7:30 already? “Crap,” I exclaimed groggily as I stretched my protesting leg muscles beneath the tangled sheets. My roommate’s alarm clock sounded like canon fire from the bunk above my head.
“Good morning,” he grumbled in his characteristic pseudo-drunk, pseudo-French accent (paying daily homage to his favorite movie, The Brothers Bloom). I returned the salutation in like manner as I threw off my blanket.
I scrambled anxiously through my morning routine: morning prayers, scripture study (try and make it meaningful!), skip breakfast, brush teeth, shower much too quickly (don’t forget a towel! Still damp? Ew.), dry off, get dressed, check backpack, check & recheck pockets, go out to the car (no time to get the ice scraper!), wait ironically for the windows to thaw, back out before I can really see, and off to work. No time to practice before today’s piano lesson. Good thing he doesn’t mind me winging it.
Down the street, traffic was at a standstill atop four inches of the icy, wet snow. “We’re in Utah!” I said to no one, very indignantly. “It’s 8:15 am! Rush hour is supposed to be over. Have these people ever heard of a snow plow?” I prayed long enough to peacefully merge into the thankfully-sympathetic traffic and crawled down the road to work.
For many of us, this is a familiar scene. In the first 30-40 minutes of the day, we try to get so much done that we end up frustrated, executing nothing successfully but the relaxed feeling we had right before we woke up. Many of the more enjoyable ways to start the day (breakfast, a hot shower, a bit of spiritual uplift-ment) get the short end of the stick.
As a matter of fact, most useful things we also happen to enjoy seem to lose their flavor as they – or, more appropriately, we – are caught up in the busyness of life.
Take this post, for example. When I began writing it nearly a year ago, I did so with an intention to write often, with purpose, and hopefully make a positive dent in society by expressing my thoughts in a public forum. But it took me till now, till I was on a fresh round of New Year resolutions, to get it done. (And, if I’m being totally honest, the likelihood that this gets posted if I don’t finish it today is going to be pretty slim.)
Sometimes, busy can be good; for example, part of why I was so busy around the time I started this post was that I met Lauryn, the beautiful, loving woman to whom I am now happily married. I also knocked out another few classes in school, discovered with some finality what my major and future career will be, and started a couple of pretty awesome jobs that I really enjoy doing. I’m happy, and if I were any less occupied with these good things, I don’t know that I would be.
Busy hurts us when it comes at the expense of our greater goals. In the above autobiographical anecdote, I was most likely running behind for work because the day before, I went to class, went to work, did homework, got home, decided I wanted to take my mind off of things, found my roommate, practiced a little music, went to the store, bought unhealthy food, went home, and stayed up late binge-watching Adventure Time and reading far too many (totally meaningless) articles from my Facebook newsfeed. It was in the very act of trying to relax that I gave myself more things to do and hurt myself going into the next busy day. And you can bet I felt unrelaxed enough later to do the same busy things again that very evening.
I’m not saying that junk food runs and watching Adventure Time are inherently bad things to do, but they should never come at the expense of something like a good night’s sleep after (or preceding) a long day. And for goodness’ sake, don’t sleep next to your smartphone; you’ll end up perusing the mindless catacombs of the Internet at ungodly hours for no greater reason than they’re there. Don’t set yourself up for failure. The memes will wait till tomorrow’s lunch break.
God gave us six days of work and one day of rest because He knows we can find joy in working, learning, and growing. He knows we can build stronger relationships as we do projects with our spouse and kids and as we serve in our communities. The point is not to throw work by the wayside, but rather to show that there are some things worth doing and others that, though they are good, are not worth the opportunity cost.
I can’t begin to enumerate everything that’s worthwhile and everything that’s not. But I do hope that, going into a new year full of new opportunities, each of us can find at least enough time to decide what resolutions are worth keeping – even if one of those resolutions is to shorten the list in the first place.