Prioritize for Results

November 23, 2020

By David VanEpps

“If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Have you ever wondered why that expression is true? It’s because busy people are masters of time management. Busy people don’t think of each day as 24 hours—they think of it as 86,400 prioritized and planned seconds. We have 86,400 opportunities every day, and the best part is that we get to choose how to use every second. To optimize our time, prioritization is key.

God’s View of Prioritization

Throughout His life on earth, Jesus prioritized the work He was given to do by the Father.  He shared those priorities throughout scripture.  Matthew 6:33 (NIV) says, “But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Jesus wants our first and foremost priority to be seeking the kingdom of God.

In the book of Matthew, He was asked which commandment is the greatest.  In verses 37-39, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Throughout his life on earth, Jesus perfectly prioritized the work He was given to do by the Father.  Jesus also modeled priorities in how He spent His time:

  • At least 40 times in the Gospels, it is mentioned that Jesus went to spend time alone in prayer with the Father
  • Jesus also spent an incredible amount of time with the “least of these”, the poor, sick, and marginalized.
  • There are countless stories of the miracles that Jesus worked to heal and to help, even when it seemed to be an interruption or when He was fatigued from other things.
  • Jesus, often referred to as Teacher, spent considerable time teaching about the heart of God

Manage Your Time

There’s an old saying that if you want to know what’s important to someone, look at their calendar and their checkbook.  Wherever someone is spending their time and money is likely their priority. People generally agree that money is finite, and more than half of Americans budget their money to spend this limited resource on their most important priorities.  However, that attitude rarely translates into how we treat time, which too is a limited resource.

A good way to begin to manage our time is to look at our calendar and to-do list:

  • The Calendar is best suited for items that are constrained to a given start and end time.  This includes meetings at work, kids’ soccer practice, doctor appointments, etc.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always reflect our priorities.  When putting items on your calendar, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?” The calendar should also include time we carve out for God and ourselves.  This can include intentionally blocking time to spend in scripture each day, time for exercise, etc.  Our top priorities in life should be reflected in the calendar with dedicated, blocked time.
  • The To-do list is best suited for items that aren’t constrained to a given start and end time but are important to address.  When applying time against the to-do list, start with the highest priorities and work your way down.  With each task, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?” When there are tasks that cannot be handled in a single chunk of time, do your best to break the task into smaller, more manageable parts.

Manage Your Distractions

Everything screams for your time. Phone calls, texts, emails, and notifications are all competing for your time and your focus.   Despite what many people think, we are not efficient multi-taskers, and unlike powerful computers, our brain is only capable of focusing on one task at a time. When emails arrive or notifications pop up on your phone, resist the urge to give them your attention until you’re done with the current task.

Putting it Together

Life is short, and you can go through the motions of life and allow time to control you, or you can act and take control. Too often we use the excuse, “I’m too busy.”  While we’re using the excuse, people who are much busier are finding ways to get things done. Rather than letting those 86,400 seconds slip away every day, put them to work for you.

Make it a priority to set aside time to think about the following:

  • What is your purpose in life?
  • What are your priorities in life?
  • What are your passions in life?
  • Are your calendar and to-do list reflective of your priorities?

If not, make today your day, and optimize the limited resource of time.

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