As the days grow colder and the to do lists grow longer, ESN will be sharing a series of time management tips, interspersed with longer reflections on aspects of our relationship to time. Stay tuned as our writers share quick tips, explore at more length, or in some cases reorient our usual notions of time management. Today, ESN writer Scott Santibanez kicks off the series with an opportunity to zoom out and reflect on what is most important to us before we dive into the everyday details of time management. Like many of the topics we publish on, time management is an area that combines opportunities for practical growth and spiritual formation. Our goal is to encourage readers to steward the gift of time God has given us, using it to love God and others and live out Christ’s Kingdom. For a similar series on Teaching Tips, click here.
Time Management Tip: Prioritize what you will do with your time.
I have a confession. My wife and I recently binge-watched Stranger Things—2 seasons, 17 episodes—in about 5 days. We started with episode one, and the nerdy blend of science fiction and horror, compelling drama and 1980s nostalgia kept drawing us back for more. In hindsight, this might not have been the best use of our time. Perhaps you face similar time management challenges. We all struggle with competing interests—from God, family, and friends—to work, school, and exercise—to hobbies and entertainment.
There are many practical time management tips that we can share with one another—like making schedules and To Do lists. However, determining priorities is an essential first step to good time management. For example, you may decide that schoolwork is a higher priority for you than hobbies and entertainment, or that family relationships take precedence over academic success. Start by prioritizing what is most important to you— then apply time management strategies to optimize your schedule. Otherwise, all of the competing interests will seem equally important.
An important consideration is whether you view setting aside time for God as just one of several equally important options. Consider this question honestly. Don’t feel obligated to give a perfect Christian answer. However, keep in mind if time is your most prized possession, it may also be that which God wants most from you. It can be a powerful catalyst for spiritual growth when a person does not have much of something, but is willing to trust God with what little he or she has.
If you decide to make God a priority in life, determine what this would look like. It might mean committing to daily prayer, quiet time and Bible reading, or regularly attending a small group or worship services. As a first step, prioritizing helps us ensure that we don’t miss the things that are truly important in life.
Tito Scott Santibañez is an adjunct professor at Emory University and Trinity School for Ministry. As a volunteer physician, he has provided medical care for underserved populations for nearly 25 years. He also has a doctorate from seminary.