There are mounds of self help resources to assist us in improving our concept of time. These books range from time management instructionals, organizational planners, to podcasts on how to make life more streamlined and efficient. The reality is, time is valuable but is often wasted because of a lack of intentionality about purposing our time each day. Tommy Barnett in his book “The Power of a Half Hour” notes that time is precious, and the most significant resource at our disposal. When God gave us this gift of time, He intended (there’s a key word) for us to use it carefully, intentionally, wisely, and productively.
So, how then have we arrived at this point where time is something we don’t have? I cannot count the number of times that I have, in the past, made the statement “I would, but I don’t have time.” The answer is quite simple and can be answered in one or two ways. First, we are not purposive about our time. We have not taken the time to appropriately plan and priorirtize the tasks that lie ahead of us each day. Routines for most look something like this; we wake up in the morning to the sound of an alarm, hit snooze five times only to wake up 10 minutes late. While turning off the alarm, you check the social media and the news alerts on your phone, which takes up about 10 minutes, lay in bed for a few more minutes, and then began rushing to get the kids ready for school and to get prepared for the day. Out the door you go with only 15 minutes to arrive to your job, which is 25 minutes away from your home. You speed past everyone in frustration, only to arrive at work on time but realizing that you have not prayed, had any breakfast, and by the way forgot something that you really needed for the day. By the time you take a moment to look at your calendar and reflect on your daily committments, half of the day is gone and you cannot recall or recapture the time. This is a recipe for disaster! Why? Because it either leads to overcommittment, accepting tasks that you simply cannot accomodate for that day, or you miss valuable opportunities because you have felt so rushed and bombarded and have no grasp on what your day really entails, your cognition screams “I just don’t want another thing added to my plate.”
The second reason is that we simply waste time. While the use of social media, staying current on the news, and socialization is important, we lose valuable moments engaging in wasteful activities, which adversely impacts our ability to devote our time for the highest purpose/s. We miss precious moments that are filled with life enhancing lessons due to being in a hurry, because we started the day late. We spend an entire day trying to catch up, which leads to hurry sickness, the number one enemy of our spiritual life.
So how then do we become better stewards of our time? Lets start by understanding Gods’ viewpoint on time, by looking to the scriptures for guidance. Below are just a few scriptures as it relates to time:
Ephesians 5:5-17 “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Psalm 90:12- “So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wiser heart.”
Colossians 4:5 “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.”
These are just a few of the scriptural references with regards to this chief blessing. In fact there are 623 occurrences of the word time in the King James Version and the plural version of times has 145 occurrences. This prompts us to a level of awareness with regards to time, and should spark a ember within us to re-evaulate our concept of time and how we use it. Below are a few introspective activities that will assist so that you can honestly evaluate your use of time.
Step 1: Take out a sheet of paper or your daily journal and write down your daily routine. Then write the percentage next to each one of the daily activities, that you feel best corresponds to how much of your day is spent in this activity.
Step 2: Identify areas where unproductive activities occurred, and the time spent engaged in these activities.
Step 3: Monitor your daily activities for one week (seven days), paying particular attention to wasteful habits such as television, social media, gossip ect. Record how many minutes are spent engaging in these activities.
Step 4: Review your journal at the end of seven days, identifying and categorizing the top five wasteful habits in your life.
Step 5: Identify productive tasks to replace these wasteful and time consuming habits. These tasks can include reading, goal planning, meditation, engaging in meaningful conversations.
Step 6: Actively schedule your time to include your free time. Plan the course of your day, so that you are not tempted to engage in wasteful and meaningless activities. The goal is not to become someone who is dictated by a calendar or a schedule, but someone who embraces the tasks and potential lessons that each day has to offer.
Remember, many of the tasks you enjoy are good in moderation, but if engaged in for too long, leads to procrastination and are time wasters.
According to James Bryan Smith author of The Good and Beautiful God, most of us live under the tyranny of the urgent. Thanks to clocks and other machines, we live as if time is running out, living by a dominant narrative that we humans are machines.
In order to live an effective and authentic life, we must evaluate our lives, purpose our days, slow our pace, and become more aware of the present moment. After all, there is a reason why the present moment is referred to as the “present.” Embrace your time, because it is valuable.
James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful God
Tommy Barnett. The Power of a Half Hour