“How many things are you thinking of at the moment, that you need to do, organise or plan for?” asked Executive Coach Danelle Esterhuizen, to the group of women gathered for the second annual “Free to Be” productivity conference which took place on 1 Feb. As we began our mental lists, she encouraged us to take it further, by putting pen to paper. After a good solid 20 minutes of noting, I had two A5 pages full of things that were cluttering my headspace…only to be told the startling fact that:
The number of items that we can store in our conscious mind, our working memory, is limited to FOUR.
Not 400, not even 40…but four! And so is it little wonder that so many of us are running around in a beleaguered state, frazzled by our intentions and disappointed at our inefficiencies; just on this fact alone…never mind the distractions of technology and added pressures of being part of a hyper-busy society?
Fortunately, Danelle gave us a simple solution for clogged minds; quite simply, using a capturing tool (notebook, app, spreadsheet etc) to download it all before sorting things into manageable categories. And perhaps that is what I liked so much about the practical productivity workshop that she delivered – that often it is about taking a step back and realising that God has made us fallible beings that operate on a certain number of hours of sleep (between seven and nine, no less!), and adequate nutrition – and our priorities need to reflect this too.
You can’t do anything!
Come Away Founder Shirley Emms reminded us in her talk how God describes us, apart from Jesus. Unlike the mantra of today which says, “You can do anything, be extraordinary, make your mark, you are amazing!”, the Bible paints a more depressing picture:
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
We are finite; and even our greatest impact will not last forever.
“For we know in part…”
We don’t know everything; in fact, God’s Word goes further to say we are fools; gullible and prone to deception. We are dependent on God, whether we choose to acknowledge that or not.
Ephesians 2 rounds out our despicable state. Verses 1-3 tell us how we were dead in our transgressions, following the ways of the God and the devil. But then…verse 4…God saved us from all that by His grace – He made us alive with Christ!
And how does this all relate to our ability to live full, productive lives for His glory, unhampered by insatiable busyness and mind-numbing distraction? God knows who we are, and he has freed us into His wonderful grace. When the shiny-ness of our commitment to “being better” through our New Years’ resolutions wears off (mine have and it’s still February), we would do well to consider this paraphrase (The Message translation) of Matthew 11:28:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Listen to me, walk with me, work with me- watch how I do it. Lean the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.
Through keeping in tune with God’s Word we are freed up to sing a different song apart from the culture we find ourselves in, and we can walk our lives of faith carefully, wisely, making the best use of the time we’ve been graciously given. Amen!
The “Free to Be” conference was beautifully planned, informative and spiritual. I enjoyed the practical aspect the most because it gave me a chance to think about my life and document all the brain clutter I carry with me every day. Our hosts were absolutely amazing and I appreciate the gifts we received as well as the friendships that were formed on the day. I look forward to the next conference! – S Thandeka
“I liked that the event organiser was so vulnerable in terms of telling her truths, as she was then so relatable. Also, taking productivity back to the Word of the Lord. I loved the meal planner which we received in our goodie bag!” – Sara-Jane
We joyfully doubled our number of attendees from last year, and were thrilled to welcome so many new faces who found out about the event through a variety of platforms. Be sure to look out for communication around next year’s conference so you can book the date in the diary!