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Self Care Part 16: Time Management

by Julia Bruce

16

So, then, be careful how you live.
Do not be unwise but wise, making the
best use of your time because the times are
evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand
what the Lord’s will is.
— Ephesians 5:15-17

Managing your life and your lifestyle can also lower stress. Time management is key to how we manage life and all of its demands. The thinner we stretch ourselves, the more difficult it is to remain calm and focused. When we pile too much into our schedules we can be tempted to take short cuts rather than giving our best. Poor time management can also cause us to not have enough time in our day for healthy choices such as exercising, socializing, getting enough sleep, and spending time in God’s Word and in prayer.

Proper time management includes not over-committing yourself to tasks, events, and projects. This means to not take on more tasks and projects than what you are capable of accomplishing as well as filling every moment of your schedule with something to do. The way to avoid this time management pit fall is to know God’s will and plan for your life. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15-17, “So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, making the best use of your time because the times are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” We have to know God’s will before we can plan how we will accomplish it.

When you can, avoid scheduling things back-to-back. Schedule in small breaks between tasks to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or to take a short walk in the sunshine. Planning for breaks can also allow you to plan for unexpected disruptions or for when a task takes longer than anticipated. Disruptions and underestimating how long tasks will take can increase stress because they can make us fall behind in our schedules and not allow us to accomplish all that we planned. It is better to overestimate and run ahead of schedule. Another time management tip is to avoid fitting more into your day than you can reasonably accomplish. Scheduling too much will start your day with stress and then constantly increase stress throughout the day as you fall further and further behind.

Once you have your daily scheduled planned (including breaks), prioritize your tasks. Work on the most important tasks first so that you are sure to get them done. We all tend to procrastinate on tasks that we don’t enjoy. However, if we knock them out first, then we don’t have to dread them all day. It’s also important to know yourself. If you are morning person and do your best work first thing in the morning, then schedule more complicated tasks during that time. If you need a few hours to get going in the day, then schedule some lighter tasks then and save the complicated ones to when you are at your peak during the day.

Large projects can be daunting and overwhelming. When looking at the big picture of the project, we can waste time just wondering where to start. When you have a large project, take time to make a step-by-step plan. Then build your steps into your schedule over a few days or weeks, depending on how long you have to complete the project. Focus on just one manageable step at a time.

Lastly, learn to delegate responsibility when you can. It’s important to know that you do not have to accomplish it all by yourself. Let go of the desire to control or oversee every single task. Assess the people in your life and know their strengths and weaknesses. Learn to delegate tasks that match the strengths of other. In ministry, this might be ministry partners, co-workers, or staff. At home, it could be your spouse or children. Children need to have responsibilities within the home to help them learn cooperation, teamwork, and responsibilities. The better you are at delegating, the more you will be able to let go of unnecessary stress. One caution to delegating responsibility, is to know that when you delegate a task, you have the confidence that the person to whom you gave the responsibility to is capable and trustworthy to get the job done. If you have to keep checking back in or you are constantly worried the job won’t get done if you delegate it, then you’ll have more stress than doing the job yourself. Also, avoid falling into the pit of redoing what someone has done simply because they didn’t do the task just exactly as you would have. If their way accomplishes the job and gets it done, then leave it and move on.

For some, time management can be a struggle because they simply do not know where to begin when the pile of tasks seems bigger than they are. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will given him. Start with prayer and seek God’s will. This will help us not pile on tasks that are not part of His plan for us while neglecting the tasks that He has asked us to do. In Psalm 90:12, the psalmist wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom for any task or for planning how to accomplish any task comes from God and when we feel like we don’t know where to begin, then the place to begin is in prayer.

This blog is part 16 in a series. Be sure to begin with part 1.

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