Today will probably be the most pragmatic and “instructional” of my 21 resolutions. When it comes to time management, we all need a lot of help. My prayer is that this process would help you out in an immediately tangible way.
Resolved, to make the most of my time by paying close,prayerful attention to how and where I spend it.
What and Why?
Here’s where I explain what I mean and why it matters.
1. Pray For Guidance
We’re promised so much more beyond this life, yet we are still charged with the faithful and fruitful stewardship of the time that God has given us. We want to make the most of our time and live in a way that glorifies the Creator who gave it to us in the first place.
With regards to time, our all-present God has a wonderful perspective and will give us some guidance if we ask. This step is so critical because without it, this process turns into a cold, mathematical exercise that’ll leave you feeling rigid and boxed in by your schedule.
2. Define What Matters Most
This step is crucial in deciding what truly matters and who/what is most deserving of your precious and finite time. This is as simple as lining up your priorities. For me, it goes something like this:
- God/Spiritual Growth
- Family & Friends
- Education/Personal Development
and so on…
Your list can and will look quite different, but you get the picture.
3. Identify Where Your Time is Going
Using the categories you defined in step 2, sit down with your calendar and figure out where your time has been going. You’ll start to notice some patterns. At this stage in the process, we’re simply trying to identify those patterns, not to analyze them.
4. Identify Where Your Time Needs to Go
While deciphering your schedule in step 3, you’ll probably find that you’ve been slacking in some areas that you may define as your ‘priority’ areas. This is your chance to re-align and make a positive change. Maybe you’ll take a look at your schedule and realize that you’ve been hammering away on business stuff, but have been neglecting your friends & family.
This is your chance to get things back on track.
5. Create a Plan / Schedule
Using what you’ve learned in steps 2-4, create a plan for how to re-organize your time. Map out your schedule to follow this new plan. Please don’t be too rigid here. If you’re time-blocking 15 minute chunks to play catch with your kids, you may have gone too far.
Note: Your top priorities may never change. The way in which you approach them, however, will evolve over time. For that reason, this has to be a living and breathing plan. Re-approach this process regularly to ensure that you’re continually making the most of your time.
6. Learn to Gracefully Say No
The most important skill you can learn in order to preserve your new schedule is that art of saying ‘no.’ I won’t spend too much time on that here, but I’ve listed two posts that will be helpful.
7. Be Where You Are
The greatest schedule in the world won’t help you if you’re not living in the moment. If you schedule time to spend with your family, but spend that whole time thinking about the office, then you can hardly say you’ve spent time with them at all.
Please don’t take my advice here and simply go through the motions of putting your body in the right places at the right times. Take the next step and be fully present in those moments. That’s how you truly make the most of your time.
Question: How do you make the most of your time?
This post is part of the Resolved series: a collection of 21 personal resolutions that I’m writing/preaching to myself. If you’d like to keep up with this series, feel free to click one of the links below and subscribe to my RSS feed.