If I were to name one of my greatest personal struggles it would be time management.
My mind is naturally
wired to think of the most complicated route possible from point A to
B, thus I often imagine a task to be more monstrous than it really
is. Also, for most of my formidable years, I took great satisfaction
in my undisciplined, time-trasher personality. My life would not be
shackled with schedules and planners. Instead I'd be free; free to
lead a life of spontaneity and adventure—until it dawned on me I
was really wandering in the wilderness trapped between Mount
Frustration and the Red Sea of purposeless days. It was a humbling
moment. It was also the moment I begged the Lord to teach me how to
be a good steward of time.
|Courtesy of Faithwalk Photography|
I share this, because I know time management is a deep struggle for many. Maybe even for you. With the Lord's help, my heart toward time is changing. He is answering my cry to steward this precious gift. But notice I stated that in the present tense: I've moved from crawling to a toddling walk where I often lose my balance and have to get up again. In fact I've hesitated to write anything on time management because I have too many people in my life who know I stumble here often. So I confess right here: I stumble often. If you're looking for tips from a marathon time-runner I'm the last one you want. But if you'd grateful to know a few baby steps my Heavenly Father has taught me, may I please share three questions that have helped me greatly?
How Much Time Do I Realistically Have?
For years, I would look at the 16 waking hours I have and expect to conquer 16 hours worth of work every day. And then I wondered why I fell in bed every night frustrated I hadn't met my goals. In reality, once you account the time we must allot for sleeping, eating, taking the dog outside, cooking healthy meals, washing clothes, carpets, counters, children, and a host of other things, it's amazing we have any time left.
Something that has been helpful for me is writing out how many hours I spend on eating, sleeping personal care, household chores and other daily necessities required to maintain a healthy life and safe home. If we were to compare this to a budget, it would be the equivalent of listing your living expenses so you know how much extra money you truly have each month. This has helped to realistically plan other projects and make sure I don't steal time I need to meet basic life needs.
How Can I Build Around Natural Daily Rhythms?
How did God order time? Do the seasons just appear in random order? (Is there even such a thing as random order?) No. Spring has always followed winter and there is no fall harvest before summer's heat. In all God's ordering of time, we see natural rhythms. One example of natural rhythms is most people work their finest in the morning. Will-power is strongest early in the day as well as creativity. Yet how many of us have put off important projects until past bedtime? (raises a guilty hand)
Now granted, I realize not everyone has the circumstances to pattern their life perfectly. I have friends who would not be serving their families well if they blocked off all mornings and know many a young mother must plan her projects around little ones. But if we can, why not take advantage of the best rhythms in our day and strive to work with them instead of against them?
What Are My Top Priorities?
One of the things that has helped me the most is planning my day around priorities. Before I lived in “crises management” and typically responded to the most urgent task instead of the most important. This caught me in an endless cycle of rushing from one crises to the next. But if we are ever going to be good time stewards, we must have a greater purpose than we kept the world from falling apart today. Rather we must learn how to structure our day around the long-term (priorities) instead of the short-term (crises). For me this means very Sunday I make a list of commitments and goals for the coming week and then prioritize them. The most important are scheduled for the first of the week, with the lessor scheduled later. Then every night, I repeat the same pattern for the next day, scheduling top priorities for the morning and “would like to do, but can wait” activities later in the day.
Time is a precious gift; it's takes ever-growing diligence and discernment to steward it as unto the Lord. Some of us will struggle more than others, but we gain ground if we are teachable and don't lose heart. My prayer is these thoughts from a recovering time-trasher will help you to that end.
Do you have any time management lessons the Lord has taught you? Please pass on the blessing and share in the comments. You know you'll have at least one thankful reader (me :))!