I encourage you to keep track of how you spend your time for one week. You can use this time management sheet (PDF). You can keep track of everything, but most specifically your discretionary time.
For example, time spent:
eating (will be easy to keep track of on a day you fast!)
talking with wife
playing with kids
reading to kids
working around house
small talk (phone or together) with friends
reading books (designate which)
email reading and responding
Break down time spent in terms of:
sports—football, etc. (be specific, which games, etc., and the total time for each so you can add up)
regular programming (probably helpful to break it down: e.g. Lost, 1 hour, Rerun of 24, 1 hour, Star Trek reruns, 2 hours, etc.)
movies (on TV, or DVD, video), 4 hours; name the movie as a reminder
Be able to add up your specifics to a total in each category, rather than just estimating a total (because we always underestimate). Of course, you can sometimes do two things at once, e.g. listen to radio (or Scripture audio) while driving, or exercising while reading (I often do this on my stationary bike) or watching TV. In that case, just note you did two things at once and credit the time spent to both of them.
When we keep track of how we spend our time, it makes us better stewards because we become aware of what we otherwise don’t really know. For example, people normally watch far more TV than they think. Becoming aware is the first step of stewardship, which puts us in a position to decide “I want to spend more time reading some great books and talking with my wife and reading to my kids, and to steward this time I can reduce my television watching by 10 hours each week.” Again, we won’t do this without a clear picture of how we’re currently spending our time.
When I was talking to my wife Nanci about this, she reminded me that when she had allergy issues, she was supposed to write down each and every thing she ate for several weeks. She found this very helpful. As with eating, when it comes to how you spend your time, simply knowing what you’re actually doing makes a huge difference in your ability to evaluate and make positive God-glorifying changes.
Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.