Back to our original priority purging: we had to narrow down the list. The sixty activities would not fit into thirty evenings. So, we listed our priorities--those things that we truly felt that God desired for our life at that time. We recognized that we had built-in boundaries (a young son that I was home with all day, a demanding job for Ray that consumed at least sixty hours a week, etc.). Then we determined what we believed God would have us do with the small amount of time we had remaining.
This list was fairly general at that time: Ray's job, Joshua, our extended family, growing in the Lord, hospitality, etc. From that list of "priorities," we looked at our sixty-night-to-do-list and decided what activities on that list would help us meet our priorities. We didn't know a lot about seasons of life and prioritizing at that time, but we did the best we could. It was a step in the process of establishing mature priorities.
We decided that in order to meet our priorities, we had to get rid of the good things on our list and keep the best things. We had to eliminate the average things and retain the excellent things. We had to spend our time on those things that would help us meet our priorities.
From your priority list, you can discern what you should say yes to and what you should say no to. If you have your eight, ten, or twelve priorities listed based on the built-in boundaries of your life, then you can examine each activity and opportunity based on whether it helps you meet your priorities or not.
If you are truly a prioritized person doing what God wants you to do, you will have to say no to things, but our no should not be one that denotes that we have better things to do that what was asked of us. It should not be a "no" that elevates our goals and activities above others. If you truly are unable to serve in that capacity, graciously say that you are unable to take on the task at hand, then be about what you should be about!
However, there are many tasks and activities that can be done even by the busiest people, especially when you work together as a family. We have found that we can do things for others that we didn't think we had time for when we do these things together. For example, we often all cook together to make meals or treats for people or special occasions. When we used to host debate and speech tournaments, we found that we could relieve other parents' stress and extra hours by all working together here at home to prepare ballot packets, make food for judges, figure pairings, etc. It is amazing what several people, intent on serving others, can accomplish when they work together.
*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.