“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
We usually think more clearly about our money than we do our time (even if we do not manage our money better than our time). Money is nice because it comes with receipts (whether we chose to keep up with those receipts or not). We could not balance our time checkbook even if we wanted to, because time does not lend itself to such a device.
One trap that many of us fall into is thinking about what “should be done” or “would be good to do.” Without sounding over the top, the problem both of these phrases have is that they are completely detached from reality. They do not exist within 168 hours weeks (4, 24 hour days) or 672 hour months (4, 168 hour weeks).
Most of us can easily come up with 200+ hours worth of things that would be good to do each week – even without wasting time or sinning (knowing that we will do both). The problem with that is that we are 32+ hours behind before the week begins.
From there it is fairly easy to predict what will happen – those relationships closest to us will be neglected. Those are the relationships that “will understand” or are “the most flexible.” Marriage and family get lost in our business.
In light of this you can see why it is so important to have a “week that works.” Just like your financial budget – no week will actually look like this. But also just like your financial budget – if you do not have a clear plan you are firmly committed to, you are going to be in a real mess.
The attached “Assessing My Priorities” worksheet was originally developed by James Petty in his book Step by Step: Divine Guidance for Ordinary Christians and has been slightly updated for this blog. I would highly recommend his book.
As you begin the process of creating your time budget, be prepared to let go of some good things for more important things. This may at first feel like guilt, but that is probably just a grief response to good things that you do not have time for. Remember you are now prayerfully considering what God would have you spend your time on instead of just tending the pressing crisis of the moment.
After working on your personal priorities and time management, you will have to coordinate these with the other members of your household. In order to have “marriage time” your spouses schedule must agree with yours (both in the number of allotted hours and when those hours occur). In order to have “family time” each of the members of your family will have to have harmonious schedules.
Remember the benefit of this exercise is that you can devote time to those aspects of your life that are most important and you can actually enjoy that time when you have it. It is hard work and will involve regular refining. Life in a broken world does not naturally cooperate with godly priorities, but the fruit of honoring godly priorities are worth it.