Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Carolyn Castleberry's book, It's About Time!: 10 Smart Strategies to Avoid Time Traps and Invest Yourself Where it Matters, (Howard Publishing, 2008).

You're always busy, yet never seem to accomplish all you want or enjoy the way you spend your time. Sound familiar? If so, you can learn how to invest your most valuable resource - time - in what matters most.

Here's how you can invest your time wisely:

Start a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the most important decision you'll ever make. It will empower you to use your time well here on earth and give you the blessing of an eternity of time with God.

Identify your time traps. Track where your time goes to discover who and what is stealing your time without your permission. Keep a daily log for a few days of how much time you put into each activity in which you're involved. Then analyze the information you've written to see how much time you've spent in unexpected ways, and how much time each activity really took. After you've looked at your activities, consider how you may be wasting time emotionally, by spending time in unproductive ways like worrying and complaining. Figure out your current time management patterns, and notice how those differ from the ways you'd like to start using your time.

Be called instead of driven. Do you feel driven or called when you invest your time? Do you make decisions about your schedule because you're driven by something like a need to succeed or a sense of responsibility for something that really isn't your responsibility? Or do your answer God's call to use your time to fulfill His purposes for your life? Your relationship with time isn't determined by what you do or how much you're able to accomplish. It's determined by how you feel about what you do with your time.

Check your schedule against your priorities. Are you investing your time in what matters most to you? Figure out the average number of hours you spend per week on activities such as worship and church activities, work, caring for your children if you have any, spending time with your spouse if you have one, doing household chores, exercising, your own education/self improvement, spending time with friends, watching television, surfing the Internet, etc. Do your actual activities line up with what you say is most important to you?  For example, if you say that your relationship with God is your top priority, do you devote a significant amount of time each week to connecting with Him? If you say that your marriage is important to you, how much time are you devoting to that versus your job? If you say that you value physical fitness, are you spending more time each week exercising than you do passively watching TV or surfing the Internet? How would you change the amount of time you spend doing each activity to increase your sense of well-being?

Deal with feeling overwhelmed. If you're overwhelmed by external time pressures and don't know how to manage stress, you need to develop some basic management skills. Meet with God every day (or night) to read His Word, pray, worship with praise songs, and any other creative way you can connect to Him daily. This will put you in touch with God's purpose and plan for your life. Write a personal mission statement that explains what makes you unique, what principles you stand for, what makes you tick, and what you want your life to be about. Whenever you find yourself off track, your mission statement will guide you back to the best use of your time. Forget multitasking; even though it may seem efficient, studies have shown that it actually causes you to lose time as you switch back and forth between tasks. Instead, focus on just one task at a time.