When working to reduce busyness and overload, we tend to focus on our personal schedules. We look at ways to reduce our “to do” lists. How often do we look at how our actions or inactions create more work and stress for others?
Consider the following elements and how they not only impact your own life but how they might be adding to busyness and overload in the lives of the people with whom you work, live, go to church, and socialize.
- Exhaustion. Our own busyness and overload add to what others need to accomplish when we become too exhausted to keep commitments or fail to complete tasks satisfactorily. By continually working to keep busyness and overload at bay in our own lives, we also reduce those for others as well through quality work and fulfilled commitments. More importantly, living in constant fatigue, stress, and overload fails to provide a picture of the freedom that Christ died to bring (Galatians 5:1). Instead, we appear trapped in and resigned to living out lives in the realm of overwhelm and overload, not a picture of a victorious Christian.
- Ineffective Communication. Do you fully listen when someone talks, or do you think about all you have to do or want to say? Are your interactions uplifting and helpful or filled with confusion? Develop the habit of truly listening and learning to communicate effectively. Pick an area of communication (e.g., listening fully, being available, etc.) and focus improving there if for no other reason than to ease the stress and overload another person is experiencing.
- Drama. Do you constantly tell stories about your busy and stressed life? Are your stories filled with exaggeration that stress busyness? Consider that your constant drama may be exhausting to others. How long can you go without saying you’re busy? Can you have a conversation without telling a dramatic story of the events that make every moment of your life exhausting? Purpose to not be someone who brags about being too busy and stressed, because it’s really not something to brag about anyway.
- Nosiness & Gossip. Often, hearing about the pit others find themselves in makes our own pits not seem so miry. When we talk about others’ problems, our own don’t seem so bad. While that can give a needed perspective switch, it can also backfire by leading us to feel like change in our own lives isn’t necessary. Consider how projection and magnification might exist in your life to the point of causing you to not see needed change in your own life.
- Neediness. Some people just need others to listen to them, and borrowing a friend’s ear certainly has its place and time. Unfortunately, some take this to an extreme and live in a constant state of neediness. Part of refusing to constantly add to others busyness and overload means avoiding always being needy. It means choosing to give, whether by helping in a tangible way or simply by not staying to talk long when the person is obviously busy. Instead, schedule time to vent and talk when both parties can have the mental space to focus.
Paul gives advice for living in ways that earns respect from others as well that does not put unnecessary burdens on others. His advice?
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
A quiet life means a simple life, however you define that, and a simple life comes through taking small, deliberate steps that add up over time. Not only does a simpler life reduce our own stress, busyness, and overload, but it reduces those aspects in the lives of others too. When we are less stressed or busy and not as overloaded, we have more energy to communicate more effectively and to be a source of peace to others, which then allows us and them to progress further along the path to victory over busyness and overload.