A few years ago I was challenged by this statement, "the difference in
the men and the boys is how one handles his time." I absolutely believe
this. I say this humbly and gratefully, for with God's help and blessing, I am very good at managing my time and priorities. It doesn't necessarily come naturally, however. Here are some things I do to manage the time God gives me.
1. Consider the season.
Schedules must change with the season of
life you are in. I am a father of soon to be four little boys, age seven
and under. This means that around 4:30 every afternoon, chaos breaks
out in my home. I have made adjustments in my schedule to be home as
close to 4:30 each day as I can. Some days it is simply not
possible, but as a rule I aim for 4:30. It is more important for the
well-being of my family to have me around in the late afternoon than for
me to be around in the early morning. I start my day very early,
usually before anyone is up and going at my house. In addition, we do very little outside of our home on week nights, because our kids are small and have early bedtimes. We can't do what we did when we didn't have kids. This is the season we
are in. You must adjust to the stage of life you are in.
2. Use the technology that works for you.
I am kinda techy. I
know some of you are not. Thanks to Google, my calendar is available on
my computer, phone and most importantly, my wife's phone. This allows us
to stay on the same page. If you are not techy, use a paper calendar -
do not fall for the lie that it must be digital. Use what works. I used a
Daytimer paper calendar for years and was extremely effective with it.
By the way, the number one problem with a calendar is not the presence
or absence of technology; it's whether or not you look at it or not!
3. Stop priority slippage
This is where most people lose control. They
allow priorities to be compromised. This is because they do not truly
understand priorities. Priorities require intentionality to remain
priority. It's about predetermining the commitment and taking away the decision. You simply do it. However, most people end up with "priority slippage." The result is you give A-level attention to B, C or D-level
priorities. Then you regret it. There is no getting around identifying
your priorities and fighting for them with all you've got. It's not a
priority if it doesn't have a predictable time-slot.
If you begin to see "priority slippage" regroup and come back to what matters most.
4. Just say "NO"
This is one of the most difficult words in the
English language for people to say. Practice if you must. I get tons of
requests for my time. What I have learned is that my priorities (God, family, exercise, etc.) do NOT
request my time, they assume they have my time. If you find your
priorities are requesting your time, then you have neglected your
priorities. I say, "NO" to the majority of the requests for my time. I
know that sounds harsh, but it is the only way I can give my priorities
what they assume is already theirs. We all have difficulty saying "NO"
to requests for our time; however, it is essential if you wish to manage
your time well.
5. Active maintenance
I am ruthless in maintaining balance and
purpose in my schedule. I make midstream adjustments and keep the pulse
on how my time is being used. Time is a perishable resource, and I am
responsible for using it well. I believe God will hold us accountable in
how we use our time. Keep your eyes on it and actively maintain
priorities and balance. A full schedule does not and should not equal a
busy, hectic or imbalanced schedule. I have a very full schedule but I
refuse to live in the overwhelming stress of mismanaged time. Work on
I hope this helps. I would love to hear from others who have
learned great time-management tips. Please post them here. I'm still