Have you ever said or thought this: “If I only had more time”?
Time became part of our reality when God created this world we know. God is outside of time—always was, always is, and always will be—and he never changes. He’s not bound by what we know as time. Mind-boggling as that is, we don’t have that same option. We function within the time-space continuum. But what if we were given more time in a day?
How would you maximize your time?
Somehow, we believe that if we had a few more hours every day, we could get each item on our to-do list done. I know I would be cramming more things on that to-do list! Very few of us would use that extra time to reflect, rest, or restore.
Time isn’t the issue at all. Each person who walks this planet has the same amount of time, and no one gets any more or any less. It’s what we do with that time that matters.
Ephesians 5:15-17 has this to say about how we use our time: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
If you want to live life to the full, there are some guidelines to follow to maximize your time.
1. Where do you want to end up?
Stephen Covey coined the phrase “Begin with the END in mind.” We must define the target or goal for our life. One person suggested to help you identify your life path, write your eulogy. It sounds morbid, but no person gets to the end of their life wishing they’d spent more time in the office or making more money.
If you haven’t thought about what you want to know at the end of your life, this is a good exercise. Spend at least 30 minutes thinking through what you need to know at the end of your life, how you want others to remember you, and who you want with you. Journal about this. Get specific. Now you’ve defined your target. Move on to the next guideline.
2. What sucks your time?
How many hours a day do you spend looking at Pinterest? Playing games on your phone? Scrolling Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or others? How many hours a day is a TV on in your home? While you can “keep in touch” with friends and family through social media (I know I do), it can be a huge time-suck. One way to control this is to set a timer when you get on social media. Specify the amount of time you can allow and then stick to it.
Do you need the TV on all the time? Is that the best use of those hours? Don’t mistake me here. Watching TV isn’t evil. But if it replaces connection with your husband and family or provides a way to avoid dealing with something important, then grab 15 seconds of courage and turn it off. Just like time spent on social media, be intentional about your TV watching.
Identify your time-suckers and then ruthlessly eradicate where you can. Get comfortable not being connected to technology constantly.
3. What feeds your soul
It’s too easy to sacrifice the important for the urgent, and we starve our souls in the process. How much time do you spend reading God’s word and talking with Him relative to your time scrolling the internet, browsing social media, or any other activity?
Again, none of these other activities are wrong. But if you find yourself starving to know who you are and your purpose in life, I suggest you increase your time reading the Bible and talking to God. We find truth in God’s word, the Bible, not in the nightly news. God’s word remains constant. It doesn’t shift to follow popular opinion.
4. How can you build life-giving relationships?
Dave and I have a standing monthly dinner engagement with some friends who walked through our recovery with us. When we get to the week of that dinner, we both find ourselves excited. After each dinner, we feel alive and joyful because we feed our souls. Building life-giving relationships take a significant time investment.
“In a new report published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Associate Professor of Communication Studies Jeffrey Hall found that it takes roughly 50 hours of time together to move from mere acquaintance to casual friend, 90 hours to go from that stage to simple ‘friend’ status and more than 200 hours before you can consider someone your close friend. . . You can’t snap your fingers and make a friend. Maintaining close relationships is the most important work we do in our lives—most people on their deathbeds agree.”
List your most important relationships. How will you invest in them this week, month, and throughout the year? Remember, healthy life-giving relationships build your soul.
5. What season are you in right now?
You will never be able to do it all. That’s a life-sucking lie. Every choice you make to say “yes” to something means saying “no” to hundreds of other options. Learning to exercise your “no” muscle strengthens your ability to pursue your end goal (see #1). Anne Lamott reminds us that “No.” is a complete sentence.
Stop now to assess your life. How much time do you devote to family and work? Depending on your season, that may be all the time you have each day. Good. Run with it. During our initial recovery period, Dave and I worked and then spent the remaining hours learning to live together in an understanding way. We stripped life of all other commitments and obligations. I’m so thankful for this time. We slowed life to a crawl. And, you know what? We discovered room to breathe and enjoy life once again.
6. How do you capture your time?
God tells us that we plan our days, but He directs our steps. It isn’t about time management. Yes, I use a daily planner to put my appointments and have an idea of how I’d like to schedule my days. But life happens. Rarely do my days turn out exactly as I planned.
What I have discovered is to capture my days, to live them intentionally. We see this in the Ephesians 5 passage mentioned above. Capturing time allows me to prioritize my relationships first. It forces me to define what is eternal, to be present throughout my day as much as possible. Sometimes capturing my time means taking a nap to honor my physical needs. Or to bring a meal to a friend who’s sick or needs encouragement. Maybe I need to stop and listen to my neighbor and encourage them. When less focused on time management and more on time capturing, I find space for that, which is essential.
Where do you find yourself wishing to maximize your time?
Retake a look at these guidelines. Which one will you adopt? How will you do that? The most soul-enriching parts of life happen outside of the urgent. Perhaps, like Dave and me, you need to simplify your obligations and activities to slow down your pace. When you do, you will discover the richness of the life you’ve desired. Not sure you can do this? Let’s talk.