Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plans For the Rest of the Year

I've been spending a little time this morning, planning out my opportunities and priorities for the rest of the year. It's an exercise I have to undertake regularly due to my propensity to over commit. I am ambitious, sometimes to a fault, and sometimes live like my time and energy are without limit. Boy howdy, am I wrong about that or what?

I have to keep reminding myself, that the principles of sound money management apply in other areas of life, too. You know, tithe, spend less than you earn, budget, save, don't do debt..... They are all translatable to most areas. At 52, I'm still learning that. And, I appear to be a slow learner.

Here's what I'm thinking:

Tithe: While I'm not a legalist, I do believe in tithing. In fact, I believe the tithe (10%) is a minimum giving principle rather than a target. But more on that another day.

In context of time and energy, I apply that to my time with and for God. I jealously guard my 'quiet time' in the morning. I normally read three chapters of the Bible a day. It takes only a few moments. I also have a color code system I use for marking certain subjects as I read. Each time I read through the Bible, I look for different topics. I choose them and assign a color. Whenever I find that topic, I underline or circle with the appropriate color. I put a key in the front of that Bible, so I know what I was looking for. Mostly I buy cheap paperback Bibles, so I can mark them up without feeling guilty. I have quite a collection of marked up paperback Bibles.

I try not to miss Church. Some weeks I don't want to go, just like I don't always want to balance my checkbook. But I do it anyway, because it's right. Church is where I worship and learn. It's a part of my relationship with God. Skipping Church is like telling your wife you love her, but always skipping her birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day and going on dates. That dog just don't hunt.

But I also, budget in time for some kind of ministry. Because my schedule is so tight, I have to choose wisely, commit responsibly, say 'no' often and fulfill my commitments in the areas I serve. Currently, I am on our Church's Missions team and Outreach Steering Committee. That's it. Oh, I am the fill in teacher for our Adult Bible Study class. But that's only a few times a year. There are many other worthy, even desirable projects, but I have to refuse.

Just like with my finances, I budget my God time first. He matters most.

Budget: I absolutely MUST spend time prioritizing my time and energy. I've already stated that. If I don't consciously budget it, I will overspend...... badly. Then the urgent will usurp the important and I will be in a heap of hurt. I've started doing it on paper, just like with my money.

Wife Time: I enjoy spending time with my bride. She's my favorite person to hang with. But in my frantic, busy world, she can get left out. What a tragedy. So I protect some time each week for us. Friday nights is grocery night. We do that together. It's fun. It's us. It's weird. On Saturdays, except for a few during hunting season, we spend the day together doing stuff. Maybe it's yard work, maybe it's shopping, maybe it's a movie, maybe it's a dog show. But it's Sam n B day.

I have to budget all my time, because I have so many irons in the fire and so many things I want to accomplish. My job requires a huge time commitment and since B and I have grown accustomed to things like indoor plumbing, eating regularly and having electricity, I try and stay employed.

But I also am working on finishing my Master's degree and then a Doctorate ('one brick at a time, my good citizens'), trying to get fit and race a sleddog event this winter, maintain my garden, write more books, get some hunting and fishing done, to name a few. If I don't literally budget my time and energy, life becomes total chaos.

Spend less than you earn - that means not over committing. Rest is crucial. Going fishing, napping, walking the dogs, reading a book. Those are all ways I know I've got some balance. When I don't get to do those things, I know I'm going into debt.

Save - Rainy days come. Emergencies happen. We have to make sure we have some time and energy in the bank. And it takes coordination to make that happen. I have to plan ahead or life gets away from me. Take family for example, I want to see my children and grandchildren at least once a year, but we live a long way apart. If we lived across town, it would be easy, but we don't. So I have to plan ahead to make time in my schedule so those visits can happen.

Recently, Brittan made contact with a half sister (their biological mother had given her up for adoption at birth) she has never met. Fortunately, we live in the age of webcams, skype and Instant Messenger, so they have been able to communicate pretty much daily since they found each other. Brittan wants us to go to Kansas, so they can get together. Well, Duh! But my first response was, "You'll have to go alone. I don't have time." What kind of crappy answer is that? Fortunately, I do budget my vacation time at work and save a few days for emergencies and spur of the moment opportunities. I have to do some juggling, but I will make it happen. If I used up all my personal time off the way some of my co workers do, I'd never be able to do something like this.

Ok, I'm far from perfect at these things. I'm still learning. I'm still getting it wrong as often as I'm getting it right, but I am certain that life management is akin to money management. It's doable and necessary. Hmm........... maybe there's another book idea in there somewhere!


Niecey said...

I've starred this because I hope to learn this lesson before I reach 52. (not that 52 is THAT old). This is such a valuable lesson. Even just today, Rene and I sat and threw out a ton of things we needed and wanted to get done today, then said suddenly remembered we had planned to have some friends over for a bbq today. So much will be neglected and we'll need to go to the grocery store and clean up the house in preparation for our friends coming. Soooo much to do. I need to take charge of the schedule and get organized with it. It's a big mess just now, I haven't even had time to go water or weed the garden for a few days.

Snobound said...

Excellent post and something I think we can all learn from. We could all learn a lesson or two on how to say "no" to things that just don't fit into our schedule - even the worthy things. Time management is a skill that we often neglect. We work hard, find ways to take shortcuts, and cut corners in an attempt to "store up" extra time to use later on. But somehow we always lose track of all that time we saved and find other ways in which to fill it...usually with more work. And before we know it our number is up and our time is over and we're wishing we'd done things a whole lot differently.