Meaningfully Managing Minutes . . .

During CMTC 1985, a session on Time Management was handled by a graduate. He galvanized the gathering through his concept and understanding of Time Management. That session was a propelling force that instigated me to chart out my plans for managing my time constructively. Returning from CMTC, I planned for a week on scheduling and managing time. Truly the action commenced, but hardly 48 hours had lapsed, I got back to square one. This became a recurrent pattern at the beginning of every New Year, as I tried to revive my learning about time management, yet fell short off. If you look for a prescription or a description on the subject, I am afraid that I have nothing to offer. As a co-learner with you, I would like to reflect on a few principles that can guide and motivate us towards the stewardship of time. C.S. Lewis said, “Think of me as a fellow patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice.”

Time Alone with God

Begin your day with Quiet Time. This is the secret of stalwarts who successfully managed their time effectively. This sets the tone for the day. Spiritual insights and inputs received at the beginning of the day provide you with the needed impetus and innate ability to manage your time. Even in prime time amidst all busy schedules, quiet time can never be taken for granted for this defines the rest of the day. Those night birds, who are not fresh in the morning, may spend time alone with God by night to calibrate themselves. If someone claims that they managed their time effectively and did great things for the Lord, it is the sheer grace of God, not the talent or experience of the individual. God’s pruning of our inner being, God’s power for our spiritual warfare, and God’s wisdom for excelling in studies and profession are imminent. It is better to place our challenges and constraints, works and worries, lists and limitations at the feet of the Master and allow Him to guide our paths through our life.

Identity – Goals, Roles and Responsibilities

You should be clear about your call and goal in life; your vision and mission; and your roles and responsibilities. Effective management of time starts from defining yourself in the light of your faithful answers to the above questions. Let me illustrate with a couple of examples.

As a student, your call is to be salt and light on the campus including the hostel. For an evangelical student, it is important to be a living testimony of Christ through faith in actions and reactions on campus. At the same time, you need to be a role model – leading by example as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ – by giving your best efforts in studies, exams, seminars, projects, presentations, co-curricular activities, etc. Your goal is to bring glory to God on the campus through your performance in academics. As part of the ICEU Committee or a cell leader, you may need to fulfill your roles in addition. You need to apportion your time in that order, not in reverse.

For a graduate, next to God, it would be the family – you, spouse and children; then comes the rest of the world. As a teacher/professional/businessman, you are called to give your best for the glory of His most Holy name and the extension of His kingdom. Further, added responsibilities in EU/EGF ministry and church come to the fore. This order should define your time, failing which problems and predicaments galore.

Every act, activity, role and responsibility demands time and is mostly fixed within the time frame of 24×7. Hence, stewardship of time begins with our understanding of who we are, what we are, and what we need to do.

We should learn to say NO to those which are not part of our call, vision, mission, role, and responsibility, since quite often we end up wasting much time doing what we are not, and what we should not be doing. Beware of pleasing people and accepting too many responsibilities that you cannot handle.

Gaining clarity in your roles and responsibilities enables you to balance your time in a meaningful manner.

Manage Your Priorities

Prayerfully seek wisdom to distinguish between what is ‘important’ and what is ‘urgent’, which will help us to balance our time. Eisenhower Matrix found in TODOIST website provides the needed insights for balancing time.


The above matrix gives deep insights to effectively manage time. Many times we are forced to do what is urgent but not important. Majority of our time gets wasted doing things that are, neither important nor urgent viz., our time on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TV, Sports, etc. Watch out for these time wasters and conserve your time to do something noble and beneficial.

Effectively Organize Yourself

To lift a load, a fulcrum is useful. Even the tiniest sliver of wood can serve as a toothpick. Following tips assist in organizing oneself in managing time:

• TO-DO LIST: Have a pocket diary or desktop planner, where a TO-DO list can be made. It could be for the day/week/month. Keep checking this list twice or more a day. This helps to organize systematically. You may give ranking and prioritize based on the urgency of the situation so that the order of our execution of work is regulated. Students may list out a study plan, academic and EU activities. Graduates may list out various assignments and activities. This can be done in the morning after Quiet Time and reviewed by night.

• CHECKLISTS: This is also a wonderful tool for our studies, especially for semester or competitive or departmental exams. This helps during planning and executing a big project or event and ensures coverage of all aspects of requirements for effective delegation of responsibilities. Depending on the magnitude of the event, there could be multi-layer checklists.

• SCHEDULE: Scheduling is an important element in time management. This comes through practice. Sometimes we learn from mistakes but mature over time. As students, scheduling of studies – on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, and ahead of examinations would produce expected outcomes. Have cushion time or additional allowance as tolerances and avoid planning very tightly.

• PLAN-B: During execution, it is important to always have Plan B or Contingency Plan so that we do not fail in our plans. This defines our success and defies all odds that compound or complicate our plans and projects.

• REMINDERS: Set reminders through stickers, mobile phones, and diaries that would facilitate you to do the work without delay and on time. Keep white boards to scribble.

• REFRESH: Press ‘refresh’ button quite often. Your best output comes out when you are fresh, not in sleep mode. Find pockets of time that suit you to do the best. Power naps help us to recharge ourselves quickly. A small game or workout outdoors can revive our energy. Even walking through a garden or sighting a wonderful environment can relieve from stresses.

• REST COMPONENT: In organizing your time, deliberately plan and schedule times for resting your mind and body – on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis so that you can recoup, recreate, revive and rejuvenate and prepare for greater roles.

We do not live in a perfect environment with a perfect setting. We live alongside our limitations and fear failure which hinders our pursuit of excellence in all our dealings and puts us off from initiating any enterprising activity. Failure is one of the better teachers. Rev. Dr. Theodore Williams wrote, ‘Failure is never final with God; our God is always a God of a second chance.’ Hence, in the pursuit of managing our time, we should keep learning and growing so that we may glow for the glory of His most Holy name!

A. Clement Barnabas, IRSME is now working as Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer in Goldenrock Workshops, Southern Railway, Trichy. He is associated with UESI for the past 38 years since his student days. His wife Dr. K. Shanthi is working as Asst. Professor in English and Associate Dean at Bishop Heber College, Trichy. Their only son Naveen Joshua is in the final year of MBBS at Government Medical College, Thiruvarur.

No Comments

Post A Comment