Wow! I just looked at the date of my last post. Time does fly! This recent break from blogging was not intentional, it just was. However, there are times when breaks like this are needed. Turns out this was one of those, I just wasn’t aware initially.
As I think about how quickly these last few weeks have gone, it is quite honestly a bit scary. It seems like I was just waiting for school to start back up for my girls so we could return to a more “normal” schedule, and here we are 5 weeks in already. This week, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary (14 years! I know, hard to believe anyone has willingly put up with me that long!). While I was out shopping for a present for her, I came across Halloween items. Wow, it is only a month away now. Then I turned the corner and it was all Christmas! Really?
This week, I also sent an email to my staff going over the next few weeks of events and activities. I think I scared them. I know it got my attention.
In all of this, the point is quite clear: if we are not intentional with each day, then it will be a missed opportunity lost forever. It would be very easy to go into the “live our lives right because it will be over before we know it” or the “tell everyone about Jesus while there is still time” mode. Both of those are true and both are good messages. But, let’s look at it from a different angle and maybe see something.
What if in realizing that every day is a fleeting breath, we mapped out our priorities and lives with absolute intention to squeeze every drop of possibility from each day? How many times do we catch ourselves saying, “the day got away from me and I didn’t get anything done I needed to”? Follow the stream on Facebook, this may be the most common post next to “is”. If the day got away from us, it is only because we weren’t prepared for it.
It has been a hard lesson for me to begin to map out my days. Most of us have calendars to track appointments and to do lists to track tasks, but are we creating a plan for the day?
I am working on this skill and have made some strides, but still have a long way to go. Not a one of us wants to get to the end of anything and look back and realize all the lost time leaving us full of regret.
There are so many time-wasters vying for our attention. They are attractive. Some of them are even good things, but they may not be the best things in the moment. Hard work and efficiency are important for productivity and that is something we need. However, this does not guarantee effectiveness. To be effective in life and in our God designed plan, is going to take something more. It is going to take the extra step of planned intention. Knowing what needs to be done is not enough, we must strategize and then implement what it is going to take to get it down. (On a side leadership note, many times this means giving it to someone else.)
Here is what I am beginning to do. Each night I check my calendar and notes for the next day to make sure I have a big picture understanding of what I am facing. This gives me time to “sleep on it” and then wake up with that in mind. In the mornings I double check the calendar. Then I look over any reminders or thoughts for the day I have may noted (whether you use a computer program or paper journal for this, use one thing consistently). Many times I already know at this point or have even laid out the truly significant things that must be accomplished or addressed that day. Then I simply adjust or align the priorities of the day (not necessarily tasks, these are objectives) and do what needs to be done to fulfill those objectives starting with the most important and hardest first. This leaves the easier and less intense items until later in the day when I am getting tired anyway. Objectives early when we are sharp and focused, and tasks later when we are tired and spent. One key to this is to learn to say “no”, “not now”, and/or “you take care of it”.
It also involves learning how to recognize those urgent things that pop up that seem immediate, but truly are not that significant. Distractions exist for every one of us. We must be able to know how to deal with them and this requires an intentional plan that allows us to side step the time-landmines that exist.
Now, there will be things that pop up that are both urgent and significant which will necessitate a shift in the plans for the day. It takes discernment and experience to know what fits this. That’s also why margins in schedule are important. There must be some room to maneuver.
What are some things you are doing to keep time from “getting away from you”?