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Time Management for Spiritual EfficiencyJuly 13, 2016
Recently, my virtue of serenity started to slip. I found myself in a strange situation - having to enter "Detail Land" while living on a island Paradise in the South Pacific. Suddenly I was confronted by a pile of looming tasks -- long forms to be completed for a special visa, a 16 page medical evaluation, a learning curve on social networking, finding a new house, and other sudden demands which felt like a tsunami sneaking up behind me. Oy!
Whenever special responsibilities arise, there is still regular life to attend to - caring for our families, going to work, service and volunteering. So how do we cope with the stress of having new and unexpected responsibilities threatening to drown us? We had better learn to surf and ride those waves.
I have learned over the years that it is only possible to sustain a pace of Grace in the midst of the FOG Syndrome - fatigue, overwhelm and guilt -- with some simple time management steps. I call it spiritual efficiency.
- CHOOSE. Put first things first: God, family, self-care, work, in that order. Pray, love, serve. Choose your priorities each day. It is helpful to make a plan. What can you accomplish in a week or a month? What are your 3 top goals or things that need to get done? I write a time frame, say, July 1 to Oct 1, then add a scripture, such as a Baha'i quote: "Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time." Or from Ecclesiastes 3: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Then around those words I write 3 goals. I consult the plan often.
- CHART your categories. Have headings for each of the areas you are responsible for, such as: Faith, Family, House, Personal, Work. Bearing in mind your main goals, list the specific tasks that go under each category. Either draw a chart with columns and boxes, or make it on a computer or a smart phone. I use the simple, expandable Tables under "Insert" on MS Office. Listing all the tasks for each category frees your mind from going in circles or obsessing about what has to be done. You don't have to hold it in your mind because it's captured in a simple structure you can look at anytime.
- CHUNK your time. Decide on a set amount of time to focus on the new stuff that needs to get done, such as 1 hour, focus on it completely, then detach and get on with regular life. Smile at your children, weed the garden, give customers your full attention. Choose a time of day that will work with your schedule. Remember to rest and play a little every day too. Drink lots of water, eat food that's good for you. Exercise. It's even more important to take care of yourself when there's "too much" to do.
- CELEBRATE! Pause for applause for each achievement. I highlight each task in green as I complete it. I give myself a treat such as a swim or a day off or a lunch out when one big thing is completed.
Honestly speaking, the best way to "set your house in order" each day, is to "wait on the Lord," as a friend said recently . Isaiah 40:31 "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles." Open yourself in prayer, ask what steps to take, what people to see, what the Divine priorities are for your time, and your day will flow easily. Psalm 119:105 says: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Spiritual efficiency will restore your serenity as well as your sanity and make you too blessed to be stressed.