Tag Archives: busyness

Guest Post: Just Say No—To Overextending Yourself

Just Say No—To Overextending Yourself

by Steph Beth Nickel

If you know me at all, you know that I’m eclectically-interested and eclectically-involved. For the most part, I thrive on having many different projects on the go at once.

But there are times . . .

This September my eldest is getting married in Scotland, which means not only will I be out of my office for the best parts of three weeks, but I also have “last minute” plans to get organized before we wing our way across the Pond.

I was hoping to get up north to visit with my friend and coauthor and also touch base with one of my favourite authors who has a summer home not too far from Deb. But alas, that is not going to happen.

And that’s okay . . .

In fact, it’s better than okay. Sometimes cramming just one more thing into our schedule—even something wonderful—is not the best option.

Are you busy?

You may now get up off the floor, wipe the tears from your eyes from laughing so hard, and continue reading.

Most of us are busy, but believe it or not, we can likely pare down our To Do list with a little concerted effort and the admission that superheroes only exist in the world of fiction. We also have to admit that not everything is as important as it may seem.

As Stephen Covey says, “We must not confuse the urgent with the important.”

"Just say no to overextending yourself."

Click image to tweet. (Photo credit: Steph Beth Nickel)

Here’s my challenge to you:

  1. Grab your To Do list.
  2. Make sure it’s complete.
  3. Take a deep breath.
  4. Offer a prayer for wisdom and guidance.
  5. Pick up your pen.
  6. Cross off—or reschedule—at least two items from today’s list.
  7. Continue to do so well into the future until you become comfortable admitting that you just can’t do it all.

And guess what . . .

That’s a very good thing, for there are times the best option is to just say no.

Did you catch the most crucial step? If we made it a practice to not only add #4 to our list but also to bump it to #1, our lives would look much different.

Will we disappoint people at times? Sure we will.

Will we be disappointed? Absolutely! There are a lot of things we would like to do, a lot of things we feel we ought to do. But we need divine wisdom as we decide what to take on, what to postpone, and what to leave to someone else.

And if we make it a habit to include discretionary time on each day’s schedule, when something comes up that we weren’t planning on doing but feel we really ought to or want to, we won’t be stretched to the limit—or beyond.

For many of us, we have to watch out for our old nemesis, guilt. No is not a swear word.

Just remember, God has plans and purposes for us and we don’t want to be so overextended that we don’t recognize them when they come our way.

Just say no to overextending yourself. (Click to tweet)

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Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Guest Post: When Busy is a Good Thing

When Busy is a Good Thing, by Steph Beth Nickel

I am super pumped. No, I don’t think it’s because of the iced coffee I had this evening—though that could be part of it.

Ever since I came home from this year’s Write Canada conference, it’s been “full steam ahead.” These nine-and-a-half weeks before I head to Scotland for my son’s wedding are going to be jam-packed. And you know something? I love it!

What am I reading?

Most of the time, I thrive on having several projects on the go at once. This can be evidenced by the hours I spent reading today—from six different books: Desperate Measures by Sandra Orchard, My Life A.S. Is by Benjamin Collier, Once Upon a Sandbox by Carolyn Wilker, Starla by Dorene Meyer, The Convict’s Thumbprint by Beverley Boissery, and The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis.

I’m going to have lots of material for the book reviews I write for HopeStreamRadio. (Mind you, I’ve already reviewed a couple of these books. I had read enough to know I wanted to keep on reading and could recommend them to listeners.) The Book Butterfly, indeed. I love to flit from book to book.

A To Do List on Steroids

This week’s To Do list has 40 separate items, some of which I intend to do at least five times. Insane? Crazy? Dreamer? I may very well not get all 40 things done, but that’s okay. I am learning to prioritize and attack things systematically.

And the new opportunities that have come—and are coming—my way . . . one actually brought tears to my eyes and others have made me bounce up and down. And again, no, it wasn’t on account of my caffeine intake. It is actually rare for me to drink anything caffeinated. Trust me; no one wants to see me hyped up on caffeine and sugar.

I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am learning to pace myself. Every now and then I actually say no to something. Really . . . I do.

Barbara Sher wrote a book titled Refuse to Choose. That phrase has sort of become my life motto. That said, when I took one of those silly Facebook “tests” to see what career I should pursue and it came up as interior designer, I decided not to head off in that direction. (grin)

For me, busy means I get down to work and don’t keep putting things off—except, of course, decluttering my house, but that’s a topic for another day, year, decade.

What about you?

Do you have to finish one book before beginning the next one? Is your To Do list brief and to the point? Are you focussed on the task at hand and only the task at hand? When is busy good for you and when does it stress you out?

It all depends on your personality type and so many other factors. What stage of life are you in? How much discretionary time do you actually have? How many people and projects do you have to consider before saying yes to one more thing?

But most importantly . . .

What is God calling you to do?

"Most importantly, what is God calling you to do? Let's make seeking Him our #1 priority. If we're too busy to do that, then we're just plain too busy."  ~Steph Beth NickelAs Christians, we must dig into His Word and devote time to prayer. We must fellowship with other believers and when needed, seek godly counsel.

We must ask ourselves, “Why am I considering doing such and so? Is it really an opportunity God has brought my way or do I just not want to say no?”

Personally, I have to be careful not to take on one more thing simply because I don’t want to let anyone down. (I’m a nurturer, a fixer—and sometimes overstep my God-given role.)

I also have to be careful that I’m not simply saying yes because I don’t want to miss anything God has for me. After all, there are plenty of scripture passages that instruct us not to worry and to seek wisdom.

In the English Standard Version, James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

And Philippians 4:4-7 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV).

Let’s make seeking Him our #1 priority. If we’re too busy to do that, then we know we’re just plain too busy.

[Leave your thoughts below!]

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Enough Time

My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
Psalm 31:15, NIV*

This is one of my comfort verses. The NLT translates “times” as “future,” and that seems to be the major meaning of the text in context of the danger from David’s enemies.

My “times,” then, are all the minutes of my life. God holds my future and no enemy can shorten it. He also holds my present.

Sometimes all that’s pursuing me are to-do lists and deadlines. I’m in the middle of a very busy patch right now, and what a treat to wake yesterday with this verse in my mind.

One of the to-do items was this post, and I knew God would provide one after doing so for six years, but I didn’t yet have it and I knew there wasn’t a lot of free time to find and write it before Wednesday morning.

Writing time is scarce for now, with some temporary employment, a kitchen renovation and being away last weekend. God knows all that. My times are in His hands.

To the best of my understanding, I’m only taking on what He has for me. As I take time each morning to commit the day to Him and pray to know and heed His presence in it, I can be sure He will help me best use the minutes and the hours. This is one of those stretches where there won’t be much left over for relaxation, but He even provides some of that. I had the most delightful stroll with a cone of gelato on Saturday.

God who made the universe, thank You for giving each of us a part to play in it. Thank You for opportunities to serve You and to show Your love to those around us. Today and each day, help us resist anxiety and choose to trust in Your sufficiency. Open our eyes to see how to use the time You give us. Give us self-discipline to turn away from those things we’d like to do that aren’t on Your agenda for the moment. Help us find soul-rest in You

Casting Crowns shares the secret of how to live fully no matter our circumstances: “I Know You’re There.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Not We Ourselves

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3, NIV

When life gets busy, responsibilities crowd, do you feel pressure to keep pace, to meet every demand on your own? Like Moses, when the people in the desert complained again about thirst and he cried, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?

God told him to speak to the rock, but Moses was so angry he struck it—twice—and although the water came, Moses lost his chance to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 20:1-13 tells the whole story.)

After all Moses’ obedience, this seems a trifling thing, yet it was clearly a big deal to God. I think it’s because of the “Must we” that took responsibility—and therefore credit—for the miracle.

Moses hardly intended it that way, but that’s how it came out. And sometimes that’s how I feel when the pressure’s on and there’s not enough of me to go around. I forget there’s enough of God.

Somehow today’s one verse from a short psalm puts it all back in perspective for me. I’m not the real authority. Everything does not rest on me, no matter how it feels. (A footnote in the NIV says and we are his can be translated and not we ourselves. “It is he who made us, and not we ourselves” – that makes it even clearer.)

I can trust in God, because He is good. His love endures forever. (Click that link and you’ll see the NIV declares this phrase 41 times.)

Renewed perspective gives me a quietness and a confidence—from a psalm that tells us to shout to God.

Father, forgive me for getting distracted and relying on myself. You are God, and greatly to be praised. Help me trust You not to overload me with more than You want to accomplish through me. Help me stick with what You give and not to ignore it and try to do my own thing—or to cram my own interests in there with what You say is enough. You’re the Shepherd, I’m the sheep. And You are the Good Shepherd. Keep me close to Your side.

Here’s a good, soul-quieting song from Steven Curtis Chapman: “Be Still and Know.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Listening to God

I’ve been trying to be more intentional about listening to God, on the premise that He’s communicating a lot more than what I’m hearing: not necessarily detailed instructions or revelations, but gentle course corrections or quietly saying “I love you.”

Over at Something About the Joy, Ginny Jaques has some thought-provoking posts on the subject.

  • It’s Not About Sofas” particularly challenged me, with the idea that maybe what God has to say is something other than what I’m listening for—and what if I miss it?
  • An Amazing Truth” warmed my heart with the efforts God makes to remind us of His love.
  • And “A Whisper in the Wind” finishes the series with some thoughts on “But how does God speak? Is it always specific?”

At Free 2 Soar, Stephanie Nickel talks about the different ways God may speak in “Ears to Hear”.

In the busyness leading up to Christmas, may we hear God whisper, “Be still, and know that I am God.” And may we obey, to the renewal of our spirits and to the blessing of those around us.