4 Ways to Ditch Busy for More Intentional Living

I am an enneagram two, which is also known as the “helper.” A part of me desires to be needed by others, and the positive part of me is that I’m eager to serve, love, help, host, and more! The negative is that too much of my self-worth can be gained from what others think of me. Also, boundaries are tough. I want to be a part of the community, and I want the people around me to be happy. That is a lot of pressure for one person to carry. 

I don’t think I’m alone in this compulsion to overextend and say ‘yes’ more than ‘no.’ Our culture screams that more is more! That success equals doing! Busyness is a badge of honor. You may be like me, and you struggle not to overdo it because part of your self-worth can easily get mixed up with what you can do for others rather than who you are.  

Others of us are perfectionists and can’t handle if the world moves on around us in a way that feels unsatisfactory. Some of us are just enthusiastic participants and sign up for it all because the world is meant to be experienced! Many of us enjoy performing well for the people around us and say ‘yes’ to save face. Those of us who are more introverted and would rather hide from it all get guilt-tripped into filling our calendars by our kids or friends. 

No matter what the reason, it’s a common problem; we are just too busy! There are real consequences for this jam-packed lifestyle. My pastor recently said that if you don’t take time for rest at some point, your body will make you! None of us want to get to the point that we are made to rest, but few of us are taking the time to live with healthy boundaries so we can avoid burnout. 

We Have to Start Holding Each Other Accountable for How We Manage Our Time

The culture screams that you’re amazing for having a full-time job, a house full of busy kids, maybe going back to school, and, you know, also spending time volunteering at church on the weekends. Those are the exact circumstances my husband lived out when our fourth kid joined our family. I think we can very easily look back and say we should have done less, but no one questioned what was happening in our home during that season.

Rather than just saying, ‘wow, that’s a lot’ or ‘you’re amazing for handling so much,’ let’s start asking the people closest to us real questions about how the decision to pile our calendars high is affecting our lives. 

What about asking if you’ve prayed about all you have committed to? Do you feel well supported to walk through this intense season? That’s a big commitment. Are you sure what you are doing is wise? Can anything be put on pause until you have more margin in your life? These are just a few gentle ways to move past the basic conversation of I’m just so busy with what you can do to make more margin in your life. 

Discuss Your Calendar with Your Spouse 

In our home, I am the master family planner. I’m already eyeing places to go on vacation next year, thinking about how we are going to fit winter, spring, and then summer sports into our routine, and have our date nights planned for the next couple of months. I’ve already bought most of the Christmas gifts for our kids and am orchestrating all the other gift exchanges in our lives. I’m the one keeping track of what is happening and what is coming up, and I’ll be honest, I don’t always take the time to fill in my spouse about the details ahead of time. 

We have recently tried to change that and talk a little more about what is coming up for our family. Not only does this help me share the burden of keeping track of not only my own commitments but also those of my husband, kids, friends, family, and more; it makes sure my husband is aware of what is on our family’s plate. He can help me better determine what may need to be canceled or changed around. 

Be Ready to Say No to Good Things 

Here is the kicker for us: most of the things we are spending time doing are good things. My husband wants to play for the band at church; we are foster and adoptive parents, our kids are involved in sports that enrich their minds and bodies, we are involved in our neighborhood, and the list goes on! We get stuck because we look at the “to-do list,” and nothing feels expendable, but the result is that our relationship gets put on the back burner. A connected marriage is what is expended by our over-involvement in the good. 

What you may be unintentionally expending may be different depending on the season. At times, I give up health so I can do more, sleep, patience, peace, connection with God, and the list goes on of things I “give up” when I live life too busy and not with intentionality.  Making tough choices can help us preserve the things that matter most in our lives. This is one reason we homeschool; it gives us so many hours in the day to connect, so when busy seasons come around, we at least have our slow mornings or afternoon rests just to be. 

Schedule and Protect Rest

A close friend of ours recently canceled a plan because she realized that we had chosen a day that their family had already blocked out as a “do nothing day.” I loved that they were so intentional about their family time that they had full Saturdays set aside just to be together! 

Over the past few years, as our family has grown dramatically, I’ve begun scheduling several full weekends for rest with my husband during the year. If we don’t get away, we will never have more than a few hours a week to actually relax and have a conversation. We’ve found that some stress-free and kid-free time helps us to remain connected in a vitally important way. It’s really tough roping our family into watching all of our five kids for a whole weekend a few times a year, but it’s worth all the effort to get away. Our marriage’s success is vitally important to the well-being of our children. Investing in us is investing in our whole family. 

Setting aside time for vacation, time in nature, chances to enjoy a slow morning together, and finding space to read, pray, worship, exercise, or sleep is never a wasted project! We must invest in the things that nurture our relationships, mind, body, and soul. It’s a full heart that is able to give and create. We need to fill our hearts with the good and beautiful around us. 

Psalm 46:10 encourages us to ‘be still and know that he is God.’ This is a reminder that we are meant for stillness. Movement isn’t always in our best interest. God designed us for creation and also commanded us at the start of the Garden of Eden to rest. When we follow his advice, we benefit. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Olga PS 

Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God’s Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

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