Time. It seems like there’s never enough of it in the day, yet I’m convinced God gives us enough time to accomplish everything he wants us to do. Time management is important, regardless of the work you engage in on a daily basis. Whether you’re a student, pastor, corporate executive, graphic designer, or stay-at-home parent, using the time in your day well is a worthy goal. In fact, part of living out the gospel as a follower of Jesus is to walk wisely by “making the best use of the time” (Ephesians 5:16). Over the years, I’ve made strides in using my time more effectively, but I know it will be a lifelong growth area.
Here are seven suggestions that may help you in time management:
1) Leave contingency time for unexpected events.
I probably spend one third of my time in various meetings with people. I’ve found that creating a “buffer time” between meetings or appointments creates space to address unexpected items that demand attention. If you leave contingency time, you’ll also have more of yourself to offer to the people you meet with.
2) Minimize interruptions.
Some interruptions are out of one’s control, but others we create ourselves. For example, email and social media can become a massive distraction. One way to minimize this distraction is to respond to emails once in the morning and once in the afternoon during the day. Only interact with social media during set times each day. If that’s not possible in your setting, find a rhythm that works. Schedule your interruptions.
3) Establish priorities within your “to do” list.
I make a “to do” list every week. This has been very helpful for me, except for the fact that the most important items on the list do not always get completed. Prioritizing my list according to a grading scale (i.e. “A” through “C”) has helped to focus on the most important items first. If you don’t prioritize, you’ll probably gravitate toward accomplishing the easiest or most rewarding items first.
4) Distinguish between the urgent and important.
Filtering my “to do” list through this matrix has helped me to schedule tasks that are important but not urgent into my calendar. This discipline is essential in order to keep moving the ball forward with big picture objectives. If you fail to block out time for the most important things, you’ll become a slave to the urgent things.
5) Include goal setting (long-range and short-range) in your current monthly rhythm.
Create a monthly task list at the beginning of each month. To be more strategic, each monthly task list needs to be connected to quarterly goals. This connection will ensure forward progress rather than mere busyness.
6) Consider utilizing a block schedule format for your week.
Not all jobs work for implementing a block schedule. But, if you have this flexibility in your setting, I would highly recommend it. You can learn more about “block scheduling” here.
Figure out what tasks you can delegate to others in order to prioritize your time more effectively. Evaluate the regular tasks you do in order to discern what responsibilities can be handed over to others. Even if these tasks won’t be done as well as you could do them, you need to off-load work you’re doing that isn’t strategic.