I love the Kung Fu Panda movies and in the first movie, Po says: “There is no charge for awesomeness…or attractiveness.”
I don’t agree with Po and he proves it in the movie by his own behavior: the cost of awesomeness is personal discipline. We need personal discipline in three areas: time, money and resources (or talent). Moses understood the importance of being disciplined with his time when he prayed:
“So teach us to number our days,
That we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 AMP)
We all get a limited amount of time here on earth and as we know: time does seem to slip away quite unnoticed at times and very noticed at others. Particularly in the last few months as we have been in lock down, we have become very aware of time.
How we use our time is not something we always consider and personal discipline in our use of time, is not a common characteristic. Thinking about how you are going to use your time can take your life from average to dynamic, excellent and productive.
What takes our use of time from average to awesome?
I believe that excellence is an important discipline, but being excellent in all activities and actions does not come naturally. There is so much written on time management and I have tried so many things, but I find that some strategies actually strangle you rather than set you free.
For me it has been a better strategy to plan my time, remembering that
- the Lord is in control of time,
- He holds eternity in His hand, being outside of time, and
- He has given me enough time to do everything I am supposed to do in each day.
- With the above three in mind, I am always mindful to give Him and my relationship with Him, priority in my time.
Once I have made sure my life has given time to my relationship with the Lord, I can go ahead and plan my own time with His guidance.
I have found five strategies that help me to plan my time better rather than manage every minute of it. So here are Michelle’s tips for time planning and taking your average to “awesomeness.”
- Plan, plan, plan. If you do not think about how you are going to spend your time, people, events and inconveniences will determine how you will spend it. For me the planning is not so much every minute of every day accounted for—but putting in the calendar, the things which are important to God and important to you. I plan for longer periods and shorter periods. Making sure time is allocated to holidays, family events or experiences, personal goals that you want to achieve, time with a special friend, time for learning a new skill and time for doing those things that will come back and bite you: tax returns, dental check-up, gynecologist, car service.
- Then at the beginning of each week, or sometimes daily, I identify where I can create blocks of time. I find clear blocks of time that have no demands on them. The longest I will look for is two hours (simply because that is as long as I can concentrate on something), but I find that finding shorter, even 45 minute slots works better. Then I slot the important things for the day or week into them, including some of those identified in the planning above. It includes personal projects, regular tasks or even grocery shopping.
- I practice time estimation for tasks. Considering how long a task will take me, takes practice. We tend to either over/under estimate the time needed. Practice timing yourself – so that you get information about how long it generally takes you to get a task done. By timing myself on a regular basis, I have found that I can more effectively estimate how long it will take me to complete something. I then match tasks to time blocks.
- Add the cushion factor. We don’t necessarily have control over our time. So I add the cushion factor to the front and back of time estimation. So if I think a particular task is going to take me 30 minutes, I add about ten minutes to the front and back of it and look for a 40 minute block. This allows for daydreaming, an interruption and a toilet break. If I get the task done in a shorter period – I take that time to rest, or do something else from the “If I have time, I would like to do…” list.” This is good use of extra time, but on certain days I believe efficiency should be rewarded with rest and we are meant to enjoy our lives.
- During the time blocks I practice personal discipline. I only do what I have planned to do unless life and circumstances push me out of my plan. For this reason, I avoid interruptions and distractions. The phone is my worst enemy and I have learnt to let it take a message and I’ll follow up the calls later (Caller ID helps me with the concern that I may miss a loved one.) The other enemy is getting distracted from the task, by urgent matters that demand attention but in reality can wait till after the time block. So I have a little note pad on my desk to jot them down on, and when the task at hand is complete, I address them. They are often the incentive to work faster and gain my “cushion” time.
Using these five strategies, I find that it gives clear blocks of time to take my personal activities for the day from average to awesomeness.
How is your personal discipline in the use of time? Have you ever thought about how you use your time, or tracked what you used your time for in a particular week? Do you plan your day? Do you plan for the future? Do you live out your day, as you planned?
Lord thank you for the time I have on earth. Thank you for the gift of life and a life with purpose. Thank you that You have plans for my life and that I can make plans for my life with Your help. Help me not to waste time in fulfilling my purpose here on earth and thereby miss the opportunity to glorify Your name and bless my life. Help me to become more disciplined in how I use my time. Forgive me for the attitude that takes time for granted, or wastes time that is an opportunity. Help me redesign how I use time so that You may be glorified in my life.