Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk-not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of time because the days are evil – Ephesians 5:15-17
Tell the truth….you have secretly (or maybe even not-so-secretly envied) that person or family that seems to have all the time in the world to do whatever they felt like, right?
You know who I’m talking about, don’t you. The dad that somehow coaches his kid’s ball team, works a demanding job, serves the local church, ensures “date nights” are going to take place, ect, ect, ect…..
You have an image pop up in your mind of the mom who is at every PTO meeting, play-date and field trip imaginable. If that’s not enough, she also looks crazy good whenever she goes out, keeps her house sparkling clean and volunteers at umpteen hundred humanitarian organizations.
You know them….and, well, you don’t like them.
O.K., Maybe that’s a little harsh and misleading…maybe it’s better said that you don’t like the fact that they have more time than you.
Fact is – they don’t.
They, like you, live in a world where 60 seconds make a minute, 60 minutes make an hour and they (as unbelievable as it seems) also haven’t figured out how to stretch their day into more than 24 hours.
The difference – They’ve learned to manage time well.
I don’t know if “time management” is a gift so I’m not comfortable saying that some simply “have it” while others don’t. Instead, I think that time management is more of a discipline. It’s a learned behavior that can be taught and other times it must be caught but either way, it’s something that we can all learn to practice in our daily lives (not just for personal benefit either…check the text above….time managemnet is a scriptural command).
Though I’ve personally got a ways to go here, I have become a decent manager of time over the years (that sounds WAY more prideful in print than I intend). As a busy husband, father, Pastor, son, brother, friend….I’ve learned a few practical measures that have allowed me to “make the most” of the time that I have and I’ll share a few on this post that will hopefully help you in the future.
*PLAN-FOR-EVERYTHING. – several years ago, I was a card-carrying member of Golds Gym. Almost every day I made my way up to the Mecca of health and spent at least an hour….doing absolutely nothing.
Oh, I had good intentions! I was severely out of shape at the time and was to broke (and prideful) to by a new wardrobe that actually fit, so I needed to get after it in the gym. I’d walk in, see the 10,000 instruments of torture (AKA exercise equipment) and become a tad flabbergasted because I didn’t know where to begin. So, my routine was pretty simple….do a little bit on each machine…get sidetracked with conversation…get dressed and go back to the office. As you can imagine, the results weren’t exactly what I was hoping for. No covershoots for Mens Health magazines were offered (their loss) and no clothes seemed to be loosening up. As a matter of fact, I actually GAINED weight. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating that was for me (not the Mens Health cover, again, that was their loss. I’m talking about the clothes).
I’ve since lost a considerable amount of weight and don’t have the button popping problem anymore so something changed…but what was it?
I developed a plan.
True Story Bro: A few months into my fruitless routine, I got some encouragement, errr, instruction from a pretty unlikely source. The gym I worked out in was frequented by none other than Ole Anderson. Thats right. THE Ole Anderson. If you don’t know who that is, I feel sorry for you. I’ll clue you in…Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Georgia Championship Wrestling, WCW, one of the FOUNDING MEMBERS of the legendary wrestling stable, the 4 Horsemen!WOOOO! Anyway, Ole retired from the road, bought a place in the North Georgia mountains and worked out, daily, at Golds. Ole is a gruff man. To be honest, he’s a forcefully opinionated fellow and though I didn’t know him well, I knew enough not to forget to wipe my sweat off of the machine if he was about to get on it. Scary dude.
Between sets one day, I was explaining to Ole my fruitless workout problem. He didn’t mince words, just said what I should have already known – “you need to come into the gym with a plan” (spiced up with some colorful language I can’t use on a church blog). Not only was I amazed by the fact that OLE ANDERSON was talking to me, I was also amazed by the brilliant simplicity of what he’d said. – I needed a plan.
So I developed one and BAM…things started to click.
Life, EVERY DAY OF IT, is filled with complex machines, chatty people and a plethora of functions that have the capability of killing our production. If we’re gonna see fruit (whether it’s in the family, church, workplace, ect), we’ve got to plan for it.
I encourage you to sit down each morning and develop a strategy that will allow you to make the most of your time.
MAJOR ON THE MAJORS – Though I don’t have a cool rasslin’ story to illustrate this principle, I do believe that it’s a key to effective time management. Each morning as I plan my day there are two catergories…What Can’t Wait and What Can.
I commit myself to knocking out the former and if time permits…dealing with the latter.
SAY NO – One of the most effective words in the wise time managers vocabulary is also one of the most difficult to utter…”NO“. Lately, I’ve had to say no to a lot of good opportunities so that I could take part in some great ones. Though it doesn’t always make everyone giddy, no is ok. Use it wisely though.
BE PROMPT – If you really, REALLY want to communicate to the people around you that you’re a poor steward of time…be late. Those who are wise time managers have planned, are determined, are principled and purposed….but they aren’t late. This is a especially big deal for those who are leaders. When we’re tardy we’re sending out a message. Whether right or wrong, when we’re late, we’re communicating with the people we lead that we’re ill-prepared, uncommitted and uncaring. When we’re late, we’re saying to our families, church, businesses…”this isn’t really a big deal to me” and in time, it won’t be a big deal to them either. Let’s communicate to the people we love and lead that we place a high value on our time and upon them. Make a point to be on time…early is even better…for everything you’re involved with. It takes planning, but can be done.
BE SMART – When planning our day, we need be smart taking into account some things that we may not have thought of. Let me give you a personal example. With my job, I must prepare sermons often. Being well prepared to teach Gods Word is a big deal for me, my people and well, God. Knowing that, I have to be wise when carving out time to prepare. For instance, my mind doesn’t function well pre 10:00 a.m. It just doesn’t. So would it be wise to prepare sermons during this period? Nope. So, I’ll give afternoons to sermon prep and use mornings for administration, Hospital visits and so on. Wise managers of time are smart about how they divide it up.
BE PURPOSED – Inevitably, plans change…and you must be prepared for that but there are some things that you must set in concrete. Take my family time for instance. My time with the fam is limited (we all deal with this). Truthfully, I’d LOVE to spend every waking hour with them but the little problem of a billion other responsibilities would kind of get in the way there. SO, when I do plan for time with them, it’s concrete. I do not feel guilty about turning off my cell phone, shutting down my laptop and giving the time I’ve carved out for them…to them. I’ve not always been this way (to my own detriment) but I’ve learned that the world, the church, the billion other responsibilities will be just fine with Kyle not answering his phone for a couple of hours. Be purposed.
BE OBEDIENT – Rest. It’s a command of God. Yet we feel guilty when doing it and we label those who as lazy. WHY? Because We WRONGLY equate busy-ness with productivity. If we’re not going, going, going we feel ashamed. How silly.
God rested and even if He didn’t you aren’t God.
Effective managers of time are obedient to plan for rest. Rest isn’t apathy. It’s not slothful. It’s not laziness. Rest is obedience.
At the end of the day, I would be wise to heed my own advice and become a better steward of time but I hope that this short list of “helps” may minister to you.
Soli Deo Gloria! – Pastor Kyle