You have probably felt like the proverbial hamster on a wheel. Your schedule grows fatter and your quality time for important things seems skinnier than a runway model. Social media makes it even worse because we all read posts and see pictures (probably Photo Shopped) of our “friends” doing stuff that we would love to do…if we only had the time. King Solomon understood how important it is to manage your time even before there was an Internet. He wrote, “If your ax is dull and you don’t sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10 NLT)
Here are three practical steps that Solomon taught to help us become more productive:
This is the most critical aspect of time management and productivity. You must plan ahead. You will accomplish what you plan, not what you don’t plan. Planning is more than just writing a list. A list can sometimes be good and sometimes it can be a cruel master. Planning involves…
· Simplifying. Maybe the reason you are stressed is you are simply doing too much! Learn to say no. Parents of young children often feel guilty and overschedule their children’s activities. Less is often more. Be OK with simplifying your schedule. Determine what is most important and do those things first. That is a big component of time management.
· Praying your goals. I believe you will never accomplish your goals if you don’t write them down. But if you are like I am, you write them down and then forget where you placed them. I have found it helpful to write my goals into prayers and pray them every day. That keeps me aware of them and makes me dependent on God’s help.
· Planning tomorrow today. This may sound like a lot of work, but it is actually very simple. Before you end your day write down what you plan to accomplish the next day. Keep the list short. I like to put things on my list that I feel are important but that I do every day, like read the Bible, pray, and work out. This process works best when you also have deadlines in mind for projects.
I find it interesting that sharpening is required for effective work. If you want to get good work done, then you must have a good plan for rest, exercise, and healthy eating. Also, I believe you must learn how to harness technology. There are many wonderful apps that can help you be more organized. Use technology but do not get consumed by it. I have found that it is easy to waste a lot of time if I try to use too many “time saving” apps. Find what works best and keep it simple.
Hard work is important but smart work is even more important. Too many times we start with work when we should start with planning and sharpening. Following these simple steps will help you become more productive and will help you manage your schedule rather than your schedule managing you.