This is part 3 of my self-management series based on Proverbs 27:23-24, being stewards of all that is ours. Well, what about our time?
Here’s a list of things I’d love to be able to do if it were up to me: writing, reading (fiction, non-fiction, Bible, comics, etc), play video games, create a video game, exercise, learn to play the piano, learn to play to guitar (all sorts), learn to play the drums, learn to play the violin, learn to play the saxophone, watch TV/movies, take up acting, take up dancing, be part of a singing group, hang out with my buddies more often, regularly get together with other writers, participate in my church, more time with my wife, take up drawing again, learn how to work Photoshop to cover up my bad drawings, create a comic book, be an editor, play basketball, and I’m sure there are more things, but I’ll stop here.
Stop and think about yourself. What would you LOVE to do if time permitted? I don’t mean one-time events like special vacations to exotic locations, I mean continuous lifestyle changes that would make your heart sing? Think of as many as you can, I’m sure there are many unfulfilled wishes.
But here comes the hard part: we can’t do it all. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, right?
Well…technically, there are.
The Bible continuously praises God as the Creator (Genesis, Psalms, Chronicles, just pick one). It also praises God as perfect. So, perhaps God created the perfect amount of time for every day. Perhaps we don’t need more hours or less than we have now.
What if we stopped focusing on everything we want to do and focus on everything that is good to do?
Managing your time properly boils down to two things:
I wanted to get this blog post done by now, but I listened to music instead. Ironic, eh? You can’t possibly do everything, so find out the things you have to do. This changes daily, but you need some sort of overall structure.
Think about all those things you wanted to do if you had the time. Now figure out which ones are the most important. I remember when I had to write down such a list as the one at the top of this blog and mark off all the things that weren’t really important. I’ve narrowed myself down to the following general categories (not quite in order): God, my wife, writing, reading/studying, my church, my family, my job, my friends. These things generally encompass my life because I have made them as such. There may be other things, like I try to exercise and would love to do more, but if I decided long ago that if I had the choice, I’d rather be an obese writer with a happy wife than a fit and sexy guy doing anything else.
Priorities don’t just align themselves. You need to sit down and figure out what you care about most and focus on that first. More importantly, figure out what GOD cares about most. If you don’t know, here’s a VERY basic guideline to our priorities in life.
1. God–Love God first and pursue him higher and stronger than anything else.
2. Spouse–You promised to forsake all others, so they are your number one human commitment.
3. Kids–If you have them, you are their greatest molder, so build them up in the way they should go.
4. Church–Not the building, the people. Commit to them, connect with them, and contribute to them.
5. Work–Do your job.
How this manifests changes per person, but boil it down to the bare essentials and you’ll start to see what really matters to you.
Now that we’ve talked about narrowing your day, let’s talk about filling it. You know what’s important, so DO IT! Don’t be lazy, live out your priorities! Be diligent and set out to fulfill those tasks that need doing. If you get into such a habit, you’ll slowly start to see those things leveling out and almost taking care of themselves. For example, if you start prioritizing your husband, it soon becomes second nature and as your marriage grows, your kids will benefit from the joy in the house and your work will seem more worth it. If you make it a habit to get those important things done at work before the easy ones, you’ll stay on top of them instead of scrambling to catch up.
Be diligent, do those important things and you’ll not only keep up with all that truly matters, but you’ll start to find time for all the stupid, unimportant stuff!
I’ve wanted to play video games all day, but by going to work, I made money to buy them. Buy stopping and getting beef, I have supper tonight. By reading my Bible and really focusing on God, I grew a little closer to Him. By cooking for my wife for 30 minutes and snuggling with her for 5, I can eliminate the 12 hours of work stress she had today and we will enjoy the evening.
I’m not perfect, I’ve been back and forth on internet tabs this entire time! But I know our time is important to God, and even more so, how we spend it. Paul said in Ephesians 5: 15-16, “Walk circumspectly [looking around], not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, for the days are evil.” Time is fleeting, so how are you spending it?
Next week: Manage your talents and abilities.