First of all I had to sit down and intentionally write out my priorities. It wasn't good enough for me to try to decided what was a priority when it was time to make a decision about an activity. I had to write out ahead of time, from greatest to least, my five main priorities. For a long time I kept them visible at all times. Now I know them by heart.
Secondly, I had to muster the courage to say "Yes" only to activities that fell among those five priorities.
Thirdly, I had to limit how many lesser priority activities I accepted in favor of priorities of greater importance.
Finally, I have learned to simply and graciously say no when I : 1. Am already busy, 2. Not interested, or 3. Going/desiring to go in a different direction than what is being asked of me. Sometimes we get so used to saying yes, so used to being called on, and others get so used to having unlimited access to us, that we don't even consider saying no. No should always be an optional response.
So how do we know what should be a priority and what shouldn't? First of all, the Bible gives us a lot of direction about how to arrange our priorities. Start there. For example, ministry and serving should never usurp home and family. Secondly, the Bible states that we have all been given gifts to be used in helping our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. My spiritual gift has become a great tool in further managing how I spend my time helping and serving others (which, by the way should be on everyone's list of priorities). It is the internal compass that indicates to us how our time outside the family can be most productively and passionately spent. On any given Sunday, there are half a dozen opportunities to serve tossed our way that seemingly demand our energy. Many of them may take us away from our Bible-based priorities, and have nothing to do with how we are gifted by God. Yet we feel the pressure or ambition to respond. So we end up with a time management problem because out of the six opportunities, only one was designed to engage you, your set of priorities, and your particular gifting.
I challenge you to sit down today, evaluate your lifestyle with an open Bible and write out a set of priorities based on Scripture. Then, going forward, limit major activities to established priorities, and marry your service-based activities to your spiritual gift(s). If you use this basis for managing your activities, I guarantee you will find yourself with much more time for the things that matter...the things that bring fulfillment and meaning to life, even if it's still a busy life!
~Pouring my life out in worship, like Costly Oil~