We’ve all seen it happen. Our day begins with good intentions of gaining ground on our to-do lists. We wake up anxiously ready to get busy (or maybe that happens after coffee). But then circumstances kidnap your plans and you have to begin reacting to what’s happening around you.
Let this happen too many times, and before you know it, you’re heading in a direction that you never intended to be. The things you once hoped to accomplish are now distant memories. So how do we take back control? Here are four strategies…It was my first year teaching. I found myself across the hall from the junior high math teacher who I had attended high school with. We each had spent SEVERAL late nights in our classrooms that week and expected to do the same on this night.
It was now 3pm and hearing footsteps, we looked into the hallway. Walking by were two veteran teachers who were already packed up and walking out the door. They were laughing the entire way.
The math teacher and I locked eyes in disbelief. As he shook his head, he muttered, “We must not be doing SOMETHING right.”
“Those whose vocation is all about giving out are wearing out.” -Wayne Cordiero
Since this day, I’ve been trying to improve my time management. The veteran teaches had the same number of hours in their day as we did. But they were much better managers of time. While I’m still sharpening my skills, here is what I’ve found found works best.
- Prepare the night before. First thing in the morning, you want to be on autopilot as much as possible. I try to make sure my briefcase is packed, the coffee is set on a timer, my workout clothes and work clothes are laid out, my computer has all apps closed except for what I will need when I wake up, etc.
- Use your calendar. To-do lists are ok, but I never really started seeing progress until I began to schedule time to complete items. What gets scheduled, gets done.
- Protect your priorities. When I have something that’s important to me, I schedule it. This includes a daily quiet time in prayer and the Bible, working out, and hanging out with family. By scheduling it, I protect it. I make it a priority. It also helps me remind myself that I’ve committed to making this a part of my life.
- Live within boundaries. We all have 168 hours in a week. Some of you who are extremely driven will try to make every possible minute as productive as possible. Because of this, you have no room for the opportunities that God wants to bring into your life. You also have no room to truly live in the moment. If you try to schedule 100% of your week (or 110% for you overachievers), you’ll quickly burn out. I’ve found that I have more joy, less stress, and accomplish more when I schedule between 70-80% of my week. You need margin to live life to its fullest.
If you find yourself constantly saying “I’ve just got too much to do,” you may need to purge your list and reexamine your priorities. You have the ability to do all that God has purposed for you to do. By all means, you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed at times.
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” -Mother Teresa
Question: Which one of these strategies will you make a point this week to focus on? Let me know by leaving a comment and let’s take another step towards becoming better leaders.
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