What’s a Too-Busy Gal To Do?

NOTE: Please plan to join us tomorrow when it will be my joy to introduce you to a friend of mine who has just written a new book. She is offering a fun giveaway package and some great advice!


The past few days we’ve chatted about why we let ourselves get too busy; overcommitted; stretched thinner than a super model.

Today, let’s figure out what we can do to stop it already!

Here are some thoughts and quotes that help me to snap myself back to a doable reality when I’ve let my personality, people-pleasing tendencies or I-should-be-able-to-do-it-all mentality cause me to have a crowded calendar and a heart crammed with resentment.

First realize this:

Every need isn’t necessarily your call.

Yes, there may be a need you are made aware of. But be careful before jumping in to help.

Helping is a good thing. Jumping without thinking can be not so good. Be sure you are called before you act. And realize, that if the need isn’t God’s call for you and you say yes and do it anyway, you are taking the joy and blessing away from the person that God meant to do the job in the first place.

Learn to pray and ponder “Am I called?” not just “Am I capable?” When capability is your measuring stick, you will kick quickly into overload because women have the curse of capability!

Ok— how about this?

Make it your policy to pause.

By that I mean do NOT answer right away when asked to commit to something. Pray about it. If you have a husband, talk to him. Ask the kiddos what they think. (Not that they will call the shots but to get their perspective on it.) If the person asking you to commit needs an answer that day then you can always politely decline, mentioning your policy of taking at LEAST 24 hours to decide.

Next— (oh I KNOW some of you need to hear this!):

Walk away and don’t look back.

Some of us are caught in the snare of familiarity and tradition. We have always been in charge of something or on the committee. We think the world revolves around that little activity and can’t walk away for fear that either it will fold or that we will lose our identity that is rooted in wearing that hat.

I went through this over 20 years ago when I was the assistant cheerleading coach at our local high school. I loved those girls. I loved serving in the school district. Our teams racked up trophies and ribbons galore. (Our varsity even won nationals one year!) I was super close friends with the head coach and loved hanging out with her four days a week.

As much as I knew God was telling me to step away, I dug my high heels in and resisted.

I finally cried uncle and stepped down. When fall football season rolled around again, I was sure I’d simply die not being in the thick of things when the team took the field and the pep band struck up the fight song.

I didn’t.

By then, I was on to other things, including being a mom and starting to speak and write. God filled any void with more of Him; more being and less doing. (And I didn’t lose my friend. We just morphed from being together-a-lot friends to being low-maintenence, only-see-each-other-a-few-times-a-year-but-pick-right-up-where-we-left-off friends. (my very FAV kind! ;-))

Okay. Here is another. My friend Becky once said this (and I’ve never forgotten it):

Don’t take on more than you can pray for.

Simple enough? If you can’t commit to praying for the requests that are sure to pop up, and perhaps some of the people you will meet as part of the commitment, then don’t take it on.

Next, the tagline of this blog:

Live your priorities.

This is such a hard one!

While we may say that in our lives God is first, our families are second and outside people and interests are third, the reality of our schedules is often just the opposite!

It has helped me over the years to actually number my priorities in my head (not just in three categories, but from one to ten. Like: 1. God 2. Husband 3. kids 4. extended family 5. close friends 6. ministry/work 7. other friends/neighbors 8. hobbies, etc…..) and then use the numbers to make decisions of how I spend my time, keeping my priorities in check.

It looks like this:

I am playing a board game with my son (a #3). The phone rings and it is a close friend wanting to chat (a #5). So as not to cause resentment in my son, I don’t pick up but call her back later and hope that when I do, she has time to talk without neglecting her family.

This is not a hard and fast rule. If the phone call had been a neighbor who had an injured child and wanted me to watch her other kids so she could rush to the hospital, of course I would pick up the phone and go grab her kids. I want my kids to see us modeling a life of service. However, I do not want them seeing me constantly putting friends before family and activities before God!

(Note, if you want to do an extended exercise in listing, evaluating and living your priorities, I have an entire chapter and workbook-like section in The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized.)

And finally:

Stop second guessing yourself.

If you know in your heart you are to clear your plate of an activity or responsibility (or the pit in your stomach is screaming at you to do so!) then do it and have confidence in your decision.

My friend and ministry partner Renee Swope says this in her best-selling and WAY helpful book A Confident Heart:

“I know all of life is screaming for your time, but instead of giving your divided attention to many good things, commit to setting aside time each week to walk through the process of finding God’s things for you. A confident-in-Christ woman wants to know who God created her to be.  She is comfortable saying “no” to some things so that she can say “yes” to living the life God wants her to live.  She is intentional and secure about pursuing the spiritual purpose God has for her.”


Ok friends. Our little series is done. But I want to hear from you.

Are you gonna take the leap and say no to some things?

In the future, how will you decide differently what you will and will not take on?

Anything jump out at you from the posts this week?

Praying for you!

photo credit


  1. You are right on, sister. Its like I know, but then to see it written down is definitely an eye opener. I loved the part where you stated we should pray for confirmation of the calling for said event or function.

  2. Reading your posts this week was a blessing!! I printed out today’s post to put into my project binder. I definitely need to read this again and share it with others. Tomorrow I am going to take a major step by resigning from a part-time job that I took on to make some extra money. It turned out not to be what I expected and I find myself agonizing over it. Thanks for reminding us to live our priorities!!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this short series…these are words that my heart and mind truly needed to hear. I am so much a people pleaser, say yes person that I don’t want to hurt others feelings. I am so going to take a step back this season and learn that No is not a dirty word. I will be trying to print this series out and keep it where I can re-read it often.

    Be blessed because you are a blessing….
    Smiles & Blessings,
    Robin :)

  4. The suggestion to wait 24 hours before I give an answer is what I need to work on. After all, it would be a benefit to the person that asked as well. I shouldn’t jump in to do a project if my heart is not there for it. I know how God works in me: if it is for me to do, I will get very excited about it. On the other hand, I will feel very pressured if it is not something I should be committing to.
    Thanks, God Bless!

  5. Hi Karen what a blessing to be connected around the globe (am in Australia). I flicked to you message as I was spending time with God and wrestling with my perceived ‘guilt of indulgence’ now I am not a full time crazed school teacher! It is hard to allow myself to enjoy the blessings of time flexibility and be now being able to be available to support family and friends both practically and prayerfully. I am seeking God’s peace and direction constantly and am trying to be easier on myself.

  6. I absolutely love the part that says don’t take on more than you can pray about….THAT IS POWERFUL if we don’t even have the time to pray about it we obviously don’t have the time to be taking it on I love that and am so gonna remind myself this daily!! I loved this series this week thanks Karen!!

  7. Well, I wasn’t going to leave a comment since now I am the total opposite of over-volunteering. I used to volunteer for everything that came along, thinking that if I said “no”, that meant I was incompetent. I finally learned to start saying no. Then I retired. Now I avoid volunteering almost totally. I like staying home. I don’t want to go out and “do do do” all the time. Not sure why the total turnaround. Maybe I’m in a “selfish” phase of my life??

    1. Hi cactus. I can understand where you are as I am now semi retired and it has taken and is taking me ages to give myself permission to not rush and achieve constantly as I did full time teaching . Its a whole new aspect life becoming more self aware and it does feel selfish however I am trusting that this is a season of replenishment and part of our potter’s work moulding us ‘cracked pots’ for his service

  8. This is fabulous, Karen. Thanks for writing this. I have learned to say “no” to more things and/or pray about it first, before saying “yes” to something.

    I’m in a real practical situation right now where I’m praying about whether or not to participate in something at church. It would be a fun event, BUT there’s going to be food there that is full of gluten, which I can’t have at all…and it has a very negative effect on me…so I know that sounds really materiliastic, but sometimes I literally have to remove myself/ or literally avoid a situation that I know isn’t good for me…literally. OK, that’s random…but I’ve been praying about it ever since I was asked to participate last night when I was at Bible study.

    Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :) :) :)

  9. Hi ladies,
    I have read this entire lesson and will probably read it again and again, I have made a decision, every Saturday I have obligated myself with things at the church, so while my family is sleeping I am at the church already busy, I feel bad when my husband and kids wake up and I am not there to enjoy a morning breakfast with my family, I have decided to only obligate my self one Satruday per month, and let the other members pick up the slack.

  10. God didn’t create us to be busy all the time, He created us to love. I was told by a mom at school this year that I can’t take time for too much prayer and my prayer website because the school demands all my time, and I should give the rest of my time to my husband. Say what?! I crashed and burned trying to please everyone and am now on the road back to sanity. Pleasing God is the priority now. I like that much better than pleasing all the other moms, my extended family and the teachers. On that note, I’m off to spend some time in prayer before I speed clean my basement and make dinner. Thanks for these posts!

  11. Dear Karen,

    Everyday this week I have read your messages with curiosity and thankfulness. I say curiosity because it is the life that I have had in recent years and left behind, one choice at a time, in order to start over—-so to speak. I am also thankful for your words and truth in living the life that belongs to each and every one of us who are doing the best we can no matter the task or request. I believe today’s message had the “mountain top” moment for me when you wrote,”Don’t take on more than you can pray for.” Well said. I just wanted to thank you for wonderful descriptions and reminders that we should live the life that God puts before us.
    My faith journey still needs many corrections and attentiveness towards God, however, your genuine reality checks are inspirational! Thanks so much and have a good day.
    Edie Clavelli

  12. Thank you for this short series on being overly busy! I tend not to be a people-pleaser personality and God showed me many years ago that I should say ‘yes’ to those things He has equipped me with and leave the rest to someone who’s call matched the need. It was such a blessing! But, with 3 kids in 3 different schools, church, teams, and committees calling from all directions, it is oh so simple to slip back into the “yes, I can do that” habit. Your messages have been a wonderful reminder of when to say ‘yes’ and when to leave it so that someone else can be blessed with service.

  13. Oh how true this series has been! I am living proof that saying NO will not kill you, but saying YES just might! Several years ago, when my kiddos were still small, I was the classic overcommitted mom. Overcommitted with the PTO, overcommitted at church, with my friends, etc., etc., My body and mind finally rebelled! It was coming upon the holidays and I was way overscheduled with kids birthdays, holidays, etc. My kids were sick, we had more than one family crisis, our family pet died. I became very ill. Not only did I find out I had fibromyalgia, but I needed surgery for my gall bladder! I realized how overscheduled and stressed I really was. I realized how much time I spent doing for others, rather than doing for my family, and myself. That’s when I started saying NO without explanation, and without regret. My health and my family had to come first. Boy am I glad I realized this when I did because looking back now, I see how fast they’ve grown, and how much time I had wasted being home with them. Now I can say without regret that I learned to say NO and not look back! Now when I am asked to commit to something, my standard answer is this, “let me think about that and get back to you.” Easy Peasy! Then do just that, think about it, pray about it, and answer however you see fit. No explanation necessary. God Bless!

  14. I was one that thought if I didn’t do it no one else would. I was almost burnt out of ever doing anything again. Because of a sickness that lasted several years I found out other people could do things as good or better than I could. Now that I can take on more activities I have learned to not over extend myself, it is okay to say no.

  15. Thank you Karen for sharing this, this ministered to my heart. I’ve had to say no to a few things recently and a few clearing of the plate and for a moment felt guilty about saying No. I don’t like to say no {especially when it’s something I want to do} or dissappoint people too. So I can relate {@ silvia}. But God quickly showed me that He has a plan and a purpose for me and to surrender all to him. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement that it’s ok to say ‘No’ to things, and not feel guilty about it. It is so freeing……It may not be God’s will for you at that moment, but His will is the best place to be. <3

    God bless you and thank you for your faithfullness in this ministry,
    Adrienne R

  16. Thank you for this post! The parts about “Make it your policy to pause” and “Live your priorities” especially spoke to me. God has used you to speak into my life just what I needed to hear. Thank you!
    Also, cherish those low-maintenance, pick up where you left off friendships! My bff from High School was like that but she went to be with the Lord several years ago. Oh, how I miss her but I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off when I get to heaven too! :)

  17. My favorite…..”make it your policy to pause.” I need to pray more for His leading in all things, not only the ones I think are ultra-important!

    By the way, I so appreciate those, low-maintenance, pick up where you left off friendships! Think its so cool that you mentioned that, we would probably be good friends. If I don’t meet you in this lifetime, I look forwarded to hanging out in Heaven. :)

  18. this post is great!!!! I really need the live your priorities section for sure. Need to start praying about some areas in my life and following GOD’s direction not my own.
    Thank you!

  19. These posts were written just for “me”…LOL! God is so good and knows that I hate to “say No” to people or “disappoint” them but it is necessary to walk and live the life that God intended for us. I wish that more leaders also modeled this in our churches. Some of them seem like super-heros in all that they do and then “intentionally or unintentionally” make people feel guilty for living life the way they do. We need to feel comfortable with what “we” say yes to and how God has called us to live our lives. I am grateful for you and these blogs. Thank you for making it “okay” to say no in “ministry”!!!! LOL! Love, Silvia

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