There are many valuable things in this world like family, friends, health, job, possessions, etc. All of these things are valuable and important but probably the greatest thing is time. The truth is, even our health is sometimes determined by this thing called time. Do we take time to exercise and eat properly? Think about it. You can always get another job, you can always get new possessions. You can never get more time and you can never recapture the time you’ve spent.
One of the things that I am working on in my life is time management; how to use the time I have to be the most productive I can be. This journey began when I started looking at other’s lives and at all the things they seemed to accomplish in a day’s time. I know that it’s not true, but it seemed that some people had more time in a day than I did. The truth is, everybody has the same amount of time – some people have just learned to use it better than I have. In this article, I want to share a few keys things that I am continuing to learn that can help us all be better stewards of the time we’ve been given in this life.
Key #1 Evaluate Your Time
Many of the experts in time management tell us that in the beginning of this journey we need to carry a notebook or something similar to record all our thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you evaluate and understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your time is going. If you do this, you will see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions. There is a rule called the 80/20 Rule. This rule says that 80% of our results come from 20% of your effort. If you evaluate your time, you can begin to see what the 20% is and set your schedule to make sure you take advantage of this rule.
Key #2 Assume Responsibility
There is an old saying that says “If you don’t manage your time, somebody else will.”
You need to begin to assume responsibility for the time that you have. The Bible challenges us to redeem our time, which means to make the most of the time God has given us. You need to decide where you will spend your time and what conversations and activities you will have in the time that you have in a day.
Key #3 Seek God’s Guidance
You need His wisdom to guide your schedule to know the things you need to do and the things you need to eliminate. You need to seek His wisdom for work but also to help you manage the time you spend with your spouse and family, your recreational time, your friendships and every other area of your life. Ask the Lord to show you how to set your schedule in any given day, week, and year to allow for a good balance of work and rest, alone time and family time.
Key #4 Schedule for Maximum Productivity and Efficiency
This means that you need to find what time of day is the most productive for you and set your schedule accordingly. If mornings are your most productive hours, you need to set aside those times for work directly related to your goals. You need to put your greatest concentration and effort into those hours. If the afternoon is better, then schedule with that in mind. There is no set rule. Do what works for you.
Key #5 Eliminate the Unimportant
Charles Schwab, the president of Bethlehem Steel, said some of the greatest advice he received was when he hired a consultant. The consultant gave Schwab a blank sheet of paper and said, “I want you to write on this sheet of paper all of the important things you need to do tomorrow and list them in order of their priority. As number one, put the most important thing you should do tomorrow. As number two, put the second most important thing you should do, and so forth. Then when you go into work tomorrow morning, start with the first thing on your list and stick with it until you finish it. Then move on to number two, and so forth. More than likely, you will not be able to accomplish all the things on your list in a given day, but you will have accomplished the most important things on your list or at least made a major effort regarding it. Then tomorrow night, make a new list for the upcoming day.” He said that list helped him eliminate the unimportant and focus on the most important. This is important because if you are not careful, you can fill your day with a lot of stuff and never get to the important.
Time is an equalizer. It is the one thing others cannot buy because they are wealthy or cannot lose because they are poor. Each of us are given the same amount of time. It is critical that we make the most of it. As you would with any other area of your life, use these suggestions as resources and ideas to help you make the best use of your time. Be reminded of what the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:21 (NLT), “Make the best use of your time. These are sinful days.”