3 Ways To Have More Time and Be Happier Everyday

For years I lived my life exhausted, always wondering what I was forgetting because I had taken on so much, feeling exhausted at the end of the day because I didn’t get the (approximately) gazillion things I needed to do accomplished.

I was a slave to the tyranny of the urgent, and urgency was a ruthless taskmaster.

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase “tyranny of the urgent,” it describes a principle that tells us we live in a constant tension between the urgent (constantly putting out little fires and checking off the to-do lists) and the truly important (our relationship with God and the bigger priorities of life).

The problem is many important tasks don’t seem urgent enough to demand our immediate attention (spending quiet time with God every day, working toward our big goals in life, etc.) while urgent tasks (like stopping the kids from bickering over who gets the toy first) aren’t always important.

But urgency is not patient.
Urgency has no boundaries.
Urgency is demanding and controlling.
Urgency is a terrible tyrant.
It demands that you give her 100 percent of your attention 100 percent of the time.

Living life by the tyranny of the urgent is often just a case of jumbled priorities. My favorite saying used to be, “I just need a few more hours in each day!” But what I learned was that I didn’t need more time, I needed to say no more often, and not just no to people’s requests for my time.

And what I learned is true for all of us. We don’t need more time; we need to say no more often—no to others, and no to ourselves.

I sometimes think we must be amusing to God, running around trying to do so much, constantly trying to find our rhythm in a world of overwhelm, when the reality is, if we’d slow down, do less “urgent” things and spend more time with him, we might be surprised by what he would accomplish through us.

Ephesians 3:20 tells us “he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us.”

Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. As Christians, we are not limited by what we think we can do, what we think we are meant to do. No, God has great plans and a destiny for us all, and his power is already at work within us.

We must steward our day-to-day lives well, and everything he puts in front of us so we can live the life he has planned for us.

Here are three keys to managing your time well.

1. Make a stop-doing list.

Our lives have gotten all cluttered up with things that we think we “should” do, so much so that we can’t figure out what we were meant to do.

Let your life be about what you are meant to do, not full of what you should do.

As Christ followers, we know God has a plan for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse we recite as casually as we would order a glass of sweet tea in a restaurant in the South. “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We know this verse well. But when we let it truly sink into our hearts, when we focus on the good work he has planned in us, it’s easier to stop doing the things that aren’t beneficial for us.

The best way to identify what you want/need to stop doing is by asking yourself these questions:
-What is sucking the life right out of you?
-What is keeping you from reaching your goals?

2. Learn to say no to self and others.

I had to learn to tell myself no to things I really enjoyed. When I was running my own business, I had to build up my self-discipline to say no. For example, I love watching funny YouTube videos and goofing off on Facebook, but I couldn’t give my time to them during the workweek. Instead, I chose to do those things at nights on the weekend.

Everything about how we use our time is a trade-off. We can do this, not that. Go to this spot for vacation, not that. Spend an hour doing this, not that, and so on.

3. Build your schedule around what fills you up, not just your tasks.

After learning how to say no, the next challenge was to tackle my schedule. I needed to learn how to manage my time, my responsibilities, and how to stop letting the tyranny of the urgent rule my days.

I used to fill in my calendar with this mindset: “Here are all my responsibilities and appointments.” My entire focus was on all the things I had to do, had to take care of and manage. I think most of us do it this way, but it’s exhausting, isn’t it?

When we focus on all the things we have to do, places we have to be, and responsibilities we need to juggle, we leave out the most important thing for us all, our souls.

We don’t have time in our days for the things that matter most to us because we don’t intentionally make time for them.

From the time your feet hit the floor in the morning, your day will be full of little fires to put out, people who need you, and loose ends to take care of. These small things quickly expand and fill all of your time.

Intentionally adding things to your schedule in your daily routine that have to do with and strengthen the things that mean the most to you, will protect both your daily schedule and over time, your life, from being taken over by the little things.

The world we live in is actively trying to keep us distracted—from commercials, to notifications on our phones, to all the other ways we are constantly able to be pinged, interrupted, and sold to.

It’s more important than ever to guard your time and intentionally make space for who you are becoming, what you are meant to learn, and the one who is taking you on this journey.

There you have it. Three ways to manage your time and energy every single day. Now, it’s your turn, use the comments below to tell me which one of the keys you are going to use first. And if you liked this article, please share it with your friends!


This is an exerpt from Alli's book, Breaking Busy.

Alli Worthington

Alli Worthington is the author of Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy, speaker, blogger, and the Executive Director of Propel Women. Alli has helped individuals, small business owners and Fortune 500 companies be more successful. She lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, and their five sons. You can connect with Alli at AlliWorthington.com.

Join the discussion

hannah April 26, 2017 at 12:43am

Thank you!!!

Susan Gruener April 24, 2017 at 5:24am

Thanks for this Alli. I find these three things not only very useful ideas for the younger set who are working outside the home, or taking care of kids etc, but I found myself thinking about how I can incorporate these three ideas into my life of a retiree. I am going to start thinking about "building up my schedule around what fills me up, not just my tasks". I already try to take time each day to focus on my relationship with God, whether it be praying, reading devotionals, and reading His Word. These are some of the things that truly fill me up each day. But I can also add getting outside with nature more, taking walks on my property which I love, and also makes for a more peaceful and calm me!
Thanks again for these great ideas to make our lives not only more productive but more meaningful!

Marion Slater April 23, 2017 at 9:11pm

I am intentionally going to add things to my day that is important to me.
I have retired one year ago and heaps I do spend time with Holy Spirit and in Gods Word.
What happens is others ring quite a lot to ask for Prayer,this has gone on for years really but sometimes I get to
The cake needs of the day and I have not done the Art that I sense God is leading me into.
Your article us so helpful.
Even something Good can be the enemy of the best.
Thank you .

Monique April 23, 2017 at 5:55pm

Thanks for this great read, it's reminded me of how one of my goals for this year was 'be intentional', so I'm gonna try plan things out better and get about being intentional!

carlyn April 23, 2017 at 11:37am

I love the thought of no FB or social Media during the week. I used to use the excuse that I needed to be on it for my business until I delegated the business social media. Very freeing! Great article.

Rose April 23, 2017 at 3:07am

Hello Alli. To say this resonates with me is a huge understatement. Three years ago on Good Friday, I died. I'm not being funny, but very serious. I died from a cardiac arrest while out to dinner with my husband and colleague. By Gods grace and highly trained EMTs I regained my heart beat after 45 minutes. I was in a hypothetic coma until Easter Sunday, at which point I regained consciousness for the first time since my collapse. I went home five days later. A miracle. I'll get to my point. My heart stopped because of stress induced cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome. My orders from my cardiologist were "lower your stress level." It's been three years of very intentional efforts to do just that. The number one key I have found to lowering stress is "do less". When I tell folks that, because they always ask, they're eyes widen as if they have never heard those two words put together. But it's true.

Thank you for your wise, wise words. I'll be ordering your book right after I post this comment.

Amy Van Slambrook April 23, 2017 at 2:30am

LOVE this and so timely (as always!). This process of refining our lives to be more and more focused on the important versus urgent is ongoing and these reminders have inspired me to press harder into that to deal with the overwhelm! Thank you!

Sarah Lewis April 20, 2017 at 11:37pm

I love that you brought up how we need to say "no" to the things God has not called us to (or anything that inhibits this journey). Often we think some of our more harmless or little activities are ok; or if it's a "good" thing we mistake it with being the "right" thing. We just discussed this in our very first Propel chapter mtg in Delaware. This is such a timely truth for us...we need to continually seek God to ask Him what his "best" and his "right" is for our lives so that we can do just that!

Lori Orlando April 20, 2017 at 6:29am

I love this Alli, and all of your suggestions. I like your idea of making a "stop doing" list. I want to focus on what's most important to me. My God and my family and His purpose for my life. I get so bogged down with things that really aren't as important and run out of time each day. Then repeat it all again the next day. Thank you for this. Your posts are so encouraging.