Thursday, January 28, 2010

Time Management

Back in the 1990's, when consultants roamed free through the halls of commercial banks, one of the popular topics was time management. Seminars were taught on how to manage our lives using planners, folders, lists and goals. We learned to check off the boxes and developed a sense of pride as we lugged our planners all over creation.

Oh, times have changed. People are peddling faster just to keep it in the road. We have more gadgets to help us stay organized...but can never seem to find the cord to recharge them. We save time by having everything online, but we can't remember the gazillion passwords that we must remember to access anything. And lately...for security purposes...the passwords that we can actually remember are no longer "secure" enough. Great. That fairly insures that I'll be destined to click the "I forgot my password" button fairly frequently.

So how do you stay make the most of the time that you have? You have 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. That totals 168 hours that all of us have each week. If you remove 49 hours (7 hours a night) for sleep, and that leaves a total of 119 hours each week to do everything that you have to do. I realize that Jack Bauer fits a whole lot into his 24 hours, but whatever.

The truth? It is all a matter of priorities. It is determining what is most important to you and putting those rocks in the jar first. But before you think too much about it...ask God what your priorities should be. That one step alone can save you an amazing amount of wasted time and effort.

If you find that it is doing well at work, attending classes, or physical training...then these are the items that you must focus on scheduling first. When you become an adult, these pretty much get mapped out for you if you have a 40 hour a week job. A job takes a massive bite out of those 119 hours that you have to yourself. I laugh as I write that as I know from experience that a 40 hour a week job is actually closer to 55 hours. But never mind that.

Once the largest priorities are determined, you then consider the recurring events that you want or need to, work, class, meetings, and the gym. You consider your priorities around the recurring events and fill in the majority of your time. It is a little bit of a juggling act, but hey...that's life.

After that, fill in time for studying, reading, hobbies, laundry, eating, shopping, calls to family, going out, cleaning, personal maintenance, volunteering and relaxation. You should have about two hours a day left over...if that.

Life passes quickly. Without focusing on what it is that you want to do, you will waste a tremendous amount of time with your ladder on the wrong wall. You'll do some of this anyway. Making a list and thinking things through will save you time and free you to do more of what you want to do. This will become increasingly more important the older that you get.

Just remember this...your time is like a prepaid Walmart credit card. You have only so much loaded on it, and because everyone's priorities are different...everyone's purchases would be as well. The secret is to get the best value for the dollar and to purchase what will best suit your needs. You can buy junk...or you can buy something that you can use for a long period of time. You can use it for short term food...or for long term electronics.

Think of your time the same way. It is yours, but once it is spent, it is gone. If others are counting on you, then you have a higher calling to utilize this time in the best way possible. As a mother, there have been times when I would prefer to buy something I would like to have. But what I want is often sacrificed on the altar of someone else's needs. We may have once joked about college being the time that we "spent our parents' money"...but once we become parents...with the bills sent to OUR address...those words take on a completely different meaning.

While you are making your plans, though, be aware that this very exercise is when God laughs. He will give you choices that are mutually exclusive just to test your resolve. He will make you work harder than everyone else because He has something wonderful for you if you persevere. He will call you to something that you try to run from until you finally beg for mercy in the belly of the whale. Be aware that this is not always a bad thing.d

Oh, you may head off in one direction and find no fulfillment there, and then start down another path. Which means that you have to start this whole exercise over. And over. And over. With each change in your life comes a different set of priorities...endlessly. Your job is to do the best you can with the time and the gifts that you have been given. And then you just leave the rest of it up to God.

Time performed when some time is taken to sit down and think things through with a plan instead of just meandering through each day hit or miss. Making the most of each day - while leaving time for doing the things that make life grand - is a very difficult balancing act that takes time to master. But step by step, day after'll figure it out. We all do...eventually.

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