Let’s wrestle this 2015 monster to the ground, take control and stand upon its carcass victorious once again!
Sorry about that. Back to the blog.
I’ve been talking to my 6 readers about time management. You are very special people if you’re still reading this. This is for you. You deserve every word…
Once again I have to thank Rick Warren for many of the following tips. Here’s how I’m hoping to manage my time over the next year. I challenge you to do the same:
- KNOW YOUR PURPOSE
Long before you decide what you are going to do this week, you have to figure out where you are going in life. Once you determine that, you have a direction set and choices become easier.
Spend some time thinking about filling in these blanks:
I exist to… so that…
I exist to generate significant income from my artwork so that I can influence and support various charities I care about.
I exist to be the best mother I can so that my 3 sons will contribute something amazing to the world.
Once you have thought about what is most important to you, you’ll be able to make decisions that align with your life purpose.
For Christians, many of these decisions are made easier by the guidelines set out in the Bible. Colossians 3:17 says, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
- PLAN ON PURPOSE
If you’re married, then part of your purpose must be to have a great marriage. So plan time with your spouse! And when something crops up in that time slot, say ‘no’! If you do, you’ll be showing your husband / wife that you value them more than the thing you turned down. If you don’t you’ll be sending the opposite message.
If you look at my diary, you’ll see “Jon and Andrea” time slots built in to every week. If you’re not intentional about this you will grow apart and become no more than a cooperative life partner rather than a romantic husband / wife.
If you have kids, part of your purpose must include being an excellent mum or dad. Let your diary reflect that. What will happen if you do?
If you believe you have a purpose in the church or outside of the home, professionally or in some other area, e.g. being a positive influence to young people by coaching a sport, make time for it!
And have diary meetings! Don’t just put things in your diary. Look over the week ahead once a week! I also have a weekly diary meeting with Andrea so that we can get the organisation out of the way and when we are together we don’t have to talk constantly about housekeeping and parenting issues! These things are already dealt with.
The only way you can do this properly is to learn step 3:
- LEARN TO SAY NO.
This is a tough one for me. I care too much about letting people down. But the truth is, if it’s not in my purpose and I say yes to it, I’m spending time that could have been spent more productively. You have to learn to say no. Remember the important and urgent quadrant. If it’s not urgent and not important, you probably should say no. Be brutal!
This even includes saying no to the phone and the inbox! You don’t have to always answer the phone right away. I have seen people answer when they are in the middle of dinner with others, at a movie, or other inappropriate times. If you answer the phone whilst I’m talking to you, I’ll obviously forgive you (!) but I’d hope it was both more urgent than what I was saying! It is OK to not answer and then call people back. It’s also OK not to answer emails right away. I have heard the email inbox defined as “other people’s schedule for your day”. Maybe you need to schedule time in your day / week to check your inbox (for some of us this might be over an hour if we are to follow things up thoroughly!) But even when checking, don’t feel you have to answer everything at once. As you’re reading it decide whether you’ll add it to your to-do list to respond, or just delete! Rarely do I answer an email as soon as it arrives as I’m usually busy with something else and multitasking is overrated (which basically means I can’t do it!)
- LEARN TO USE DEAD TIME.
When you have 5-10 minutes here or there, use that time wisely. Sometimes I quietly pray in a queue, or when waiting for that blue ring on my laptop screen to stop circling. How many wasted minutes do you spend staring at “Not Responding” (PC Users)? What about the time spent waiting in a queue? Sometimes I’ll ask God to give me a conversation starter with someone I’m near to, but if I’m just waiting for the laptop to respond I’ll close my eyes and talk to God for a few seconds. Just today I was waiting at the optician’s for an eye test and chose to ignore the magazines on offer in order of silently reciting the 23rd Psalm in my head. Far more uplifting than looking at cars I can’t afford! If you’re studying use dead time to test yourself on something you have to remember. In my car commuting to work I’ve listened to hundreds of sermons and helpful podcasts instead of listening to the radio. How are you using dead time?
“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones” (Psalm 127:2). When Jesus would have extended periods of ministry he always got away for extended periods of rest. “There is a difference between effectiveness and efficiency. Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” (Warren)
When you’re planning your week, plan for rest. And don’t just leave that segment of the week blank – put something in your diary in that slot. Otherwise when someone asks you if you’re free, you’ll look at the empty slot and say yes. If you’ve put a restful activity (like ‘staying in bed’!) in your diary for that time you’ll find it more easy to tell the other person you’re not free.
This is not selfish. You cannot help or serve other people if you are not first in a place of rest yourself. Be as kind to yourself as you would to someone you really care about!
Conclusion: What’s on your to-don’t list?
“When you focus on the purposes you believe God created you for, you’ll have the stability to say no to some good things. And that will give you the space to be able say yes to the best things when they present themselves. Rather than just reacting to the waves of things that come, you can ride them with deliberate intention.
“James 4:14 reminds us, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” We can’t have more time, but we can live with a greater awareness of the limited time we do have. Every opportunity that arrives on your doorstep will require some decision. If you’ve already decided what you value, you can fully enjoy each moment, secure that you’re living the life you want.” (Craig Groeschel)