We hear it all the time. We say it all the time. I’m so busy.
It feels like there’s never enough time, right? I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I’m guilty of packing more into my schedule than I can handle. And I’m afraid that in our rush, we’re letting small, petty things distract us, and we’re missing out on the priorities and people that matter most.
I’ve taught and coached on life balance for a decade, and over the years, I’ve discovered five time stealers that distract us from what’s most important. I want to unpack them for you so you can stop wasting time and start feeling confident about how you spend your one precious life.
Time Stealer #1: The Need to Be Loved
As a Christian, I believe we’re called to love and help others. But this attitude might lead us to believe we should be everything for everyone.
Several years ago, I heard a pastor say something that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “There’s a difference between doing something to be loving and doing it to be loved.”
If we’re truly honest with ourselves, a lot of our “helping” is just an effort to be loved. We want people to think we’re nice or good or worthy of their love. The need to earn love from others can lead us to overcommit, leaving no room in our lives for the right things.
Time Stealer #2: The Need to Impress Others
We live in a comparison culture. As a mom, I often feel like I’m in a silent competition over whose kid has the better monogrammed backpack and who’s bringing the best snack (organic, vegan and gluten-free, of course!) to the class party.
Whether it’s social activities or relationships or career, we don’t even realize we’re holding ourselves to standards that are exhausting at best and impossible at worst. Because here’s the deal: No one has it together. We all have flaws because we’re human. This need to impress others is driving us to exhaustion and keeping us focused on insignificant tasks.
Time Stealer #3: The Need to Prove Yourself
Whether you’re working too much because you want to prove you deserve a title or you’re signing up to serve on every committee to show how dedicated you are, an unhealthy need to prove yourself will only drive you to overwork, overcommit and overdo everything. But that black hole of insecurity can’t be fixed by doing more. We can only find our source of security in who God says we are. This truth frees us from the need to perform and gives us permission to slow down.
Time Stealer #4: The Need to Feel Accomplished
I don’t know about you, but I’m way too optimistic about my ability to get things done. I put 47 things on my to-do list and then beat myself up when I only get to three of them.
Our obsession with checking boxes for some fleeting feeling of productivity becomes a vicious cycle. We’re addicted to accomplishing things, even if those things are unimportant. This unhealthy need to feel productive will keep us on a treadmill of to-do lists for the rest of our lives, and it will keep us from ever being able to enjoy rest, feel peace, or create balance.
Time Stealer #5: The Need to Escape
By the time my husband and I get home from work, feed our three kids dinner, give baths, brush teeth, read books, and get everyone in bed, we are wiped. At that point, it’s about 7:30 or 8:00, and all we want to do is sit on the couch and check out.
But if I’m honest, watching TV and scrolling on my phone isn’t life-giving. Netflix and Instagram definitely aren’t the most important things in my life.
But if we’re spending hours and hours each week on these platforms while we claim to never have enough time for things we really care about, we obviously have a problem. If we aren’t careful, we’re going to know everything about everyone else’s life but completely miss out on our own.
So, which of these five time stealers speaks most to you? What steps will you take to focus on your priorities? (If you want to dig deeper into the topic of life balance, I invite you to take my life balance quiz.)
My prayer for you is that you’ll be on the lookout for the distractions that are stealing your attention from what’s most important. After all, God gave you this one beautiful life. How will you spend it?
Christy Wright is a #1 national best-selling author, personal development expert, and host of The Christy Wright Show. Since 2009, Christy has served at Ramsey Solutions, where she teaches on personal development, business, and faith. Her newest book, Take Back Your Time, releases September 2021 and is available for pre-sale now. Follow Christy on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube or online at www.christywright.com.