Our lives don’t fit into neat little compartments called “Work”, “Spouse”, “Parent”, “Board Member”, etc. These things are all good and must coexist with each other. If you are juggling multiple roles all at once, you understand how discouraging it can feel when you are spread too thin. I get it. I have a full-time job, enrolled in nine hours of college courses, serve as board chair of a local non-profit, serve my church as a volunteer leader, married, and have four children ages 7 and under. Life is full. I have learned there are three things you have to do when juggling multiple meaningful and important priorities.
- You must have excellent time management. Make sure you have a solid plan for how all of these activities fit together. Have a list of priorities that you visit each week. For example, I have a list of my most important roles. I use this list to hold myself accountable on how I manage my time to make sure I am honoring the priority of those roles. I highly recommend a digital calendar tool like Google calendar or Outlook. I keep separate, color-coded calendars for all of these activities. The last task of your current week should be to plan the week ahead. Your most important tasks in each of these roles needs to be on a calendar and protected from smaller priorities.
- Communicate with your spouse and supervisor. Are you on the same page with your supervisor and your spouse on how you structure your time? For example, work has busy seasons. When you encounter a busy season at work, are you letting your spouse know in the beginning of the week or month that you will have to work late? The last thing your spouse wants is to get the call at the end of their long day to hear that you are working late again and won’t be home to help with dinner. This goes for your employer too. If you know you need to leave early to be home with your family, be sure to communicate with your supervisor. The last thing your supervisor wants is to be questioned about your absence from work and not have answers for your peers and his/her leadership. Plan ahead and communicate.
- Pray often. Are you including God in each of these areas? List out the things you pray about. How often are you praying for your marriage? How often are you praying for your work? Are you remembering to pray for your friend who serves on that committee with you who is having a tough time in her marriage? God cares deeply about all of these things. Do you have the proper balance of inviting him into these or are you out of balance?
If life feels like one big salad bowl, you need to pause and spend some time bringing order to your commitments and roles. Mentors can be invaluable here. A good mentor can help you prioritize. Sometimes you simply need to reorganize. Other times, you may need to pull back from some good things to make more time for some great things. Doing these things will tremendously increase your joy and contentment in your faith and work.