Thursday, January 23, 2014

ABC's of Time Management

God wound the clock and the ticks were set into motion not millions of years ago, but just a few thousand years ago. From the fall of human kind, it has been man’s dilemma of how he will use the 1440 minutes gifted to him in a day. From the moment man and woman decided to rebel against God and were ejected from the perfect garden, there has been the feeling of not having enough time to do all we need to get done. In spite of the abundance of conveniences we have in the 21st century compared to our ancestors, no one has invented a gadget to produce more time in a day. We have all there ever will be here on earth.
Each new morning the gun is fired at the starting line, then we are off to the races. Some might call it the rat race. Instead of feeling like we are in a rat wheel going around and around not really getting anywhere, we can move ahead with purpose and direction. We can switch lanes from the frenzied fast track to the fruitful faith track. We can aim for a higher goal beyond the next task on our to-do list.

Conquering how to manage our time more efficiently is not like a mountain climb where we arrive at the top with no other peak to reach higher. Often, time management seems to be the monkey on our back that we might be able to tame for a while, but which will go wild at the least bit of disruption in our schedule. Amazon’s listing of 117,103 books on this subject is proof that people struggle with getting a handle on the activities that fill up their calendars. 

Maybe we could use some alterations of our view of time and see if we can free up some of this precious commodity in our schedules to accomplish the more important things in life. Here are some ABC’s of time management.

Accountability - We are mere managers for the One who owns everything (Psalm 24:1; Leviticus 25:23; Haggai 2:8; Romans 11:36a). We can conclude since he owns all things including the world, man, money and time, he has the right to hold us accountable for how we are caring for his creation. God, the righteous judge, will announce one day his verdict of whether we used our allotted time here on earth wisely by serving him and sharing the good news of salvation to the lost (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Romans 2:6-11).

Many individuals find being accountable to someone else helps them achieve a goal. This is accomplished many times when two people are wanting to lose a few pounds. The sting is felt a bit more if you have to confess eating a Twinkie to your dieting partner. You feel like you have let her down. The celebration of success is also sweeter with a friend when you have worked on a project together and held each other accountable for certain tasks.

Try this: Keep a log of what you do on an average day, and evaluate what you need to trim or cut out altogether to recover a few precious minutes. If you really want to make a difference, share your log with a friend who might help you improve your time management skills or offer words of advice. It is never too early to teach these principles to our children. Help them make lists of chores to accomplish in a day. Guide them in keeping God a priority in their busy schedules.

Busy Bodies - We usually use this expression in a negative sense, but God calls us to be busy using our bodies in doing his business. Jesus had a handle on this, even at the tender age of twelve when he told his parents it was only natural that he be about his Father’s business (Luke 2:49). Why do we find ourselves giving so little time to the One who blessed us with it? Do we have the mentality of clocking in and out on God’s time when in reality it is our purpose to dedicate all of our life and all that we do with him in mind.

Try this: Make a list each night before you go to bed of the activities that you need to accomplish the next day. This helps you hit the ground running and not have to spend the morning hours pondering what you must get done. Suggestions to your list could include: meditate on God’s word, prayer, hug your child, encourage your husband in a special way, leave an uplifting note on the doorstep of a neighbor, or invite someone to the worship times when the saints are gathered together. These tasks may seem silly to place in a day planner, but when you purposefully run your day instead of your day running you, a true sense of priorities can be achieved.

Choices - It has been estimated that the average human makes over 600 decisions a day. That number may seem overwhelming, but most these decisions are made without a conscience effort. For the busy woman, days seem like a tug of war where the urgent matters seem to be winning over the important ones. God knows us best and knew we would struggle with various daily “forks in the road.” He did not leave us hanging without a go-to manual to keep us on track and to help us refocus on what are truly the good things in life. Look into his Word daily for guidance and emulate the faithful heroes that strived to live in God’s favor. What we value most in life becomes our priority. Let us spend our time on things that will be everlasting. (Matthew 6:21) Seeking godliness is always a wise investment of our time (1 Timothy 4:8).

Try this: Make a list of goals that you want to accomplish, then break them down into one, five, and ten year goals. Do this activity as a family. Revisit your list every month to see your progress. Make it a game and see what great things your family is doing together for the Lord. Jim Rohn, a popular motivational speaker, once said, “Plans in our heads are just dreams, but when you put them down on paper they become dreams with deadlines.”

With each new year, it has become tradition for the human race to make resolutions. Each new morning brings new blessings and an opportunity for new resolve to serve our Lord with more vigor than when we laid our head on the pillow the night before. Do not hang on to the past, neither relishing in successes or wallowing in shortcomings. Lack of direction, not lack of time, is usually our problem. Don’t give up! Managing our time for the Lord is an ongoing process to be tweaked on a daily basis. It is a challenge to manage the affairs of our day, but the key to a more peaceful way is to not crowd out the One who gifted time to us in the first place.

It is fitting that the final book of God’s word contains this promise that still applies to us today. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them” (Revelation 14:13). How are we spending our time as we wait for the Lord to return? You would benefit greatly with further study on the value of waiting on the Lord with this article: 

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