“Time flies when you’re having fun.”
“Time is money.”
How many times a day (pun intended) do you mention or think about time? Most of us are on a schedule. And many say there there isn’t enough “time” in each day to get things done. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the lack of time in your life, this one’s for you. Don’t let your schedule own you. YOU have the chance to own it! And believe it or not, God will help you with this.
I recently started a new eight-week semester for my masters program. It just so happens that it is my LAST (Praise You, seven pound, fourteen ounce baby Jesus!) Usually the first week of class is relatively chill… but there are exceptions to every rule. Between my two new classes, I had several chapters to read in a total of four different books, three sets of notes to review, two course requirement checklists, two discussion board posts, replies to those posts, and three (yes THREE) papers. Seriously?
I was going a little bonkers with life there for a little while… then ironically (divinely) one of the papers I had to write for a leadership class was about “time management” and weekly scheduling. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled. For real? I have a handle on this stuff… but as I thought about my “techniques” of time management and began having conversations with others, many said that they too wanted so ideas on “managing time.”
So here you go. Here is an abbreviated version of my time management strategy… Keep in mind that every tiny second of our 168 hour weeks are truly privilege to live in, given by God to be used for His glory. As I look back on the below paper excerpt, I can’t help but think that my writing of it was heavenly good time-ing for my heart, soul, mind, strength… and hopefully for you too!
God has significantly blessed me throughout my life with a variety of leadership experience and training on both goal setting and time management. My parents raised me with an exceptional work ethic, for which I am very thankful. However, with that work ethic comes a drive to be involved and stay committed in many different ways. I have learned about and implemented strategies that have and continue to allow me to successfully manage my time.
Right now, God is challenging me with time management, as I am an army spouse. The military can change their schedule multiple times without prior notice, which ultimately impacts my home life and interaction with my beloved. This is teaching me to be flexible and patient. It is a hard lesson to learn, but one I deem extremely valuable. I enjoy setting a schedule in my head (or on paper if necessary) called my “battle plan.” Sometimes the military throws a pretty profound kink into my battle plan but I have learned that as long as I hold onto my priorities and cling to Christ, I will find success.
The first step is determining my goals and priorities. For the purpose of this exercise, I will reference my weekly schedule. My goals include important things that MUST get done during the week, which encompass my priorities. Personal priorities include time with God, church service, work, homework, husband/relationship time, exercise, blogging and time for self. These are what I refer to as my “big rocks.” I have witnessed many demonstrations regarding priorities, focusing on the “big rocks” concept. Big rocks represent priorities, marbles represent the things that I might want to get done but aren’t vital, then sand includes the “extra” stuff, including TV, Facebook etc. A vase or bucket represents the space or hours I have in a week.
If I do these things in the wrong order, such as put the sand in first, then marbles followed by the big rocks, it won’t all fit into my “weekly calendar.” However, if I put my big rocks (most important things) in first as a priority, then the marbles and allow the sand to fill in the gaps, all of my activities fit in the bucket (or week) perfectly. It’s all about prioritizing!
I am also blessed not to be a procrastinator. My ability to prioritize and plan in advance allows me flexibility to work smarter not hard. The sooner I get one task done, the less I have to plan time to do it. I also embrace the concept of “eat the frog.” If I have a task that I am dreading or don’t enjoy as much as the others, I do it first. The idea is that if you “eat a frog” (figuratively) first thing in the morning, that will be the toughest thing you do all day. My frogs include huge research papers and exercise, which is why I do those early to get them out of the way and move on with my day stress free, able to focus on my other big rocks.
<Sidenote: I also mentioned the importance of “Sharpening the Saw” from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People… to read a more detailed description, view the previous post of Look Sharp Out There! >
Another time management and planning strategy that I implement in my life includes learning to say no. I have found myself several different points in my life so involved and busy that I didn’t allow time for family or myself. Now that I am married (especially as he is a Drill Sergeant) I know that saying no to outside commitments on occasion is a great way to prioritize and protect our relationship. I need “sacred time” with my husband. Between deployments, trainings, schools and now training soldiers in basic training, my husband and I are separated quite frequently. This has taught me that the time we can have together is important and very precious. I don’t take it for granted and find myself drawing the line to outside meetings and commitments to cultivate our relationship with both each other and God.
Prayer is another factor that contributes to my weekly schedule, as I specifically ask God that if it is His will, for Him to allow me to accomplish my weekly goals for His glory. He has transformed me to no longer stress out about my busy schedule, but rather rely on Him to provide strength, guidance and discernment. Every single thing on my calendar from husband time to interning at the church to homework to exercise I try to do for His glory. My morning alarm that I wake up to even plays a song including the lyrics “Lord I offer you all I am, use it for your glory!”
Time management is very important for Christian leaders and I have found my planning capabilities to provide a solid balance incorporating productivity, learning, God-time, physical health and rest. God empowers me to focus on my schedule for His glory each day and roll with the punches when additional or more pressing issues arise, all while keeping me relatively unstressed and eyes focused toward heaven.
Time marches on,
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…” –Ecclesiastes 3:1