It’s April and as such we are moving on to a new series–Happy Homemaking. Can I just say I am super exciting about this month’s theme? Super excited. I love writing and getting creative when it comes to organizing and planning for success within the home. One of the most important aspects of home management is time management–how you choose to spend your time so you HAVE the time to spend with the kids, the hubs, cleaning the house and taking on whatever other projects you deem important.
As such, you may notice a slight change in the frequency of my posts here on Cornerstone Confessions as I re-evaluate my own time management and gear up for what is normally my busiest month of the year as well as making room for the events of our summer schedule which will be here before we know it.
I have also been working on a secret project that is set to come out in June so this will also give me a little extra time to finish editing that as well (Can you hear the excitement here? All that to say, be on the lookout! I can’t wait to share more about it soon!). Have no fear though, I will still be here. As I’ve shared from the beginning, this is one of my FAVORITE topics so you can be sure I want to be present for this one.
That said, today we are kicking off this 144 topic by talking about time management because when we get our time in order so much of what we have to accomplish will fall into place. If you happen to have a copy of my planner, you will find several time management verses throughout because I find scripture so motivating when it comes to keeping my priorities in tack:
Therefore, consider carefully how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15–16)
For everything there is an appointed time, a time for every matter under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
When it comes to who is first on our list, if we are Christians we ultimately know who should first be on our priority list–God. But sometimes our life just isn’t consistent with our head knowledge. I mean, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just totally mess up God’s original design in the order of priorities. And it happens because whether we like it or not, we are sinners saved by grace.
As such, God has been teaching and reminding me a lot about His priorities these last few months as I’ve participated in a Chip Ingram study with my small group called Balancing Life’s Demands. It’s a wonderful steady on priorities, if you are looking for one, but one of the things that has stood out to me in this study thus far has been Ingram’s explanation of Colossians 3:1-4:6 and Ephesians 5:1-6:20 where God pretty much lays out what He considers life’s priorities:
Ingram points out that while having a priority ladder like this is a good idea, we would be mindful to remember that our priorities often spill over into the next priority. In other words, we might be better off thinking in terms of a linear view instead of a vertical view of priorities. What does that mean? It means that if God is first in our lives then His love will spill over into our priorities with our mate, family, work, and ministry. It means that if our mate is next on the list, our love for our husbands will spill over into how we love our family or prioritize our work or ministry projects. Does that make sense? So with that as an underpinning, here 6 ways we can begin to organize our time so that we better seek God’s kingdom and His priorities in ALL we do.
6 Tips to Better Time Management from the Top-Down
- Make a list of priorities/goals. With whom do you want to spend the most time? What skills/talents do you want to develop/utilize this year? Do you own a home? If so, how important is the upkeep to you and what time are willing to devote for that upkeep? Make a list of any specific health, family, occupational, financial, home, educational, spiritual, or hobby goals that you’d like to address in the next year. Anne Ortland explains in her book The Gentle Ways of a Beautiful Woman: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Beauty that “..long-term goals set the course of where you want to go, under His plans [while] short-term goals keep redirecting you to stay on course, and your daily scheduling is the discipline to get you there, with God’s glory and rewards when it’s over.” So start with some long term goals.
- Make a list of advanced decisions and consider pairing them with scripture. What are advanced decisions? Advanced decisions are anything you KNOW that you should or should not do regardless of circumstances. For instance, a couple of my advance decisions are “I am going to meet with God before I meet with people or get on the computer,” and “I will give the first portion of every paycheck to God.” What decisions do you consider important regardless of time, money, or external pressures?
- Make a list of your current commitments and analyze them. How do they line up with your list of priorities/goals you created in step one? Do you see something you need to eliminate or an area you need alter to better fit your priorities? If they don’t exactly line up like you’d like, what can you give up? Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People describes time as four quadrants. In quadrant one there are all those time pressing unexpected events such as deadlines, meetings, pressing issues or even crisis situations. Quadrant two is where all the planning, preparation, prevention, relationship building, and personal development time factors have a major play. Quadrant three then eats up that quality time with mail, interruptions, and social media interaction. Finally, comes quadrant four which is filled with excessive tv/game usage, some lengthy “just talking” phone conversations, and other time wasters. Covey’s conclusion when analyzing our priorities to time for effectiveness: try to keep as many activities in quadrant two and as few activities as possible in quadrant four.
- Make a schedule or a routine. Create an order of events or a routine that you AND your family can follow. Yes, it does need to be somewhat time oriented for the benefit of all but it does not need to be too specific. You can take a look at our typical daily routine to get an idea of what I mean. Basically, everyone likes to know what to expect and family life is no exception. By the way, as you create this schedule don’t forget to include some time for yourself as well as some time for margin (a time where you don’t plan anything…just…in…case). You will be glad you did.
- Make a task list. I provide a good example of this in my planner and even my long ago task notebook, but basically you need some way to organize your homemaking tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly activities so that you can keep track of when to complete an item such a when to clean your refrigerator coils or check the batteries in your fire alarm. A task notebook or planner is a great way to do this but you can also organize a task list on Google calendar or Evernote or whatever form you find most helpful.
- Keep one master calendar for the whole family. You can choose to create an online calendar with hosts such as Yahoo or Google. Or, you can have a small pocket purse calendar. It could be a large refrigerator calendar or even a calendar of post it notes. Just make sure you have a calendar everyone can go to and everyone can see that is kept up-to-date. I personally like my online calendar because I can view it both on my computer and my phone. My husband can also view it on his computer and I can easily print off a hard copy to put on the refrigerator at the beginning of the month for the kids to look at. In addition, I like the ease it provides in assigning each family member a different color of ink so as to visually see where everyone will be at a certain time. But, it’s up to you. Everyone’s personality and resources are different. Find what what works for you and your family and stick to it.
If you follow these six steps, you are well on your way to organizing your time. And, if you want even more time management tips, I highly encourage you to check out Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews which I just happen to be giving away in this month’s Goody Bag so be sure to check it out and enter to win.
Take it to the next level with these resources:
- The Best Time to Write and Get Ideas According to Science by Kevan Lee on Buffer App
- Creating a Time Budget for Better Time Management by Leigh Ann Dutton on Intentional By Grace
- Follow my Time Management Pinterest board for more tips to help you re-prioritize your time and get your life back in order