One of the keys to living a simpler life is finding the right balance in how you spend your time.
Here’s the simplest priority setting process I know, which I have adapted from Richard Foster’s Freedom of Simplicity.
Three Marker Test
- Big Black Marker. Catch and Capture. List everything you do for one month on a big piece of paper. I like large pieces of newsprint for this purpose, but several sheets of printer paper taped together will do in a pinch.
- Big Green Marker. Rank each item from 1-4. One is essential. Two important, but not essential. Three merely helpful, but not necessary. Four being: other. (Things like showering, probably go here. Unless, you are a long, long shower taker, meaning you might consider saving some time and water by cutting down.)
- Big Red marker. Cut out groups 3 and 4. Reduce groups one and two by 20 percent.
Foster recommends you ask a few questions before you cut.
1. What do I want? (Sometimes, asking, why do I want that?)
2. What am I longing for?
3. How is God inviting me to say yes to this season of my life?
I’d add a couple more.
a. What would you do if you really had the freedom to follow your dreams?
b. If you’re a bit older, how might your younger self have imagined you today?
Each time I stop and consider my time and the way it is used, I find out something new about myself and who I am becoming. I often use those same big pieces of paper to create timelines, looking backwards at the year that was. It always helps me focus.
Obviously, I’ve just suggested you take your schedule and make some radical changes. Many of us, probably have things in our schedule, which we don’t want to do, but still need to do. The point of the little exercise is less to end up with a perfect schedule and more to move towards discovering what matters to you and prioritizing that.
Finally a quote from Foster: “If your season of life has changed; you might experiment with radical change.”
What might radical change look like for you?