How To: Organize your Day the Mary and Martha Way

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."
Ephesians 5:15-17

What does it mean to make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil?

Our TIME is under attack.

Satan is vying for our time and attention. He knows that if he can keep us busy and distracted and wasting time, then we are not effective as Christians. Every time that we say, "I don't have time to read God's word or teach it to my children, I have too much to do today." we are making a choice on who wins the battle over our time. Our days are becoming fewer - our children are growing and will soon be out of our homes. Our moments for sharing Christ with our neighbors, for reaching out to those in need... are slowly disappearing.
What will we devote our time to? Will we choose God's will, or waste our opportunities?

I have worked out a little formula for making the most of our time.

This is advice that I also have to choose to follow or discard each day - and my day proves which choice was made! God, help me to make the wise choice!

1. Tithe Your Time.

I know that it sounds funny to use the word "tithe" when talking about the home because it is typically a word we associate with money, but the principle of tithing works with our time as well. There is something "magical" about the way that God blesses the remainder of what is first offered to Him. If you have tried tithing in your finances, you were undoubtedly amazed to discover how many times that the money "stretched" to meet your needs. There is no logical explanation - it is nothing more or less than God's blessing.

The same thing happens when you give Him the first of your time - it is equally amazing what you can accomplish in a day. I believe that there are two reasons for this. The first is obviously the fact that God blesses your day. The second is more practical - when you spend time in the word, you calm your spirit and focus on God. As you pray and commit your day to Him and ask Him to reveal His will for you that day, He brings His priorities to the front of your mind.

There have been days that I felt I had too much to do to sit and "read" and I was flustered and frustrated all day. I am learning that when I have a lot to do, this is the one thing that I cannot go with out - I must sit and focus my day with prayer - then I can accomplish all that God has for me that day. (And my attitude toward my work is better for it, too!)

Try it!

Just like scripture recommends that we "test" God and see if He really will bless our offered money, test Him on your time, too, and see what He will help you to accomplish each day!

2. Make your own schedule.

I began to see the value in this when I started doing daycare in my home about seven years ago, then again when my son was diagnosed with ADD. The day simply goes more smoothly when there is a set routine and the children always know what comes next. It prevents discipline problems and growly tummies. It helps you to stay on track, get back on track when you've had an interruption, and accomplish the important tasks each day.

I know that some of you like to be spontaneous and may feel that a schedule limits your creativity or boxes your day in too much. I have heard the same reasons for why people do not like to budget their finances. However, the same principle applies in both situations: when you live within your means, it gives you more freedom to do the things that you want to do financially.When you budget your time, you are able to accomplish the necessary tasks and also allow time for creativity. You can even budget a whole day for work and a whole day for fun if you need to!

Your schedule is yours! Make it work for you. You can be as detailed (or flexible) as you would like. Be sure to include both the tasks and relational things that you hope to accomplish each day. For example, you may choose to specify when you will do laundry or plan the evening meal, but also include things like reading scripture or playing with your children.

3. Make a list.

Typically, I have the same tasks every day, but with six children plus daycare, you can imagine that I get many interruptions throughout the day. A list helps me to get back on track. After praying for God's priorities, think of specific things that must be done that day and write them down.  You do not have to write down things that are already in your schedule, but if you like to cross things off the list, feel free to include them. Write down phone calls that must be made, errands to run, and things that are specific to that day. If there are other things that you would like to do, but they are not urgent, add them to another list of things to do later that week. To make your tasks easier to see at a glance, you can divide your list into categories such as:
things to do today
things to do this week
calls to make
errands to run

4. Reign in time wasters.

Once I discovered the world wide web, I also discovered that Time would stand still in my mind as I linked into one blog after another or read post after post on facebook. Soon I would realize that it was very late at night, or my children were being "neglected," or my morning work was left undone. I had to learn to put my internet time on my schedule and stick to it. That also helped me to prioritize what I most wanted to do with my free time. Some days I read blogs, others I write my blog or do research for other things that I would like to write. Nap time is my time slot for these ventures because it limits my time,  and the children do not require my attention. Once the children are up, my computer time is over.

You may have a different time waster - reading books, talking on the telephone, or watching TV can be huge time wasters. If you are not accomplishing  all that you could each day, it may be time to re-evaluate how much time you devote to your particular type of time waster and ask God to show you how to reign it in to a reasonable amount of time so that you are free to do ALL of His will for you each day.

5. Sometimes interruptions are God's appointments.

"There is time every day to do the perfect will of God."
My Grandma Brush read this quote in Joyful Woman magazine many years ago. It has impacted her life dramatically. It reminds her to be on the lookout for God's will each day, and set out to do it.

I have had to remind myself of this when my day does not go as I have planned. No matter what schedule I have printed or list I have made - even if I have taken time to try to "hear" God's will for me that day - sometimes something will happen that is totally unexpected and I have to adjust my day around it.

Our suburban broke down at the mall and I had to sit and wait for three hours...

A friend called with a heavy heart and needed to talk out her troubles...

Several times this winter my baby got sick and just wanted to be held all day for several days. It was so hard to sit in the chair and watch the house fall into a shambles, but that is what I needed to do because that was God's will for me those days. (I wish that I'd remembered this in time to have a better attitude about it all along).

Seeking out God's spontaneous Will will also include opportunities to share Christ with  people. Maybe the cashier at the grocery store needs to hear a word from the Lord today and He planned for it to come from your lips. Perhaps today is the day that you need to spend time with a shut-in or make dinner for a friend who just got out of the hospital.

Just remember to keep looking for God's Will all throughout the day. Sometimes His plan will surprise you!

Turn your day over to God.
Plan to accomplish much.
Allow God's plan to supersede yours.

THIS is how to make the most of every opportunity.


luvmil said...

Latisha: I like this article very much. Being "Time-minded" is an important virtue in being a good steward of all God has given us. For every season of life I have found myself having to "reboot" the schedule, always, as you pointed out, keeping God first. I like that idea of tithing our time. Thanks again for a thoughtful, gentle nudge towards a daily walk in the Spirit.
Mrs. Miller

lucyseay said...

Thanks, Latisha! I needed this so much! Great article....

joyfully2b4u said...

I, too, found this helpful--even the parts that I already knew =) Good reminders and suggestions!

Lisa Pewee said...

Thanks so much Tish; lately I've been depressed and bored with structure, but this have helped me rededicate myself to it!
Love you Lisa

Confessions of a Martha said...

Thank you for your kind comments.
Being structured does seem like such a chore sometimes!On the other hand, it is the difference between whether our day is fruitful or wasted. It's what we should all aspire to most of the time, anyway! We all need a good "lazy" day once in a while, too! (Just not every day!)

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