What things in life are truly important to you? Is it your family and friends, your faith, your favourite sports team? Now if you are really honest, does your biggest priority take up the biggest chunk of time in your week?
Now, I don't subscribe to the school of thought that says that that we can entirely tally up those two things - just because watching football is your favourite thing on earth to do, doesn't mean to say that you'll be able to spend all your time watching it. I do think there's a kernel of truth in it, though. If we dig a bit deeper into the tasks and hobbies we spend our time on, doesn't it all come down to our priorities in the end?
Okay, so there are some things we simply have to do. You have to go to work, whether or not you love your job. First thing in the morning, when you can hear the rain hammering on the window and your bed is so toasty and warm, it probably doesn't feel like a priority to get up and go to work - particularly if it's not your dream job. But I'm guessing that paying your rent/mortgage/bills probably are important to you. Or rather, having a safe roof to keep that warm and toasty bed under is probably a priority. I definitely do not enjoy cleaning - but I also know that a calm environment is essential for me to relax, so that must be a priority for me.
Maybe you're still at school? I'm willing to bet that there are lessons that you distinctly do not want to be in, maybe they even seem pointless, but chances are you do consider it important to get the job you want later or get into uni.
How about your spiritual life? I think we all know how easy it can be to fall out of the habit of praying, reading our Bibles, spending time with God, whatever you do to develop your spiritual wellbeing. But those of us who know our Bibles also know that it's in God that we truly find life and rest.
In one of our transitions workshops, Sasha does a fantastic demonstration. The year 6s are asked how many balls will fit in a jar, then marbles, then how much water. She then makes the point that, if those objects go in in that order, they will all fit. Start off with the water, however, and when you try to put in the marbles and balls you're going to be in a mess. They simply won't fit - not without displacing the water. She then explains to them that those different objects represent our priorities. We have to fit the big stuff into our lives first - our jobs, school work, eating, sleeping etc. Next comes the stuff that adds value to our lives - playing instruments, time with friends, reading. Last comes the stuff that nobody has ever had to ask you to do. When did anyone last tell you that you should spend more time watching TV?
Order our lives in this way, and we will find a place of balance. Start off with the small stuff, and we will never find time to do the really important things in life - that's going to lead to stress and chaos, maybe even get us into trouble if we fall behind on projects for work or school.
Life is crazy busy these days. I'm certain that each one of you could tell me something that you would love to do but you are just too busy. For me, it's things playing my instruments as much as I'd like to, or going swimming. Both of those are value-adding pursuits for my life, so clearly I've got my 'jar' in the wrong order. But take a moment to think about what your 'I'm too busy to...' would be.
I want to challenge you to reframe that. What if, instead of saying 'I'm too busy to play music as often as I'd like to', I had to say 'it's simply not a priority for me to play music'. I'm not sure I like that. So maybe that indicates the heart of the problem? It's quite evident that I need to work on my priorities.
What if I was to reframe things I do find time to do, too - 'it is a priority for me to see my friends'. That one seems absolutely appropriate, but how about 'it is a priority for me to watch telly'?
Your turn now - why not take a moment to look at the things that you spend your time on, and the things you are too busy to do. And if you find that it doesn't fit right with you to say that something you manage to do is a priority - or that something you're too busy for is simply not important - then I encourage you to start making some small steps to change that. We are called to live life in all its fullness - but if busyness means burnout, then something's wrong.