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Time is precious, so how do you schedule it? Episode 35 of Faithful on the Clock details why we have to take good responsibility for our time as Christians. It provides four options for approaching your calendar for both productivity and mental health.
Reflect about your needs, habits, and circumstances. Then select one of the four scheduling approaches outlined in the show to try.
Commit to recuperative practices on your schedule, including time for God.
What’s coming up next:
Are workers today financially literate? How does that influence individual and corporate success? Episode 36 of Faithful on the Clock dives into money management in the office.
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Hello, everyone, and welcome to another awesome episode of the Faithful on the Clock podcast, the show that gets your faith and work aligned. I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and today I’m gonna be breaking down a few approaches to time management. We’ll look at those in the context of why it’s so important for Christians to be careful with the time they have, and how taking control of your calendar can yield a better life. It’s only gonna take about 10 minutes, and the clock starts now.
So I don’t know about you, but when I look at my Google calendar, you know, I’ve got it all nice and color-coded and everything, but it’s like…one giant wall of stuff. And I don’t think I’m alone in that there always seems to be something going on, whether it’s for myself or other people. And I know that for me personally…you know, I always hear about time management in terms of productivity. The idea is always that you can’t waste time or your productivity will just suck and you’ll fall behind other people or other businesses. But I don’t want to take that angle today. There are a ton of other places you can go to hear about how to, quote, hack your time, so you check more things off the to-do list. What I want to do is be honest about how stressful it is to not know when things are going to happen or if there are going to be enough minutes to get done. If you’ve heard other episodes of the show, you already know, mental health is kind of my thing, OK? And I think, especially now when things are kind of a mess because of COVID and we’re all being pulled in so many directions, I want you to be able to feel comfortable managing your time so that that stress doesn’t get out of control. That’s actually my priority here, is making sure you protect your mental health.
And the first verse I want to point you to right away is Psalm 90:12. That says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” And the gist of the verse, the lesson is that we have to realize that time is limited. And because time is limited, we should be motivated to learn, to figure out what God wants from us, and to do the things that serve Him well. We need to understand the influence our actions are gonna have and to set good priorities. Ephesians 5:15-17 is really similar and says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Now, there’s a great Youtube video by Scott Williams I’ll link to, and he talks about how, very broadly, your priorities should be God, your family, and then everything else. And I think that’s a fantastic way to just kind of think about scheduling. Because he does a great job in pointing out that most of the trouble people run into happens when they flip those tiers. You know, they put everything else at the top and then God or family gets pushed down. So that’s one thing I’m even challenging myself to do, is just look at my calendar and then think about whether the bulk of my time, whether I’m really keeping God on top. And I hope you’ll do that, too.
But once you kind of figure out what your tasks are going to be, what’s the best way to lay them out and get organized? What’s gonna give you the best focus or get you really into that state of flow that not only gets more done, but that gives us a healthy, enjoyable experience? And I think there really are four general ways to approach your scheduling before you even try to tack any hacks on top.
The first option is to do a little bit of everything each day. For example, I look at my week, and every morning, about 4:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., that’s my time for writing because it’s so nice and quiet in the morning. Then after that, every day I exercise and shower, and after that, I do podcast work, and so on. So it’s structured and really predictable, but I’m able to work on a lot of goals at once and flit around. It’s a great strategy when you’ve got a lot of projects with similar deadlines. The downside here is that you’re only taking these little pieces of time, you kind of just chip away at things, so it does take a really long time to reach the finish line. So you’ve gotta celebrate the milestones you’ve got or you can feel really unmotivated after a while.
Then you’ve got the strategy of building some blocks. I did this for a long time. And what I used to do is, for each day of the week, I’d have maybe half a day on Project A, and then I’d switch over to Project B. And I liked that because the sessions are long enough that you can focus if your job is more complicated. You still get good predictability, and it works really well if you’re involved with different teams or if you’re working remotely. The downside with this option is that you might only get to work on a project once a week. So you really have to be patient, and that can be hard if you’re excited about the work and know exactly where you want to go on something.
The third option is to rotate everything out. This is a fantastic choice when you’ve got a lot of seasonal projects that are really straightforward or you need to finish something really fast. And all you do is just focus all your energy all day, every day on one thing until you’re just done with it. And then you rotate out to the next thing. The thing to watch out for if you use this strategy is that transitions can be pretty harsh. You know, it can be so abrupt that it kind of feels like everything just went off a cliff. And you gotta figure out how you’re going to smoothly transition from one project to the next, which behaviorally, that can be pretty tough if you’ve kind of engrained some habits over time.
So the fourth and final option is to create a hybrid from any combination of the first three strategies. This is what I’ve personally settled on right now. So I do a little bit of everything a couple of days a week, but then on Fridays, that entire day is just for working on my fiction writing and sending out emails about it. But you could do a little each day and then rotate projects–that’s a lot like what happens over different semesters at a university. Or maybe, hey, let’s say you work part-time somewhere. You block those days off, and then you freelance on the other days and do a little bit of everything.
The bottom line here is, if you use one of these three strategies, or if you piecemeal them together, then I think you’ll have a really good shot at designing a calendar that makes a ton of sense not only for your goals and the realities of your circumstances, but also for your personality and personal preferences for how you like to work. But it’s really just about being self-aware and saying, hey, this is what makes me comfortable or uncomfortable, this is where I want to go, and finding your customized rhythm that feels really good. And that might change over time, you know, I’m kind of starting to feel like I need to maybe go to the rotation option, because I’ve got a book I want to write that I’m just really itching to start on. You know, I’m actually starting to feel anxious that that isn’t getting done. So if something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s totally OK to play around a little bit.
I want to leave you today with the idea that, you know, I don’t think a lot of us really pencil in time for God every day. The same goes for our other relationships or even self-care. But those things are so critical, and my experience is that, if you don’t block that time off, they end up getting shoved aside. You put something on the calendar, that’s a way of committing to it and holding yourself accountable. So make sure that you’re seeing the value those things have. You know, don’t do yourself the disservice of thinking that time for yourself, time with friends, time in prayer, that those activities aren’t productive. I think we have a tendency at least in the United States to think that way about it because we’re so focused on tangible results or metrics, and at the same time, we don’t really reward people for taking the time to recoup. But doing that is so essential for getting refreshed and staying strong so that you can press forward through all the other things you wanna do, so promise me you’re not gonna skimp, OK? I’m committed, you commit with me, OK?
So let me just take a moment to pray for you before you go.
Father in Heaven, you’re gracious enough to give us time on this Earth, and once that time is gone, it’s gone. And Lord, I pray that we won’t be frivolous or wasteful, that we’ll understand how precious every minute is. Show us which way of organizing ourselves is going to keep us well in every sense, including spiritually, so we can have the full relationship with you we’re meant to have. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
That’s the show, listeners. Did I stay around 10 minutes? I dunno. I tried, anyway. Next week, I’m gonna be talking about financial literacy in the workplace. We’ll take a look at how workers feel about managing their money and how that all influences success on the individual and corporate level. But in the meantime, I just want to remind everybody, we have started a new thing to help build community around the show, it’s called Challenge Me Mondays, and you can learn more about that on our Twitter page and Youtube channel pages. So go to faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm, use the links at the top to see what it’s all about. Until next time, be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.