11 Time-Sucking Habits to Eliminate Immediately – to make time to serve God and others

When We Feel We Can’t Make Time

We’ve all experienced it. That sinking feeling that comes when we receive a prompting by the Holy Spirit to move into action, then immediately realize that we can’t make time to fulfill the call.

Maybe a new ministry was introduced at church on Sunday. For a split second, you imagined yourself fully engaged in its service, but reality struck and you knew you could never squeeze one more thing into your already packed days.

A co-worker has a sick family member and you daydream of helping with practical projects around her house . . .

Your best friend regularly volunteers at a local hospital and you wish you could join her . . .

There’s a group of ladies who meet to pray together and you’d love to take part . . .

A huger stirs your soul and you desire to learn more about God’s Word . . .

You want to serve the Lord, help others, get involved, and develop a deeper relationship with Jesus, but both your calendar and your mental capacities are full to the brim. Somehow, you know in advance this would be just one more thing that you start but don’t complete. And so, you avoid it like the plague because you can’t make time and don’t want to feel like a failure – again.

You feel God’s draw, His invitation to join Him where He is already at work. But you say no.

There’s just one thing holding you back from serving with all your heart:  Time.

We Make Time for What’s Important

The harsh reality—the thing we are reluctant to admit—is that we make time for what is most important to us. (See the article I wrote about that here).

Since we can generally find a way to make time for critical interruptions, logic holds that, with a few careful adjustments to our calendars and our mindsets, we can make time for on-going life changes too.

Photo by Deva Darshan on Unsplash

A Bird’s Eye View of Time

I find it useful to take a bird’s eye view of my planner. Instead of focusing on minutes, task lists, and activities that bring a sense of overload, if I stand back and look at the big picture, I can identify themes and trends that I might not see from the “trenches” of life.

With a view from above (almost like a heavenly perspective), we often find encouragement that we can walk in obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit – even when our days are already overflowing. There are several ways that we can make time for the purpose and calling God places in our life. From a perspective of 10,000 feet, we begin to see that there are activities and habits that we can eliminate in order to make the most of the time the Lord provides to us.

Making time requires a few things: a little discipline, a little prioritization, and a strong desire to walk in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Practically speaking, let’s look at

11 time-sucking habits that we can abolish immediately to make time for our priorities:

  1. Working without a plan. Interruptions can rule over us if we allow. Instead, make a plan and work your plan. Inside that plan, don’t schedule your time so tightly that interruptions throw you off course. Leave room for interruptions so they don’t de-rail your intentional efforts.
  2. Unrestrained Internet Surfing. I admit, I’m mildly addicted and love having a world of information at my fingertips. It feeds my craving for trivia and meaningless facts. But the Internet can be a graveyard to the precious resource of time. It’s more than social media. It’s shopping, learning, reading, laughing… you know it all as well as I. They’re not all bad activities, in fact, some can truly enrich our lives, but it’s too easy to get sucked into a time-wasting vortex. We must use the Internet responsibly.
  3. Television. My, how our entertainment has evolved. We no longer wait until Tuesday at 7 pm to watch our favorite show. It’s available on demand. And why stop at one episode when we can watch 20? All those hours in front of the screen are spent watching some celebrity fulfilling her dreams while we sit on the couch and neglect our own.
  4. Games. I love board games, card games, dice games, electronic games. When I’m face to face with friends or family playing a game across a table and engaging in laughter and light conversation, its time well invested. But when I sit behind a screen and engage with repetitive online challenges on my phone or tablet, it’s easy to lose track of time. I’m not pouring into relationships or adding any value to my day. Before I know it, an hour (or more) has flown by and I wonder how it could have ticked by so quickly.
  5. Answering the phone. I am not advocating rudeness or irresponsibility here. Many may deem it impolite to ignore a call, but phone interruptions can become mountainous. A friend who calls with a quick question can engage us in a conversation that lasts 20 minutes (or far longer) during a time that was planned for something productive. A more efficient practice might involve allowing voice mail to record the quick question. Then we can find the answer between focused activities (rather than in the middle of them) and reply to our friend when we can give her our full and undivided attention.
  6. Email and texting. They don’t require an immediate response. Try checking them once in the morning and once in the afternoon instead of keeping your inbox at perpetual zero. This will take some practice but I promise, no one will get hurt.
  7. Multi-Tasking. We’ve been taught to take pride in our ability to multi-task. It’s not efficient. Stop it. We’re far more productive when we do one thing at a time, do it well, and then move onto the next task. We free up time and mental energy when we avoid trying to focus on too much at once.
  8. Peak-time errands. Whenever possible, run errands outside of peak times such as weekends and between 5-7 pm. Instead, try to schedule errands and shopping during lunchtime, early morning, or late evening when possible.
  9. “Yes.” Some of us have the yes bug. There is much to admire about those who will do anything for anyone at any time. However, staying yes comes with a cost. Evaluate your yeses carefully. Are your motivations pure? Make sure you’re able to fulfill your commitments, and ensure you’re your spiritual, personal and family needs aren’t neglected as you help others.
  10. Perfection. We can’t achieve it, so let’s stop striving for it. Done well supersedes done to perfection.
  11. Neglecting rest. Our tendencies often involve giving up sleep or relaxation to accomplish more. But When we neglect rest, our brains feel cloudy. It’s harder to concentrate and nearly everything we do takes longer than it should. Rest is God’s idea. Don’t neglect it.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Time is Not A Reason for Neglect

If something is important to us, time should never be a reason to neglect it. We can learn to practice better intentionality and make the most of the time that the Lord provides to us. For His purpose, for His glory.

Imagine if you diligently told your time where to go instead of feeling enslaved to its restrictions. How would that feel? What would you achieve for God? For yourself? For your family and others? How would it affect your peace and joy?

Which time sucker do you feel it will be easiest to reduce or eliminate right away? Which will you have the most difficulty giving up?  I’d love to hear how adopting a few minor adjustments changes the way you view your time.

 

Blessings,

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Marla

    I love the insights you provide in this blog entry, Cathy! I feel like you were my very own time management coach sitting right beside me sharing “the good stuff!” with me. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Leanna

    I needed this today, Cathy. Thank you.

    Reply

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