By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Time is something in which everyone has the same amount. We all get the same number of hours to spend. But it is how we spend our time that matters most. How we spend our time is a choice. We can waste our time doing things of insignificance or spend our time doing things that will accomplish the work of God's Kingdom. As a type A personality, I spend my time wisely. Although not every minute is dedicated to something extraordinary, I spend most of my time completing tasks that aren't only others-centered but also fulfill my purpose as a follower of Christ. The key to good time management is priorities. By prioritizing the bulk of my time and utilizing the hours where I am the sharpest, I can get a lot done during the day and still have time for meaningful relationships in the evening. Randy Frazee, author of the book, Making Room for Life, believes that by simply utilizing the 12-hour workday model, you can get all of the important tasks in life done and still have time for recreation, relaxation, and community. Unfortunately, we waste some of our most precious hours doing things for entertainment or relaxation rather than productivity. Because of our procrastination, we can often spend time trying to catch up or complete tasks at the very last minute, which demonstrates mixed-up priorities.
If you are someone who struggles with procrastination, there's hope. Frazee posits that we can accomplish all our work within a 12-hour window. This may require us to get up earlier, but it will leave more room in the evening for family time and activities. Frazee believes if we get up at 6:00 AM and end our day at 6:00 PM, we utilize 12 hours to the best of our abilities. We will be able to have time to spend in meaningful relationship with others, enjoy hobbies and other tasks that will help us rest and get prepared for the next day. I use this model, and it helps tremendously with my level of productivity. There are a few keys I believe are essential to managing time wisely. Here are five ways I manage my time effectively:
First, I make a to-do-list.
When I don't have a specific plan for my day, I often spend more time on social media and surfing the Internet rather than being productive. Although I do get most of my work done within a given week, I must make sure I plan how to use my time. The saying is true, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Jesus was close to his father while on earth. He allowed his father to guide him where he should go to complete his work: healing the sick, casting out demons, and making disciples.
Second, I prioritized my time.
For example, if I have a list of five things to complete by the end of the day, I usually tackle the most difficult or undesirable task first. There is a great sense of accomplishment when I complete a task that feels like a chore to me. When I use my time to accomplish something I don't want to do, it makes more room in my day for me to complete the things I do want to do. Even if I have to work late to accomplish my tasks, it makes me feel like I'm a good steward of my time, which in turn gives glory to God.
Third, I could have distractions.
Although I do my best writing with some sort of background noise—TV, radio, or sound machine—, I can't read with the same distractions. Identifying how I work best does wonders for my productivity. I don't force myself to work in a silent environment unless necessary. I put my air pods in and listen to my favorite type of music, or sometimes I'll have a TV show on that I've seen before. If it's a TV show I have not seen before, my mind will become more focused on watching the TV than on my work. However, if it's something I've seen before, I know what comes next, allowing me to focus on my writing. Although this method does not work for everyone, identifying the best methods increases my productivity level and my satisfaction with my work.
Fourth, I practiced the 7th.
Although the Sabbath seems counterintuitive to the concept of time, they actually go hand in hand. If I want to be extra productive the following week, I must give myself the rest that I need for at least 24 hours so I can be refreshed and ready to conquer my to-do- list on Monday morning. If my weekend has been dedicated to other activities or work, I spend my Mondays foolishly. This puts me behind for the rest of the week. Because writing articles is a very mentally taxing task, I work hard to get my articles written, edited, and forwarded to the proper people. When I complete my articles earlier than expected, I can make room in my schedule for other non-work-related tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and spending time with my friends and family the rest of the week. Work and rest go hand in hand. If I have not practiced the art of rest, I'm doing myself and others a great disservice.
Fifth, I have learned to make Mondays my friend rather than my enemy.
Although it feels the weekends go by too fast, I know that I work best at the beginning of the week and feel more tired by the end of the week. This makes the most of my Mondays through Wednesdays, getting the most amount of work done. Sometimes I finish early, which gives me an extra day to rest and practice self-care. Rest doesn't always mean observing Sabbath or taking a vacation. Sometimes I need mental rest, emotional rest, or creative rest. When I take time to rest in these areas, I increase my sharpness, and my mental focus is clearer.
Sixth, I celebrate the small wins.
I do something for myself if I have completed an enormous task (like submitting a large manuscript or editing a big project). I read a book, get a massage, or do a little shopping. My life could be consumed with work if I'm not careful. However, life is to be enjoyed. By accomplishing a task that seems interesting and insurmountable, I reward myself with something, a unique experience, special treat, or an item I've been wanting. This pushes me to complete my tasks promptly and with excellence. Sometimes those hours are hard as I sludge through an enormous task, but nothing beats the feeling of accomplishing something with God's guidance and help. I believe it gives God glory when we use our work as an act of worship.
Time is a gift. As with any gift, if we waste our time frivolously or don't use our time to do the things God wants us to do, we can force ourselves to use our Sabbath or other free time to make up for the lost time. This leaves us in a state of fatigue, which makes this out of rhythm with God. If we can utilize 12 hours of our day in productivity, observe the Sabbath every week, make priorities, and tackle the most difficult tasks first, we can demonstrate we are good stewards of our time.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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