Stop, Drop and Roll

by Robin Christopherson

Fall has arrived!  Fall marches in bringing a change in weather (at least theoretically) and back to school for adults and children– with the accompanying fall sports, classes, practices, Bible study kickoffs, meetings, volunteer opportunities, etc. etc.  At this time of year  I find myself struggling to decide what activities to say “yes” or “no” to.  How do I decide what is a good-better-best use of my time and talents and how much more can I fit in my schedule.

As children some of us learned STOP-DROP-AND ROLL!  It’s a catchy phrase that provides very specific instructions on what to do if one finds oneself on fire.  As an adult I found myself wishing for a catchy phrase to help me avoid over scheduling and getting swept up in busyness – which can lead me to feel like I’m on fire.  I began my search by reading books and articles on time management and consulting mentors that seemed to successfully balance their own schedules.  I found that I could return to that childhood saying:

STOP and take inventory of current commitments.  Next prioritize each item as to importance by assigning them a value of 1 to 4, one being most important and four being least.  Commit to memory the ones and twos on the list – these are top priorities in life.

DROP the fours!  If an activity scores a four in importance and accomplishing it is causing stress…eliminate it.  Activities that only rank a four may be enjoyable but not necessary to keep on the calendar and may be adding to stress and anxiety.

ROLL with life’s unexpected events.  Make sure that there is margin built into the schedule to allow time for the once in a lifetime activities such as school plays, music recitals and lunch dates with out of town friends or family.  If the schedule is too full opportunities to enjoy life’s unexpected pleasures will be lost.  Margin also allows time to care for a sick child, car problems or a dreaded dentist appointment.

Using these steps, I stopped and made a list of recurring activities in my life (work, date night, family time, church, ministry, etc.).  I prioritized my list and identified the activities that only scored a four.  I pondered and prayed over the four’s on my list and began to slowly eliminate these commitments. This then inserted margin into my schedule freeing me from hurry and stress.  I am now better able to roll with life’s unexpected activities both good and bad.  Now when I’m approached about adding an activity to my schedule I:

1.      Stop and quickly review the top priorities in my life – my ones and twos.

2.      Assign the new activity a priority level.  If the new activity is a four in importance I can quickly say “no.”  If the new activity scores high in importance it is added to the schedule.   Any additions to the schedule require reprioritizing the list and dropping the four’s. 

3.      Protect the margin that has been added to my schedule so that I can roll with life’s unexpected events with grace and peace of mind.

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