What size is your plate?
Sometimes I wish I was a turkey platter. Let me explain.
About a month ago, I heard a teaching by Michele Cushatt about time management. She encouraged us to determine our capacity by using a plate as our visual. She said it is important for us to be honest about what is our current capacity in this season of life we are in. We all need to honestly ask ourselves: What is the size of our plate? Are we a turkey platter with lots of extra time and margin in our schedule or are we an average dinner plate? Are we a salad plate with a more limited schedule or even a smaller dessert plate? Maybe, we are so stretched thin that we are only a small plate that you can put your tea bag on. If you are a mom of a new baby, then you can relate to this last description. Michele says that knowing your capacity and operating within your capacity is very important!
I was super intrigued by this plate analogy and I started to evaluate my schedule. If I am completely honest, I have struggled with over-commitments in the past, thinking that I could do it all. Michele shares that if you try to function like a turkey platter but know that you are a dinner plate, you push yourself beyond your capacity and your brain and body cannot function as well. Over time, this will lead to feeling empty physically, emotionally or even spiritually. We are not created to go full speed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will eventually burn out.
I remember when my kids were younger; I wanted to do it all. I enjoyed being the room mom and volunteering at their schools. I liked being my kids’ leaders for their scout group and then later their church group. In addition, I was involved in a women’s ministry. I would schedule playdates and activities every afternoon that we were free. The calendar was full and we were very busy. Looking back now, my plate was packed to the brim and honestly was too full. Some weeks, when all of these commitments needed my time at once, I was stretched too thin. Can anyone relate to this?
Many times, we live like we are turkey platters when really our plates are too full? In reality, our capacity is more of a dinner or salad plate. In her teaching, Michele encourages us to reflect and ask ourselves, “What are the signs/ symptoms that my plate is too full?” For me, I am less patient and easily frustrated when I have too much on my plate. I can easily lose my temper and snap at my kids. Sadly, I can remember many times when we are running late because my plate was too full and I was irritated that my kids were taking too long to get in the car. It would push me over the edge when they could not find their shoes as we were trying to get out the door. Looking back now, I needed more margin in my schedule.
Margin allows for unexpected interruptions or problems in our day. We all need more margin, more white space in our schedules. We need to leave extra time for things that are unplanned. Sometimes kids get sick and need to go to the doctor or urgent care. Sometimes our car breaks down or we get a flat tire. Sometimes a loved one needs our help or a friend needs to talk. Each of these will take time out of our schedule. If we have planned every minute of our day, then these interruptions will likely push us over the edge. Again, this is why margin is so important.
We also need margin or time in our schedule to recharge. This idea of needing rest was hard for me. As a type A, go-getter, I did not want to admit that my body needed time off to reboot. Over the last 4-5 years, I have now come to understand the importance of rest and I cherish my recharge time. I actually plan it into my schedule and block off times for it. Reading is one of the ways I recharge. I wish I could go back in time and have started this practice of rest and self-care years before. It is truly that important to me. What do you do to recharge? Is resting a part of your weekly schedule? I highly encourage you make time to rest and recharge. It truly is an investment in you!
As we become more self-aware of our true capacity, then we can organize our schedule to live within those parameters. I know for me, that there are times of the year when life may be busier than others. The month of May is always a super busy month at our house with multiple birthdays, Mother’s day, work, school activities, …. I wish I could say that I planned ahead for this and had extra margin in my schedule. I am here to say that I am a work in progress. My first 3 weekends of the month were crazy packed so I took this last week and left lots of white space so I could reboot and regroup.
As you evaluate your schedule, you may need to cut back on some of your commitments or kid’s activities. Years ago, I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book, “Best Yes”, and one story really stood out to me. Lysa went to Denver to visit a friend and noticed all the trees had broken branches on the ground. She asked her friend what happened and her friend said that the snow came early that year. Since the trees had not yet dropped their leaves, the extra weight of the snow cracked and broke their branches. Just like those trees, we cannot carry all the weight either. If the trees have to drop their leaves before they can take on the weight of the snow, then we would be wise to also drop something in our schedule before adding something new. I know this can be hard since there are many good things. I encourage you to remember that we cannot do it all and instead, decide to pick the best things for yourself and your families.
My challenge to you is to really sit down and ask yourself these hard questions: In my season of life right now, what size is my plate? Is my plate too full right now? What do I need to do to have more margin in my life?
As much as I wish I was a turkey platter, I am not. In my season, as a single mom, my life is very busy. I know my capacity is more of an average dinner plate and sometimes a lunch plate during those busy months of the year. Trying to work within my capacity takes intentionality and discipline. I know how important it is for me to spend time recharging so I need to guard that precious time.
I recently heard this quote: “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” We are in charge of our schedules and how we spend our time. We all get the same amount of time, but how we spend it is up to us. My prayer for all of us is this quote below: I pray we can “guard our time fiercely. Be generous with it but be intentional about it.” Amen!
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