All of us at one point or another have found ourselves trying to manage a to-do list that is a mile long with only a limited amount of time to do it in, or facing a mountain of expenses and bills with only a small amount of money to work with. If we don’t manage this outflow of responsibilities with our limited resources correctly, then we can find ourselves stressed and worried about how we are going to get everything done. This stress and worry has the potential to not only turn us into unpleasant people to be around, but it can also adversely affect our health. When we are overwhelmed, we need to realize that there is only so much we can do with the time and money we have and there is no benefit to worrying about the rest. Instead of trying to do it all or stressing because we simply can’t, we need to be realistic about what we are really able to accomplish. Here are some ways we can do that.

Establish priorities

Take a moment to sit down and go over everything you need to accomplish or every bill you need to pay.  Take note of the most important items and which items can wait. For tasks on your to-do list, the high priority may be important work projects, your family’s needs, or anything you else that is imperative that you finish right away. For instance, as a work at home mom, I often have to choose work deadlines over cleaning my house because if my house doesn’t get clean, it simply is an annoyance, but if my work doesn’t get done, I’m jeopardizing my paycheck. Examining the consequences of delaying something on your list will often help you realize what can wait and what can’t.

Ask for extensions

Once you’ve determined the items you should focus on accomplishing right away, you will need to make a plan for the other things that will need to be delayed. Asking for extensions on deadlines is one way to relieve some stress off your plate. Whether it’s a work project, a favor for a friend/family member, or even asking a company for a grace period of a few days to pay your bill, getting a bit of extra time for something you need to accomplish can help you a lot!

Realize that you may let someone down, and that’s ok

Telling someone that you can’t do something for them right away might not go over very well, but you have to be honest about what you can and can’t do in a certain time frame. I have clients that I do projects for in my business and sometimes they will send me a project and want it done the same day. There are times when I can oblige, but there are also those times where I have other work deadlines to accomplish or plans I’ve made with friends or family. In those times, I have to let my client nicely know that I won’t be able to complete that project in the time frame requested, but that I can have it done within the next day or so. I have to realize that this may slightly bother them, but it’s better than accepting the deadline and stressing out over finishing it that same day and possibly missing other deadlines because I said yes when I should have said no. (See my previous article on saying no for more on this).

Create a margin in your life

If your to-do list is beyond what you have time to do, it’s time to scale back on some things. Just as importantly, if your list is doable with the time that you have, but doesn’t leave you with any extra time, it also might be necessary to scale back. We have to remember that life happens- you might get sick, your kids might get sick, emergencies happen, traffic jams, long meetings, etc. Something is bound to hold you up at one time or another, and if you have your schedule jam packed by the minute, then there’s a good chance you will get behind on things the minute something unexpected comes up (which it will). Just like it’s a good idea to always give yourself some extra time to get to work or to a meeting in case there is traffic, it’s also a good idea to give yourself some extra time in life to get done all that you need to get done (as well as give yourself some extra room in your budget for unexpected expenses that may pop up).

Jesus encourages us to leave our worries and stresses at the door: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). Instead, we are to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (vs. 33). Accept your limitations and do what is in your power to do and trust God to help you figure the rest out.

Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and 3 year old son. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on Facebook.

Publication date: May 13, 2014