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Roles, Goals, Scheduling

The last time I looked, lists 97,616 books under the topic of “time management.” Titles range from Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress‐Free Productivity by David Allen, a helpful book I recommend, to Time Management for Dummies, a book I have not read, although it appears I represent the target audience.

“Time management” books are hot and it’s obvious why—we all want to discover some previously unknown secret that will enable us to become more productive. Yet in this series we have discovered that getting more things done does not mean we are getting the right things done.

Or to put this in a little triad: busyness does not mean I am diligent; busyness does not mean I am faithful; busyness does not mean I am fruitful.

In the past several posts in this series, we looked at procrastination: putting off until the last moment tasks that are important (and presumably most difficult), and instead devoting ourselves to what is easy and urgent, but not as important.

My busyness may be procrastination in disguise.

But today we transition in this series from discussing the hindrances to biblical productivity (procrastination, laziness, and the tendencies of the sluggard) to looking at how we can effectively plan and prioritize.

From my study of this topic and my observation of those I admire (and desire to emulate), it appears to me that being faithful, productive, and fruitful for the glory of God requires that I accomplish three things:

  1. define my present God‐given roles,
  2. determine specific, theologically informed goals, and
  3. transfer these goals into my schedule.

Over the next several posts we will develop these three in some detail.

But you may be thinking to yourself, why go through the trouble of determining these roles, creating goals, and fitting all this into my schedule? Why not take life as it comes?

Perhaps you dislike—or even despise—all things related to planning. Perhaps you, like me, can identify with my friend Michael McKinley when he recently wrote: “I would rather stick a fork in my eye than sit in a planning meeting.” Mike has painfully and creatively captured my tendency to postpone planning, and if possible, avoid planning altogether. But while I think of myself as an all‐about‐the‐moment guy, my avoidance of planning is to the detriment of my schedule and (more importantly) to the detriment of my service to my family and church.

Here’s why.

The problem for those of us with this fork‐in‐the‐eye approach to planning is that during each day the most urgent requests will compete with and distract from the most important goals and priorities of our lives. Each day the number of requests we receive normally outnumber the time allotted for the day. My experience confirms that if I fail to attack my week with theologically informed planning, my week attacks me with an onslaught of the urgent. And I end up devoting more time to the urgent than the important.

And at the end of the week there is a low‐grade guilt and dissatisfaction in my soul, because I’ve neglected to do the truly important stuff. I want to have as few weeks like this as possible in whatever time remains for me to serve the Savior. I’m thinking you do as well.

More on roles next time…