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How ironic!  Two posts ago, my blog was about times and seasons, in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  So what happens? –

In case you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t post last week. I missed my self-imposed deadline.

I can only plead the “tyranny of the urgent.”  Situations arise that must be handled immediately regardless of other plans.  As Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 so eloquently states, there is an appointed time for everything.  Sometimes we just have to adjust our schedules.

That excuse does not always apply.  I come from a long line of procrastinators, so all too often I just don’t get around to doing what I need to do.   As the saying goes, “never do today, what you can postpone until tomorrow.”

That reminds me of a warning notice I saw years ago.  In the District Court in my home county where I was a public defender, so many defendants missed appointments and failed to turn in required paperwork before their court hearings, that the Probation Department posted a sign that read: “Your lack of planning is not my emergency.”  How often I wished I could say the same thing!

A legal office often receives inquiries that require speedy answers.  Even if the problem could have been avoided by some timely action, we cannot now just ignore it.  The government is not lenient nor friendly toward the tardy.  Their deadlines are demanding dictators.  And, of course, I can’t just ignore my boss, either.

To counteract my genetic predisposition for procrastination, I rely on planning and priorities.  This process will not prevent the emergencies, but perhaps will give sufficient room to react without thereby causing other problems.

‘To-do’ lists are essential.  For me, if ‘it’ isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist.  I can no longer rely on my memory to remind me of all that must be done, if I ever really could.  Too many ‘senior moments.’

Then I evaluate my projects to determine their importance.  What are the priorities?  Do them FIRST.  If something has to give way, I would rather fail to complete something that doesn’t matter that much.  This is a hard one for me — why?   I would rather do something I love doing, no matter how trivial, than do an extremely important matter that I detest doing.   Overcoming this obstacle requires discipline and determination, and tremendous reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.  “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13.  I certainly can’t do them in my own strength – that is a recipe for failure.

Breaking down a project into manageable pieces helps.  What are the lag times of various steps involved in a project?  What resources do I need?  How long will it take to get them?  Do others need to be involved?  What are THEIR time constraints?

I also keep a list of things that won’t take long so that when I have a few odd moments, I can actually accomplish something instead of frittering the time away.  And it makes me feel great to check an item off my list.

So, what are your practice tips for time management?

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