By: Kimberly Miller
One of the few things which helps me get up at 6 a.m. is watching reruns of the goofy show “Saved by the Bell” on TBS. Yes, I know I’m dating myself as a child of the ‘90s. If you’re at all familiar with the show, you probably remember the episode “Jessie’s Song,” in which Jessie was very stressed about studying for a geometry test and also finding time to sing with Lisa and Kelly in their new girl group “Hot Sundae.” For some reason, she resorted to an over-the-counter pill that “helps you stay awake,” even though Slater had warned her that they were addictive and harmful. Toward the end of the episode, Jessie has a breakdown and she cries to Zack, “Time? Time?! There’s never any time! I don’t have time to study! I’ll never get into Stanford! I’ll let everyone down! I’m so confused!”
Jessie, I know exactly how you feel. Not that I’m tempted to take energy pills, but I am in need of a breakdown. Between planning a wedding, buying a house, working full-time, and all the extra-curriculars to which I have committed, I just don’t have enough time! And I’m pretty sure that isn’t how God wants His daughters to feel. Shouldn’t 24 hours in a day be enough?
This is hardly the season for me to be giving advice on time management, rather, it’s when I need advice most. So I’ll consider this as much for me as it is for you. When it seems we don’t have enough time to manage, here are some ways to maximize what we do have.
Keep a normal sleep schedule. No matter how busy you are, you will never evolve into Supergirl by staying up late hours or getting up a couple of hours earlier. Our minds and bodies need rest, and we function much more efficiently and productively when we’ve had it – seven or eight consistent hours every night.
Make a list. However, it’s hard to keep that regular sleep schedule, if like me, there are so many things swimming around in your head: Sign this. Be here. Figure that out. Go there. Buy those. But when we put all that down on paper, a funny thing happens, our minds stop mulling it over and we can relax.
Prioritize. We can’t do everything at once, and some things are more important than others, so we need to prioritize our daily tasks. What has to be done today? What can wait until tomorrow? If we know what is most important, we know where to start.
Learn to say “no.” I’m in over my head, but naturally it’s my own fault. I can’t say no to people. I want to do everything with everyone and for everyone, and I can’t stand to miss out. But something’s gotta give. Unlike Jessie, I won’t let everyone down if I don’t make it into Stanford; but I will have some major problems if we don’t close on this house in eight days. Go back to those priorities, decide what you really have to do and start saying “no” to some of the less important items.
Learn to say “yes.” It’s hard to accept help because we don’t want to be a burden on someone else. Maybe we don’t want to admit that we can’t do it on our own. Well, newsflash: that’s pride, and it’s gotta go. Don’t take advantage of people, but when people sincerely want to help, we should take them up on it – and then return the favor when we can.
And saving the most important for last: Put God First. When we get busy, overstressed and overwhelmed, we’re at greatest risk of doing the most foolish thing a person can do – neglecting our relationship with our Heavenly Father. If we think we don’t have time for quiet time each day with God, our thinking is distorted. The truth is that our time spent with God will multiply our time spent in other pursuits. Don’t you think the Creator of the Universe can smooth your path? If you find yourself being frustrated in your efforts to accomplish something, could it be because you didn’t start your day out right? The right side of the bed is always the one you prop your elbow up on while you’re on your knees in prayer.
Have you ever seen the object lesson about fitting marbles and a tennis ball in a jar? If you put the marbles in first, you can’t fit the tennis ball into the jar. But if you start with the tennis ball, the marbles fill in around it and there is room enough in the jar for all of it. Think of God as the tennis ball and everything on your “to-do” list as the marbles. If we focus on our marbles first, God won’t fit, but if we give our time to God and allow Him to rework our schedules, we’ll find that we do have enough hours in the day. Not to be Polly-Anna about the matter: we may still feel incredibly busy and race the clock all day, but with God as our time manager, we can be assured that there will always be enough time for what is truly important.