the next. Yep, life is inconvenient. Dress rehearsals come at inopportune times, band concerts are hot and sweaty, baseball games are too early and too cold and there is never a convenient time for a funeral. My life- “so full it can seem empty”.

I love this quote in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. “On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.” It just resonates with me. If my schedule is full up, how can I not be hurried and impatient? But I can’t just float around on some cloud, lilting out “I’m unhurried. I’m patient.” I’ve got to set limits. There’s not an envelope system in the world that can work perfectly for time. But I can figure out what matters most and I can say no to the for now lesser things.

So why do I write these things for you? Because there are so many distractions pulling at us. And more and more things to do. And opportunities to serve. And places to go, and books (and blogs) to read. I find as I talk to women, we are floundering in our time. We, ourselves, are not disciplined with our time. Or maybe we are but its with the wrong things. OR maybe it is the right things but we don’t know how to say enough is enough. And our families suffer for it- they are not disciplined either. And we are still left empty with wanting more to make it full. I have lived this way for a long time. I’m just now starting to change and I wanted to encourage you also.

1 comment:

  1. Mindy - I can totally relate to this!! It feels like my days just slip through my fingers and I spend time on things I don't really care about and run out of time for those things I do. One of the best (only??) things I've managed to implement is my (almost) nightly reading time with my 10-year-old. I have an alarm set on my cell phone that goes off at 8:45 pm EVERY NIGHT. That's are cue to start preparing for bed; he usually starts earlier than I do. We cozy up in my bed and read together (unless we get to talking) and it's helped me be disciplined about spending that special time with him AND get some of the books off the "to read" pile. :) I'm open to suggestions on the rest of my day!! LOL!



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