If many years of marriage has taught me nothing else, it showed me that people view and handle stress uniquely. My husband and I sit on opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to how we handle stress. Simply put, he can handle a lot more than me. About ten years into our marriage, I finally became okay with sitting and reading while he worked around the house. I realized that we were both dealing with the stress in our lives, just in very different ways.
Managing busyness also looks very different from one person to the next. My husband takes a “handle it as it comes” approach, while I tend to limit how much comes at me in the first place. While I can see how he handles stress and busyness, I don’t really understand it. I have come to accept it simply because it works well for him.
Learning to better mitigate the stress in my life and to keep busyness in balance has brought what a friend of mine called “a peace” about me. I feel more peaceful, too, and the following two approaches largely shape how busyness and stress stay minimal and margin stays optimal in my life.
Schedule Only 80% of My Calendar
This leaves a 20% margin for surprises that pop up and for extra opportunities to minister. I’m not naturally spontaneous, but this 20% at least gives spontaneity (often initiated by my husband) a good chance for success upon occasion.
Mostly, though, the 20% is for the down time that my laid-back personality needs. Some days and even weeks go over 80%, but that’s okay when I have margin in sight. I make sure it’s always in sight, too. This means saying “no” to some good people and activities. However, saying “no” actually allows me to more fully say “yes” more often.
Say Only 20% of What I’m Thinking
As an introvert, there’s a lot going on in my head. My husband loves me, but he doesn’t want to hear it all. No one but God wants to hear it all, and saying too much detracts from listening well, which is more important.
This rule also keeps sarcasm at bay, which comes a bit too naturally for me. Not only that, but my melancholy personality also gravitates toward the negative initially, so keeping those thoughts to myself really does benefit everyone.
Keeping much of my thoughts to myself brings more value to what I do say. It also shows more value for what others have to say, at least that is my intention. To me, that helps bring balance to my relationships.
These two 80/20 rules do not exist like rigid accounting principles. They simply provide guidance for A Simple Life. After crashing mentally, physically, and spiritually many years ago, I had to rethink my approach to balance. These two rules are part of the result.
Overload happens when you do nothing to stop it, while balance and simplicity must be deliberately and uniquely pursued. Decide now which state of mind will get the victory in your life.