The company where I worked as engineer periodically provided consultants to give us time management or productivity training. Various books on prioritizing and avoiding the tyranny of the urgent circulated among us. All the plans ultimately boiled down to: write the things you need to do in a list, designate the items #1, 2, or 3 by relative importance, then start with the #1s.
Invariably a wag among us would ask, “What if you don’t have time to make a list?” The instructor would politely laugh at the thousandth time he’d heard that one and answer something like, “Write down, ‘Make a list,’ on any piece of paper then put a #1 beside it.” Unfortunately, Kit and have been in hectic situations for months in which we felt like we didn’t have to make a list.
Too bad, because the principle of list making has been proven to improve effectiveness. Unlike many people, I’m a natural list-maker. First the list de-clutters my head trying to remember all I need to do. Secondly, the list combines all the tasks into one big job. When I’m working on the list, I don’t feel guilty about neglecting something specific, because I’m working on the one big job.
In addition to peace of mind, Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the most of our time. So I’m a believer in effective time management. But I think that one category of task should be prioritized even before #1 important. Those are the things that if not done will require much more time later. For example, I know to add fuel stabilizer to our lawn mowers before winter. Two years ago I felt too busy speaking and writing to mess with lawnmowers. The following spring we had to take each of three mowers to have the carburetors cleaned–perhaps 100X as much time and effort as protecting them would have been. Time and effort that could have been spent on more important things including speaking and writing.
If you’re not a natural list maker, I encourage you to try it for the new year. Several incidents of wasted time due to poor planning have forced Kit and I to do what I already know is effective–make a list. And yes, our lawnmowers have been winterized for this year.