It’s confession time again.
Last week, I spent six hours on a question-and-answer assignment that should have taken two; and I spent six hours working on an essay outline that also should have taken two.
What a time-waster I am.
And you know what? We waste time all the time—and we hate ourselves for it. Need some examples?
-You fold clothes from the Leaning Tower of Laundry for two hours straight, but then you don’t have time to vacuum the hallway or clean the shower.
-Your friend insists on taking you to lunch this weekend, but you’re swamped with homework. You meet him and talk for a while, but when you get back home, you realize you spent three hours talking with him instead of studying.
-The church potluck is tonight, and you volunteered to cook three casseroles. By the time you’ve shopped for ingredients, cooked the food, and cleaned up, you have to go to the potluck and socialize.
The battle is constant. How long can you spend on an activity? Should you skip one activity to do another?
I feel like there are two attitudes we can have about this issue:
- My time is money. Every second is precious. I can’t waste a single moment because I’ll never get it back. If I waste time, I’m wasting myself.
- Time is a gift from God, and I want to honor Him by using it wisely. If I waste a few moments, it’s okay. I can’t use every second perfectly because I’m not perfect.
Here are a couple of my favorite verses that just happen to relate to this topic:
Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. (Proverbs 4:25-26 NASB)
So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NASB)
In my economics class, I recently learned about the concept of opportunity cost—giving up something to do something else.
Basically, you can’t do everything. Sometimes, you have to pick one option out of a hundred and pray you are making the right choice.
Some of these choices are trivial, like whether you should watch TV or play a game of basketball. But other times, these choices are more serious and even scary—like whether you should go to college this fall or spend a year working before you start college.
And, unfortunately, you can’t take back the choices you make.
This brings us to the concept of a sunk cost. Basically, it’s a cost from the past—whether you use the item you paid for or not.
Your time, whether spent well or poorly, is a sunk cost. Every moment of the past is a sunk cost. We sometimes pay the price for wasting time—even when we don’t mean to waste it.
You suffer the consequences—even though you didn’t mean to—when you have to use a smelly shower for a few days because you didn’t have time to clean it, or when you get a C on your test because you didn’t have as much time to study, or when you can’t enjoy yourself at the church potluck because you feel exhausted from working all day.
Friend, the past is in the past. (I know, I know. Duh, right?)
But it’s so true. I can cry for hours about all the time I wasted on my homework—but that’s not really a good use of time. (Get it? 🙂 )
You’re not going to use every second well. You can’t succeed in everything all the time. Time management takes practice. In my opinion, time management skills start to develop once you buy a calendar and a planner. (But I’ve already emphasized my attachment to those things in previous posts.)
If you’re not keen on getting a calendar or planner, here are a few other tips to help you manage your time well:
- Weigh the costs and benefits before you dive into an activity. Ask yourself if the costs outweigh the benefits.
- Pray! If an opportunity comes your way, ask God if He wants you to take it. Seek His wisdom.
- Ask what other Christians think about a certain activity. Sometimes, you can’t view situations subjectively because you’re smack dab in the middle of them; so it’s best to ask wise Christians at church (and abroad) if they think your time would be well-spent in a particular area.
- If you’ve wasted moments in the past, ask God to forgive you and move on. There’s no point in crying over spilled milk, because you can’t clean it up now. Just focus on not dropping the next glass of milk.
- Don’t try to juggle everything. This is another topic for another time, but, in short, don’t try to do everything because it’s not humanly possible. I know it’s hard to say no, but try to learn how. You’ll thank me later.
The two verses I included above sum up this issue perfectly: Make the most of every moment (Ephesians 5:16) and keep your eyes fixed ahead (Proverbs 4:25). Try your best to spend an adequate amount of time on your daily tasks. There’s a balance between skimping and being a perfectionist. It can be hard to find that balance, but once you do, stick with it.