Monday, August 16, 2010

day 211: when you add something to your life, remove something else*

This brings us to another important prioritizing truth: when you add something to your life, you need to remove something else to make room for the new thing. Just about everyone is maxed out. We are nearly all living on the edge. So, how can we add anything else into an already busy life? The only way we can do this is to remove something that is presently there.

In the case of the "toddling toddler" described earlier, if we are adding into our schedules the extra time and attention that little one requires, we need to remove something else (i.e. part of our read aloud time?) in order to accommodate another addition to the day. In the case of the new reader, you will need to remove something that takes thirty minutes a day from your life in order to add the extra reading lessons to your day. This is especially important for new parents. When I talk to new moms, I often ask them if they were busy prior to their newest addtion. They always answer yes, and list myriad things they were previously doing. Then I drop the bomb: What are you going to remove from your schedule in order to have the time to raise this little one? Where will you get the several hours each day that a newborn requires?

We use this concept with space in our home as well. We have a small house, only fourteen hundred square feet. Before Joshua got married, we had four boys in one bedroom and three girls in another, and Mom and Dad's room tripled as a library and pantry. We have an ongoing rule that nobody can bring anything into the house unless he takes something out. If the girls have a good day at thrift stores, they are to come in and remove the number of clothing items they just purchased. There simply is no space for anything else. Something has to go. The same is true of time.

Money, space, and time are all the same. We have X amount of each. We can try to fool ourselves into thinking that we can spend our entire check this week shopping—and still have money to pay our bills. However, we will get a quick reality check when there is nothing left in our billfold. We can try to fool ourselves into thinking that we can utilize this space of our house for a new bookcase. However, we will get a quick reality check when we have to move the desk from that spot in order to accommodate the bookcase and there is no place to move the desk to. We can try to fool ourselves into thinking that we can add something to our schedule and squeeze it right in. However, we will get a non-immediate (which is often the problem) reality check when we realize that the things we put into our schedule squeezed something else out that was truly important, even life-affecting.

When it comes to time, we must remove something lesser to make room for the greater. If we don’t do it purposely, it will be done automatically through mere math (twenty-four hours per day; seven days per week; fifty-two weeks per year). We might not like the results if it is done for us---and it might not hit us until too late what was substituted in and out in our lives.

*Note: For several days, I will be excerpting material from our parenting book, “The Well-Trained Heart” about prioritizing. Following these posts, we will delve more deeply into organizing.

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