There are five candles on our dining room table. One of them has
been lit. Once. And, unfortunately, thatís probably the way it will stay
until Christmas day.
Itís like this almost every year at our house. We start the Advent season promising ourselves that this Christmas will be different. Weíll spend time together as a family. Weíll sing carols together, read scripture together, and pray together every day.
But somehow it doesnít happen. Thereís gift shopping to be done, packages to send off, and the usual rush of extra holiday events. There are columns to write, book reviews to finish up, and some final details on reports that I was supposed to have finished six months ago. And soon there will be 150 blue-book exams and 30 term papers on my desk, all of which have graded by December 27.
Too much to do, too little time. Not even enough time to gather the family around the Advent wreath for a few minutes.
Seven-year-old Michael asks if we canít have Advent. We put him off: no one has had time to prepare anything. Maybe tomorrow.
Now I shouldnít be struggling like this. After all, I teach time management to my students, and I know all the techniques for making maximum use of available time.
So: time to practice what I preach.
First, establish some goals: lifetime goals, goals for the next five years, and goals I intend to achieve this month. Next, make a list of all the things I have to do to achieve these goals. Next, prioritize the list, noting which items are essential, which are of high priority, and which arenít particular important. Then: the schedule itself.
Make a grid that includes every day of the week and every hour of the day. Start filling in the grid, making sure to put in the most important items first.
It doesnít work.
Every block is filled before I finish even half the essential items. For that matter, every block is filled with priority one: spending time with my wife and kids.
Jim Croce was right. There never is enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.
Except--maybe there is.
Maybe thereís a time management technique that really will work.
Suppose there were a way, not only to save time in a bottle, but to get interest on the time saved as well. Suppose one could stash away an hour, and have two hours to use later. Or perhaps one could get an even better rate of return. Suppose one could save an hour, and get a whole day in return, or a month, or a year.
Or suppose one could do even better. Suppose, that by acting now, one could get an infinite supply of time, a never-ending treasure chest of hours, days and years.
And, of course, one can.
Jesus said, ďHe that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.Ē
Amazing! What a fantastic technique for time management! All I have to do is start listening to the Lord and obeying Him. And there will never again be a problem of too little time.
Now I know from experience that having a devotional time every day saves me time in the long run. I work more efficiently. I get lucky time-and-money saving breaks that really have nothing to do with luck at all. I get help on tasks from unexpected sources. And I see more clearly how seemingly ďurgentĒ matters are really not all that important after all.
And I keep telling myself, that, as soon as I find the time, Iíll start having regular personal devotions again. And as soon as I find the time, Iíll have devotional time with my kids again. As soon as I find the time, Iíll get a prayer partner again.
And Iíll do it tomorrow, maybe. Or the next day.