Friday, January 25, 2013

A Time Management Perspective for Marthas

Being a classic Martha myself, I'm fascinated by time-management techniques used by successful people. These are the folks who accomplish so much it makes me dizzy. People who approach each day with purpose. Good stewards of their time.

I never see these people curl up into a fetal position when faced with multiple goals and challenges or wave their fists at the sky when something unexpected pops up. (Now you know my secret. How embarrassing.)

At one time, I hoped to write an article on time management techniques, and I interviewed a retired businessman, a military man, and a busy housewife and mother, all the while hoping to find the perfect organizational tool. They brought to light many practical suggestions about the use of lists and goal-planning--have a separate errand list, keep a calendar on the refrigerator, don't add to the list until something is crossed off--but it wasn't until I overheard a chance comment at Bible Study that I thought I might have found my mentor.

"If I don't get something done, I don't worry about it."

What peace! What bravery! What insanity!! I wanted to know this woman's secret (I'll call her Mary), so I immediately scheduled an interview.

Many of her suggestions were similar to what I'd used before. But then things got weird.

"How many goals do you set for the day?"


One? One??? The military man limited himself to five, and I thought that was a daunting challenge. But Mary didn't stop there.

I don't plan my menus in advance. I take it one day at a time to allow for cravings--mine or another family member's. 

I usually load up on sale items and then try to force them into an often unpalatable menu. I have buy-one-get-one-free kale rotting in my refrigerator because I don't know what to do with it. (But buy-one-get-one-free deals are too good to pass up, right? Right?)

The interview almost came to an end when  I caught Mary in a possible falsehood.   Instead of answering every call for help from volunteer committees and then grumbling later, Mary realizes that her family is her ministry! They come first.

I threw down my pen and cried out, "What gives? You're messing with me, right? I know you get a zillion things done. You have a family. You have work. You have school. You have extracurricular activities. And you're not walking around like a zombie. You're happy!"

And then came her super-duper secret. Are you ready?


How could God be happy with my fragmented day filled with half-started projects and too many to-do items?

She advised me that interruptions can be His way of giving us a break, or taking us someplace else He needs us to be.

Pause and think about that one.  Then think about it again. I'm sure you didn't get it the first time. I know I didn't.

So, when I'm inflicted by 21st Century ADD--squirrel--that thing that caught my attention, that person who phoned while I'm writing this blog, that last minute errand I suddenly remembered right after I put the laundry in could all be part of God's plan?

Could my failures, my incompletes, and my frustrations be His way of teaching me humility, perseverance, or patience? You mean there's VALUE in not being perfect???

Jesus told Martha that paying attention to Him was more important than making sure the linen napkins were ironed. (My paraphrase.)

I might have a literal fit if I try to limit myself to one goal per day, at least at first, but by being present, I can do ONE thing at a time so that my mind is exactly where it needs to be when He has something He wants done.

Because God's to-do list is the only one that matters. 

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