If you’re reading this, chances are you are either catching up on saved posts, my picture or post title intrigued you, you are a loyal reader (thank you! thank you!), or I’m about to lose you in 3… 2… 1…
Are you still here? I hope so, because today I want to share with you some ways to reclaim and be intentional with those little bits of time throughout your day, and how to make that time work for YOU.
In the busyness of life, especially life with kids, life with a full-time job, life with a full-time AND a part-time job, life with a full-time AND part-time job WITH kids – well, you see where I’m going with this. People today seem to want to cram every little bit of life into every little second of every single day. We fill our already busy schedules with activities for our family, with our friends, with our co-workers, creative projects, home improvements, trips, and we just feel like we need to GO! GO! GO! to get it all done.
Last month I asked my readers where they are most struggling, and the majority of them answered with “Time Management.” I have to agree that managing the little bit of time we have can make all the difference in the quality of our lives. When I first reevaluated my life and struggles with time management, I came up with the same conclusion as many others out there. All I needed was MORE TIME! Wouldn’t it make sense that if we all had an extra hour in our day then all would be absolutely wonderful? The birds would start singing, the flowers blooming, and we would all be spinning on the top of the mountain like Sister Maria in the Sound of Music.
Aaaah. But how many of you feel like this seems to good to be true? Can I get a show of hands here? Well, in a way it is. First off, it’s pretty much impossible to plunk in an extra hour into our 24 hour lives. Having a 25 hour day might just throw us all into a time induced chaos, from which we may never be able to recover. Secondly, (and I am TOTALLY guilty of this) when we find time throughout our day, we tend to waste time.
Let me ask you this: Do you ever find that there are times in your day when you are just waiting? You’re waiting for the kids at pick-up, waiting for the water to boil, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting for your car to be serviced, waiting for a meeting that got pushed a half hour later, waiting on hold because your call is important to them…. Have you ever noticed that we always seem to be in such a rush – just to wait?
And when you’re waiting, what do you do? Scroll through social media? Turn on some YouTube videos? Tap your foot or drum your fingers, hoping it will get the attention needed to speed things up? Flip through a magazine for the fifteenth time? Count the number of red cars that drive by? Scroll through IG again – because you may have missed something in the past two minutes? Reply to a FB post with a snarky remark that’s at least two paragraphs long…just to erase it because the HS reminded you that it would be “unChristian-like” to post that?
Yeah. When we find time, we tend to waste time. So here’s an exercise to help us count our minutes: Over the course of the day, today or tomorrow, whenever you are reading this, make note of the time that you find yourself waiting. Make a list of where you are, why you are waiting, how long you are waiting. And then, make a list of the things you find yourself doing. Now the key here is to be completely honest! And because YOU matter to me, I will be completely honest in sharing with you what I tend to do in my “wait time.” 1) Social media. (Totally guilty!) I spend a tremendous amount of time scrolling, reading articles, watching IG Stories, and looking at pictures. 2) iPhone game. Between the Disney Emoji Blitz game and Pokemon Go, it’s amazing how much these free app can consume me and my time. 3) Read. Usually books, but sometimes a magazine, or an ebook or article on my phone.
In your own reflection you will notice that there are pockets of time throughout our day where we wait. It is in that waiting that we can choose to do one of three things:
- We can veg out and use this as downtime. Many of us find solace in our devices – and it’s easy to do. After all, it’s quick and easily accessible and there are many opportunities for no real thinking.
- We can busy ourselves with other things on our to-do list. Maybe it’s checking email, or writing a shopping list – something that makes you feel productive, but often seems to add more tasks as you try to complete them.
- We can refill our own spiritual cup right there in the gaps. For those of us feeling overwhelmed by lack of time to do ALL THE THINGS, perhaps this is the choice we need to be making.
In previous posts, I’ve talked about the importance of “Me Time” and how to make the most of our mornings and evenings. (Click on the links to read more!) But some of us don’t have extra time in the mornings and evenings to focus on self-care, and I totally get that! There was a season in my life when my littles were all under 10, I taught first grade full-time, and I was finishing up my M.Ed. degree online. It’s crazy to think that I survived that season AT ALL, because the one word I would use to describe it was: Overwhelmed. While I managed to fit everything into my schedule and get about six hours of sleep each night, the one thing that was sorely missing was taking care of myself – and I nearly burnt myself out, taking everything and everyone I held dear with me.
Friends, let’s reflect on how we use our minutes. Have you found a time where you are waiting consistently for 5-10 minutes in the pick up line. Or maybe you’re sitting in your car for a good half hour on the way to and from work. Maybe you found that it takes exactly 7 minutes for your coffee to brew in the morning. Now let’s look at how we spend our time. Yes, downtime and vegging out are important, but do we need to play games or check our social media statuses during each break? Or can we use those minutes in a much better way? Can we really make them count?
Here are some suggestions ways to really plug in to those precious moments you are allotted each day:
- Carry a book with you. I’m talking a real life paperback book that you can tuck in your purse, or keep in your car. Sure you could use an e-Reader, but I’d recommend staying away from the phone if our intent is to read. There are just way too many distractions on the phone. Make sure this is a book you’re reading for pleasure, not a homework assignment for school. =)
- Play some music. I don’t know about you, but music fills my soul. Turn on Spotify or Pandora and plug in your ear buds. Or if you’re in your car, roll up your windows, tune into K-LOVE and start singing at the top of your lungs. Worship songs are a great way to change your mood and fill up your cup so that you’re ready to go into that meeting with a client, or maybe you need a boost before picking the kids up after school.
- Refer to scripture. Do you have a verse of the month, week, or day? How often do you refer to it? I like to write out a monthly scripture on my bathroom mirror, and I also like the daily verses on the Bible App. Having a couple of minutes to reflect on your verses throughout the day can breathe so much life into you. If you do daily devotions, reviewing your scripture throughout the day can help you so much in applying what you’ve reflected on. So keep the verses with you. Screenshot them and use them as your phone wallpaper, or write them down on a note card or Post-It. Use your precious minutes to armor yourself up with His Word.
- Do something you love. Maybe it’s writing in a journal. Maybe it’s grabbing a cup of coffee. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block. Maybe it’s taking pictures of things around you. Whatever it is, chase the fun and feed your passions – even if it’s only for a few minutes. If you know you have an extra 20 minutes somewhere in your schedule, find a park or a library nearby, whatever your fancy, and enjoy the peacefulness.
- Pray. As I reflect on my own time spent, I can honestly say that I do not pray enough. Perhaps it’s because I’m so stuck on the formality of prayer. Friends, prayer is simply a conversation with God. A focused, one-on-one meeting time with our Father. It doesn’t have to be long and formulaic. Rather, God would be so thrilled even if you’re just “checking in” or “text prayers” as I like to call it.
“Hey, God. How are you doing today? Wanted to just check in and say thanks for that amazing lunch I had today.”
“Jesus, if you could comfort my heart right now…I’m a little nervous about the meeting that’s coming up.”
“Holy Spirit, please fill me up. I yelled at my kids this morning, and I need to ask for their forgiveness, but help me to forgive myself.”
Or maybe you can spend those few moments to just be still and be filled with His love and His presence.
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So now that you’re thinking about it, how will you spend your time? Are you more aware of those small moments of blessings? Are you willing to change? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear how you have been or will be spending your waiting minutes. And if you have other great ideas on how to make our minutes count, feel free to share and bless others with your wonderful suggestions!