How to Make Room for Rest

“I’m too busy.” How many times have you said that phrase in the last month? If you’re in ministry, I know this: You’re busy, and you need more time to rest.

We all have 24 hours a day, but today those hours seem to go by faster than ever.

Everything and everyone is fighting for your attention—your kids, your phone, your spouse, your job, your friends, your TV, your church, your hobbies … they all want your time.

Rest is the most forgotten spiritual discipline because we don’t have room for it.

And when we do rest, we feel guilty—like we are being too lazy and should be doing something else with our time.

We forget that God set the standard by commanding the Israelites to rest one day a week (Exod. 20:8–11). There’s plenty of time for productivity and getting stuff done, but we were also created to rest.

So here are seven ways to find more room for rest in your life.

1. Eliminate Nonessential Activity.

If there is something you are doing that you hate to do, ask, “Is this necessary?” If it’s not, stop doing it or find a way to cut it out of your life.

I hate yard work, so I bought a simple home without much of a yard. I’ve had a big yard, and I spent a big part of every weekend taking care of that yard. I don’t want to spend my weekend as a landscaper; I want to spend it as a husband, father, and friend. I want to take my kids for a bike ride, coach their sports teams, and then take a nap with a college football game on the TV. Can I get an amen?

I’ve eliminated 99% of my landscaping duties. What do you need to eliminate?

2. Automate Repeated Activities.

If something you do repeatedly can’t be eliminated, then ask, “Can I automate this?”

Do you have to input all of your expenses into a spreadsheet, or is there software that will do that for you? Do you have to email back and forth to schedule meetings, or could you use an app like Calendly to do it for you? There are a lot of great tools out there like Zapier or IFTTT that can help you automate repeated tasks.

Not all repeated activities can be solved with an app, but there are other ways to nearly automate your processes. For example, I get a lot of the same email questions. So instead of writing individual replies to the same question over and over, I use email signature templates. Now, instead of spending ten minutes crafting and editing a response, it takes about ten seconds.

What work can you automate?

3. Delegate Things You Don’t Have to Do.

If you can’t eliminate or automate something, ask, “Do I have to be the one doing this?” If someone else can do it, give the job to them.

Since my wife and I both work, we don’t have a lot of extra time around the house. So instead of spending all our nights and weekends cleaning, we cut our cable bill and hired a cleaning service instead. Once a month, they help with all the deep cleaning, so we only have to keep up with the basic stuff.

We also delegate housework to our kids to build character, even though it’s harder at times than it would be to do it ourselves.

Whether at home or work, do what Moses did (Exodus 18); keep your focus on the things that drive results, and find ways to delegate or outsource the work that drains you. You may find others who like that kind of work and do a better job than you anyway.

4. Get Organized.

You’ll rest better when your life is in order.

It’s incredible how much time we waste looking for things we can’t find or how often we panic because we didn’t plan.

So organize your stuff, calendar, meals, and budget.

Organizing is playing the long game. It’s a lot of work upfront, but once you have a system in place, it’s easy to keep up, and your life is more peaceful.

5. Plan Your Rest.

I know planning doesn’t sound very restful, but if you don’t plan for rest, it won’t happen. Something else will fill that gap in your schedule.

So schedule time every week where nothing will be scheduled. Decide when you’ll use your vacation time. And give yourself a bedtime. When do you need to go to sleep every night so that you wake up rested and ready for the day?

6. Limit Screen Time.

It’s hard to imagine, but a long time ago, people didn’t have electronic devices in their pockets to entertain them 24/7. So when it was dark outside, they went to bed. When they had nothing to do, sometimes they would actually do nothing.

But now, the screen consumes our every spare moment and even keeps us from getting enough sleep.

Set a time that you won’t use electronic devices. Turn off the TV at dinner time. Read a book before bed instead of watching endless seasons of a show you sort of like on Netflix. Get a bin or a place to put all your family’s devices during no screen times (yours included).

Also, declutter your devices by deleting apps that you don’t use often or suck up too much of your time.

Recently I realized that I’d been wasting a lot of time playing a stupid puzzle game on my phone. So I deleted it. Bam. Time-waster managed.

7. Say, “No.”

Are you guilty of saying “Yes” too much? It’s OK to say, “Sorry, but I’m busy.”

Every time you say yes to something, you say no to everything else. “Yes” to a new project at work also means “no” to the time you need to work on other projects, or “no” to your family when you are at the office late trying to catch up on your workload.

Yes isn’t always bad, but think first about the no side of every yes.

Which of these seven things do you need to practice this week?

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This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

Brandon Hilgemann
Brandon Hilgemann

Brandon Hilgemann is a pastor, the founder of and the author of Preaching Nuts & Bolts: Conquer Sermon Prep, Save Time, and Write Better Messages