Taking Control of Your Time

“For everything there is an appointed time.”​—Ecclesiastes 3:1.

IN ORDER to make time for what matters, you need to know what those things are. This will be easier if you have a clear grasp of your values, your goals, and the specific activities that support these.

First, then, clarify your values. You might try writing down every value that comes to your mind, such as family, friendship, hard work, education, accomplishment, good looks, money, happiness, marriage, kindness, physical health, spiritual health. Then, ask yourself, ‘Which of these values are most important to me?’

After that, consider all the goals that you would like to achieve in life. What is the difference between values and goals? For the purpose of this discussion, we can say that values are ongoing, whereas goals can, at some point, be achieved and marked off as completed.

 What goals might you set for yourself? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Find employment that is more suitable? Improve your skills in a favorite hobby? Find a new one? Develop a certain quality? Take a vacation? Read a book? Write a book?

Next, decide which of these goals are most important to you. Make sure that they are compatible with your values. If, for instance, you set a goal of becoming extremely rich, you are likely setting yourself up for conflict.

Now, for the goals you selected, consider a number of activities that would contribute to reaching each goal. For example, if one of your goals is to lose a certain amount of weight, exercise is an activity that can help you do that.

 How Can This Analysis Help You?

If your goals harmonize with your values and you carry out the activities that contribute to achieving your goals, your life will take a unified direction. You will find yourself spending more time on what matters to you. Of course, that does not mean you should be callous to the needs and desires of others. (Philippians 2:4) It does mean that you will be better able to identify and turn down opportunities that have nothing to do with what is truly worthwhile.

Admittedly, there will be challenges. Some tasks may be relatively unimportant but are necessary nevertheless. These may threaten to fill your day, leaving little or no time for what is most important to you. Emergencies may arise. And changes in your life situation may throw your schedule out of balance. But by taking practical steps to spend more time on the things that matter, you will have more control over how you spend your time and live your life.

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DO ELECTRONIC ORGANIZERS SAVE TIME?

They save time for some but waste time for others. A personal digital assistant, or PDA, for example, may include a calendar, a list of phone numbers and addresses, to-do lists, a word processor, a memo pad, a camera, and access to e-mail and the Internet. You can use such a tool to save time if you keep it up-to-date and carry it with you. However, you can easily waste time if you do a lot of irrelevant browsing, tinkering, or customizing or if you buy unnecessary accessories or allow use of the device to get in the way of important relationships or responsibilities.

Tip: Research before you buy. If an electronic device malfunctions frequently, much time will be required to fix it. Also, any electronic device is only as good as its user. So if you have one, use it to save time, not waste it.

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Can you make time for things that matter?