Tag Archives: time management

Time Management

Time management may seem like a more secular topic, but everything we have is a gift from God, and we should be good stewards of our treasures, talents, and time. 

I learned a long time ago that I inevitably forget some things if I don’t write them down.  So I have two simple rules I follow for any to-dos:

  1. Write them on a list.
  2. Look at the list daily.

That’s it. I’ve used an app called Todoist for years on my PC and my phone.  It lets me quickly add any to-dos to various categories.  It is easy to assign dates and make to-dos recurring if necessary.  I use it for work tasks, for lists of things I want to tell my supervisor, team, or individual employees, for birthdays and anniversaries, for house maintenance things, for various lists such as what to pack for different kinds of trips, and much more.  When in doubt, something goes in Todoist.  I highly encourage people to have a system like this.  Forgetting important things can be very costly in terms of your productivity and reputation, not to mention that it isn’t a great way of loving your neighbors. 

But my biggest time-savers are avoiding social media, computer games, and watching little if any TV.  I used to watch a lot more TV, especially sports, but when we had kids, I phased out of much of that without really thinking about it.  Then I realized that I didn’t get that much value out of what I was watching, and it was easier to cut back more. I’m too compulsive with computer games as well, so I avoid those.  If you can’t do things in moderation, cut them out completely.  I did that with Twitter.  I tried just taking a month off here and there to see if I could go back to it in a less compulsive way, but it never worked (OCD isn’t just a disorder, it’s a lifestyle).  So I deleted my account. Later I got rid of Facebook, partly due to the time-wasting and partly because I learned more about what they do and how they do it.  No regrets.

I also found that scaling back on news consumption saved time and reduced stress.  We live in an unprecedented time where we unwittingly feel that we are omniscient, in that we think we know everything that is going on in the world in real-time, and omnipotent, in that if we go rant on Twitter that we’ve done something about it.  And the repetition of analyzing the same stories can be pointless.  I like being informed on current events, but I’ve learned to limit my time with the news cycles.

I’m not pressing all those views on you, but I encourage you to do an inventory of where you spend your time and think carefully about it. 

If you aren’t reading the Bible and praying regularly, it is because you have decided not to.  You may think you don’t have enough time, but what you are saying is that everything you do – all day, every day – is more important than that, and that God designed the universe without giving you enough time to hear from him or talk to him.  So watching one hour of TV instead of two each night (or playing fewer computer games, or whatever) will free up an entire hour for something more meaningful and lasting.

And be creative with your time.  Most of us spend a lot of time in the car, so instead of listening to secular music all the time, try listening to the audio Bible (free downloads at Bible.is) or to Christian Podcasts.  Redeem your commute!

I took social media apps off my phone and then got off them altogether, because I wasted way too much time checking them.  Instead, I pick up my phone and do Bible verse memorization with my Bible Memory app.  It is a much better use of time.  I know that many Christians live in fear of offending others, but if you use social media, I encourage you to try to work in some Christian truths where you can.  Bible verses, links to sound articles defending the faith, etc., will signal to non-believers that you are a safe person to come to if they have questions about God. 

My wife jokes that I’m like the guy in the Cheaper By The Dozen movie, who automated everything he touched.  My approach is that if you do something regularly, figure out how to do it in the fewest possible steps.  For example, I try to learn every meaningful shortcut I can on any computer software.

Time is a precious gift from God.  Use it wisely. 

Time management

alarm-clock.jpgI am a mixed bag on time management.  Some things I do really well, which creates plenty of time to do a variety of things.  But then I’ll waste some of it because I’m not prioritizing well.  And by “waste” I don’t mean that it is bad to just do nothing sometimes and rest.  I mean that I end up doing things that aren’t that important, like TV or Internet surfing.

How is your time management?  Remember that if you aren’t doing what you say you want to do (Bible study, prayer, family time, reading, exercise, volunteering, etc.) it is because you consider that the least important thing you actually do is more important than the things you say you want to do.  You may not have those conscious thoughts, but it is an accurate assessment.

In other words, if you are not reading your Bible and praying daily it is because you have decided not to.

A couple of tactical things help me: The O-H-I-O (Only Handle It Once) approach to emails and tasks works well when I use it.  Instead of going over a message multiple times when I’m not sure how I want to handle it, I try to deal with it the first time (respond, file, etc.).

On the flip side, knowing when to carefully analyze a situation to anticipate consequences saves a lot of time at work.  As I like to say, I don’t like to overkill things but I do like to kill them.  By that I mean that I want to get it done right the first time and not have to waste time later because a “shortcut” left someone out of a communication loop.  Sometimes you have to “brake to go faster.”  The discernment to know when to do it is the key.

I also take a Zero-Based Budgeting approach and analyze all that I do.  I realized a while ago that watching sports took a lot of time and didn’t bring that much enjoyment anyway, so I’ve cut it out almost completely.  The Steelers won the game?  Release mild amount of endorphins.  The Steelers lost?  Great, I just wasted 3+ hours of my life.  That isn’t an indictment of sports watching.  If you aren’t consumed by the process and have a net enjoyment, or perhaps it is a family activity, then good for you.  But if watching your college team lose spoils your weekend then you have a problem.  (Friendly reminder: Those “student athletes” and pros some people worship probably don’t care about you at all and are likely to have vastly different worldviews.)

Consider these words then try this exercise by Randy Alcorn.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff which life is made of.”

Over three thousand years before Benjamin Franklin said those words, Moses said these:

Teach us to number our days aright,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

The New Testament speaks the same message: “Redeem the time,” or “Make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5b).

My #1 productivity tool

no tvI get a fair amount of “Where do you find the time to ____?” comments from people.

Here’s where I get the time: I don’t watch much TV.   I watch 30 min. per day or less, and usually only 10-15 minutes.

That doesn’t make me better or more spiritual or anything else.  I can certainly waste many hours on line, which is just as bad.  But it does explain where I “find” time to do more important things: Bible study, prayer, service, exercise, family time, etc.

OK, I watch some TV, but I am deliberate about what I watch and when I watch it.  I don’t just sit down to watch whatever is on.  I’m glad to see that my daughters picked up on the habits of my wife and me.  They have their favorite shows but are surgical in their viewing habits and don’t waste endless time watching TV.

The average person watches four hours of TV per day.  Four hours per day!  That’s 28 hours per week.  So when I hear that I have no sympathy for people claiming to want to do more things for their faith (again, Bible reading, service, prayer) or their health if they can’t find a way to just cut back 10% of their TV watching.

If people could just skip one half hour show three times a week and go for a walk it would do wonders for their health and well being.  In fact, that would do more to improve the average health of the nation than any politically driven reforms by either party.

Sorry for the sermon, but if people would take an eternal perspective and realize just how much they are missing out on participating in God’s kingdom it would do great things for their lives.  I’m not saying you have to watch zero TV, or even a certain amount.  Just decide to control it and not let it control you.  Not only can it waste your time, but the shows and commercials are almost universally designed to make you covetous and lustful. 

Map out what is truly important to you then estimate where you spend your time, then be intentional about getting the two in sync.