May was a busy month, but honestly – they all are. I found myself learning to give up more quickly on things when I hit a brick wall, and allowing myself to rest more often. This is partly because I did my Time Inventory, searching out wisdom related to what makes a good time manager, and what little tips and tricks can help us make the most of each minute – those elusive building blocks of life, those fleeting drops of water.
In the journey to discover these things I spent long moments in solitude and reflection. At times I was so exhausted from digging into my brain that I fell into a near stupor on the couch reading dystopian novels about virtue and valor. The more of these inventories I do, the more I realize the process of taking stock is two parts theoretical and two parts practical. What do I believe about time? How does time work? (Very old questions, Plato wrote whole books about them, Augustine too.) And then, How do I already manage my time, and how can I do it better?
In that quiet space of discovery and self-examination I learned that if your brain is ordered (or your heart, or your gut, or your soul, or whatever other body part you identify as the control center of your actions) then you will find your time management to be easier. That week I took Proverbs 4:23 into my brain and made this little collage to serve as a reminder of what I was reading.
I also made this little sign to put on my desk table, where I do my work.
How do you order your brain? I sorted through my priorities. They are simple ones if you put them broadly enough: Taking care of my body and soul through healthy living, good relationships, and placing myself in a zone of proximal development as much as possible. It is focusing on my family by extending grace, hospitality, and a listening ear or good lunch. It is participating in church, community, prayer, and Bible Study and spiritual growth. It is looking forward to making a small mark on the world though a not-yet-realized career.
Choosing what to pursue isn’t a matter of separating bad choices from good choices. It’s a matter of discerning the best choices in an ocean of good choices.
These were some of the theoretical implications of time management. The pragmatic?
There are only so many hours in a day.
And sometimes, you are too tired to do what you want to do. As always, the key is balance, but the ability to gently say “No” to the things that don’t match up with our priorities helps too. So does focusing on one task at a time or doing your hardest work when you’re freshest. It involves deciding sometimes to do standing work, and other times to do sitting work. It involves delegating some tasks to others more suited, or simply being content with something the first time you do it.