Why do we overschedule? Really, why?

Our first responses might be: “Well I’m a responsible person. I have to get stuff done.” Or, “I love what I do!” Good answers.

The purpose of today’s post isn’t to talk you out of working diligently, or discourage you from doing what you love. But truth be told, there are less-than-noble reasons we stuff our calendar. Here are three:


FOMO is the fear of missing out. When I was a kid, I hated having to go to bed early, mainly because I was afraid of missing out on something. FOMO can be a real challenge for pastors. We pack our week sometimes because we fear we won’t have enough. We fear not growing as fast as other churches in our city, town, or village. We fear others’ perceptions of our work ethic. We’re afraid of disappointing God. We fear being regarded as a failure. And perhaps ultimately, we fear what will happen if our current gig doesn’t work out. FOMO is often a primary accelerator of our busyness.


OMO is overestimating my output. Pastors tend to overestimate how much they can get done in any given day or week, and underestimate how much they can get done in a year. Our lack of realism when it comes to scheduling is mystifying at times, isn’t it? We tend to bite off more than we can chew. We look at our crammed week, and think, “I can take one more thing on.” We  often overestimate our output capability and underestimate our need for margin.


DOMO is disorganized method operation. Disorganization lends to a crammed schedule. Let’s face it: Some of us lack basic organizational muscle. We lead by the seat of our pants. We get comfortable with firefighting. Here’s the good news: We don’t have to become an organizational guru to pastor a church. But we do have to learn a functional level of organization. The good news is most of us can.

If you suffer with FOMO, OMO, or DOMO, what can you do? Here are three ideas that you may find helpful:

Get to the root of your fear(s)

When you’re chronically overscheduled, ask yourself: “What am I afraid of? What’s broken on the inside that’s driving me to choose this insane pace?” Ask God and trusted friends to help you sort this out. Learn to work from love instead of fear. Learn to work from rest instead of for rest. Learn to work from your identity rather than for your identity.

If you’re a Jesus-follower, you’re loved unconditionally by Father God. Your accomplishments don’t cause Him to love you more. Your failures don’t cause Him to love you less. You have His stamp of approval. You’re valuable not because of what you do but because of Who you belong to. Work and lead out of these truths, and your calendar will fall in line.

Get in touch with reality

You have limitations. There’s not enough time or energy to implement every idea in your head. Stop lying to yourself by thinking you can work 60+ hours every week, month after month, year after year, and stay healthy. Admit you can only blow by your weekly day off for so long before you’ll start making a mess out of your life. It doesn’t honor God when you regularly over-fill your schedule. In fact, it’s possible overscheduling is dishonoring to Him. When we deny the reality our human limitations, when we stuff our calendar like a turkey, and week after week overcommit—is it possible we’re acting as though we don’t need God? Something to consider when you consistently overschedule.

Get near organized people

I was disorganized early in life. Becoming the pastor of a large youth group brought this weakness front and center. So I searched out the most organized person I knew, threw myself at his mercy, and asked him to teach me how to improve. I read books to help me grow (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey; Focus by Al Ries: Execution by Larry Bossidy); these were a few books I devoured to get better at organization. You can learn how to be organizationally literate without having to become an expert. The better organized you are, the less wasted motion you have. And the more control you’ll experience with your calendar.

So pastor: What does your calendar look like this week? Is it packed like sardines in a can? Are you feeling the negative effects of FOMO? OMO? DOMO? Stop the madness. Get in touch with your fears . . . with reality . . . with your approach to work.

The smarter you get calendar-wise, the longer you can do what you love. And the more fun you’ll have along the way.

Rooting and praying for you,