Yesterday I posted a titled “I Want More in 2009”. It prompted a good comment question from Freddy T. Wyatt, my church planting friend in NYC. His basic question: How do you fit more into an already busy schedule? I agree. Great question. If we are going to “do more” in 2009 we have to find a place to put it. Here are a few tips to help create more margin of time in your life. As I told Freddy T, this post is more theory-based. Each of these represents areas I need to improve upon in my life.
1. Put God first.
It’s amazing in my week and day if I start the day talking to God about my day. If I ask God for margin in my time and to help me complete my “to do” list, He actually seems to listen and help me. (Try it!)
2. Prioritize your life.
It is important to have a life purpose. What do you value most? Without knowing this we find ourselves chasing after many things that have little value.
3. Make sure your priorities line up with your desires.
That sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it is not. Many times, we say our purpose is one thing, but what we actually do is something entirely different. That is often because people are going to do what people want to do. We may need to ask God to change our heart and plant in us His desires.
4. Stop unnecessary time-wasters.
If you “veg” out every night on 3+ hours of television or surfing the net, don’t be surprised that you didn’t get a blog post written or spend quality time with your children. Most of us form bad habits or have unorganized methods of doing something that waste bulks of our time. Make a list of what you spend the most time doing and see if there are places you can cut. (I suspect there will be.)
5. Work smarter.
I can’t imagine being successful and leading a team without some system of calendaring your week or keeping a planner, yet I know so many pastors and other ministers who simply handle things as they come up rather than work with a plan. The benefit of organization is that you can do what you need to do more efficiently and faster and be more productive.
6. Schedule times to organize.
This is so important, but most people don’t do it. Spending an hour or two actually planning the week will make the whole week more productive. Usually for me this is the first part of my week. If I know where I’m headed and my work space is organized for efficiency, it’s much easier to get everything done and still handle distractions, which are sure to come.
7. Do the most necessary things first.
You may have tried the A/B/C list of scheduling priorities. It doesn’t matter what system you use, but the important thing is that you have one and use it to help your rate of completion.
8. Don’t say yes to everything.
Be picky with your time allotment based again on your end priorities and goals.
9. Schedule down time.
Especially when my boys were younger, I would write on my calendar time for them. That may sound mechanical, but it allows you to be there and keeps things and others from filling up your schedule. (I still schedule this time for Cheryl.)
10. Evaluate your schedule often.
Plans should not be implemented and then ignored. Develop your plan to create margin in your life, then periodically review the plan to see how you are doing and what needs to be changed.
For some people just reading this is laborsome. I especially encourage those of you geared this way to push through the difficult part of this and give it a try. You will be surprised what a positive difference it will have on your life.
Freddy T. also asked what I think is people’s greatest time-wasters. I don’t know, but I am curious. What do you think you waste the most time doing unnecessarily?