Timing is everything. Time is of the essence. Only time will tell. The early bird catches the worm. Time heals all wounds. It’s five o’clock somewhere. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
The familiarity of such time-tested statements reveals the perpetual impact and profound implications that time has on society. An orientation toward time is deeply embedded within our common vernacular. When a hot meal is ready, mama says: Dinnertime! Naughty children receive a timeout. The frustrated costumer fumes: It’s about time! Grade schoolers memorize times tables and the college professor voices: Time’s up after exams. The wealthy hold timeshares as diligent workers punch time clocks. The sheriff asserts: Not on my watch! The exhausted boxing champ is saved by the bell whilst athletes of many sports race against time. The doctor calls time of birth and at the end of each life someone calls time of death. The preacher speaks of God’s timing and the Bible teaches: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
But it doesn’t stop there. American culture is imbued with references to the same subject. There is for instance the New York Times, TIME magazine, and within the last year alone two separate TV series were released about time travel: ABC’s Time After Time and NBC’s Timeless. With such a fixation it is no surprise then that an interest exists in time management. After all, as we have all experienced, when we fail to better manage our time, time inevitably manages us.
Work smarter, not harder
For those of you who are the hit-the-ground-running, ‘get ‘er done’ type, this tip can be a challenge, but very useful. You may have gone about a task a particular way for years, but have you taken time to consider whether your way is best? Confronting oneself with this question may challenge old habits (or one’s pride), both of which die hard. Familiarity is comfortable. It may appear more convenient to simply plow ahead, but don’t be fooled. The extra effort you put into figuring out a more effective way might pay off significantly in the end with regard to saving time, effort, and energy. Doing it the way you’ve always done it doesn’t mean it’s the best way. So take time periodically to ponder or ask someone: Is there a better/easier/more efficient or effective way to get this done?
Don’t become a PRO at procrastination
This tip challenges the notion that there is any real advantage to putting things off to the last minute. Procrastination easily becomes a pattern, a propensity, a way of life. Some thrive on the rush they get from just barely meeting a deadline or making it to an appointment at the last second. This rush is born from the steady buildup of inner pressure brought on by lack of action which eventually reaches a tipping point. Motivation is then reached to take action perhaps but usually in a rushed, hap-hazard manner. The unconscious payoff of procrastination is this rush of stress or feeling of aliveness. This payoff loses attraction to those who are drawn to a calmer, more controlled process; to those interested in producing work more intentionally. If that’s you, here’s a little rhyme to challenge procrastination: Get on the ball by starting small, and before you know it, you’ve done it all!
Know when to say: No!
This tip poses a direct challenge to our people-pleasing behavior. Some feel like they never have time to fulfill their own desires, goals and dreams because they are too busy fulfilling someone else’s. At times guilt is the culprit here; that is, people-pleasing to avoid the guilt of disappointing others by declining their request. It may be beneficial to take time to evaluate from a place of self-care: Is this a “yes” or “no” situation? There is nothing shameful or selfish about establishing healthy boundaries for oneself. A person that spreads himself too thin is of little use to anyone, but assertiveness based on self-care is an asset that can empower self and others.
Take care of what is most important and valuable to you first. Starting out with what matters most leaves little room for regret later.
Tip #5: Beep! Beep! Beep!
Do not overlook the benefit of simply setting an alarm or reminder to stay on schedule. All these smart phones ought to be good for something!
Delegate to your fellow mate
Just as there is nothing wrong with saying “no” to other’s requests, there is also nothing wrong with asking for help, assistance or support. Our pride and fear are challenged here as we live in a very individualistic culture that values a do-it-yourself, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps mentality. Likewise, many worry about being a potential burden or inconvenience to others. The flipside is there can be great joy, purpose, and fulfillment in being helpful which you restrict others from experiencing by never inviting their support. It is true that two minds are better than one. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The reality is we are stronger and can accomplish much more, much faster together rather than on our own, thus freeing up time and energy mutually for all.
Remember—Better late than never
This is more of an encouragement for those of you who are chronically late or tend to lose track of time. Some of the most beloved people I know are not prompt, yet when they do show up our time together is so special, so impactful, it is always well worth the wait!
Keep your stuff in order. Time is saved when you know where things are that you need.
Don’t let time slip away…
Time seems to fly by faster and faster as we get older, so do not miss your opportunity to make the most out of life. Rejoice and be glad in today! “…you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Life is short. Pursue dreams. Love greatly.
By Cade Amend, LPC
Prairie View, Inc.
This blog first appeared as an article in the spring/summer 2017 issue of A New View, the official publication of Prairie View, Inc.