Don't Have Enough Time?
This has been a terrific, rewarding, blessed year for me. When 2014 began, I was scarcely able to enjoy the festivities, not to mention the cornucopia of college football bowl games. I was under the gun to get a book finished by its self-imposed deadline of January 28th. By God's grace, I met that deadline. In addition to that book, I have written two others this year and (Lord willing) will have another out before the end of the year. All total, Start2Finish will have published 11 books in calendar year 2014.
In addition to writing a total of 3 (hopefully 4) this year, I've read over 70, and I'm hoping that number climbs to nearly 80 before New Year's Eve rolls around. Add to that the fact that I'm a full-time minister, and because of my wife's work schedule, I also stay at home with my toddler son 2 1/2 days a week.
I want you to know at the outset that my sincere intent for this post is not to brag but to inspire. My only defense against the bragging accusation is, "It's not bragging if it's true," as they say.
I'm often asked how I get so much done, and I usually try to come up with a sarcastic answer. The reason for my avoidance of the subject, if I'm brutally honest, is that a lot of days I go to bed frustrated that I didn't get as much done as I wanted. I chronically feel under productive and overstressed.
For those of you who wish you could get more done, but often feel overwhelmed by your "to-do" list and underwhelmed by your accomplishments, I’d like to offer some encouragement and advice.
There are a lot of practical tips I think everyone should adopt to make them more productive. Unless football is in season, I don't watch a lot of television. In fact, I suspend my television service for the spring and summer so that I can get more things accomplished. If we're honest, television can be a huge drain on our time. Don't complain to me that you "don't have time" for certain things when you obviously have time to watch 3-4 hours of the tube each day. And if you don't think it's that much, I challenge you to track your TV watching habits. You might be shocked and embarrassed at what the numbers reveal. The same could be said for surfing the web/Facebook, etc. There are many “black holes” in TV and Internet land that swallow up large chunks of our time without our ever knowing it.
I also can't say enough about being an early riser. I average a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. Going to bed each nigh (not necessarily falling asleep) before 10 pm guarantees I rise before 6 am and that I'm in the office by 6:30. I find myself more productive before noon than at any other time of day, unless I'm engaged in a late-night, caffeine-fueled marathon writing session. So if you feel under productive, try going to bed earlier and get more sleep.
Some tips are geared to the psychological side of things. Every time I feel as if I was underproductive, I write down what I actually accomplished that day, and I realize that I don’t have much reason to feel demoralized. Think of it as celebrating small victories.
But these practical suggestions pale, I believe, in comparison to the ultimate rule/truth concerning productivity. Here's the secret to accomplishment. Everyone has time for what matters most to them. Everyone. In the past year, I wrote 3 books, read 70 others, spent over 120 days at home with my son, and discharged my duties as a full-time minister. I accomplished these things because they mattered to me. We always find the time to do what matters to us.
We often witness great athletes and say, "I'd give anything to do what _____ can do," whether it be dunking a basketball like LeBron or throw a football like Peyton. But we're not serious, because if we were, we would have already done what was necessary to dunk/throw like LeBron/Peyton. We always find the time to do what matters most to us.
I confessed earlier to chronically feeling under-accomplished and overly-stressed about what I hadn't finished/still had to do. Since January, however, I have often prayed that God would give me enough hours in the day to do the things he had for me to do, and no more, not unlike his gift of manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. Put another way, God is a greater arbiter of what is and is not vital or important in our lives. We often fill our lives with so many good things that they crowd out the great things. But if we are truly committed to doing God's work, he will always make sure we have enough time to do it.
What matters to you? Entertainment? Relaxation? Family? Work?
Where does the Kingdom of God fit into all that? Where does using your talents to God's glory fit into that? Where does growing and maturing in the mysteries of Christ fit into that? As you reflect on 2014 and plan for 2015, I hope these questions will remain in the back of your mind. I’m grateful for all I’ve accomplished in 2014, but I’m more grateful to God who has equipped me and given me time to do them. He’s also given you the same amount time as he’s given me.
Everyone has time for what matters most to them.
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