Crazy Busy

“There’s not enough time.” That was the response from half of last week’s Leadership Development class when I asked them what one thought or excuse keeps them from doing what they want to or should be doing. I look around our company and the world around us, and it's crazy busy. There’s never enough time it seems to get it all done. Balancing work, family and rest seems daunting - if not impossible. What if we stepped out of the crazy cycle for just a minute? Instead of continuing to repeat what isn’t working - what if there was another approach?


Oftentimes, we respond with, “There’s not enough time” to things we know would make our lives run better. Exercise, better eating habits, connecting with friends, quality time with family, rest - to name a few on my own list. I know my life would improve if these things were in my life, but my life is crazy busy. Maybe you are in the same boat.


After last week’s class, I picked up a book that I thought might help people who feel like they are never able to do the things they know they should. The book I picked up is called, “5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time” by Jeremie Kubicek.

What I found fascinating, was that I bought it in order to help other people, when in reality - I needed to hear this too. The premise of the book is that there are natural gears as we journey throughout our day, that when we recognize which gear we need to be in for certain situations, we actually find a rhythm to the different parts of our day that leads to productivity and essentially fulfillment of a day well-lived.

As the title suggests, Kubicek believes that there are 5 Gears that we run in every day. Each gear represents a different mode of connecting through living, leading, working, and resting.

Let me introduce you to the 5 Gears:

5th Gear - Focus Mode: Task-Centered, fully focused and moving quickly in the zone

4th Gear - Task Mode: Multitasking; working hard in various ways

3rd Gear - Social Mode: Present with people and can shift up or down easily

2nd Gear - Connect Mode: Being present with family or friends without work

1st Gear - Recharge Mode: Personal recharge, completely unplugged

There are parallels with shifting gears in a car and the rhythms and routines in our lives: There is a right time and a right place for each gear. Conversely, there is also a wrong gear and a wrong time. People who figure this out tend to drive smoothly and effectively. People who don’t shift well tend to cause damage to those around them - people and vehicles.
— Jeremie Kubicek, 5 Gears

I remember trying to learn how to drive my first car - a 1984 Honda Accord. My parents bought it for a $1 from a guy who was basically going to scrap it. My mom took me up to our church parking lot in Wichita, KS and it was a miserable hour of jack-rabbit starts, grinding gears and looking around to make sure no one else was watching me try to learn how to drive a manual.

It is a miracle that the car made it out of that lot, much less the next 3 years that I drove it (Got my money's worth out of Ol' Blue)! I learned that trying to start from standing still directly into 4th gear doesn’t work. I learned that each gear serves a certain purpose. In the same way, trying to drive 70 mph down the highway in 1st gear - doesn’t work.

I can see how applying that knowledge to Kubicek’s 5 Gears makes perfect sense in life as well.

I’ve been caught by my family more than I care to admit of being in the wrong gear. In other words, not having my brain and my butt in the same room. There are times where I am physically present, but mentally I am somewhere else (usually work). As I have been thinking through this idea of rhythms and gears in life, this helps me understand a little more of what I am doing and what I can do moving forward to help better connect with my family when I am home.

Even last night, for example. We were celebrating my son, Caleb’s 7th birthday. I realized as I was I with my family sitting down to eat that I was still in 4th gear (Task Mode) and thinking about a few things I had left undone before leaving the office. I felt disconnected and distant. I realized what I was doing and downshifted into 2nd gear (Connect Mode). It was really interesting. I was able to re-engage with them and really enjoy the rest of the evening with my family.

I look at this list of 5 Gears and there are some that come really easy to me. 4th gear comes easiest and I am in it most often. I can get stuff done and focus on multiple things at a time. 1st gear (Recharge Mode) is the most challenging for me. I can’t sit still. When I do, I feel like I should be accomplishing something. I know I need to recharge, because in the times I have truly unplugged, when I do get back into gears 2-5, they run smoother and more efficient than ever before!

What I find interesting about the principles of this book is that it brought clarity to the life of Christ that I have always admired, but never fully have been able to live. As I reflected back on the 5 Gears, I thought about how Jesus led his life while on earth. I have always been fascinated with the way Jesus could connect with people. He would also take action through healing, teaching, ministering to people - and then He constantly would retreat to a quiet place or mountain for a time of solitude and prayer. I find myself willing to model other areas of His life (humility, service, compassion, etc), but I keep getting hung up on my personal need to model His rest.

We see this rest even in the Creation account in Genesis. For six days God created the world - and on the 7th day He rests. Do you think He is trying to show us something? He tells us that we are made in His image. Through this, I believe that we need to realize that our work, our relationships, and our ability to rest and recharge - all make up how He made us to live.

But Scripture is also clear - “Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy.” But I love the next part - “But I (that’s Christ) have come that you may have life, and have it to the full!” (John 10:10).

Here’s what I feel that God is desiring for us:

  • Work: When you work, that it would be accomplished with focus and clarity, be done with excellence, and make a difference in your team, your company and the world. That you would be working as though unto Christ, not for the approval of man.

  • Relationships: That you would be present for & with people when you connect with them. That you genuinely want people to know that they are valued and appreciated. And that you would experience growth in and through your relationships with your family, friends and co-workers.

  • Rest: When you rest, that you would experience the peace that only God provides, so that when you change gears, you can live, love and lead in ways that help you to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and body - and to love those He has intentionally placed in your life.

Maybe you are reading this and you are Crazy Busy. I want to first encourage you to find space today to downshift. Spend at least 10  minutes in 1st Gear (Recharge Mode) today. Turn the tv off. Put the phone in a drawer on silent. Find a place of solitude. Invest that time in quiet. Say a prayer. Read God’s Word. Take a deep breath. And another.

As you look ahead to what the rest of the day holds - what Gear is going to be required of you as you move throughout the day? As you walk into the next meeting? As you go to lunch? During that window of time this afternoon that is open on the calendar? What about as you drive home? What Gear will you shift to as you walk into your home?

I want to further deal with a few key areas around this topic for the next few weeks. Next week, we’ll be focused on rest and how recharging the batteries can impact how we live and work. I will be writing it this week, because I plan to live out what I learn this next week on my annual pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota. I am looking forward to making time to rest and recharge, so that I can return to the work God has called me to and the relationships He has given to me in my family and friends. 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)