Time management for the soul
by Dayna E. Mazzuca
The needs of the soul cannot be met on the run, in bite-sized chunks of time. Distraction is toxic to our inner lives, while quiet time is the antidote. In each season of life it’s important to have a built-in, non-negotiable, prioritized quiet time in our day. Good time management is truly good, and even essential, for the soul.
While giving daily priority to the needs of our soul might sound unrealistic, it can be done. Whether you’re living through a slow season, surviving a busy season or thriving in a productive season, it’s never a good idea to run on empty inside for too long. In a practical way, it all comes down to good time management – whatever the season.
A Season of Reflection
In some seasons, life slows to a crawl. This is true if a newborn, or an elder in need, is on the scene, soaking up large amounts of our attention. Life can also slow down during unemployment or underemployment. Hours, days and weeks can drag by. And, of course, illness also can commandeer the calendar. This is resource allocation in its simplest form.
In this season good time management means we schedule quiet times with the Lord, but also make sure we’re getting out and engaging with the world at a pace that matches our capacity. One outing a day, or three a week might be a good goal. Even a walk to the park can count as a “successful outing” if you’re sleep-deprived, depressed or suffering bodily pain. Thoughtful, well-paced activities are key.
1. Budget your time like you would a weekly paycheque. Make the sure the basics are covered: you need rest and minimal, but meaningful activity.
2. Screen time is deadly to reflective rest and thoughtful activity. This is the time to limit time online, even if you’re job searching. It’s important to get out the door.
3. Get enough sleep, but not too much.
A Season of Survival
In other seasons we need to work longer, harder hours in order to make it all come together. This happens when we overschedule our children in September and serve as stressed-out chauffeurs for the next 10 months. Or when we take on a work project we don’t have capacity for. Or when we fail to say no to family commitments that strap us physically and economically. The list goes on. It can be overwhelming.
This is the time to put a date on the calendar to reevaluate what’s working and what’s not. Take one minute to look at your year’s calendar. Grab a red pen and mark off one day to reevaluate what you want the next 12 months to look like. Ask yourself, “Can I keep going?” If yes, is this the direction you want to go? If yes, how can you build in buffer zones into your weekly schedule to assure you reach your destination? Buffer zones give your body, mind and soul a breather. Building in soulfully nutritional breaks is like giving yourself time to enjoy the view before life passes you by!
1. Set aside a day down the road to reevaluate how much gas you have in your personal tank and if you’re heading in the right direction.
2. Look at your calendar: if you don’t have a daily buffer zone of down time of at least 30 minutes, slate one in.
3. Don’t neglect your need for quiet time in the midst of the chaos..
A Season to Rejoice
The third season of life is enviable: When life is running smoothly and we are at peace with the world. We’re productive, effective and generally optimistic about the future. This is when we enjoy spending time with those we love, doing what we’re good at and resting in between. There is balance and joy in this season. Time management becomes a matter of using good tools to maximize outcomes. We still need reminders to focus on what’s important versus what is urgent.
Reflection is not the priority in this season, this is when we are living our prioritites. Our routines are healthy and life-giving. We have a finite number of hours to sow before we reap. Make the most of it without feeling guilty or selfish. This is the time to enjoy – and share by spending time with others.
1. If you’re in the “time” of your life when it all comes together, do not feel guilty. When you’re productive, effective and at peace with the world, rejoice.
2. Balance your week with activity and people. You have much to give and it won’t cost you anything to let the abundance you’re experiencing overflow into other people’s lives. You should have at least one personal meeting set with someone you care about per week.
3. If you don’t have a quiet time with God built in to your day, do that now. If you need to get up earlier, do that, or go to bed earlier. Give God your best, even when things are going so well!
Dayna Mazzuca is a professional Christian writer who has taught time management to business students in Calgary, and written on the topic for parenting magazines. She has lived for more than 20 years according to a Sabbath-oriented rhythm of life.