“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
God’s Word calls us to live in a way that is wise. We need to make the best use of our time here on earth. The Greek could also be translated, “redeeming the time.” That means not wasting your time or pursuing selfish gain. In his book titled Redeeming Your Time, Jordan Raynor writes:
“Why are we commanded to redeem our time? Not so we will have more time to spend on selfish pursuits. We are called to redeem our time because ‘the days are evil’ and we are running out time to do ‘the will of the Lord’…redeeming your time allows you to do more good works for others that bring glory to God (Mat 5:16), create for his eternal kingdom (1Cor. 15:58), make disciples (Mt. 28:19), impress the Lord’s commands on your children (Deut. 6:6-7), and enjoy God and his good blessings (Phil. 4:4).”
Often I don’t make the best use of my time. I waste time on my phone. I put too much energy into things with no eternal value. I work for godly things but without the best approach. In Jordan Raynor’s book, he lays out seven biblical principles for being “purposeful, present and wildly productive.” You can read my outline of those seven principles here. They are very helpful. For now, I just want to focus on three important areas that will help us make the best use of the time we have.
Plan & Be Purposeful
Whether it’s work, family, or ministry, much of our days are driven by other people’s expectations and the demand of the urgent. It’s easy to run from one task to the next without prioritizing what’s most important or organizing a plan to get it done. We each need to identify our God-given mission, calling, and roles and then orient our lives for this work. And if you are Feeling Crushed by Busyness, you may need to identify some tasks to diminish, delay, delegate, or delete.
Raynor advocates developing a “single tracking system” to organize your workflow (not only for your job, but family and ministry as well). Being purposeful and productive means we need to define our goals, develop action items, plan tasks, organize a calendar, budget time, and keep track of a to-do list. This can be done on your computer, on a phone app, or in a regular notebook – but unless you have an organized strategy, you’re likely not making the best use of your time. Making the best use of our time means we need a plan.
Cut Out the Noise
It is no surprise that since the invention of the cell phone, our productivity has decreased and stress and mental health struggles have increased. Our lives are filled with too much noise, too much distraction, too much needless information. Filling our days with the noise of technology limits our ability to think, make decisions, be creative, find rest and peace, and listen to God. We need to be proactive to carve out times of silence, stillness, and reflection. Here are a few practical ways to cut out the noise:
- If you use social media, mobile games, or apps that utilize infinite scrolling, set limits for yourself. Use the time limit feature on your phone or simply remove those apps from your phone during the work week. Device addiction is real. Set boundaries so your phone doesn’t control you.
- Don’t fill all the spaces and crevices in your day with noise (i.e. time on your phone). When you are in line at the store or waiting for class to start, don’t reach for your phone. Just be still. Appreciate the downtime. Get bored. This will enable you to think, dream, pray, get creative, and prioritize the stuff on your mind.
- When you are doing intense work or study – what Raynor calls “deep work” – put your phone away. Don’t be ruled by notifications – check text messages and emails when it is right for you. Even having your phone in the room – even if it’s silent – affects your focus and concentration. This is also true for important meetings, family meals, and time with friends.
- Plan times throughout your day for silence, solitude, and mental rest. When you wake up, don’t look at your phone right away (yes, this means you need to look at the weather the night before!). Instead, spend your first moments awake thinking, praying, reading the Word, and getting ready for the day with a quiet heart. During the day, make time to take a walk, sit outside, think, daydream, journal, read, and pray. Before bed, put your phone on the charger outside of your bedroom so that you have downtime to think and unwind at the end of the day.
Rest & Recharge
If we want to be purposeful, present, and productive we need to practice consistent rhythms of rest because our minds and bodies are more effective when we are recharged. That means we can’t work twelve hours straight and expect to be healthy and productive. In fact, Raynor looks at the science to show that after 90 minutes of deep, intense work our brain function and productivity decreases – unless we take a short rest. So, take breaks throughout the day: get up from your desk (or truck, or kitchen), take a walk, pray, listen to your favorite song, or talk to a friend. And then return to your work with a clear head and refreshed heart.
We also can’t make the best use of our time without proper sleep. Studies show that our bodies need about 7-9 hours of sleep each night to reach our fullest potential. You may think you have too much to do to sleep that much, but you’ll make better use of your time if you do! Studies show that not getting enough sleep negatively impacts physical health, emotional health, productivity, creativity, concentration, and retention. Your life is too important not to get enough sleep. Put all that you still need to do in God’s hands, trust him, and go to bed.
Additionally, every week we need a full day of rest. God rested after creation, and then he put the need for Sabbath rest on his top ten list (Ex. 20:8-11)! Getting real rest one day a week will actually increase your productivity the rest of the week. A day of Sabbath rest doesn’t mean sleeping all day, playing video games, or doing nothing. It means taking a day off from work (however you define work) and being purposeful to spend time with the people and engage in the activities that help you recharge. If you can, plan your day of rest on Sundays so that worship with the church is the springboard into a day of refreshment. Your day of rest could include time with family and friends, quiet and solitude, exercise, the outdoors, reading, music, and good food.
Redeem Your Time
We sometimes wish we had more than 24 hours in a day, but 24 hours is what God gave us because it’s all we need. By God’s grace, we can redeem each and every one of those hours to be purposeful, present, and productive.