It’s Sunday night. Kids to get in bed. Lunches to make. Laundry to put away.
When you sit down to think about the week ahead, all you see is a calendar full of events and appointments and a to-do list overflowing with little boxes left unchecked … the evidence of last week’s collapse of your good intentions to manage your time better.
But this week will be different, right? THIS is the week we get it under control. This is the week we do all the things. Nothing is going to stop us. Until Tuesday. When you spend three hours clicking around Pinterest then remember you have a guest post due on Wednesday but now you need to help the third grader build the dinosaur diarama from clay and a shoebox while you watch This Is Us and have to humbly ask for an extension on your guest post deadline.
Time has just bossed you around. Time said, “You did what you wanted to do, now I get to tell you what you have to do.”
Isn’t it time we started bossing our time around instead? We can tell time what to do and where we will spend it.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Jesus didn’t say to “balance” our time … to give to each area equally. No, he encouraged us to pay attention to the unforced rhythms. Some things naturally rise to the top of our priorities for a season and then sink lower at other times.
It doesn’t come easily or naturally. We watch how Jesus did it and learn from Him. Sometimes He pushed in to the crowd and met their needs, even against the advice of his closest friends and followers. Other times, he retreated for alone time, even with the need was great.
He practiced rhythms, not balance. He bossed his time around. What does that look like for us today? There are three essential tools you need to boss your time around, too.
Keeping a current calendar helps draw the boundaries around your time. It keeps your important external commitments from fighting with each other. Any kind of calendar will do. A family calendar on the wall. Google calendar on your phone. A grid drawn in your bullet journal. Any place you can write down appointments and deadlines so you don’t forget them.
A To-Do List
Ok, this is where the fun starts! Let’s get all of those things you need to do out of your head and in the sunlight where you can see them. Again, any to-do list will work. A notepad on your kitchen calendar. A fancy app. A stack of index cards in your purse held together with a rubber band or binder clip. (Yes, I have tried all three of those!)
As you capture your to-do’s, begin to assign priorities to them. Which ones are mission critical to what God has called you to do? What can only you do? This may sound a little crazy, but once you make your list, try to cross off 20% of them before you even start.
Can you delegate some to someone else? Are there low priority ones that really don’t need to be done? Are there some you know you’ll never do, no matter how long they stay on the list? Crossing two or three things off will give you a little flash of checkmark adrenaline to make you think you really can do this!
Right about now, you are feeling pretty good about yourself. Most people are using a calendar and a to-list to manage their time, so you are two-thirds of the way to bossing your time around. What’s the missing piece?
You are probably missing a plan.
Notice I said PLAN, not PLANNER. Because, girl, I know you’ve got planners. You have planners that are happy, brilliant, blooming and powerful. You have one with your name embossed on the front, cute stickers and 65 rolls of washi tape. Am I right?
Your planner is a powerful tool, but if you are only using it to house your calendar and your to-do list and make a check mark every time you drink a glass of water, you are missing the third essential element of bossing your time around.
Plans get a bad reputation, especially among big-dreaming creatives and Holy Spirit-led Christians.
A plan is NOT:
- a dictator telling you what to do with every minute of your day
- a box that excludes the Holy Spirit from directing your actions
- a leash restraining you from spontaneous fun and friendships
A plan IS:
- a framework that establishes time for your priorities
- a lens to allow good decision-making
- a roadmap that gives you freedom to follow God’s leading into the sideroads
A plan connects the important tasks on your to-do list with the time available on your calendar. It can be as simple as a few minutes spent at the beginning of the week, looking at the most important things that must get done during the week and the blocks of time you can do them.
A good plan in action looks like this:
You sit down at the computer with an hour to get things done. Instead of staring blankly at the screen, wondering what you should do next, you go straight to work, knowing the most important things that need to be done in that hour.
An unexpected opportunity for ministry opens up for you. Instead of stressing about whether or not you have time for it or feeling guilty that you may be telling God “no”, you can easily see if this opportunity fits into God’s big vision for you, and what will have to be pushed out of the way to make room. Is it worth the cost? Your plan can help you make that decision.
You lay in bed at night and remember that the application for an important grant for your ministry is due on Friday. Instead of bolting out of bed and scrambling to find the website to apply, you can sleep peacefully, knowing that you have time planned on Wednesday to work on the application.
Does that sound like a better way? Would you be able to live freely and lightly if your time was reporting to you instead of for you?
Here are is a resource to help you create plans that boss your time around.