It wasn’t long before my newfound method of “mapping” my schedule began to evidence oddities in my routine. For example, even in my small town, I was wasting a good 45 minutes each day trying to commute from one side of town to the other first for work, then again for school. With an hour or two in between meetings, it seemed rational to find a more centralized location between activities and apply the extra time to study rather than travel.
Other time-saving opportunities also presented themselves and I found myself cutting “fluff” from all sorts of places. I reduced the time spent reading my magazines by eliminating the less “useful” material, slashed the time spent watching television repeats (and a few less interesting shows), and even dropped a few “relaxing” activities that weren’t really as relaxing as I’d hoped they’d be.
Next on the chopping block was “business” – things I considered important, but which merited a second look. From checking stats on my blogs, I was able to determine that four posts a week was too many (a time-savings of several hours). A good look at my housework schedule yielded similar results: why was I doing laundry every week when I only had enough for full loads every other week? My schedule was getting tighter… and my free time was actually growing!
It was at this point that I was able to consider those two overlooked categories: “relaxation” and “relationship” and begin to give them some serious consideration. The latter could be mixed with other activities throughout the week – three or four walks with my sister were far more satisfying (both physically and intellectually) than a frenetic run on the treadmill in a secluded corner of the laundry room. A coffee with a friend, far more thought-provoking than an hour on the couch with “Dancing with the Stars”. The blank spaces began to fill up, but this time with activities that had the potential to provide relaxation, encouragement, and support for all who were involved. And this time, without the sense of frenzied rush which had accompanied the knowledge that there was too much to do and too little time in which to do it!
Keeping a schedule is, of course, only a start when it comes to efficiently managing our time. Taking the time to sit down and assess our priorities, reorganize our lives, and ensure that we are being the best possible stewards of all that God has given is a vital part of living a productive life. So I encourage you to give it a try!