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Unfinished Business: A Lesson on Time Mis-Management

March 14, 2010

The other day I asked a friend for prayer. The exact words I used were “for God to enlarge my time.”

I know that is not really a fair request, expecting that God might bend space and time just for my own sense of personal productivity. But the many obligations and opportunities have been weighing on me.

Maybe what I was really asking was for some help in getting done all the things that are before me right now that, at the moment, are looking quite impossible.

It’s not that they’re all deadline-driven, although that is some of it. There is the stuff that goes along with my job, of course, which keeps growing and getting more challenging. But there is also a long list of other things that I want to do, because they are good opportunities: more writing, blogging and speaking on this subject of integrating work and spiritual life, for instance. And then there is my family – investing time into my marriage to keep it fresh and strong; and being a good father to my two teen-age daughters who need a strong model of good character now more than ever.

Instead of relishing a sense of accomplishment in all these things, lately I feel like I should be fully qualified to teach a course on Time Mismanagement. There are so many things on my to-do list that haven’t been crossed off, looming large but remaining in a suspended state of existence – a productivity purgatory – as they cast their ominous shadows over my daily schedule. It’s become so unmanageable that I am prone to just crumpling up that list after a while and throwing it away to start over again. That won’t make those tasks go away, but it might feel like a fresh start.

I am having trouble getting to it all. It would be so nice to feel caught up, just for a little while.

I know all about the practical advice:

Delegate!

Clean off your desk!

Prioritze!

Make an instant decision on every piece of information that comes before you!

Simplify!

But the tangled knot of my life can not be torn out like a page from a magazine.

If I start thinking about it too much, the weight of all that is unresolved, unfinished, and left undone feels as if it might just about chase me down and crush me at times.

Maybe I expect too much?

I must accept the fact that there are simply going to be many loose ends. And even more, I must trust in an infinite, loving God who knows the path before me, and who will provide grace enough to see me through.

So, for now, I will rest in that.  

Photo by nAncY. Used with permission. (Thanks, Nancy!)

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2010 12:44 pm

    i agree
    there are more “to dos”
    than we can
    actually
    get around to doing.

    thank you
    for using the photo,
    i was a sweet thing for you “to do”.

  2. March 14, 2010 12:45 pm

    My life it seems, is a series of loose ends. What seems pressing wins out over what seems less important. I pray that we all lay our lives out before God at the start of each day, and ask Him to guide us to not was is most expedient, but what is most important.

  3. Melo permalink
    March 14, 2010 1:36 pm

    Yes, the advice. *sigh* And the comments, “oh your desk is clear” as if it is the most amazing thing seen this millennium. And those instant decisions have a way of returning with sharp objects.

    Praying. Stretch time, stretch soul, stretch neck, arm, back, legs – walk, run, play — write a poem. 🙂 Go with the flow. Move. Breathe.

    Expand this heart to hold even this — so it can see what I cannot right now? So it never ceases to open up when everything else is closed.

    • March 15, 2010 5:29 am

      Melo- What an inspiring comment. Stretch time and soul – yes, there is a way. And I like how you put it. Move. Breathe. I should know this by now.

      And it is hilarious the way you said that instant decisions return with sharp objects. That made me laugh. Beware!!

  4. March 14, 2010 3:35 pm

    Just wanted to let you know I am praying for you. I enjoy your blog posts.

  5. March 14, 2010 5:01 pm

    Sometiems you just need to sit quietly and pray, just for a few minutes. Just pray, like we’re doing for you.

  6. March 14, 2010 6:49 pm

    “Come away with Me and rest awhile and learn the unforced rhythm of grace”.

  7. March 14, 2010 9:40 pm

    Wow…thanks for being so open and honest

  8. March 15, 2010 5:29 am

    Glynn, Kathleen, Michael – thanks for the comment and prayers.

  9. March 15, 2010 8:46 am

    It seems the more I manage my time, the more project come my way because … i manage my time so well.
    “Oh, you’re caught up, here’s more!”
    Ugh. The time death spiral!

  10. March 15, 2010 11:05 am

    You might enjoy slipping over to read LL Barkat’s post at Seedlings in Stone about the need to trim her schedule.

    I’ve let opportunities fill up my weekly schedule so full that I need to trim it down in order to be more effective at the things that matter most.

    But if I find that I can’t trim anything, then your conclusion sounds like a wise alternative: to accept the loose ends and rest in God’s grace.

  11. Andrew Turner permalink
    March 16, 2010 10:30 am

    I always found it interesting that Christ and every other great figure in the Bible took special, regular time alone with God. I’ve also been told that when you serve God according to the model he’s given, to let the chips fall where they may and he does the rest. Because I think it would be realistic to say that the work never stops, yet the Lord demands a sabbath rest as much as he commands us to not murder or steal, yet it’s often ignored as an anachronism or a mild suggestion.

    That said, the one point that I rely on is to simply take one day a week to suspend activity and rest.

  12. March 16, 2010 5:49 pm

    Edging ever closer. 🙂 Glad to find it in my comment box…

    you have every reason to set your words on the main table. Loved it.

  13. March 17, 2010 8:54 am

    I squeezed some prayer time in for your situation. Barely.

    I haven’t decided yet whether or not “being still” for a week has left my husband and I refreshed or feeling even more overwhelmed. I suppose it has something to do with all the looming spring clean home repair lists, graduating and/or job hunting or on spring break kids, health issues with extended family , a new work promotion that is fabulous but promises more wheel spinning but less travel, and less to do with the fact that we have a good track record or things working out okay and we need to just trust. Not easy, because I can’t just cross that off the list as something finished.

    appreciate your vulnerability here. Thank you.

  14. March 21, 2010 9:03 pm

    Thanks Bradley for this useful post. It reminds me of the basics in time management.

    You said “Maybe I expect too much?”. Sometimes, that’s my problem too.

    But when I pray and give my best then there should not be anymore reason for me to worry.

    When we have so many things to do, perhaps this one from Ed Silvoso would be of help:

    “The more I prayed, the more God’s hand showed up at work. The more He intervened, the better each project turned out.”

    God bless.

    Jose

  15. Michele Corbett permalink
    March 30, 2010 8:04 pm

    Bradley. I am in a small group right now where we are going through the workbook: “Restoring Margin to Overloaded Lives.” It’s seriously changing my life and I don’t usually feel that way about small group studies. Check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Restoring-Margin-Overloaded-Lives-Workbook/dp/1576831841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269997458&sr=8-1

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