How to Overcome an Overloaded Life by Establishing Rhythm

We’re all busy in the same sorts of ways. Our lives are consumed with the crushing weight of family, work, and church activities. Our lives are bombarded with requests, demands, and desires. Individual situations may be quantitatively less busy than others, and some more so, but as a society we are living a shared experience of an overwhelmed life.

Where does it all stop? When will things slow down? How can we recapture time lost?

Technology has delivered time-saving devices that actually consume more time. Progress moves our lives faster and faster, yet we seem incapable of enjoying little if any benefit. We desire and often achieve more. We have bought into a full-life timeshare to only find ourselves bankrupt in emptiness.

Are you asking this question?

I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Your Life in Rhythm by Bruce B. Miller

Your Life in Rhythm offers a realistic solution to our crazy, overly busy, stressed lives. Miller exposes the myth of living a “balanced” life, and offers “rhythmic living” as a new paradigm for relieving guilt and stress, while accomplishing more of what matters most in life.

Rhythmic living details six practical strategies for living a more fulfilling life. Instead of managing time, Miller suggests that we flow with life, living in tune with the natural rhythms of nature. By applying the rhythm strategies, we can reduce stress, frustration, and guilt while increasing fulfillment and inner peace. The point is not to balance all of our responsibilities at one time, but to focus attention on what matters most at different times.

Although this sounds easy enough, the six strategies he outlines are crucial to helping the reader to achieve this goal. Miller helps us to understand the stages and seasons of life we all experience over a lifetime. This new understanding, when applied, will solve time-management problems and help readers to let go of misplaced priorities and relieve their overbooked lifestyle. The rhythm solution, in short, brings freedom.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you find yourself working longer and longer hours at the office or running a taxi service to deliver your kids to all their activities? Are you juggling multiple responsibilities at home, work, and church? Does it always seem as if you have at least one too many things pulling you in different directions?

If any (or all!) of the above is true, no doubt you’ve been told or read somewhere that you need to get your life in balance.

The problem is the concept of “balance” is part of the problem!

It’s time to shift your paradigm of a well-lived life from balance to rhythm. Life is not static, linear, or uniform. It moves, oscillates, vibrates, and pulsates. A rhythm model honors time and movement; it celebrates variety and diversity; it highlights uniqueness and recognizes common patterns. Rhythm honors excellence and the sacrifice required for achievements while also providing time for renewal.

The very concept of balance that is designed to free us from the frenzy of modern life has actually subjected us to idealistic notions of a perfectly proportioned life. Balance is what one does to chemical equations and columns of numbers, not to life.

I am using the concepts of chronos and kairos to label the two basic kinds of rhythm: cycles and seasons. We live rhythmically by following the sky’s patterns, which form our chronos rhythms (cycles), and by riding the sea waves of our kairos rhythms (seasons).

We all live in the same world, structured by five fundamental chronos cycles: solar, seasonal, lunar, sabbatical, and rotational; in other words, the year, quarter, month, week, and day. We also live in kairos seasons: unique times such as the birth of a child, the college years, rehabilitation after an injury, retirement, or moving to a new city. We ride the waves of life as they come. Chronos cycles describe the temporal context of our environment on planet Earth, whereas kairos seasons describe the patterns in the flow of our human lives.

Kairos seasons are not tied to clock time. They are flows rather than cycles, the movement of a story rather than the meter of a tune. Kairos is an opportune time, the right time to say or do something.

The chronos cycles describe cyclical, recurring rhythms built into the fabric of the created order, environmental rhythms established by astronomical phenomena and embedded in our biology. In contrast, kairos seasons are linear, noncyclical, human rhythms.

Kairos Rhythm Strategies

  1. Release expectations – Be at peace with the stage God has you in right now. Release your expectations of other times, and stop envying others who are older or younger.
  2. Seize opportunities – We do not get to relive most stages of our lives. We get one shot. When we live our lives in rhythm, we make the most of every season and stage of life.
  3. Anticipate what’s next – If you really don’t like the stage of life you’re in right now, use the power of anticipation to give yourself hope.

Chronos Rhythm Strategies

  1. Pace yourself – We will find more peaceful, enjoyable, and fulfilled lives if we can identify appropriate frequencies for our regular activities.
  2. Build rituals – By building rituals in an annual cycle, you are achieving your mission in harmony with the way our world actually works.
  3. Oscillate work and rest – Think in advance how you will stay healthy through the year by oscillating between intensity and renewal.

Bruce B. Miller, Your Life in Rhythm

A NEXT STEP

Author Bruce Miller has a series of exercises sprinkled throughout his book. Here is a sampling of each, following the list of strategies listed above.

Set aside time each day this week and practice the exercise. Where called for, create a chart tablet and leave it up all week long.

Release expectations – Create a chart tablet headed with the following phrase: “I will release the following expectations…” Take 10 minutes and complete the phrase with as many actions as you can.

Seize opportunities – Create a chart tablet headed with the following phrase: “I will seize these unique opportunities in this kairos season…” Take 10 minutes and complete the phrase with as many actions as you can.

Anticipate what’s next – Create a chart tablet headed with the following phrase: “I can anticipate the following personal seasons and life stages coming…” Take 10 minutes and complete the phrase with as many actions as you can.

Pace yourself – Try the following steps to help you get started on pacing yourself:

  1. Change the frequency of one activity in your life to a more appropriate pace.
  2. Take one aspect of your life and consider paces that follow the flow of natural chronos cycles.
  3. Talk about your pace with those you live with.

Build rituals – Identify a life-enhancing ritual that you can build for at least one chronos cycle.

Oscillate work and rest – Identify an oscillation between work and rest that you can introduce in at least one chronos cycle. Put it into practice, and note positive changes in your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 87-2, released February 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

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How to Overcome an Overloaded Life by Creating Margin

We’re all busy in the same sorts of ways. Our lives are consumed with the crushing weight of family, work, and church activities. Our lives are bombarded with requests, demands, and desires. Individual situations may be quantitatively less busy than others, and some more so, but as a society we are living a shared experience of an overwhelmed life.

Where does it all stop? When will things slow down? How can we recapture time lost?

Technology has delivered time-saving devices that actually consume more time. Progress moves our lives faster and faster, yet we seem incapable of enjoying little if any benefit. We desire and often achieve more. We have bought into a full-life timeshare to only find ourselves bankrupt in emptiness.

Are you asking this question?

I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Margin, by Richard A. Swenson

Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Today we use margin just to get by. This book is for anyone who yearns for relief from the pressure of overload. Reevaluate your priorities, determine the value of rest and simplicity in your life, and see where your identity really comes from. The benefits can be good health, financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and availability for God’s purpose.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Life in much of the world today is essentially devoid of time and space. The time and space that once existed in the lives of family and friends who regularly lingered after dinner, visited with the neighbors, sat on the front porch, went for long walks, planted flowers or a garden, and always had a full night’s sleep.

People are exhausted from trying to live life in a 24/7 world. People are stressed trying to keep the good things going and the bad things at bay. People are overloaded with things that (maybe) were once good but now are burdens.

We need more time. We need more space. We need more reserves. We need more buffer.

We need margin.

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing and suffocating. 

To be healthy, we require margin in at least four areas: emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances. Conditions of modern living, however, have drained these margins rather than sustaining them.

Restoring Margin in Emotional Energy

  1. Cultivate social supports – The existence of intact, functioning, healthy, nurturing systems of social support are as good a resource for replenishing depleted energy reserves as can be found.
  2. Reconcile relationships – True reconciliation is one of the most powerful of all human interactions.
  3. Serve one another – One of the best ways to heal your own pain is to focus instead on meeting the needs of others.
  4. Rest – Be with people and serve them. But be sure to get away occasionally. Escape. Relax. Sleep in. Rest restores.

Restoring Margin in Physical Energy

  1. Take personal responsibility – Until we accept personal responsibility for our own health, the road to the future will remain paved with aches.
  2. Change your habits – Changing habit disorders often requires changing lifestyles.
  3. Decrease intake of fat, sugars, and total calories – There are healthier foods that also taste good, we can change our bad habits, and we can’t afford not to.
  4. Exercise for the body, mind, and spirit – One hundred percent of people who exercise to the point of cardiorespiratory fitness will experience an increased sense of well-being.

Restoring Time Margin

  1. Expect the unexpected – To plan for the unexpected is not an invitation to sloppiness or mediocrity but instead a concession to reality.
  2. Learn to say “No” – Saying No is not just a good idea, it has now become a mathematical necessity.
  3. Get less done but do the right things – Busyness is not a synonym for kingdom work – it is only busyness.
  4. Prune the activity branches – Even though it is much harder to stop something than start it, periodically, get out the clippers and prune away.

Restoring Financial Margin

  1. Live within your harvest – Not only should you make do with what you have but accept what you have.
  2. Discipline desires and redefine needs – Clarify the distinction between needs and desires and be honest about it before God.
  3. Fast – The world does not stop nor the family fall apart when we unplug from the treadmill of consumerism for a period.
  4. Counter culture – Willingly and knowingly wrestle control from a culture wanting to tell us what we must buy and own.

Richard A. Swenson, Margin

A NEXT STEP

Review the above four areas of margin needed in your life, and choose the one that you personally most need at this time.

Block off a two-hour minimum time where you will not be disturbed. Turn off your mobile phone and ask not to be disturbed.

On a chart tablet, list the margin area you chose at the top, and then divide the chart tablet into four quadrants. In each quadrant, list one of the four actions that accompany the margin area above.

Taking at least 20 minutes for each, list actions or thoughts that come to mind in each of the four areas. List everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t seem practical at first.

When you have completed all four quadrants, review the tablet and connect any similar actions with a line. Now, force rank at least three actions in each of the quadrants.

List the top three from each quadrant on a new chart tablet entitled, “My Prescriptions for Restoring Margin.” For each, write out a brief description and date as to when you will begin taking this action.

Repeat the above steps once per week until you have covered all four areas of margin in your life. Calendar time one month from the start your work in each of the four areas to revisit your progress, making changes as needed.

Bonus: Walk your leadership team through this exercise. The greatest gift you may give your staff is the ability to create margin.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 87-1, released February 2018.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<