Our three daughters are very different in personality. They are close in age, so their uniqueness has been a blessing. As they have become mothers themselves, their various personalities are evident in their parenting styles. Each one also has their own approach to time management.
#1 – One daughter likes to plan ahead and keep a schedule. She will help plan meals for holiday family gatherings and post the schedule of events on the refrigerator for everyone to see. This is very helpful, since with 9 children under 6 (soon to be 11) in our extended family, everyone knows ahead when the next meal is and what will be served. It also prevents unexpected missing ingredients or insufficient amounts of food – we know what to fix and what time to begin preparation. If a change is made in the plan – it may cause dissent – “I thought we were having chili for lunch?”
#2 – One daughter likes to plan as she goes. She wants to leave time and opportunity for changes in the schedule that might come up. She has a plan in mind, but it is not written down. If plans change at the last-minute, she goes with the flow and usually has enough food, etc. to make it work. Once in a while, someone is gone on a walk or starts a game when it appears to be time to eat, but she can quickly adjust as needed.
#3 – One daughter does not want to plan too far ahead, she may miss out on fun! She likes to do things on the spur of the moment which often works well. It can be problematic, though, if others don’t value spontaneity. She is gregarious and includes others in activities which may involve food preparation, playing games, or finding a nearby playground.
Obviously, these approaches to the use of time are quite different. One way is not better or worse than the other, all have their good and not-so-good aspects. It always makes for interesting family times! As a mother, I learned early that each daughter worked best in her own style and I have seen this as they have become adults. I now appreciate the advantages of the various approaches to time depending on the situations.
As we begin a new year, we often reflect on time. Each of us is given 24 hours in each day, but we often feel we don’t have enough time. People often say, “If only I had more time, I would…” The reality is that we all do the things that are most important to us.
Now, it is true that when you have small children, your time is not your own. There are often times when you don’t have time to do certain things. Yet most of us also use time in ways that are not “essential”. If you feel that you never finish what you need to, try method #1. Make a schedule, put down a time for each essential activity and stick to it. You will find that as you finish each task, your attention will not be on what is not finished, but what you were able to do.
If you want more flexibility in your schedule, decide like #3 to “go with the flow” for a day. You may be surprised by what happens!
Finally, you may feel that #2 is the best way for you to deal with time in your situation. This may change as circumstances change in our lives. The most important key to time management is held in the following verses –
James 4:13-15 (NIV)
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Notice it does not say to avoid making plans – it does say that God’s will MUST be the deciding factor. So, as we plan the time we have each day, let’s keep our focus this year on seeking God’s will first and foremost.