Finding Time: Part Three – 4 Principles for Making the Most of Your Time

Yesterday, we looked at the importance of Tracking Your Time to help determine how your time is being spent and what areas are/should be a priority. Once you have those determined, it’s helpful to have some guiding principles to help you structure your daily schedule. Here are 4 Key Principles that have made a huge difference in my life:

1. Seek the Lord first and be guided continually by His Word. There is a principle over and over in the Bible that God rewards those who make Him a priority in their lives. For many years now, I have made it a habit to have a quiet time with the Lord in the morning. Somehow, even though I spend a considerable amount of time each day just reading and studying the Bible and seeking to know the Lord more deeply, I always have enough time to do everything else that needs to be done. I absolutely love this time with the Lord! It provides me with the refreshment and guidance I need to live each day with joy and purpose.

2. Develop a lifestyle of discipline. I’ve tried to make it a habit to intentionally do things every day that I don’t feel like doing. My mantra is also, “do it right away.” Here are a few practical ideas that I implement:

  • Make my bed immediately every morning. (I know this is a really little thing, but there have actually been studies done that link productivity to whether or not you make your bed!)
  • Fold the clothes as I take them out of the dryer; put them away in the closet or drawers immediately.
  • Empty the dishwasher if it is full of clean dishes and immediately put in the dirty dishes; don’t pile up dishes in the sink.
  • Workout every morning. I usually run or rollerblade three mornings a week and do weight training two mornings a week.
  • Follow the 2-minute rule for e-mails. If I can respond in less than two minutes, type a reply and then file the e-mail.

Most of these are little things, but I often have to force myself to do them because I don’t feel like it. Expending the time and energy to develop these disciplines contributes to an orderly lifestyle and enables me to save time and energy in the long run that can be invested into more enjoyable projects.

3. Stay home as much as possible. It usually comes as a surprise to people when I tell them that I rarely leave the house between Sunday night and Friday morning (other than to do my morning running around the neighborhood!) since I’m a pretty social person and love being around other people. That’s one of the beauties of running a home-based business! We have people in and out of the house all day long and I don’t have to go anywhere. 🙂 Mondays through Thursdays are reserved for teaching piano during the day, then Fridays are open for meetings and errands. I do almost all of my shopping on-line, and save the rest for Fridays – compiling a list throughout the week of the things I need to do, and in what order I should run my errands for greatest efficiency.

4. Be conscientious about the use of time. If I have an obsession, it is probably the desire to be productive. I hate to feel like I am wasting time. If I’m working out or cooking, I listen to podcasts or messages on CD so that I am focusing my thoughts and learning instead of letting my mind wander aimlessly. If I’m riding in the car or sitting in my brother’s cello lesson, I work on a crochet project. If I’m driving, I pray or memorize Scripture verses. And so on. I don’t follow a strict schedule each day (other than my daily lesson schedule), but I have a short-term list of things that need to be done and I assign them to my daily to-do lists according to their deadlines/priority levels. I also keep a long-term list of bigger projects to tackle when I have bigger chunks of time available.

I’m sure there are many other tips for ways to make the most of your time, but as I thought through my own life, these are a few key principles that came to mind that have been helpful to me in this area. I’d love to hear some other ideas, though, as I can definitely still use work in this area! What great tips or principles help you make the most of your time?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Efforts.

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