Two years ago, I was speaking at a youth conference. After the session, one of my long-time friends approached me. I have not seen him for a while. After we caught up on the status of one another, he made a bold statement. He said that there are many things that he wants to accomplish in life. There is just one small problem, he said – I do not have any time.
I could hear the frustration in his voice. I could picture the distress on his face. I proceeded to ask a few open-ended questions to resolve this matter. I said to him: The problem you have is not with time allotment but rather with time management. Two years later, we re-united for some good dinner. After our initial greeting, he asked me to recall our conversation during the conference. Do you know what, he said. I said – no, what? You were exactly right. Here is why:
Every single one of us has the same amount of time allotted to us. It is our duty as wise stewards of this God-given resource to manage it appropriately. Do you know why some people accomplish much more than others? It is not a mere coincidence but rather a strategic superintendence.
We are all involved in most likely more things than we can handle. But because of a young age or an excess of energy, we do not want to drop out of any one of those things. Sure, there are some things that you should say no to. I talk about it in this post. For the most part, we can accomplish a lot more than we can imagine. The goal also is not only quantity but also the quality of what we do.
Here are five practical tips you can implement right now to lead a more balanced/productive life. For your good, for the glory of God and by His grace:
1. Say No To Push Notifications. This has got to be the most incredible form of time-wasting that has every been invented. Push notifications are those things that alert us of an incoming email, a new comment on Facebook or a myriad of other items vying for our undivided attention. Unless your job absolutely requires it, you do not have to check your email every single minute. Imagine this: Every time you gain enough energy and focus to take on a particular task — the push notification is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The short buzz, the flashing red blink, the red notifier in the top left corner of the app – or whatever else it is does damage to your concentration. It will take you and me at least 10-15 minutes to get back to the productivity level that we had, prior to the notification. To be more focused on whatever you are doing, turn of push notifications. You can do this easily in the settings area of your cellphone. I personally have done this. It has worked wonders for me. I feel more focused on whatever I am doing.
2. Create Time Blocks For Tasks. Create specific time blocks for when you will check your email, your Facebook, your Twitter, your Instagramm, your favorite blog or your favorite website. Set for yourself a time limit. Do not go over that limit. Once the time is up, move on to the next project. For example: In order to avoid being distracted by email – set a 15 minute time block every two hours to check it. Set a time limit and a time frame for when you will log on to Facebook or any other social media site. Trust me, I love social media just as much as you do. But we all would be a lot more efficient at whatever we are doing if we followed this simple principle of specific time blocks for tasks. Try it out and let’s celebrate your success together.
3. Use A Calendar. As basic as this sounds, you might be surprised about the amount of people who do not use this archaic but effective tool. People who do not use a calendar are always forgetting important dates, appointments and are disorganized in general. Just recently, I was speaking with someone about upcoming dates and important events. I literally started hyperventilating when I saw them scurry around to find a loose piece of paper to write down important dates. Unless that person has a strategic filing system for napkins, lined paper, pieces of torn off paper and a miscellaneous something on which everything is written on — I have no idea how they function. I personally use google calendar. I love it because it syncs automatically across every single device that I have. If I input an event onto my iPhone, it instantly shows up on my iPad calendar, my laptop Calendar and also my google calendar — which can be accessed from anywhere. If you love paper like my wife does, please buy a good calendar and utilize it to its full papery advantage.
4. Embrace The Front Load Principle. I have been talking about this one since last year. Never put off something until tomorrow what can be accomplished today. I read a quote recently that went something like this:
Tomorrow [is] a mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored.
If you are honest with yourself, how often have you thought exactly that? I will be first to admit that I have done this before. It has never proved to be true. Here is an example: If you know you have an empty tank of gas this evening – why not go top it off right now — instead of waiting to do it when you are rushing out the door in the morning. Would it not be better to wake up, stress free knowing that you are good to go. What would you do with that extra 15 minutes of fresh, early morning thoughts that you suddenly have because you embraced the front load principle?
5. Fight For Your Prayer Room. If you were going to Jesus-juke me right now, I know you are wondering why in the world would I put prayer as point five when it should have been number one. You know what – if every single item mentioned above would be in line, then this point would come as naturally as taking your next breath. The above points actually work towards creating ample time and space for this one. I can never talk too much about prayer. I have written before how to pray like Jesus. With the deluge of information that we are recipients of every single moment of our day — the prayer room is pushed down the list of priorities at best or completely neglected at worst. This must not be so. We must aggressively fight to enter our prayer room. We must pay attention to what Jesus said about prayer in Matthew 6:6. Jesus says to us today: When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. What a great promise from our Lord and Savior.
I also really like these two quotes about prayer:
If any of you should ask me for an epitome of the Christian religion, I should say that it is in one word – prayer. -Spurgeon
I have so much to do that if I did not spend at least three hours a day in prayer, I would never get it all done. -Luther
I hope that you will take the above five tips to heart and implement them immediately. What else would you add to the above list?