What Is Time Management?
Working Smarter to Enhance Productivity
Do you ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day?
Do you ever feel like there are not enough days on the calendar to get done what needs to be done – to accomplish what everyone expects must be accomplished? So much to do, too much for us to do and there is so precious little time to do it.
Time management is the process of our organizing and planning how to divide our time between different activities. Get it right, and we’ll end up working smarter, not harder, to get more done in less time – even when time is tight, pressures are high. The highest achievers manage their time exceptionally well.
The Benefits of Good Time Management
When you know how to manage your time effectively, you can unlock many benefits. These include:
- Greater productivity and efficiency in your ministries.
- Less stress in your relationship with God.
- A better professional reputation and more glory for God.
- Increased chances of Kingdom advancement.
- More opportunities to achieve your life and career goals.
Overall, being “on the clock with God” you start feeling more in control, with the confidence to choose how best to use your time to edify our neighbors.
And by feeling happier, more relaxed, and better able to think, and better able to act for God, you are in a great place to help others reach their targets, too.
How well do we Manage our Time with God?
Start by assessing your existing approach, our existing relationship. How good are we at disciplining, organizing our time so that we get the important things done well? Can we balance our time between different activities? And when we do make time to do something, are we able to focus – and still get it finished?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible
The Mystery of Time
3 There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
There is a Time for Everything under the sun– Time Management Tips for 21st Century Christian Leaders
Time management is always going to be an issue for everyone but especially those whose heart is to show God’s love to those in spiritual or practical need.
Imagine, as I am sure you can, outside your front door at this very moment is everyone who, in the last week, has sent you a text, an email, called you on the telephone, written you a letter, spoken to you about seeing them for a pastoral visit, invited you to a meeting and those you have chosen to spend time with….
How far around your neighborhood would that queue stretch and just how long would it take you to see them if you saw them one after the other, even without a break? How many times slots, appointments are being overbooked right now?
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by the demands you and others place on your use of time? Upon your achieving a balance between accomplishing your worldly tasks so you can feed your family, pay the bills and so on and upon achieving those spiritual callings of God now upon your life in edifying God’s Kingdom?
Maybe the full weight of effectively and efficiently balancing all the issues you face in making the best use of your time are masked by the technology or the lack pf technology you use to manage your problem or perhaps you are working far too many hours in the day to cope with all these demands on your ministry?
A Time for Everything
The writer of Ecclesiastes 3 v1-6 communicates unto us that there is a time for everything under the sun, moon and stars, describing the endless ebb and flow of actions that sweep us up in an endless flurry of activity that leads to stress.
There is definitely a time for everything, but that does not mean we have to do everything immediately right NOW, as much as we or others might want us to do. Nor should we simply succumb to all the demands others place on our time.
Although we cannot manage time the same as God, as we are not in control of its passage, time management skills enable us to manage the way we and others use our own time. As a servant leader we all need to role model a healthy use of time for our own benefit and for those to whom we minister, for God’s glory.
Time Management Suggestions to balance and also manage our time with God better
1. Review how you use your time.
Spend a week keeping a diary of your use of time, (including coffee breaks, telephone calls, travel time etc.) and with whom. Then review the diary, looking for recurring patterns and highlighting where you have not used your time as you would have liked and/or as effectively as you could.
For example, if you split your day into morning, afternoon and evening: do you regularly work all three sessions? Would it help or hinder you if for all or part of the week you only worked 2 of those sessions per day?
2. Review your diary with a trusted friend
Discuss the various areas in and then agree to take steps to address a couple of the issues it highlights.
3. Prioritize your use of time.
Steven Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” introduces a simple four box time management model to help us use our time effectively.
On one axis is “urgent” and “not urgent” and on the other what is “important” and “not important”. Our issue is often twofold: firstly, that we spend our time meeting the demands of others in what they see as being urgent and important. Secondly, that in failing to deal with the important but not urgent tasks, that the tasks soon become urgent and lead us into feeling and being overwhelmed.
Populate each quadrant of the diagram with your view of what fits where. Next decide, and agree with others what are the important but none urgent issues for you to be an effective leader and resolve to spend most of your time on these. Where would regular hospital visits or home communion come? What about the article for the church newsheet? Personal retreat?
4. Set expectations
Set expectations about response time and considerations of urgent and none urgent issues. My experience in working with ministers is that when people use the phrase “this needs doing urgently”, this can mean anything from in the next 10 minutes to the next 3 days”. When we and others understand what we all mean we can respond appropriately and prioritise our time effectively.
5. Take a team approach with God and your people
Pray to God to begin your day. Open your day with a devotional and a bible and a quiet place with which to establish your mindset, the tone and atmosphere of your coming day. Quality time in private with God sets all your days priorities in their proper order, importance and relevance. Sit in conference with your Jesus.
Talk to your team workers about your joint use of time and the challenges you each face and how you can support one another e.g., do we all need to be copied into emails about every little detail we have nothing to do with? Sifting through which emails to read or not all takes time when we have large numbers of them.
6. Use Meetings effectively
Do meetings have to happen the way they always have? Do you have to be there for all of the time or just the part that needs your input or when you need to hear vital information? Can other technologies help reduce the time and frequency of your regular meetings? Can you have an on-line discussion of some agenda items before the deacons meeting?
7. Give God Control! Don’t let technology control you
Take control of the technology. It is easy to respond to the ring of the telephone or the bleep of the mobile phone or the ping of the email arriving in the in box. Turn off the bleep of the email and only check your emails twice a day (see also “Taming the Email Dragon”). Silence or just turn off your smart phones during devotional times and meals, use your answering machine or call divert on a mobile phone when you should not be interrupted. God is always our #1!
Would we ever pause in the middle of a conversation with a bereaved couple to suddenly turn away to respond to a text message? Why do we then allow other “kingdom-oriented” situations to be interrupted by the call of technology?
8. Let Go and Let God Manage interruptions
Research suggests it takes approximately 8 minutes to recover from being interrupted when you are in the middle of a task. Be ruthless with time, but gracious with people when handling interruptions and try to keep interruptions to a minimum. Find a time and a space where you won’t be interrupted, use technology or another “gatekeeper” to help e.g., your wife. Often when we are struggling with the task, we find our own interruptions to distract us from the difficulty of the task e.g., that third cup of coffee, social chat with a colleague.
9. Avoid procrastination
Procrastination: “putting off the doing of something that should be done—intentionally, habitually and reprehensibly”. (John Adair). Do the worst jobs first – once you have got them over with you will feel a sense of relief and will not be dreading them for the rest of the day/week. If it’s a big job that you are putting off, break it up into bite size chunks: it’s easier to think of repainting one room in a house than having to prepare and repaint the whole house.
10. Pray, ask God, what should it take to be much more like you and significantly much less like me?
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “If I don’t do it, it won’t happen or be done as well”. Give God your “shout” time and space when you know you need it. Allocate some of those inevitable “I’m too busy right now” tasks, meetings to others. Pray them directly up to God, might they become a good development opportunity for others? It may take longer to do this at the outset as you have to explain what is needed but is so 100% worthwhile time saving in the long term.
Use GOD’S Time for our Personal Reflection
How much of your use of time is driven by your personality and that of others? Do you thrive on being with people generally and certain people in particular? Does spiritual discipline, preparation get crammed into your remaining time?
Do you feel or believe you absolutely have to push yourself to leave the solitude, preparation time spent in the study for those kingdom-oriented ministries?
Whatever your personality, time spent with God and a coach reflecting on how your personality impacts on your use of time, supported by the completion of personality inventories that highlight our own issues, can be extremely helpful.
- Commit to completing devotional time with God and your personal time diary
- Set up an appointment with someone to review and pray through it together
- Try out one of the tips from scripture and see how it works for you: Today!
- 100% ABOVE ALL ELSE – GIVE UNTO GOD ALL OF YOUR WORSHIP TIME!
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us pray,
Thank You, Father, You know the end from the beginning and that everything under heaven is within Your authority. Thank You, that You are in control of all that is happening in my own individual life and the wider world in general. May I trust You through all the circumstances of life and as I seek Your face in prayer and praise, may I learn more and more to pray, “Thy will be done in my life and throughout the world.” In Jesus’ name I pray, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.