It seems most people are beginning to realize how often our rest is poached by distraction and constant connectivity. I wish there was one place we could throw all of the blame. That would make it a quick fix. But there are just too many layers.
Social media, email, text messaging, and expectations surrounding our value of busyness all play key factors in our inability to rest well. I believe there is a foundational component to all of this, and have written about it here.
When our lives begin to show cracks in the wall, it’s usually a clue that something is wrong under the floorboards. The first step, therefore, in finding true rest is testing our foundation to see if it’s stable. I’ve found that if I start here then rest becomes possible, but not always probable.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.
It is possible to both trust in the Lord and distract yourself to death. Sometimes, we simply need to take a step back and evaluate ourselves and our work.
I’m a pastor. That’s sort of like being a doctor who’s on call 24/7 every single day. I’m never further than a text away from rushing out the door to a counseling session or hospital or confrontation. Any time. Day or night. Every day. There are two things I can choose to do with that weight:
- Use it to justify never being able to rest
- Or believe Psalm 127:2 (and realize that most weeks are emergency free). Either way, I don’t have to bear the responsibility of always being accessible to everyone.
About 6 months ago, I started doing the second one and it changed my life. It took weeks of evaluating my schedule and heart. But I finally got practical with my rest. After 5:00PM, I stopped checking email until right before bed (11:00PM). In fact, my phone stays away from me. No texts. No social media (until bed).
The first few weeks were really weird – especially on Friday when I didn’t check email all day. Try it. Go one day without checking social media or email. It surprised me how many times I was doing something aimless like walking down the hall and would automatically try to check my phone for new information.
This habit of constantly distracting ourselves with connectivity limits our ability to shut down and rest. So, take a step this week and get serious about it. Here are some practical things I’ve done this year that have helped tremendously:
- Spent one day a week away from technology (no email, social media, etc.).
- Downloaded a free app called Moment that tracked how much I was using my phone.
- Planned my weeks really well (including scheduling tweets and Facebook posts through Hootsuite) so that I could shut down “work-mode” in my brain .
- Read and listened to many resources that helped me think well about rest and productivity. (They are listed below)
Pick one of them and look at it this week. Pull up the floorboards of your heart and find out what’s causing all the cracks in the walls. It’s worth the time.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Rest by Blake Hudspeth (me) – available for free here
Work and Rest by Tim Keller – available for free here