Nothing in, nothing out. Like most of the world, my life changed during the course of the Corona Virus pandemic. I was one of the fortunate ones who kept my job. I’m in the transportation industry, and many of my accounts service the medical or scientific research communities. We were considered “Essential workers”, and never slowed down at all. In fact, our workload increased.
In addition, I accepted a promotion just a few months into the pandemic. New responsibilities, new processes to learn, and a lot more work. It took a few months to transition out of my old job into the new one. And even now, almost a year later, I’ve still not fully transitioned.
If this sounds like I’m complaining, I assure you I’m not. I have been wonderfully blessed. But my life has changed. My free time dwindled. My schedule changed. Where I worked changed. And along the way, I developed some bad habits.
My normal morning routine was to head to work early. On the way in, I would listen to other podcasts or Bible teaching. It was a great way to start my day. And it also kept my mind actively engaged in apologetics. Even when I didn’t have time to read, I could always listen and learn. And then, thanks to L.A. traffic, I had even more time to listen to podcasts or an audiobook on the way home.
But now I was working from home. I would get up, get dressed, make a quick bite to eat, and jump right into work. I could still turn on the podcasts but wasn’t paying as close of attention to them. I was concentrating on work. And once I realized I wasn’t listening, I stopped listening.
And that’s when I realized I was suffering on my content output as well. Writing had become harder. Searching for topics seemed daunting. I couldn’t find anything that I felt I had to offer. I learned a hard lesson that all good writers know. Nothing in, nothing out.
The Devil Made Me Do It
I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy”. Well, as much as I’d like to cast blame on the Devil for my own shortcomings, that’s just not true. Everything that happened to me was a good thing. I just needed to learn to adapt to my new situation.
Some of you may be in the same boat. Things have changed. You have a new job, a new schedule or a new circumstance that has interrupted your time with God. So how do you adapt? How do you get back on track? Here are three tips that helped me:
It’s easy to think that you’ll find time to read, listen to a podcast or study “in between your workload”. That rarely works. J. Warner Wallace famously says he can tell what is important to people by looking at their bank account and their calendar. Where are you spending your money, and what are you making time for?
I had to force myself to put time on my calendar each day for Bible reading, study and podcasts. If I didn’t schedule these times, I would invariably not do them. I had to tinker a bit to find what times worked best with my new schedule. Once I did, I blocked out those times on my calendar. That time is set aside before I schedule anything else for my day.
If It Doesn’t Work, Change It
As I said, I didn’t find the right schedule the first time out. I initially tried to mirror my previous schedule and listen to content in the early morning and afternoon. That didn’t work as well as it did on my old schedule. I found devotional reading worked better in the mornings, and listening to audio worked better in the evenings when people were less likely to call me. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but don’t be afraid to move things around to see what works best.
Now that you have your schedule set, it’s time to commit. Most research shows that it takes a little over 2 months to form a habit. Realize this going in. You will need to be purposeful in those first months to change your behavior and develop good habits again. Set alarms for the times you have set aside to study. Jealously guard that time, and do not deviate from your schedule except for true emergencies. Once you reach the two-month mark, you will be in the habit. At this point, the schedule will take hold and it will feel more natural to study at your new time.
It’s been a trying time, but I can honestly say that with the changes I’ve made, my well feels like it’s filling up again! Being constantly engaged gets your mind working. There is a saying when talking about brain activity that when synapses “fire together, they wire together”. Meaning the more you use a neural pathway in your brain, the more natural it becomes to use them. No more nothing in, nothing out!
Have you experienced a change in your schedule that has disconnected you from God? What have you done to overcome it?
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