“Be very careful, then how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” Ephesians 5:15-16

I believe that the most important commodity we have in our short span of life is time. It is also the most elusive. You can’t see it, touch it, or feel it. And it has no compassion for those who need more of it or for those who have too much of it. Time is valuable, because if we use it wisely, we can accomplish great things for ourselves, our families, and our world. But, if we don’t use it wisely, we could fail at everything we attempt to do.

How many times have you heard a mom say in frustration, “Who’s got the time?” It’s such a loaded question. Just having someone ask me this question causes me to feel stressed. “No one has the time for anything anymore!” I want to reply, because most of the time I don’t! And after all the things we are expected to do—carpooling, meals, laundry, errands, doctor appointments, birthday parties, PTA meetings, pets, yard work, housework, homework, etc.—we really don’t have a “quitting time”. Our job is literally a full-time, 24/7 responsibility.

So one thing I have come to understand is that I have to make the time to sort out my priorities, so that time works for me. When I don’t plan and schedule and organize my time, time rules me. So, let’s figure out where your time is being spent right now and how to get it back!

1. Understand how important time is so you will Plan. We must make time important, a top priority. And the only way to do this is to take the time to plan. Take a look at just one day and separate it into 7 blocks of time: early morning; mid morning; lunchtime; early afternoon; late afternoon; dinnertime; and evening. Once you have these blocks understood, you can then designate what will go into each block. In other words, with blocks of time, there is finally a specific place for a specific thing you want or need to do. An example: If I know I will be cooking dinner tonight, then my late afternoon is blocked for cooking. Nothing, except an emergency, will stop that activity. So then, I need to look at the earlier blocks for either getting ready for this activity or assigning my other things to do to a specific time.

2. Understand how important having a Specific Place is to having more time. Set up a user-friendly calendar system that works best for you. This can either be a desk calendar, a large wall calendar, a Palm Pilot, computer calendar or a calendar you carry with you. Whatever works best for you, use it and study it daily so nothing will be forgotten.

Next, set up a central area in your home and in your office for your calendar, files, etc. This is literally your command post, where all the activities of your daily life are orchestrated. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or an office worker, you are the CEO of your particular domain. Treat yourself as a professional, so that everything you do will be done 100%.

3. Understand how important Writing Down what you have to do each day is to having more time. It has been stated that when goals are written down, they are 85% more apt to be met. One exercise that might help is to first, on a blank piece of paper, make a list of everything you have to do in your week. (Yes, this can seem repetitive, such as “go to work,” but go on and try this). Then, plot on your calendar all these activities from your list. Next, and this is where you begin to have fun, make a list of everything you want to do in your next week. These activities could be as simple as taking a long bubble bath, a daily walk, phone calls to friends and family, starting a painting, beginning to write a book. Now, you will plot these “want to’s” on your calendar but now, you will actually see blank spaces available since your “have to do” list won’t fill up all of the time slots!