Stop Wasting Time.
We're Losing More Than Time
UPDATE: The sticky note holder is available here.
Sometimes a whole day can slip by and nothing gets accomplished. Often it's 15 minutes here, a half-hour there, 20 minutes here, an hour there, and suddenly you're wondering where the day went.
For some people wasting time is a source of guilt (I would fall into the "heavy guilt" category), for others it's a way of life. Nevertheless, we are commanded by God to be wise stewards of our time. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil."
Our culture tries hard to distract us from our responsibilities. In a certain sense they don't want us to be responsible to anyone but them and their products! According to a study released by Forbes Magazine the typical television viewer fritters away three years of his life being bombarded with commercials.
Studies like that make us mad. How dare they suck away our precious years in an attempt to get our money?!? Unfortunately, there are millions of little distractions fighting for things much more valuable than our money -- they're fighting for our character and competence.
They might seem harmless -- the book we've already read, the online forum or message board where we "reach out," the 5-minute video we found online, the new World Magazine comic section, the video game that's fun and clean, a review of the latest star-studded flick, or that article on Google News about the kitten with two heads.
Harmless? Not at all. The price is the character that might have been and the competence that would have been. If we were to devote all the time we spend reading random news stories online to reading life-changing, soul-feeding books, how might our relationship with Christ flourish?
If we were to devote all the time we spend watching television to developing our talents in the areas of writing, speaking, musical instruments, filmmaking, painting, sewing, gardening, woodworking, web design, landscaping, computer programming, etc. how much more effective might we be in the Kingdom of God?
When we watch some "cool" video online we've lost more than just 10 minutes of time. We've lost every good thing we might have done with those 10 minutes.
It is never acceptable to waste time. However, we also must be wise in determining what is "wasted time" and what is simple "character-building time." For example, I am sometimes tempted to get stressed about "wasting time" with my family. Perhaps I'm taking my little brother James for a walk, and I think "Aaaaaahh!!! This is 15 minutes of my day that is not whole-heartedly pursuing growth!!!" (OK, that isn't exactly what I think.)
This stress also tends to hit during my devotions. I'm reading my Bible and this voice in my head starts reading off my ToDo List for the day: "OK Brett, today you need to redesign the conference poster, mail the brochures to Jennifer, write a blog post, read a chapter in the 5 different books you're reading, write two lab reports for science class, finish your "big question" essay project, practice the piano, AND on top of that, mom probably has 10 huge chores for you to do!! Hahahahaha!!!!" (This voice is very annoying)
The truth is that these two areas (i.e. God and family), require a rare kind of character and competence that Satan hates. Time spent serving our family or seeking the Lord is never wasted. Guilt or frustration due to time spent in these areas is misplaced -- placed by the enemy.
How To Use Time More Effectively
Before your conviction forces you to leave the computer, allow me to share a simple system Alex and I have developed to help keep us focused and efficient. This won't work for everyone, but it might inspire you to develop your own system. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge:
This cute little sticky-note holder helps me stay on track during the day, memorize Scripture, and jot down notes and things I need to remember. It's nice and small so I can carry it in my back pocket.
It unfolds to reveal three panels -- each with its own unique purpose.
The first panel holds my ToDo List for the day. I usually develop this list in the morning after my devotions or the previous evening before I go to bed.
Next, I have my Daily Challenge/Memory Verse for the day. I write down something from my devotions that I want to meditate on, the next verse in my Bible memory plan, or both! You'll notice that the sticky note in the picture contains an excerpt from "A Real Man" and Romans 8:28-29.
The middle panel I use for jotting down notes to myself during the day. I might use this if I have an idea for one of my conference sessions or if I need to email/call someone. I've also found sticky notes really useful when someone wants my email address or a book title. I can just write it out and stick it to them!
You Want Me To Make A Checklist?
The truth is that it doesn't matter how you plan, but that you actually plan! I find that when I don't have a ToDo List to remind me of what needs to be done it's much easier to get distracted.
Your plan might not be yellow sticky notes -- maybe you have a neat calendar program on your computer or Palm Pilot. Maybe you'd prefer The Carolyn Mahaney System or maybe you already have a system that works for you. Whatever it is, use it. For the glory of God and by His grace, don't waste a second.
Questions for Discussion and/or Contemplation:
- What is my #1 Time Waster?
- What are the things that I should be doing but just don't have time for?
- Would I have time for these things if I managed by time better?
- When am I going to do something about my time-wasting habits? AND...
- Who is going to do it with me? (The last question is because accountability and encouragement are important!)