If life was a trip we’d plan it accordingly. We’d decide how much time was allotted for the work of travel, for the spiritual renewal of sleep, for the fellowship of dining, for the play of sightseeing, and so on. But why don’t we do a better job at planning our life: the time spent for work, renewal, fellowship, and play?
Maybe we think we are an infinite resource of energy and that we have all the time in the world. But we aren’t, and we don’t.
Earlier, I listened to a few school teachers state they had so much work required of them that 50 hours a week plus all day Saturday was needed to teach a class of kids. Their stress level was extremely high. The tears and pain of not having time for their family, their spouse, or themselves was depressing. They felt their life was completely out of control.
And they’re not alone. Are they?
Everyone seems to want a piece of us. No one seems to understand we are only one person with limited resources. (And sometimes we don’t recognize that ourselves.) But if we aren’t proactive in planning our lives, everyone and everything else will plan our time for their own advancement.
We must take action and regain control of our calendars now, or we’ll fall off our rocker.
Let’s go back to the beginning of our why. Why we do what we are doing. Find clarity about what’s important and what our calendar should actually look like.
If you’re like me, you’re guilty of wasting time. I’m always falling for the trap of clearing the red dots on the top right of all those apps on my iPhone. My one minute to check for something important turns into a drain. Two or three hours later and I’m late to an appointment I had scheduled.
I need a budget for my time. It’s works for money, so why not for our most important resource: time. I’ll have to fight for it, it’s not just going to be given to me or just happen out of nothing. It will mean disciplining myself to schedule appointments and meet those appointments.
I hate to let others down by missing appointments or poor planning. I don’t want others to think less of me. With every appointment on my calendar I set no less than 2 alarms to remind me. I try to make my appointments a high priority. So why not schedule appointments for the things that are most important to me? An appointment is an appointment even if it is scheduled with myself.
We have different priorities and areas of life we want to be better at. I can’t tell what those are for you, but for me they are:
- Spiritual pursuits
- Work and Business
- Friends and Service to Others or Ministry
But when I get sick, the priorities on the bottom of the list fall off first. The sicker I am the more stuff drops off. And I’ve been sick enough to have the whole list mean absolutely nothing. At that time I had only one pursuit, beg God to help me feel better. I did everything I could think of to take care of myself. Therefore, I learned that in order to take care of my priorities, I must take care of myself first. I try to:
- Eat right
- Engage in stress-relieving downtime: To take a mental vacation from stress, I read some fiction, take a walk outside, enjoy scenery, Laugh with family and friends, watch a movie (comedy, not stress-filled movie), play Nertz, Pigtail (a variation of Mexican Train), or other physical games.
Here’s the crux: if you’re always working, always stressed, always answering to what others think your life ought to look like, you’re going to end up sick. Stress causes strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, weight gain, depression, self-loathing, and more.
As women, we know our stress steals our best for our family. And as men, who think they must suck it up and deal with it to provide for their family, stress steals their health and ability to provide. No one can be of any real value by killing themselves with stress.
So let’s take action and get a handle on budgeting our calendar.
4 Steps to Budget Your Time
I’ve heard the parable of putting the big, most important stuff in my life first. Then moving down through the lesser things until I reach the bottom and add the smallest more insignificant things last. That’s my method of planning my time and scheduling my calendar. Below are the steps.
- Schedule important activities first These are the ones that move you toward your goals to make you a better person, better friend, family member and business person, put them on the calendar and don’t miss your appointments. (date night, spiritual pursuits, work, family activities, planning)
- Schedule the other needed activities Those that must get done but don’t improve your life goals. (shopping, laundry, cooking, etc)
- Schedule Play time The remaining time is for play. Fun with friends. Half-day trips. Special family projects.
- Share your schedule and new calendaring with family or friends. Ask them to help you maintain the new emphasis in your life.
Those are the steps I use to try to order my life, clear some space, schedule my calendar, and regain control of my time. I’m not great at it yet, but I am learning to be stress free.