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Multiplying Time

So…. *twiddles thumbs* How was your week? Mine’s been good–very, very busy, but good.

A while ago I read this blog post (and I just finally got around to watching the TED talk she references this week–it was really good!) about multiplying time. It’s been a really helpful way to think about resource management. Basically, you start by asking if whatever you’re spending time/energy/money on is actually necessary. If it’s not, you get rid of the thing. If it is, then you ask yourself if there’s a way to invest the resource in such a way as to get more back later in that particular area. In the TED talk, Rory Vaden talks about the two options for this–automating or delegating. So I can spend extra time setting up automatic bill pay and it’ll save me time later. Or I can teach my daughters to load their own dishes into the dishwasher and it’ll save me time every day thereafter. Or I can take extra time to organize my stuff drawer and save time when I’m trying to find something in it and money when I don’t buy an eighth container of super glue (can you tell I organized my stuff drawer this week? :)). Vaden calls it three dimensional time management, where you take into account the significance equation.

One way I’ve been trying to apply this principle is to have a routine for my morning and evening. I’ve had routines before, but the past several years my routine has consisted of things like trying to drag myself out of bed even on the mornings when I feel awful or deciding if I can put my clothes on while I’m standing up or if I need to be sitting down to do it. Real exciting 🙂 Anyway! I realized when I was making a list of the things I would actually want to get done in a perfect morning  (and the most efficient order to do them in ;)) that the things I don’t usually get done are all the things that would either give me more time/energy the next day or that are significant to me. It definitely gave me the permission I needed to concentrate on actually implementing my routine.

So all this stuff has been rattling around in my head for a month or two and then yesterday this verse jumped out at me: Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” [Col 4:17 NIV]

Bam! There’s that significance equation. I realized that this past week I’ve been so busy trying to somehow shove 18 months (yes, that’s really how long I’ve been sick!) worth of neglected house cleaning into a month that I’ve been neglecting my ministry. Yes, I’ve still been putting time and energy into my mothering. But mothering is only one of the ministries God has given me. Granted, I’d consider it the more important one, which is why it’s still getting done. However, I haven’t written a lick all week, which makes me feel cranky and drained.

My husband and I were talking last night about how we probably won’t look back on our lives and think, “Man, wasn’t it great that the house was clean?” Note: I am totally not advocating messy houses here–that’s a whole different issue. I love having the house clean. I’m a type four–I have trouble thinking when the house is a disaster. But we’ve addressed our house cleaning issues. We automated it by creating a specific times for cleaning different things. Despite that fact, I was getting sucked into cleaning/organizing way more than the time we’d already set aside.

I’m pretty sure that I will look back and be more concerned about the ministry I left undone than the house I left uncleaned.

I love this quote from The Hobbit (the movie). Gandalf has already told Bilbo that he’s looking for someone to share in an adventure and Bilbo replies that he’s not surprised Gandalf has been having a hard time finding someone since they’re “uncomfortable” and “make you late for dinner.” Gandalf says, “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me: when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young hobbit who always was running off in search of elves and the woods, who would stay out late, and come home after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies. A young hobbit who would have liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps; it’s out there.”

So, since January is a big tweak-your-time-management-strategies month, I will leave us with this question: Are we making time for the things that are significant or are we getting sidetracked with doilies and dishes?

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