August 23, 2019
I grew up with women who value promptness and discipline—my mom and my two aunts. My mom was always early for her meetings, and she would always sternly remind me about respecting other people’s time.
This makes so much sense now that I am an adult. I appreciate how the women in my life helped me think systematically and taught me essential life lessons in managing my responsibilities. They used to tell me this but in different ways: “You cannot take back the time you wasted.”
Time doesn’t stop for anyone. Once it passes, it will be gone forever. We cannot resurrect the time we killed, that is why we have to manage it well. A person’s average lifespan is 75 years. We have 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks in a year. How can we use our time wisely?
There are many ways to manage time, but we can only fully commit to them when we fully understand the principles behind it. Below are principles I’d like to call the 3Ps of Time Management.
Time Management is the rhythm of maximizing our time, energy, and resources. Early and effective planning will help you better navigate your day, week, or month. Consider the activities you plan to do, the energy you will need to accomplish them, and the resources they require.
You can start by assessing these three factors, then adjust your schedule for the week to ensure efficiency in these three aspects. Create a rhythm and figure things out along the way.
Time Management reflects what you value. We are driven by what we value. Every day, we are faced with a decision to protect our priorities. We exert effort and go the extra mile for the people we love. We spend time on what we think is important and valuable.
Whenever I think about values-based decision making, I always remember this anecdote from Dr. Stephen Covey about The Big Rocks of Life:
An expert was speaking in front of a group of high-powered business students. To drive home a point, he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”
“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
What are the big rocks in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these Big Rocks in first or you’ll never get them in at all.
Our values reflect our hearts. Hence, time management is a heart issue.
What are the “big rocks” in your life? I hope that we will use our time to protect our priorities and invest on things that truly matter.
Time Management is recognizing that we don’t own time, but that we use it to honor the One who gave us time. Putting God first is not just putting Him as number one in our to-do list. It’s about involving Him in every area of our lives. He must be part of all our to-do list and our dream list—the good, the bad, and the mundane parts of our lives.
In every second of the hustle and bustle of life, let us allow God to journey with us.
In the Bible, the psalmist wrote a prayer about the brevity of life:
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”
This may sound cliché, but I hope that we will live each day as if it is our last, knowing that our days are short and fleeting.
On our deathbed, it’s not money or the things we acquired that will matter. The blessings that truly matter are God Himself, our family, and our true friends.
It is my prayer that we will live our lives wisely by enjoying our relationship with God, honoring Him with this gift of time, and enriching key relationships that He blessed us with.
Photo credits: Lukas Blazek