Personal Time Management

Michael L. Ford, Th.D.

D.Min. Christian Counseling


It has been suggested time is the only possession, we really have. But do we have it? It is some-thing that passes through our fingers like sand through an hourglass. We can never recover it, add to it, or conserve it for a later date. We do not own time, we only exist in it. A brief portion of time has been allocated to us for our sojourn on earth by the One who “inhabiteth eternity.” Like our very souls He is the owner of our allotted time. Time is, in the final analysis, something we have been given a stewardship of and an accounting for. For we all must appear at the throne of God to give an account of the things done in the flesh. Whether one appears at the Mercy Seat Judgement or at the Great White Throne Judgement, the accounting will be about how we used this brief period of time. Whether Jesus Christ and God’s service was the purpose of our lives, or the point of rebellion. The stewardship of time should be very important to the believer.


It should be obvious to the reader that this counselor believes that how we spend our time reveals who or what is truly god of our lives. If we spend time polishing the car or with a boat when we should be at church, or on visitation, or studying and praying, our grown up toys are our gods. If we spend several hours each day watching television, why then television is our god, and we worship a one-eyed monster. If our time is spent on self-indulgence, then self is our god. If we allow others to use and control our lives, they have become our gods. The word of God reveals that He is determined that we shall have no other gods taking precedence over Him. It has been truly said that He has determined that “if He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”


Often people make the statement that they do not have enough time. Yet, other people about them may be doing and accomplishing much more than they can seem to get done. What is the difference? We each have the same amount of time, twenty-four hours each day. We have made decisions, some of which rule our daily activities for many years, about what we will do with our  allotted time. How a person spends their time testifies to what he considers important.


It is plain we need to give attention to managing our time well. A method needs to be developed to first gain control of a life that is out of control in its use of time. The flesh is always at war with the soul since the fall of man. The spirit yearns god-ward. The flesh is carnal sold under the sin of rebellion to God’s ownership of our lives. Evaluating our time is the evaluation of our stewardship of that resource the Lord has given to us. We should pray, “Oh Lord, teach us to number our days.”  Then our method of review needs to be periodically reapplied to evaluate whether or not the flesh has sought to circumvent the decisions of the mind and soul over time.



















Time Evaluation


1.       Establish a daily time record where you account for your time in five-minute increments. (Truckers do this continually, this is not an outrageous demand.)

2.       Keep your daily time record for a period of a month to take in the monthly demands upon your time.

3.       Make yourself a daily time record sheet, duplicate it for a months supply and keep it on a clipboard or in a folder.

4.       Keep the folder nearby continually.

5.       Use abbreviations you understand in your personal note making.

6.       Activities of extended time may be indicated by a word. If you have a form where the time is shown in segments, like a trucker’s log, you can show blocks of time with a straight line.

7.       Complete the daily record faithfully for the month.

8.       At the end of each day do a daily time analysis. Identify activities on a summary sheet. This includes your time spent eating, telephone calling, writing, witnessing, studying, counseling, etcetera.

9.       Tabulate number of hours spent in each activity.

10.   Now evaluate your time objectively and determine what your priorities should have been

a.       Which activities involved too much time and why?

b.       Which activities did you give too little time to and why?

c.       Which activities do you need to remove from your day?

d.       Which activities do you need to pass on to someone else?

e.       What did you not do that you should add to your day?

11.   Determine how much time you are wasting. In unnecessary travel. In changing from job to job, function to function, and so forth

12.   Each day, week, or monthly groups of activities that can be grouped together to be accomplished days and hours should be done so.

13.   Group things done in the same location to be done at the same time as much as possible.

14.   Evaluate trips so the maximum result is obtained from each excursion from your activity center.

15.   List everything that must be scheduled at various times because of the activities of others.

16.   Categorize activities that must be scheduled in sequences.

17.   Determine your peak productivity times and schedule functions that require high performance for those times.























Schedule Planning


When asked about the way we should then live in a world expecting the eminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have this advice to give. In holiness and abandonment to the Lord, we should live as if there is no tomorrow in this world to take account of. In preparation for service and utilization of the blessings bestowed upon us, we should number our days as if the allotted three score and ten will be ours to use productively. This means also that if the Lord gives us strength to endure past days of labor to serve as counsels to those that follow, we need to also have prepared for this eventuality as well.


Each day that we live should not be approached haphazardly. Though some have a talent for taking “gut reaction” and turning it into success, most of us find true achievement elusive without planning and preparing for it. The suspicion lingers with me that those with a talent for reactive response to “life situations” would also achieve more if their lives were lived under the discipline of planning.


The greatest example of planning is the Almighty God Himself. The Creation is evidence to the most marvelous design imaginable. But the pinnacle of all planning is that purpose He purposed in Christ, and which He has worked out from the foundations of the beginnings until the day when he demonstrates His righteousness and brings all things together in Himself. Then all will bow and acknowledge Him, among other things, as the Great Planner as the grand scheme of Creation is consummated and brought into the eternal realm. Who can beat that kind of planning?


1.       The Value of Long Range Planning

  1. Some things need to be scheduled several years in advance. Five and six year calendars are available. Long term planning is not goal setting. It is planning necessary for the accomplishment of goals already set into the context of a lifetime.
  2. Planning a yearly or thirteen month calendar. Preparation on a continuing revolving calendar should mean there is never a shortfall of resources set aside when the time comes for an annually recurring event to take place. Also, setting up an annual calendar helps to plan for expected needs in a coming year.
  3. Plan monthly. Previewing for the coming month helps to begin filling in the finer details. It also reviews to ensure that nothing has been missed.

2.       Short Term Planning

  1. The weekly filling in of details means you can complete your schedule as completely as possible.
  2. Time should always be allocated to care for the unexpected. (It rarely is enough when the unexpected occurs. Just think where you are if you do not have a breathing space.)

(1)     Take a little time on Saturday or Sunday to review your plans as accurately as you can.

(2)     Prioritize your events, appointments, and activities. When something has to give, remember your priorities.

(3)     Give yourself time limits. There is a principle that work expands to fill the time allotted it.

(4)     Do not be neglectful of family time, free time, and so forth.

  1. Daily review your weekly schedule-plan the day.

(1)     Review your priorities. Are they still the same?

(2)     Itemize your things to do. This functional checklist should be in a state of development and refinement as you go through the planning cycle.

i.                     Even things to do have a priority.

ii.                   Never hold on to things that need to be delegated.

iii.                  When a “thing to do” is on hold, or you are waiting on someone to complete their part. Use the time, either on the next item, or a thing to do that can be fitted in to the available time.

iv.                  Roll over leftovers into the next day. Evaluate why you did not accomplish all items. Do not work over for things that are not absolutely essential.

3.       Concentration.

  1. Give activities that require your attention, full attention.
  2. Moments of mental rest can handle two functions.


(1)     On the phone, on hold, go through junk mail. Sort out what you want to look at. Scan what might be interesting. Fill the wastebasket.

(2)     Traveling. Play tapes. Self Improvement, Bible, and preaching.

4.       Don’t Delay Things Because You Don’t Enjoy Them!!!

  1. Five minute jobs that are not enjoyed can be put off until they seriously damage your performance.
  2. Assign difficult jobs as high a priority as feasible. Remember what tasks you should be handled during your peak cycles.
  3. Annotate your list for each job accomplished so you can visibly see you are making progress.

5.       Managing Your Schedule

  1. God owns your time, commit it to Him.

(1)     “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” Matthew 6:33

(2)     Times are God’s hand. Psalm 31:15

(3)     Redeem the time. Colossians 4: 5

  1. Whatever governs or rules your time is your god. Time is given to us to use. If we misuse time, then Jesus Christ is not being given Lordship of our time.
  2. Do not allow your schedule to become your god either. An attitude of flexibility allows you to meet the unexpected successfully.

(1)     Accept the fact interruptions will come.

(2)     Interruptions can be divinely appointed opportunities or part of the warfare of the believer. Pray for discernment.

  1. Maximum effectiveness and fruitfulness requires self discipline.























Goal Setting and Planning to Accomplish Goals

            Managing time so work demands or assignments are met efficiently is not goal setting. What the efficient management of time can do is allow us to plan for the attain-ment of the goals of our lives. This requires that the individual does have clearly defined goals for the various areas of their life, and that planning is always done with those goals uppermost in their mind. People are supposed to be goal oriented. They were designed by their Creator to be goal-oriented beings. Without goals, even an organized time manager is a person who is drifting efficiently in an aimless direction. He will never achieve satisfaction in life, no matter what is accomplished, because he is never sure he has attained a single goal in life.                                                                                                  


            In a sense goal setting, goal planning, and time management are like some card games. Let me give you an example with a solitaire game called Free Cell. I encourage you to take a deck of cards and lay out the board so you can visualize what I am talking about:

In Free Cell you have a board layout of 52 cards arranged randomly in 8 horizontal lines. From left to right the first 4 vertical columns (down from the horizontal) contain 7 cards. The next 4 columns contain 6 cards in vertical columns. You have above on the left of the layout 4 imaginary places that can be filled temporarily with single cards, taken out of the columns below, and four places on the right that are to be used to arrange the four suits into ascending stacks beginning with the aces. Theoretically all random arrangements of the cards on the board constitute a solvable problem. That is life. Every life has the capacity for success.

The goal is to get the cards arranged into their suits in the upper right hand spaces. Think of this as the combined achievement of the series of goals set during life that go into the accomplishment of lifetime objects. You can even name each suit for a particular goal. For instance the spades suit might be building a financial position that will allow you to do what you want to do. Hearts can be spiritual goals, and diamonds could be familial goals, and so on.

To get your goals filled in each area (fill the suits) you may use the four imaginary temporary spaces (upper left) to hold single cards as you manipulate cards in the eight rows. Think of these blank spaces as places where you store resources and where you defer actions that you do not or should not accomplish at the moment.

You are trying to take the cards and move them where the can be brought up in order into the permanent stacks (safely into your completed goals category), ultimately winning the game. If you manipulate the cards so you can no longer move cards where you are placing a number one lower and of a different color than the one you have above it in the eight columns, you lose. To win, you must plan how you are going to achieve your goal of getting all the suits together, without being trapped without a move.

            Do you get the picture? Life requires a focus on the goal. Sometimes you have to deal with detours to get where you are headed, but without a clear goal, it is impossible to get back on track because you do not know what track is the right one. Free spaces in the Free Cell game represent jobs we can put off for a time or resources we can set up for a future endeavor. We can never put of too much or save up too much without hurting the effort we were trying to enable.

            Play the game of Free Cell. Think about the philosophy of the game I have described.  Develop your own insights into the game                                  

Goal Setting: Planning to be Goal Oriented

            The Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated the goal orientation of the godhead. He took His whole time on earth and kept it focused on one ultimate goal. The ultimate goal was to bring salvation to mankind by the satisfaction of God’s justice.

There were a whole series of intermediate goals that had to be realized along the way. His whole life had to satisfy every Biblical prophecy related to His coming. He had to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to Israel and see it rejected. He had to overcome temptation that man is subject to. He had to accomplish these intermediate goals, each one time. Nothing could deter Him.

Discouragement and depression takes over an individual’s life when there are no clearly defined goals, ending in ultimate objectives from which a person in their old age can look back upon their lives and be satisfied.

One of the saddest groups of people in the world are pastors who have no ultimate vision for their lives and service to God. They may serve a church and want it to grow. But that is ephemeral. They have no clear plan that they can follow to get there. Also they often have no vision for themselves beyond the moment. Deacons, often define their ambitions related to a job or profession, and do not include the church they may well serve for a lifetime. Other people shape goals tied to work or children, and find themselves lost when those things are gone. No matter who you are or what you do, the ultimate goals for your life must be shaped around the total you.

This might be surprising to you, but the same principles that apply to good leadership in your business enterprises will also work in application to your life. In business as in your life you need a clear vision of God that puts His view of what you are about at the head. In that vision of the mind of God, establish goals that fulfill that vision.


How to put goal accomplishing plans together:


1.       Establish the vision. All areas might not be immediately clear at the same time, but if you are really pursuing the mind of God in this, your ultimate formulation of a composite whole will be complimentary.

2.       Define priorities. What things are most important? What should be seen as paramount? What even can be sacrificed to accomplish greater goals? For instance, if a goal is financial, and it is necessary to other goals, then the foundation for those other goals must be laid by the right amount of financial success. Suppose you have goals to attain to a certain level of physical fitness, but you have more important goals that relate to time with family. You might find it more reasonable to decide not to train as much in the gym as needed for your physical goal in order to reach the more important goal with your family.

3.       Test objective. Goals must satisfy at least five tests if they are to qualify as realistic. These five tests ask if they are:





Inclusive of Significant Others

4.       Plan definite steps to reach goals that stand up to testing. Establish subordinate goals consistent with you life vision. The subordinate goals should be classified as of three types:

Short Term Goals- What I will do this week, this month, this year.

Intermediate Goals- What I will aim to do during the next one to five years.

Long Range Goals- What I plan to be achieving in five to ten years or longer.

      The total of this represents your program for action. It is only as good as your commitment to

       it. If your program is based on an honest belief you are following the will of God, your

      commitment should be unwavering.

5.       Review-

a. Periodically plan to stop and take stock of all that has ensued since you started out on the road of life:

How have things changed?

What do you know now that you did not know then? Consider that question in terms of yourself and others.

b. Each time a new door seems to open, stop and reassess what it means:

How does this effect your vision of the mind of God?

What will it likely mean to your goals?

Is it the Lord opening doors or is it a snare?

6.       Accept some modification

There are verities on which we can base what we believe in life.

There are uncertainties. Problems, pain, and trouble come into the live of all. They will make you better or bitter. They will bring you closer to your Lord or drive you away. You decide how these will impact your life.

7.       A Single Ultimate Goal: When you come to the end of life, you should be able to look back at the total of your life and be satisfied, secure in the knowledge you have lived to glorify God.







































Enlisting Others for Time Management


Goal Accomplishment


Other people are necessary to your achievement of Time Management. This is true first of all because the value they place on your time will determine the respect they accord the way they take up your time. For instance, an individual who constantly dawdles, delays, and visits when it is time to start the Sunday School class is not just being a jerk. He or she is demonstrating the value they assign to the teacher’s preparation, skill, and time; not to mention the subject matter being covered. The same is true on the job and in the home. People become interested in participating positively when they see real value in doing so. The individual who needs others cooperation to achieve efficient Time Management and reach Goals must convince the people, whose cooperation they need, that involvement is beneficial.


Key to enlisting others is the leadership style of the person who wants cooperation. The individual whose persona conveys a message of sufficiency, authoritarianism, or autocracy will soon find themselves on their own. This is especially true in situations where voluntary participation is needed. But with the prevailing attitude toward the workplace in this day, it is also true in business. We can guess that these models have probably never been truly successful in really enlisting willful and dedicated commitments to helping another person achieve their ends.


Neither will laissez faire or democratic styles or attitudes in leadership get what you want in terms of cooperation. The laissez faire style is lacking in a commitment of its own and democratic styles can see the goals taken away from you and changed. The only truly effective style is one of personal involvement where the individual is enlisted to become personally involved in the achievement of your goals. They take your goals as their own.


How is this individual enlistment of people into your goals accomplished? Basically put this is done through an investment of time and interest in the person you need with the hope that investment will return a dividend of dedication to the service you need them to perform.


Principles involved in the investment of yourself in others to reach your goals.


1.       Choose people who have the capacity to succeed.

People who have had a history of success in other endeavors are good possibilities for recruitment. But past success does not guarantee future success. A person interested in resting on their laurels has all their success behind them.

a.       Do not be afraid to use modern testing methods to confirm or dispute your assessment of an individual.

b.       Do not be afraid to utilize people who are in the beginning of their service life. But do be prepared to accept the mistakes of their inexperience.


2.       Choose people you are going to feel comfortable with.

Remember these are folks that you are going to involve yourself with daily. Personality conflicts will detract from you reaching your goals. If you are truly people oriented and the person you are thinking of recruiting grates on you, the likelihood exists they also similarly affect others.


3.       Convey to them your vision.

This does not mean that you need to communicate your entire set of plans and goals. You convey that part of the vision they will be needed to participate in.

  1. The picture must be real enough so they can envision for themselves the important role they will play in the program.
  2. The picture must be dynamic enough so they will be sold on the value of the vision.
  3. The picture must be flexible enough so they feel they can contribute to the vision.
  4. Let them know exactly what you need from them so your time is freed for other matters. It is not usually good to convey any attitude that what they will be accomplishing is somehow any less important than what you will be doing. The truth is the responsibilities they will handle are probably vital to you. It is just that they are delegable


4.       Invest in the development of the individual.

  1. Train people for success, because you have picked people worth investing in.
  2. All investment does not have to be oriented to the current job. Convey to the individual that you are interested, even committed to their growth in potential.
  3. Never resent people leaving you for better opportunity. They are likely to send you other opportunities and people in the future.


5.       Provide positive feedback

  1. Communicate your (genuine) appreciation for their assistance, dedication, etceteras regularly.
  2. Establish formal routine follow ups where suggestion for improvement can be made and suggestions can be heard on a one to one basis that is non-threatening.


6.       Reward performance.

  1. Some rewards should be promotions:

(1.)   By position (title and supervision responsibility)

(2.)   By responsibility (job description and area of duty coverage)

  1. Some rewards should be financial.

(1.)   By permanent pay raise

(2.)   By temporary Superior Performance Pay (6 mos. To year, renewable)

(3.)   By temporary Proficiency Pay (qualification standard, time limited, recertifiable)

(4.)   By bonus

(5.)   By paid time off/vacation.

  1. Some rewards should be recognition.

(1)     certificates

(2)     plaques

(3)     Recognition parking, etc.

(4)     Prominent photographic displays.

(5)     Newspaper releases.

Note: All rewards should be public and promoted as an inducement to others.


7.       Replace those who do not meet expectations as quickly as possible after it becomes obvious they cannot or will not help you to meet your goals.

  1. Delay hinders the performance of those committed to your success.
  2. Delay puts others perception of your commitment to the goals in jeopardy.
  3. Delay puts your commitment to the goals in jeopardy.
  4. Do not appear to others angry, spiteful, or vindictive about people that you have to remove. Communicate genuine sorrow about the necessity of having to lose them.
  5. Be careful of taking people back.

(1)     They may be secretly antagonistic to your success and goals.

(2)     They may feel you could not succeed without them.

(3)     They should not come back to the position they left.

(Entry level positions are usually best.)

(6)     Be clear about why they were allowed to return. This must be clear to you and to them.

(7)     Document reentry counseling.

Note: It is generally inadvisable to allow someone removed for cause to return.

            Jonsquill Ministries

P. O. Box 752

Buchanan, Georgia 30113