“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
Because of our busyness today, we have coined terms such as “time management” and “time-saving” which causes us to want a “timeout!” The truth of the matter is we can neither manage time or save it. Managing time is like managing weather- you know it’s there but there is nothing you can do to change it. Time can cannot be saved either. You cannot go down to the bank and deposit some time only to withdraw it later. You cannot say, “I’ll save an hour here so I have an hour later!” We say it, but the words do not match our definition. Just because we saved an hour today does not mean we will have twenty-five hours tomorrow.
There is only one thing you can do with time and that is to spend it. You cannot bottle it up and save it for later. You cannot stop it (though many of us would like to try). It is one of the aspects of life that you cannot correct and everything is tied to it. Think about this: how you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money; financial mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.
The Psalmist prayed teach us to number our day, that we may apply our heart unto wisdom. Here are a few life-changing lessons about spending our time. But before you start, you will need a piece of paper, a blank calendar (daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly- all of which can be downloaded from the internet), a pencil, and all the other calendars you have in your house (church, school, volunteer, family, etc.)
1. Prioritize. Determine who or what is the most important to you. Actually, as a Christian, that has already been determined. Colossians 1:18 states, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he (Christ) might have the preeminence.” (emphasis mine). All other work is assigned through His Word and by His will (i.e. our family, our service, our jobs, our possessions, etc.). Remember, the Lord wants our precious time, not our spare time.
2. Plan Your Priorities. Don’t be a slave to time by allowing it to dictate what you can and cannot accomplish. Dr. Curtis Huston used to say, “We always have time to do the things we really believe are important.” Paul said in Ephesians 5:15-17, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Have a course of action for your day, your week, your month, and your life. Be specific and detailed- treat them like appointment because they are. (i.e. 6 a.m.- Bible reading and prayer, 6:45 a.m- review my daily and weekly schedule, 6:50 a.m.- make lunches for the kids, 7:10 a.m.- breakfast with family, etc.). Always be aware of what’s coming up, at least a week at a time. Include all personal, professional, and spiritual items on your schedule. Give more time to difficult or detailed tasks. Only use one calendar! Using multiple calendars is like reading multiple books- at the same time. Place all your tasks and events on one calendar. Make copies for the family if you need to. Color code each priority is you can (i.e. red for church, blue for family, yellow for school, pink for doctors’ appointments, etc.)
3. Progress Your Plan. It does you no good to plan something and not follow through. Lost time is never found! It has been said that what you put off today, you’ll probably put off tomorrow. Procrastination is a thief of time. The cry of “I’m just too busy” is sometimes a sign that priorities have not been planned therefore there is no progress. Isn’t it amazing that as Americans, we have more time-saving devices and less time than any other people in the world? Plan your work and work your plan!
4. Perfect Your Progress. Success is not a stationary goal but a moving target. The matter of time constantly changes and the need to reassess and reevaluate is necessary. There were plans last week that you may have to modify this week. There’s nothing wrong with that. But be honest with yourself when you ask these questions: why didn’t it work? did I commit enough effort and resources to it? did I do my best? how much time did I spend correcting the problems? did I pray over the problem? was that my plan or God’s? We already know that time is here and it’s gone. Think about this, if you don’t have time to do it right, how will you find time to do it over? Always be willing to improve and implement methods that have been proven effective. Read books on “time management” and study highly efficient people. We can always learn more!
These are just a few ways you can improve the use of your time. Why is this so important? Time is what life is made of and the quality of your life depends upon how you spend your time. Remember the words of James, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”