Confession: I am a time management junkie.
I read books and blogs about the subject and always try to get the most out of each day. My family teases me for getting antsy around 9:30 a.m. each Saturday morning, itching to get to my to-do list.
But does God really care if we are more efficient?
I actually think he does.
Paul, when talking to the church in Ephesus about how to practically live the Christian life, writes:
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16, CSB)
Three big ideas stand out to me in this verse:
- Pay Attention to how we spend our time. Being proactive and intentional about our time is one of the ways that we can prioritize God and maintain healthy boundaries.
- Use Wisdom to focus on what matters most to God and his kingdom instead of getting caught in the endless demand for “more.”
- Because the days are evil. Wait, what? At first glance, this feels like a non-sequitur. That is, until I think about how the world steals our time and attention. The infinite scroll and binge-worthy shows are the easy targets. But our addiction to achievement in our careers or youth sports might hit a bit closer to home.
How we choose to spend our time is one way that we can honor God and live out our Christian calling. Here are the five time-management tools that I use each day. (Plus, a bonus new tool that I have my eye on.)
This beautiful paper planner is my go-to tool to get more done, focus on what matters, and leave the distraction behind. Developed by Michael Hyatt and his team, the Full Focus Planner gives me room to plan each week, emphasizing my top goals. If used regularly, you will start to see your week through the lens of doing what is most important rather than letting the tyranny of the urgent flood your schedule.
Asana’s task management software scales well for both solopreneurs and large companies. It tracks tasks and large projects in an easy-to-use interface. Asana connects teams and simplifies complex projects so that we can focus on getting more done. This cloud-based system means I can access and update all projects from my desktop or the app on my phone. The free version is surprisingly comprehensive and integrates with Microsoft 365, Slack, and more.
While Evernote can be used as a one-stop tool, I find that its organization of my personal and shared notes is the most significant benefit. A few of my ongoing lists are meeting notes for work, a shared honey-do list, and movie recommendations from friends. I like this note-sharer the best, but there are lots of other cloud-based note apps that can help you keep all your important notes with you no matter where you are. Do a little research and discover what works best for you.
4. My Phone’s Timer.
I am highly motivated by small rewards, so I’ll be honest: I thought I had invented this productivity hack. A quick Google search proved me wrong.
According to Wikipedia, The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It uses a kitchen timer to break work into intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. I use this technique most frequently for answering emails, folding laundry, and motivating myself to read when I’d rather snooze.
Your phone’s timer can also be used to make sure you don’t miss that important meeting or forget to eat lunch (and all my ADHD sisters and brothers say “Amen!”).
5. A Shared Calendar.
Maintaining one calendar for work and home feels obvious. But like 53% of the population, I spent years trying to separate my personal life from work. It was exhausting.
Keeping everything in one place gives a more holistic picture of what needs to get done in a day and keeps our family on the same page. Many go a step further, using color coding to make skimming for meetings, focused work time, and family events more obvious. There are lots of great shared-calendar apps that can keep your whole family on the same page, or you can go old school and keep a paper calendar in your kitchen where everyone can see it. Either way, it will help you all stay on the same page when it comes to bringing together your many schedules
Bonus: Tab Stashing.
This is a Chrome Extension designed to help maintain focus. As someone who consistently finds 10 or more tabs open, I am curious to explore how their “tab stash” feature could help clear the mental clutter and improve my productivity. If you try it out first, let me know what you think in the comments below.
All these tools can help us keep our focus on what matters most, achieve our goals, and become more effective at work and at home. But to see the benefits, we must be willing to use them consistently. In Jesus’ parable of the talents, a wealthy landowner who entrusts his property to his three servants (Matthew 25:14-28), we see that we are called to invest resources wisely.
One of our most precious resources is our time. We all have 168 hours in a week. How will you manage yours?