Suppose that someone was to offer you a deal: every morning when you get up, $86,400 will be credited to your checking account. You may spend the money any way you like, but there is one catch: every evening when you go to bed any unspent money will be taken away.
Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? You would probably think of many ways to spend the money, but one thing is sure, you would try not to let any slip away unspent.
Someone has made you just such a deal. Every day you get up God has put 86,400 seconds at your disposal. You may use them however you wish but there is no savings account; at the end of the day, those seconds are gone forever. You cannot “bank” your time and draw interest on it. The two minutes it took for you to read this far were in the future just a moment ago, and now they are in the past, never to be reclaimed.
Sadly, many people use their time as though there was a never-ending supply. James admonished the Christian Jews not to put off the good work they could do today: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city…’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:13-14 NAS).
Today may come to a sudden end, tomorrow may never come. It behooves every one of us to use the 86,400 seconds that God has given us today to the very best of our ability.
What follows is a list of ideas for reclaiming the time in your life. Some will reclaim only a moment; others may reclaim an hour or more per day.
DO what works for you. Any time you reclaim is yours to use doing something else! Begin reclaiming your life by understanding where you are today and where you want to go. Get focused on what is really important to you. Then develop short and long-range plans to accomplish your goals. Lastly, do the work to accomplish your goals.
Having a framework for your life’s vision/mission with well-defined strategies and tactics is important, but what about the day-to-day time management difficulties?
Here are a few tips guaranteed to put you back in control of your time.
“To Do” List
Develop and use a “To Do” list every day. Make sure your list includes headings for the activity, the time required, and priority.
Write a “Not to Do” List
Ask yourself the question, “What would happen if this job didn’t get done, or if it was done by someone else?” If the answer is nothing, then put the job on your “Not to Do” list. Free yourself from as many of these jobs as possible by delegating them to others or not doing them at all.
Learn to say “NO”
Perhaps the most effective yet underutilized time management tool is the word “No.” Many of us want to be helpful, we want to be team players, so we say “yes” whenever someone comes along and says, “Can you help with…?”
You can also redirect the decision to someone else. If you’re not the right person to make the decision redirect the question to the right decision maker.
If the request really is something you should do, then plan accordingly by scheduling the project on your calendar.
Simplify Your Life
We are sometimes so busy we don’t have time to get anything done. There are so many wonderful things to do and we want to try them all, don’t we? When we’re not shuttling kids back and forth to soccer games and ballet lessons, then we’re going out for a business dinner, or joining another club, group, or association.
No doubt about it, we can fill our schedules to overflowing. But are we filling them with the right things? Go back to your vision/mission statement, review your strategies and ask yourself, “Are these activities helping me achieve one of my goals or are they keeping me from them?”
I used to hate fried parsnips. My father used to tell me to eat them first, then I could enjoy the rest of my meal. Jobs are just like those fried parsnips; get the one you dislike the most out of the way first. The rest of your day will seem easy. Are you dreading a call to an angry customer, or having a performance review with a marginal employee? Do them first. If you don’t, you will spend precious time worrying about the uncompleted job. Those parsnips don’t look any better at the end of the meal than the beginning, so get them off your plate first.
One Final Thought
Time pirates are insidious little creatures. They sneak up on you in the most innocent forms and suddenly you find your life is out of control; the time pirates have won.
Think about where your time goes. Here’s a fairly common routine: work 8-10 hours per day, commuting 0-2 hours per day, eating 90 minutes per day, sleeping 8 hours per day, and family time 2 hours per day. This is just the routine stuff and that only leaves 90 minutes per day for everything else! No wonder reading the Bible and spending time in prayer about your schedule gets a few minutes as an afterthought.
Get your priorities straight. Start with God’s direction in your life, and make sure you stay on track through regular Bible study and prayer time. It’s amazing how clear the priorities of the day will become when you start by placing your day in His hands.
This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled “Time Pirates—Tips to Reclaim the Time in Your Life.”
This whitepaper is a broader discussion of how you can reclaim the time in your life from the time pirates:
- Get Focused. Develop a personal “business” plan for your life.
- Develop strategies to accomplish your goals.
- Develop prioritized task lists—what to do and what not to do.
- More Practical Tips to win the war against the time pirates.
You can download the free 5-page whitepaper here: “Time Pirates—Tips to Reclaim the Time in Your Life.”
Join the Conversation
As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you fend off the time pirates in your life?
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Category: Skills | Time Management