I hate wasting time. Time is more valuable than money, because once spent it’s gone forever. Time clicks by at 1440 minutes each day. Rich or poor, we all get the same amount.
When Paul wrote to the Colossians and Ephesians about “making the most of your time” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5), he probably didn’t have in mind multitasking or maximizing your commute.
Or maybe he did?
(Photo by Photodune)
The phrase “making the most of your time” literally means “redeeming the time.” It refers to buying something out completely—you leave nothing on the shelves. Paul’s term for “time” refers to a moment of time—not to a lifetime.
In other words, each moment and season of time is our opportunity and responsibility. An effective use of time ultimately should show itself in knowing Christ and making Him known.
Because time is our most valuable resource—spent only once—I always try to make the most of it. If I can get something done while walking across the room, I will.
Here are 8 ways I am redeeming the time that you can too.
1. Give your body the sleep it needs.
To this I would add “and not the sleep it wants.” I have figured out how much sleep I need, and that’s all I give myself. I get up really early, and it’s the most productive part of my day. In fact 95% of my blog’s content gets written before the sun comes up. You may be a night owl. That’s great. Redeeming the time begins by knowing the sleep you need.
2. Exercise your mind along with your body.
When I do make time for the treadmill, I listen to audiobooks on my iPhone (at 2x speed). Listening also keeps my mind distracted from the fact that I can’t breathe. Audible makes it easy to listen to audiobooks.
3. Get dressed with a little news.
I watch the BBC “One-minute” news on the computer while I’m getting dressed in the morning. It shows in 60 seconds the major world events. That’s all the news I need. The rest is often just depressing.
(Photo: by Matteo Ianeselli, Own work, CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
4. Commute? Lucky You. (Me too.)
My commute is one of the most productive parts of the day. Because I’m stuck in my car about one-and-a-half hours a day, I use that time effectively. Here are a few ways.
- Leave early to miss traffic. Sitting in traffic—especially at red lights—often feels like a huge waste of time. Solution? Drive when there is no traffic. I write at a Starbucks near my office for a couple of hours each morning while the traffic sits still.
- Make your car your prayer closet. On my morning commutes, I listen to the Bible via a great FREE app called YouVersion. You can select from many different reading plans and translations. (Currently I’m listening to the NIV and using the CCV: The Bible in ONE Year.) To date, the app has more than 107 million downloads. I also use the time in the car to pray—first alone with God. I also pray with my wife each morning on the phone. We pray for our daughters, for the day before us, for our family, and for the concerns we’re facing.
- Country roads, take me home. Instead of playing the accordion with the other homebound commuters each day, I take the side streets and country roads that bypass the main roads. It’s beautiful, it doesn’t take much longer, and it removes much tension. During this commute, I also listen to business books and podcasts and return phone calls (but not texts).
Techie sidebar: I’ve hacked an Apple AirPlay device so that my car has its own wireless network and plays my iPhone audio over my car speakers. That way I’m not messing with cables or ear buds.
5. Eliminate, delegate, automate.
This is a great principle I picked up from Michael Hyatt. Here’s how I apply it. I ask:
- Can it be eliminated? If so, redeeming the time is huge. We recently decided we would no longer needed DISH TV. Evaluate what you do and ask: Can this be eliminated?
- Can it be delegated? I don’t mean shirk your responsibilities. I mean redeeming the time occurs when you choose to do what only you can do. We often do want we want to do, not what we need to do. Ask for help. You might be surprised at your increased productivity. Evaluate what you do and ask: Can this be delegated?
- Can it be automated? For me, this is huge. Why waste time doing something technology can do for you? Auto-forwarding emails and automating bill payments are two simple examples. Here are two more:
- I use an application called Typinator to type out copy I find myself typing repeatedly. If you type the same things often—your email, your address, your credit card number, computer code, whatever—then you’ll find this tool worth every penny. I use it daily—hourly! You can even make templates to use as form letters, or to pre-populate email fields to those you write to often. For instance, I type three keystrokes and an email automatically includes the recipient’s name and email address, the greeting, the closing, and my signature—and then the cursor automatically lands in the place where I can start typing the email. Sweet.
- I automate most (but not all) of my social media posts via an app called CoSchedule. I read dozens of RSS feeds via Feedly and rather than share all day on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, I schedule my posts in Buffer to fire at prescheduled times. That way, I stay engaged without spending an inordinate amount of time in social media. Evaluate what you do and ask: Can this be automated?
6. Use a task manager to keep your brain clear.
One of the reasons I can stay productive is I organize all my “to-dos” in a task management program called Nozbe.
- Following David Allen’s advice in Getting Things Done, I keep my mind free of distracting things I have to do by keeping tasks organized and reviewing them weekly.
- Nozbe connects with Google Calendar, which is great, but it should also connect with Microsoft Exchange so that the corporate world can better utilize it.
(Photo: by Isabelle Grosjean ZA. Self-published work by ZA, GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
7. Always have a book with you.
I always have an e-book I’m reading on my iPad mini so that if I’m standing in line, waiting in a doctor’s office, or eating lunch alone, I’m never staring at the ceiling or stuck reading some magazine. I read a lot of books this way. Right now, I’m reading Augustine’s Confessions (which is currently free!).
8. Remember that rest is not a waste of time.
As my wife often asks me, “When have you scheduled time to rest?” Ouch. Enough said.
These are some of the ways I am redeeming the time, because after all, we are stewards of our time—our most precious commodity.
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