6 Blessings I Embraced Through Planning

It’s my “plan-iversary!”

Four years ago, I made a meaningful step toward taking hold of the Lord’s calling on my life: Creating a Plan. It was a small step, to be sure. But it’s one that’s added consistent intention and purpose for 208 consecutive weeks and counting. I’m celebrating many small accomplishments that have accumulated into something bigger than I ever anticipated.

Looking four years into my rear-view mirror, I recall that I had identified my calling. I had discovered my why (introduced in last week’s post) – the “so that” behind my service. Four years ago I was working in full-time ministry but feeling underutilized. Not by those around me, but by a sense of intentionality I knew was missing. I recognized what I should be doing, but experienced trouble in execution.

To say I was distracted was an understatement. There were many, many things vying for my time and I lacked focus on what was most important. I allowed daily rabbit (or “squirrel”) trails to consume my attention, much like Dug, the talking dog in the movie Up.

By the Lord’s great mercy, one morning I discovered I was the only attendee at a 7 am meeting. I missed an email canceling our appointment and that’s when everything changed. Alone in the quiet, I finally implemented a process I’d wanted to adopt for some time.

I planned a weekly budget for my time.

I know.

It sounds like a ghastly project. But it isn’t.

Most people feel rather restricted by a budget. And managing our time is always a difficult charge. But the Lord instructs in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk – not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil” (HCSB).

While we can’t “manage” time (it is beyond our control to speed it up or slow it down), we can use care in how we spend it and make the most of what we’re given.

Personally, I knew that without a plan I’d remain in a state of feeling so overwhelmed that I was unable to move in any direction.

Have you ever felt that way?

There is hope!

The instant my time budget (aka calendar blocking, aka time blocking, aka outlining an “ideal week”) was finished, I felt amazing freedom. I continue to bask in that freedom today. Here’s why:

6 Blessings I Embraced Through Planning

A plan brings peace.

A plan helps us note our priorities and carefully place them into a schedule. Most of us feel overwhelmed, whether it’s occasionally or often. Yet when we navigate our days with purpose, we can accomplish much!

I felt stunned at this realization: Sleeping for 8 hours and working for 8 hours leaves 8 additional hours for other things! Yes, within those 8 flexible hours are tasks we must accomplish. However, a lot of time remains or things we want to accomplish. It’s like having an extra 40-hour work week (even more if we count weekends) of time for our own projects and priorities.

With a plan in place, there is less time spent feeling overwhelmed, and more time working with purpose and peace. I start to believe I can accomplish the desires God placed in my heart rather than feeling that I don’t have time.

A plan brings clarity.  

Learning to give my attention to one thing at a time increases focus. Now as I work, my mind does not swim with other things I “should” be doing. My thoughts are clear and I feel free to give my full attention to the task at hand. I know that my priorities are scheduled and if I stick to my plan, they will all happen.

I found time for me.  

We needn’t fill every minute with tasks and chores. I believe that the Lord wants us to have rest and good, old-fashioned fun! It’s also true that when we care for ourselves, we are better able to care for and minister to others. I can schedule a nap (yes, I said “nap”) on days when early and late meetings collide. I can spend an hour or two during the week working on my latest crochet project, reading, exercising, and I can intentionally catch dinner and a movie with my man.

There is accountability in planning.

My schedule is messy. Hours can be difficult to track if I don’t stay on top of it. When I stick to my plan, I schedule my work hours in advance instead of squeezing them in as an afterthought. I remain accountable to my commitment to the Lord and to those impacted by the ministry.

Planning helps me walk in obedience. 

In the past, there were times when I felt called by the Lord to complete something specific. Then I fretted and agonized about when I might find time to get it done. With a time budget, I know that I can time set aside time to pursue the Lord’s calling. Whew! Does that ever relieve a burden!

God is still in control. 

Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines His steps” (HCSB).  I invite the Lord to come and disrupt my carefully planned schedule, open my eyes to His plan, and allow me to experience the beauty He has prepared.  That will mean that sometimes I throw my plan out the window and walk as He leads. Then, I can step back into the plan when He directs.

Freedom Through Planning

As a society, we tend to avoid established boundaries or things that seem to “hem us in.” We feel they keep us from doing what we want. We rob ourselves of blessing by failing to recognize the freedom that comes with structure and direction. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free so we must not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Gal 5:1 NIV).

I can say with sincerity that I felt more bondage from an overwhelmed and chaotic schedule than by sticking to a plan. I learned to tell my time where to go rather than letting it toss me around through endless interruptions and distractions. The freedom is immense. It’s mighty. It’s a gift of joy from the Lord!

I’m encouraged by Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (HCSB). I desire a heart of wisdom. I pray that He will continue to order my steps so that sin will not rule over me (Psalm 119:133). My time belongs to the Lord – every moment of it. As I celebrate this “plan-iversary” I pray He’ll strengthen me (and you too) to use each second wisely and for His glory.

If you want to learn more about budgeting your time, stay tuned. It’s a training section that’s included in the upcoming e-course Take Hold of Your Spiritual Calling – Even In the Midst of a Jumbled Life. If you’d like to receive notification of when the course is released, you can provide your email address here.

As always, if you have specific questions or need a little encouragement, I’d love to hear from you! Please contact me here.

Blessings,

 

 

 

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10 Comments

  1. Debbie Dewey

    Hi Cathy, thanks for the incentive to respond to your blog. I am encouraged by your plan-iversary! This is definitely an area I need to and want to work on. I read you e-book on “Why” and will be spending time in prayer and reflection concerning my “why”. I think the why and planning work quite nicely together! One thing I know I will be working into my plan is to read the Bible through this year 2 times. At first I was just going to read it through once but felt the question, “Why not twice?” I had no good answer to not do so. I give permission to keep me accountable.

    Reply
    • Cathy McIntosh

      Wow that’s an impressive goal and one that will surely bless and enrich your life. I’m sure you’ve planned a system into your schedule to help you accomplish reading the Bible TWICE this year! I wish you well and will do my best to check in with you from time to time to hear how it’s going. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Debbie Dewey

    Hi again, I have to add one more comment. I opened my journal where I write good thoughts, helps, scripture etc. and one I wrote the other day jumped out at me. It is a quote from John Piper. “He [God] planned for out joy; we ought to plan for His glory.” I heard you saying this and testifying to it working. There is no better reason to plan!!!
    Wow, God does not keep His direction for us a secret.
    For His glory,
    Debbie

    Reply
    • Cathy McIntosh

      That is a GREAT quote! I love it and may share it on some social media channels! Thanks for posting it here. So great to hear from you, Debbie!

      Reply
  3. Amy Terry

    The Lord has laid this on my heart lately. Thank you for the wisdom & scriptures surrounding planning our time!

    Reply
  4. Sarah

    This helped me! I waste so much time. I have to plan my time better. I look forward to your course! Found you on By His Grace Bloggers group.

    Reply
  5. Carla Workman

    Hi Cathy,
    I’ve never been good at planning! (as you may remember) Your Blog gave me inspiration to stop wasting my time and especially to help me juggle things at work and home. I have started planning many times in the past, and a week later my “planner” is empty, because there is no time to sit and plan. I am excited to FINALLY learn how and what to put in my planner!

    Reply
  6. Linda

    For a very organized and planning individual, I realized through your post that I’m not where I really need to be. Thanks for your obedience as it has helped to open my eyes and heart to God’s plans for my life

    Reply
  7. Jackie Walinga

    Thanks so much for this encouraging way to plan out my time. This is exactly what I need!!????. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  8. Amy - Loving Our Messy

    I don’t know why I never thought about managing my time like this before! I have four small children so my time is limited (and not always my own!) but this made me feel less selfish for scheduling time for things that are important to me. And sticking to it! Wonderful post!

    Reply

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