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Managing Your Load: How One Line Can Make All the Difference in the New Year

One little known line can help you live a less hectic life in 2024.

During my childhood I grew up on a country road with only a few homes.   For a short while, the windy 1.5 mile stretch of unlined road was a little-known short cut between two major thoroughfares.  Fast forward to my teen age years—the secret was out.  Commuters, as well as logging trucks, discovered Prospect Road was a fast alternate route.  The increased traffic and heavy loads took a toll on the simple roadway which wasn’t built to withstand such heavy use.

I now live in suburbia.  The wear and tear we experience isn’t from cars and trucks. The wear and tear we feel is from the lack of margin in our lives.  It’s ironic that in an area where homes are marked by clear boundaries such as fences, hedges and tree lines, our lives often lack the necessary boundaries on our calendar, and we end up paying the price in overloaded schedules and unbearable stress.

In Psalm 103:14, King David recalls the compassion of God who is “mindful of our frame.” In case we need the reminder, we are not invincible.  We can’t do it all. We have limited capacities.  Here’s a question to consider: “Are we mindful of our frames”?  Are we aware of our own limitations and the loads we can bear?  We all have a capacity and each of us must know our Plimsoll Line.

The Plimsoll Line is the line where the hull of a ship meets the water.  This essential mark is a safety measure to prevent ships from being overloaded making them susceptible to sinking in stormy seas.  Like ships, we all have a limit to the load we can carry.  If you feel like you’ve been living in a constant state of feeling overloaded, then you may want to clear the deck!  No one will do this for you.  No one will make you less busy.  Stop complaining how busy you are start doing something about it. Take the initiative to discover and live within your capacity.

The first step is to stop living by the delusion that time off is the solution.  One week off can’t fix fifty-one weeks of craziness.  Start by looking at how you are spending your time “on.”  Some years ago, I came across some diagnostic questions from Tommy Kiedis[1] that helped me discover my Plimsoll Line and so I am sharing them with you.

Lighten Your Load
  • Figure out what is on your deck.   What is weighing you down? What are your roles, responsibilities, and commitments?
  • Why are you weighed down?  The heaviness may be seasonal due to a work-related project or the overload could be attributed to a lack of priorities or a lack of nerve (i.e., fear of saying no).
  • Are there responsibilities and commitments you can off load or even share with others (i.e., carpooling the kids to practice)?
 Once you have examined and cleared your deck, now you will want to draw some lines (boundaries) to keep your deck from becoming overloaded again.

Draw a line with your calendar.
Nothing reveals our priorities like our calendars.  Use your calendar as your friend to budget your time and energy for work, others, and yourself.  I’m one who if I plan it, I usually do it whether it is work, exercise, or rest.

Draw a line around your productive time.
Use time to manage your energy effectively for the important responsibilities in your life. As a morning person, I keep mornings for my sermon preparation which is my most demanding responsibility.  I draw a line around my mornings on my calendar because I am most productive during these crucial hours. I reserve afternoons for administrative affairs when my mind is in its “off-peak” phase.

Draw the line with your life rhythms. 
Your life’s rhythms are the daily/weekly routines and practices that replenish you.  These rhythms may include exercise, hobbies, attending church or even a morning cup of coffee (one of my favorites).  A note for parents:  Maintaining rhythms for your health and the health of your family is wise.  Yes, raising children requires sacrifice but if we are always parenting from a place of scarcity, we aren’t doing our children any favors.  As parents, it’s important we serve as role models for all of life, including caring for ourselves and living life at a manageable pace.

Our lives our much more valuable than roads.  Roads can be repaved and remade.  Our lives cannot. Let’s not give into the tyranny of the urgent at the expense of our souls.  Discovering your Plimsoll Line will protect you and your family.  It will also contribute to smoother sailing on the seas of a busy life.


Sue Gardner - January 1st, 2024 at 10:25am

Great perspective.

- January 6th, 2024 at 7:59pm

Thank you!

Linda Gallagher - January 1st, 2024 at 4:30pm

This was right on time. Margins, boundaries and being mindful of our frames. Notes taken.

- January 6th, 2024 at 7:59pm

I'm glad you found it helpful.