(New Year’s resolutions were never something I was committed to in the past. However, I’m approaching 2018 differently. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my goals and focus for the new year, along with thoughts and tidbits about how you might join me. You can read the introduction here, “Bible Reading in the New Year,” here, and the third post of this series, “Rethinking Busy,” here.)
Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s, “Rethinking Busy.” So if you haven’t already done so, you might want to read that one first before tackling this one, which shares some time-management tools I’ve considered and some I hope to incorporate for the new year.
A quick reminder before we start: nothing you do can add to or subtract from the finished work of Jesus Christ on your behalf. Do you know this? Do you believe this? That‘s good news as we look at our crazy busy schedules, our disorganization, and our time-wasting habits. Tools aren’t meant to save us, but only to help us. That is why we need a healthy dose of humility before we attempt to change our habits. We need to remind ourselves that we aren’t God. Rather, we need God. We must pursue any and all change while resting in Jesus.
With that said, let’s look at some tools!
Advice from the Experts
When I shared yesterday that I’d be giving you tools, it occurred to me that I actually don’t have many tried-and-true time-management tools on my belt. I’m only learning and can’t begin to make that list without sharing a bunch of ideas I haven’t yet tried. So I want to start by sharing some books and articles from a few folks I’m learning from. Their wisdom is a great tool in itself.
First, here’s a list of books that have inspired and taught me:
- Deep Work, by Cal Newton (This one was the catalyst to all my newfound desires for better time management and organization. I highly recommend it!)
- Do More Better, by Tim Challies
- What’s Best Next, by Matt Perman
- Crazy Busy, by Kevin DeYoung
- Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung
- Every Good Endeavor, by Timothy Keller
The following articles have helped me a lot as well:
- “Four Lessons in Fruitful Time-Management,” by David Mathis
- “Is Scheduling a Spiritual Discipline?” by Daniel Patterson
- “20 Quick Tips to Improve Your Productivity,” by Tim Challies
Finally, I’ve told my ERLC colleague Daniel Patterson that he needs to write a book on organization. But the next best thing is to simply follow him on Twitter. Here’s a list of his best-used tools for 2017.
The Method to My Madness
So what tools am I planning to employ to improve my use of time in the new year? My own approach is more about rethinking my approach to work than about using apps like Evernote (though people who use this tool rave about it). As the saying goes, old habits are hard to break, and when it comes to being organized, I’ve realized my biggest need is to break some old habits. But beyond remembering that I survived for thirty-five years without technology and social media—so I’ll be okay once I break a few of those habits—what I do and will be doing is quite simple. My chosen tools will include:
- Accountability: Beyond deadlines, which are a wonderful accountability tool, I’ll be “clocking” my hours of work. I’ll simply begin keeping track of how I spend my time when I’m supposed to be working.
- Google calendar: I have begun scheduling my days and adding important alerts and reminders into my Google calendar. Having a reminder pop up on my phone helps me stay on track and on task.
- Paper planning journal: This is old school, but I love it and have benefited from its use, especially for the home. At the beginning of each week, I fill out all I hope to accomplish that week, plan our menus, make shopping lists, and so on. I have found that without some planning, my hope to accomplish certain things simply won’t happen.
- Deep work: In my schedule I’m building in hours where I shut everything off and focus on writing, reading, or other tasks that require concentration. During those deep work hours, I am not on social media. I turn off the wifi on my computer, and my phone is tucked away or on airplane mode.
- Prayer: I want to grow in praying for the ordinary and mundane parts of my life, including my daily schedule
Now . . . it’s your turn. What do you hope to accomplish in 2018? What habits do you need to change? What new approach do you want to try? I hope some of the tools I’ve shared will help you as you strive, with God’s help, to make this year a fruitful one.