Would you like to take your time management to the next level? Me too! Michele Morin is here to share a few of her tips! Not only is she full of wisdom for racking up extra minutes for your day, she’s a storehouse in many other areas. And she’s one of the kindest women I’ve hadn’t the privilege to meet in the online world. I hope you’ll check out her site when you’re done reading her tips!
The most common complaint about time management is lack of time. With most of our moments already spoken for by the work that pays the bills or the tasks that keep family life on the rails, the challenge is to make the most of our little minutes, the time on the fringes of our days.
For example, if you are an average reader (250 words per minute), 15 minutes per day will take your eyes through 3,910 pages in one year. That’s 20 books! If you struggle to set and keep fitness goals, consider the efficiency of a 20-minute walk.
A Matter of Focus
Like beads on a string, our minutes slide by. Poor, cynical Solomon bemoaned the futility of it all, dismissing his significant accomplishments as a chasing after the wind. Author Annie Dillard speaks a better and more hopeful wisdom:
How we live our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
If that’s the case, I want to steward my days with Leviticus-Level attention to detail, investing in my daily, mundane tasks the same purposefulness that transformed curtains of goats’ hair and rams’ skins into a house of worship.
Elisabeth Elliot, virtuoso of terse and gritty truth, maintained that “there is always time to do the will of God.” While that stings a bit, I recognize the mathematical reality that if I have more planned than I can accomplish in a day without sinning, then some of it is not God’s will for me. Several years ago, I started using a smaller planner. Smaller pages mean smaller calendar squares with fewer lines. When I run out of lines, it’s time to refuse, reprioritize, or bump something to another day.
Beware the Idol of Efficiency
It’s true enough that my huge garden and my history of homeschooling four sons have given me plenty of opportunity to fine-tune the art and science of multitasking. I’ve folded laundry and entertained a baby while listening to an eight-year-old practicing his piano lesson; I’ve canned green beans while quietly scribbling rhymed clues for a birthday scavenger hunt; I’ve made strawberry jam while preparing a lesson to teach at VBS the next morning.
However, like any good thing in our lives, efficiency stands ready and willing to become an idol. My prone-to-wander heart needs continual reminders that productivity is good, but little boys grow up overnight. Folding several mindless tasks into one discrete unit of time is a salutary thing, but people are not made to be folded. One regret from my days of parenting small children is my failure to stop my work and lock my eyes with theirs sooner and more often.
Advice from a Puritan Preacher
John Owen, 17th century English theologian, wrote about sin management and the Gospel, using Romans 8:13 as his launch pad. One of his most famous quotes warns believers to “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” To riff on his words, I have learned that if I fail to manage my time, before long it begins to manage me. Procrastination, lack of follow through, and over-scheduling sow seeds of chaos and impatience as I follow in the footsteps of the foolish woman in Proverbs, “tearing my house down” with sharp words and long days of hurry and worry.
Balancing the tyranny of tasks and the tenderness of meaningful relationships continues to be my walk on the razor’s edge. The prudent use of little minutes requires a few good practices that become habits over time:
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4 Easy Time Management Tips
- Write it down. I have one place–my planner–where I write reminders, appointments, kid-schedules, commitments, and needful tasks. If I’m reading my Bible and something comes to mind, I write it down to address later. Depending on memory is stressful, distracting, and unreliable.
- Embrace your list. My athletic friend who coached her kids’ soccer teams had a posse of sons, but a very different list from me. Most women my age have an empty nest and are not wrangling tenth-grade geometry daily at the dining room table. But I am. And this is God’s gift to me. Longing for a different list or evading my assignment because I wish it was different is a time management disaster.
- Do it now. Folding towels as they come off the line, dealing with the mail immediately instead of leaving it in a pile to be dealt with “later,” making phone calls for work or church while stirring a pan or loading the dishwasher . . . we’ve all got our time-saving shortcuts. The key is to do the next thing without delay, without complaint.
- Remember the Gospel. Whether married or single, whether childless or presiding over a lively crew, godly women have been tasked with the glad- hearted, life-giving work of pouring our lives into others. The cross is central to all we do. Gospel-based living comes from an understanding of what Christ has done and lends perspective to our own feverish planning and doing.
If all this sounds overwhelming . . . that’s perfect. Come empty-handed and open-hearted to receive grace for doing the everyday, mundane work of faithfulness. Time management is centered in following God, trusting the Spirit’s leading—and then making prudent use of those little minutes through a power that is not our own.
Michele Morin is a teacher, reader, gardener and mother of four rowdy boys who has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years. She loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks, and days at the ocean with the whole family. Michele blogs at Living Our Days where she writes about the books she is reading and the grace she is receiving.
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