Glynnis Whitwer’s most recent book, Doing Busy Better, centers on finding a healthy approach to both work and rest. In Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gift of Work and Rest, Whitwer explores the cause and effect of being overly busy. She then offers hope through practical and applicable solutions, starting with the attitude of our hearts.
Even in the midst of a season of personal busyness, Glynnis Whitwer took the time to answer a few questions about Doing Busy Better for Hollywood Jesus readers. In my review of the book, I said Whitwer’s words feel like sitting down for coffee talk with a trusted mentor. I consider it a privilege to be able to ask follow-up questions to such a wise woman!
In Doing Busy Better, you are generous with stories about your own struggle with busyness. I imagine launching a new book invites a new level of busy into your life. How are you following the principles you outline in your book during this busy season?
You are right about launching a book being a busy time. In addition to my book, I’m also getting ready for a big conference and taking on some additional writing work for a co-worker who has had to step back for a while. Plus we are getting ready for a grandbaby, although my daughter-in-law is doing the hard work there. All that to say, my circumstances have definitely collided.
In spite of all the demands, I am still taking Sundays off of any work. The only thing I’ll do that is related to my work as a writer, is read and study Scripture, and possibly write something about that Scripture.
I’ve also accepted that I won’t be able to do everything I want to do to promote my book. In other words, I’m accepting a B rather than an A.
But probably the best thing I’ve done is hire some help. Kim Stewart has been a lifesaver for me. I know God lead me to her and her to me for just a time as this.
One of the questions I ask myself on an ongoing basis is: What can only I do? That’s what I focus my energy on. For the other things, I try to get creative with how to get help. Often I find that things gets done at a higher level of excellence, than when I try to do it all and everything suffers.
You have five young adult children. How did you protect them from being over busy during childhood? How did you coach your children to balance work and rest as their lives became busier?
We limited their activities to one major commitment outside of school, whether it was a sport or music. Plus we had solid routines at home about homework first and hard limits on screen time during the week.
I could have done a lot better about specifically teaching my kids to balance work and rest, but unfortunately, I hadn’t learned it yet. What I did model (after I learned when the boys were about 3, 5 & 7) was living according to your priorities. My kids saw me make choices about not having a lot of commitments outside of the home. I was intentional about creating as peaceful a home as possible, so they felt a sense of rest when they came home.
Is there something you do every day to keep your busy under control?
I start almost every day with a time of Bible reading and prayer. It’s not long, sometimes only 10-15 minutes, but it’s enough to reset my heart and get ready for the day. About once a week, immediately after this time, I’ll organize my work for the next week. On a particularly busy week, I’ll assign tasks for each day of the week. This way, I know when I’m done for that day. I’ve found a long to-do list makes me feel like I’ve always got more to do, so it’s hard to know when to stop. If I only put 2-4 things on each day, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
In chapter six, you encourage us to “slow ourselves down and regain control” when we feel hurry steal our contentment. What are your go-to’s when you find yourself overwhelmed?
When I feel a sense of panic start to rise up in me, I know it’s time to step back from whatever I’m doing. I’ve learned to put physical breaks in my day. Which means I stop what I’m doing, walk away for a time and focus on something else, allowing my thoughts to settle down. My mind can lead me down all kinds of dangerous paths of negative thinking, leading me to be reactive rather than proactive. So I have to do some things to reset myself.
Another practice I have when I feel overwhelmed is to create a master task and project list, which I share about in the book. Basically, I write down everything I have to do in one place, then divide it by tasks (one action) and projects (multiple actions). Even though it might be long, just having everything captured in a safe place brings a sense of relief.
Of course, there’s nothing better than prayer to really settle our hearts.
What message do you hope readers take away from Doing Busy Better?
I hope readers see they aren’t slaves to their out-of-control schedules. God does have a plan for a balanced life, and it starts with incorporating rest into the rhythm of our weeks. There is something supernatural that happens when we honor the Sabbath. God starts to break away chains that have kept us over-busy, and He leads us into a place of soul rest, which is what He’s wanted all along.
Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as the executive director of communications. She currently oversees the Proverbs 31 devotions, Encouragement for Today, with more than 750,000 daily readers, and manages the content for She Speaks Conference and COMPEL Training. She is the author of Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, I Used to be So Organized, When Your Child Hurts, and work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home. She is also co-author of Everyday Confetti with Karen Ehman, and a Bible studies series entitled Kingdom Living with Brian T. Anderson.
Glynnis has a degree in Journalism and Public Relations from Arizona State University and worked as a PR writer before joining Proverbs 31 Ministries in 1998. Glynnis and her husband Tod live in Glendale, Ariz. They have five children, ranging from mid-teens to early 20’s.
Find more from Glynnis Whitwer at GlynnisWhitwer.com, or follow her on social media: Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Doing Busy Better is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite Christian book retailer.
Photo credit: GlynnisWhitwer.com.