Time to Talk About Time

by Joanne Leitschuh

“Do more in less time and feel great about it!” Sounds like a good goal, doesn’t it? That was the teaser on the cover of a book I recently purchased, Leave the Office Earlier, by Laura Stack. I know we have 24 hours given to us every day, and we all manage them in different ways. Some manage them better than others. Even when I was a little girl, I had a sense of time and hoped to pack as many activities in each hour as possible. Now that I am an adult with a real job where I need to be productive to succeed, I see that I should be accountable about my time.

Four months ago I attended a seminar entitled “Time Stewardship” where the speaker emphasized that we are stewards and not owners of time. Changing MY time to GOD’S time seems like the key to motivation in even wanting to manage time efficiently. Our days are made up of countless decisions as to what to do when and how. When we see our time as not our own to do with as we please, these decisions can be made appropriately, creatively and quickly. Why is it important to study time management? Because we have to make each day count — not only to the Creator of time, but to others around us and for our own personal growth.

Just reading about the tricks of time management can get my mental wheels of urgency going. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live my life by a never-ending list of “Gotta-Do’s”. There seems to be a grace in living that is lost when we structure our lives around work and more work. However, I do feel that wasting time is a shame. There must be a balance when we are in the office where every action is thoughtful and performed with the highest degree of capability possible. Our schedules can be planned, creative and efficient without turning us into machines. I know that when I have a “good day” at the office, I can finish the day at home in the same steady alertness that makes each moment count.

In Laura Stack’s book, she quotes Thoreau: “’What good is immortality, if we cannot use a half an hour well here?’ Glean instead of dream, and meditate instead of vegetate. Seize the moment and do something with all those bits and pieces of time.” 1 I know that has always been my problem. I tend to wait for this magical block of time to do all of these “would like to do” things on my list. But you know what? Those big blocks of time rarely occur. Books and journals start to stack up, the correspondence file begins to burst and the pounds pile on the body that doesn’t get any exercise! Time management helps me live a balanced life. I am learning to make small positive choices throughout the day. These free me up to enjoy the little things that God brings my way without the heaviness of heart that comes from not being able to pack more into an already busy schedule.

Journaling has really helped me analyze what I actually do and how long it takes. Once I learned to slow down, step back, and write down where I am NOW and where I WANT to be today, next month and next year, I could outline what activities needed to be accomplished and when. I guess it’s like sorting out your wardrobe! You ask yourself, what is my style and how do I want to dress to fit that look? These clothes surely don’t fit — so out they go. This pile I better keep because they are crucial in the cold months and I can’t afford to buy new ones right now. And finally, these clothes are exactly right for me – they fit, are of good quality, complement my colouring and I feel great wearing them. It’s a wonderful, free feeling to have a clean closet that isn’t full of clutter.

It is the same with time. At the end of every day, I get out my Filofax and write down the projects and activities I MUST do, plot in those that I would LIKE to do and don’t even consider those things that waste time and have a negative effect on my body, mind or soul. Because I bring my Filofax into the hustle and bustle of the office, I remind myself throughout the day of what was planned in quietness and rest the night before. I experience the freedom of a custom-made “structured” day.

So what happens if something goes amiss in either the Analysis, Planning or Attack parts of outlining each 24 hours? First of all, it’s best not to panic or beat ourselves up over it. There will always be situations that arise which require our focus to be turned away from the “ideal plan”. Time management is a dynamic challenge that is constantly teaching us who we are, what we value, how we react to unforeseen circumstances and what our strengths and weaknesses are. Perhaps changes will need to be made. The key is to be alert to what is happening around us and to go through the day knowing that we are not alone in managing every precious moment. Our Creator has given us 24 hours as a framework for doing what He wants us to do. We can only hope that we are so in tune with HIS schedule that we don’t crowd Him out of our time plan.

1. Stack, Laura, Leave the Office Earlier, Piatkus Books, 2004.

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