Rearranging Our House to Match Our Priorities

“We’re going to spend less time on screens”, “No more wasting time on binge-watching”, “Let’s read more this year!” And so on and so forth. But then we come home from work tired or bored and ‘Voila’! The Good Place is magically on and we’ve already watched five episodes. Wouldn’t it be great if these priorities could actually impact how we organize our lives?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “Show me your calendar and I’ll show you where your priorities are.” But Cody and I are totally good there, aren’t we? I mean, we make time for date night every week, volunteer at church, go to our small group, and so on. My guess is that whoever first said that quote meant more than the big events on our calendar, and more how we spend our time in general. I guess that’s pretty obvious, but as I let that sink in I realized that maybe I’m not living into the priorities I claim to have.

What ARE our priorities?

If you ask us our priorities, they are our faith, our marriage, and growth. But do our daily habits make these priorities obvious? I would say the “big events” on our calendar reflected those priorities. But the things we were doing on a daily basis showed our priorities to be work, television, and social media.

When we started our weekly sabbath – a time away from work – we started to take an honest look at how much time we were spending on things that we didn’t claim to be priorities. To start, we decided to realign our priorities by doing a complete tech detox on our sabbath each week. That means zero screen time. It wasn’t until we completely detoxed that we realized how much time we were spending on it ordinarily.

We made the same empty promises again, but kept slipping up almost immediately. Our house and life was set up to be conducive to our screen time, and was even preventing us from pursuing the priorities we wanted to have.

We truly loved how our home was setup and arranged. It was cozy and comfortable. All of our main living activities happened on the main level, which made things easy. However, having our television in our main living space meant that our TV was just always ON. While we cooked, while we ate, while we played games, any time we had a minute of downtime. It was right there, so it was easy.

We made the decision to rearrange our house. Not knowing where to start, we looked at the list of things we always said we “should” do more of.

Out with the old priorities. . .

The first step was to get rid of the things that we were turning to too often. Our basement had mostly become our gym and our dumping grounds for extra stuff. We de-cluttered (BIG TIME) and made the decision to move the television to the basement. It means giving up some fun traditions, like watching Christmas movies while baking cookies. But it also means we don’t just turn on the TV during dinner or anytime we walked into our main living area.

. . .and in with the new

The next step was to fill our newly empty living room with the things we wanted to do more often. We moved our piano down from our office. Our devotional items and many of our books moved out to a more accessible place too. It’s made it a lot easier to get into the habit of daily time in the Word and reading for fun!

The final move was to bring our games out of our office closet down to our living room. To be honest, I’m not a big game person. However, we’ve found a few that I don’t mind playing over and over. It has been great to build a new hobby and have time to talk instead of sitting side by side binge-watching shows.

What’s changed

Now, to be totally honest, it hasn’t solved our fixation with screens. We still are on our phones far too much. Neither of us practice piano as much as we envisioned. Cody and I first bonded over movies and tv shows, so we don’t want to cut them completely. So, we are working on finding a healthier balance for our relationship. The goal is that screen time can be intentional – only watching shows when it’s for a reason and on purpose. It’s all too easy to just turn on a show and veg out, and that isn’t helping us focus on our priorities.

Some things ARE getting better. We now eat together at the table more often than we eat in front of the television. Our open living room gives us easy access to our books, and a comfortable place to spend time with God. Before, we were so exhausted from the constant hustle of life. All we could do when we had free time was become zombies in front of the television! Plus, the fact that our basement gets REALLY cold in the winter means that we opt for card games upstairs. While there is still a LONG way to go, we’ve come a long way, too, and that’s something worth celebrating!