Taking Stock of Your Time

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff which life is made of.”

Over three thousand years before Benjamin Franklin said those words, Moses said these:

Teach us to number our days aright,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

The New Testament speaks the same message: “Redeem the time,” or “Make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5b).

Time management is life management. But we don’t need to save time in order to fill it up with more responsibilities. Rather, we need to manage our lives better so we may take more time to enjoy the Lord, our families, our church, our neighbors, and all the important people and opportunities of life that too often get buried beneath our busyness.

Nanci and I sit down periodically to take stock of what we are doing with our lives. We have sometimes discovered that our real priorities—demonstrated by how we spent our time—haven’t reflected our ideal priorities, how we believe we should best spend our time.

We suggest you try this kind of evaluation yourself by making a list of all your daily and weekly activities. Here is a list (in no particular order) of some things to include. Feel free to add others:

  • time in Word/prayer
  • volunteer work
  • children/grandchildren
  • eating
  • shopping
  • getting dressed
  • exercise
  • driving
  • phone calls
  • checking email
  • church
  • parents/in-laws
  • school/study
  • daily routine
  • doing makeup
  • relaxation
  • watching TV
  • hobbies
  • sleep/naps
  • spouse
  • friends
  • yard/garden
  • bathing
  • job/career
  • church work
  • reading
  • social networking

For a week or two, keep track of how much time you spend on each of these, and write down the total. Once you’ve determined how you spend your time, decide how you want to spend your time. Techniques to save time are ultimately useless until you’ve decided what you want to do with the time you’ve saved. Time that is saved but uncommitted disappears.

If you’ve determined how much time you spend on the above and other things, go back and put the letter “M” for “more” next to the things you want or need to do more, the letter “L” for less” by those you want or need to do less. Cross out the things you can afford not to do, and add things you presently aren’t doing but want to do.

Note that since you are presently using all the time you have, in order to add anything, something must go. If you add a scrapbooking class on Tuesday nights, the time must come from laundry, family, exercise, devotions, sleeping, television, phone calls or somewhere else. Remember, time is like money—spend it on one thing and you can’t spend it on another. So get the best value for your time. Spend it wisely—but don’t overspend. Redeem the time, for God’s glory and the good of yourself and others.


Pocket watch photo credit: fwdthought via sxc.hu

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

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