What Time is It?

If you struggle to use your time wisely check out these strategies.

When my oldest grandson was about a year-and-a-half old, he developed a fascination with clocks. He would look up at the clock and ask, “What time is it?” We would answer with the correct time and go on playing with him or eating our lunch.

Two minutes later he would ask again, “What time is it?” We would tell him the time.

Two minutes later he would ask, “What time is it?”

Two minutes later he would ask, “What time is it?”

You get the idea. Aaron was constantly curious about the time.

This week in my Bible reading, I came to Psalm 39. Verse 4 says:

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.

And I was reminded that I need to be like Aaron and pay attention to what time it is.

Now I could tell you strategies for time management. I could share secrets on how to plan your day wisely. I love that kind of thing. I love planning my day and making a to-do list and checking off the finished tasks.

But this post has only two strategies for making the most of the time you have on earth.

First, I need to remember that my time on earth is short. Psalm 39:6 says:

We are merely moving shadows,
    and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
    not knowing who will spend it.

I ask myself, “Am I using my time wisely? Or am I busy rushing here and there–not accomplishing anything important? Am I trying to heap up money in my bank account or accomplishments on my resume–all the while knowing those things are not eternal?

An eternal perspective will make me more aware of how well I use my time.

Secondly, ask God what He wants me to do with my time.

Psalm 39 goes on to say:

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
    My only hope is in you.
 I am silent before you. (v. 7, 9)

In January I sat down and planned my year. I made some goals. I developed a strategy to keep my life on track.

But while goals and resolutions are important, the most important thing I can do is ask God what He wants me to do.

Psalm 39 reminds me that in addition to making goals I need silence. Silence before God is what it takes to hear Him. Silencing my rushing mind helps me to hear what He wants me to do. Silencing my both my fears and my ambitions help me to step out onto the path He wants for me.

“What time is it?”

It’s time to realize that time itself is a precious commodity. I want to spend it wisely.

Question: How do you find silence to hear God’s voice?

 

 

Make Over Your Schedule: Put Your Time in God’s Hands

Psalm 31-14-15a

This summer I joined a new study group. During the season we talked about what God was doing in our lives and where He was leading us to do new things for Him.

One night our leader talked about how she truly felt that God had called her to work with the group, but a change in her family situation now had her wondering how she was going to get everything done. She said that she was feeling overwhelmed. But she had come up with a new plan.

She was going to set aside one evening a week to work on details involved with leadership. She would begin with a half hour to pray about the group and ask God for guidance. She would then spend another hour and a half with the planning duties and emails that were necessary. At the end of that hour and a half she would call it a night and trust that whatever didn’t get done could wait or would be done by someone else.

Don’t you love it? What a great plan!

My leader’s plan reminded me of one my favorite Bible verses:

But I trust in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
 My times are in your hand

Psalm 31:14-15a

Most of my scheduling problems–my overcrowded calendar, my panic in wondering how I will ever get everything done–are usually caused because I have taken time in my own hands.

But God keeps reminding me that I can trust Him. He is ready to take my days, my hours, my minutes and craft them into something beautiful. Something valuable. Something extraordinary.

But first I have to give them to Him. I need to put my times into His hands.

So now I am starting my day with my leader’s plan:

  1. Pray. Ask God to give me the wisdom to know what to work on today.
  2. Work. Accomplish the tasks that God has pointed out.
  3. Trust. Believe that what still needs to be done can be worked on tomorrow.

My times are in God’s hands.

Question: How do you start your workday?

The One Key to a Successful Day

 

SuccessfulDay

This is my to-do list for today:

  • Clean bathrooms
  • Dust furniture
  • Do grocery shopping
  • Buy items for China trip
  • Finish this blog post

Some days my to-do list is longer. Some days it is shorter. But on all days I tend to think that I am only successful if I have been able to check off everything on that list. I give myself a pat on the back if I am able to finish all the tasks I set out to do.

But I read something today that challenged my definition of a productive day. Read this from the devotional Jesus Calling and hear Jesus’ voice speaking:

Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.

If you’re a Type A person like me, that probably stops you in your tracks. Too long I have tied success to the idea of being productive. But what Jesus really wants us to do is to turn our attention to Him.

Proverbs 3:6 tells us:

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (MSG)

Even as we are cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming the living room we can mentally put ourselves in His presence.

Even as we are wiping a child’s dirty face or doing the laundry we can  feel His love.

Even as we are peeling carrots and stirring the macaroni and cheese we can listen for His voice and feel His presence.

God is changing my definition of a successful day.

successful day

A successful day is not necessarily one where everything on my to-do list is checked off. A successful day is one where I have kept in touch with God moment by moment.

Question: What is your definition of a successful day?

 

 original photo credit

 

Make Over Your Schedule Part 8: Life’s To-Do List

To Do's 

How long is your to-do list? Mine often seems endless. I never seem to get every item checked off by the end of the day. Sometimes this is so frustrating that I write down things that I did, but weren’t on the original list, just so I can have the satisfaction of checking them off!

Lately, God has been speaking to me about Life’s To-Do List. The list He gives us in the Bible is much simpler than mine. Jesus said:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Luke 10:27)

According to Jesus, I can simplify Life’s To-Do List to just two items:

  1. Love the Lord with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind
  2. Love my neighbor as myself 

So now I am trying to keep these two priorities in mind as I am writing my daily to-do list. There are many things I would love to do, many worthy causes I would like to contribute to, many entertaining activities I would like to try (tap dancing looks fun!), but I need to ask myself how each of those things fit into my Life’s To-Do List. Time is a precious commodity and I want to use it wisely.


I may still find time to try tap-dancing some day, but for now I have other priorities as a wife, mother, writer, and speaker. 


What are your priorities? How do they fit in Life’s To-Do List?

photo credit

Make Over Your Schedule Part 7: New Calendar, New Plan

Last week I bought this new calendar and matching notebooks. Aren’t they pretty? I know–a paper calendar is old school, but I am still learning to use my Droid device and I thought it would be safer for me to have a paper backup. Plus I loved this set (by Mead from WalMart!).

I also love the feel of the brand-new paper calendar. Completely blank. So many possibilities. Who knows what wonderful things are going to happen in 2012?

To go along with my new calendar, I am also adopting a new plan for organizing my time. There are two parts to this new plan.

First, I am going to use the large notebook to create a master list of everything I want to accomplish. This will be an ongoing list of big and small projects. Some of the big projects will have to be broken down into smaller steps. I will also keep track of these in the large notebook.

Second, I will pray over my schedule and to-do list. Every day I will look over the master list and ask God which items need to be done today. I will transfer these to a daily to-do list.Some of the items on the daily list will be there simply because they need to be done today. But I hope to daily include activities that further my long-term goals.

My real time problems crop up when I forget the crucial element of prayer. My schedule becomes skewed and always seem to run out of time. Hopefully I will become more faithful in prayer and thus more productive in my time.

“My times are in your hands.”
Psalm 31:15

 

Make Over Your Schedule Part 6: A Weight Off Your Shoulders

Make Over Your Schedule Part 5: Stop Spinning Your Wheels

Make Over Your Schedule Part 4

 
What am I going to make for dinner tonight?

How many times have you asked yourself that question? Since the beginning of cooking, woman have struggled with with this issue. Probably even Eve had trouble deciding what to put on the table every night.


When I was first married, I wrestled daily with this puzzle. Well, I could make spaghetti–no we’re out pasta. Maybe a stir-fry–not enough fresh vegetables. How about a pot roast? Who am I kidding? The roast isn’t even thawed and it’s already 4:30.

After a few years of the daily puzzle, I started a new routine. This simple habit is probably the one thing that has saved me the most time and stress over the years. 

And the blue ribbon goes to: 

A Weekly Menu Plan

I know it’s not that exciting. But if you aren’t in the habit of making a weekly menu plan I suggest you try it. 
I don’t spend a lot of time at it. On the day before I go grocery shopping, I take stock of what we have in the freezer and look at the food ads. I list what we will have every day for our main meal based on those two things. 
Then I get out my grocery list and list any additional items that I need to make those meals and also the food we will need for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. No more nightly wondering what to make or last minute trips to the grocery store for essential items.

If you want additional help in this area, there is a new book titled The Household Menu and Coupon Organizer. It gives information on dietary guidelines, healthy eating, budgeting for groceries, using coupons, and planning meals. For every month of the year, there is a place to write your menus and your grocery lists, plus pockets to hold your coupons. As a contributing writer for this book, I wrote an article on “Stress-free Holiday Baking.”
This week try making a Menu Plan.


Make Over Your Schedule Part 3

Don't touch my planner 

OK. Now I have taken the first steps to Make Over My Schedule. I’ve prayed for wisdom. I’ve established my priorities. What next?

The next step I’m going to take is to block out periods of time for the things I have to do and for the things that I believe God is calling me to do.

Some of the things on the have-to-do list are: teaching piano lessons, preparing music for church services. cleaning the house, preparing meals.

Some other things that are essential and non-negotiable: spending time with God, spending time with my husband, spending time with my children.

Those need to go on my schedule first. 

Next come the things that I believe God has called me to: leading a weekly women’s Bible study, writing, blogging, and speaking. I need to set aside time for these things or they never get done.

Finally, I also need to include some blank time in my schedule. If every moment is scheduled, if there are no blank spaces in my schedule, I become very tense (well, actually my husband might use a stronger word) when things don’t go as I anticipate. I need to allow a little margin for when the printer breaks down, when there is a minor emergency, or when a friend simply needs a listening ear.

These are the basics to make over your schedule:

Pray for wisdom.
Establish your priorities.

Plan blocks of time for your priorities and the things God has called you to do.

photo credit

Make Over Your Schedule Part 2

jars 

Picture it. A new store opens up. The sign in the window reads. “Time for sale.”

The store would always be busy. The line would be around the block. No matter how bad the recession got, people would be clamoring to purchase more time!

But… there are no dollar stores where you can purchase a jar of time. No time boutiques where you can buy an hour neatly gift-wrapped. No drive-through where you can pick up a couple of minutes when you really need them.

So I need to learn to use the time I have wisely.

This means learning to prioritize.

I need to remember what is really important in my life. In her book, Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time, Donna Otto talks about an important question. Before taking on a new responsibility or activity ask yourself, “Can someone else do it?” 

I will never be able to do everything that other people want me to do. I will never even be able to do all the things that I want to do. (It is somehow freeing just to write that and take it in.) But God will give me time to do everything He wants me to do. And there are certain roles in this life He has given me that only I can do. Those are my priorities.

For instance,

I’m the one who is responsible for my relationship with God.

I’m the only one who is John Fritz’s wife.

 

I’m the only one who can be mother to Anna and Nathaniel and mother-in-law to Nate.

I’m alone can be maternal grandmother to Aaron and Andrew.

Those are my unique roles–those are my priorities.

Even though I can’t buy more time for the things I’d like to do. God will give me enough time to do the things He has called me to.

photo credit