Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Problem with Time

Sorry for the digression yesterday.  I suppose I really do write about whatever strikes my fancy.  I love to think about education policy and my community is in a painful upheaval right now, so I wrote.
My motivation for good time management: five people.  Sometimes also the roller coaster.
January has almost passed and I never even made resolutions.  Or, more accurately, I ignored the entire idea of assessing where I am and where I'd like to go this year.  Except:
I'd like to master biscuits from scratch.
And pie crusts from scratch.  (yeesh, I sense a trend.)

Time management has eluded me these last few months.  It's as if I can't bear to think beyond the next emergency task at hand.  I have spent my time reacting, not being intentional and planning ahead.  Okay, that isn't entirely accurate--I have almost navigated a pretty major home renovation project that I'll post in a couple of weeks, when it is finally done.

I know FlyLady.  I love Steven Pressfield and Julia Cameron.  I put my entire family on Cozi.  But I can't get the big picture, and I have been struggling and avoiding the reality of it.

Until today.  I read Isaiah 38 and it hit me between the eyes.  Here it is:  King Hezekiah was doing his darnedest to fend off enemies and preserve Jerusalem, all while honoring God.  Then he got sick, really sick.  Like, Isaiah told him he was a goner sick.  So Hezekiah "turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord,...Hezekiah wept bitterly." (v. 2 and 3)  And do you know what?  God decided to give Hezekiah more time.  Isaiah told Hezekiah that God said, "I will add fifteen years to your life." (v. 5)

God said, "You have fifteen more years."  I wonder, why in the world did God tell Hezekiah how much time he had left?  Would I want to know, or would it paralyze me?  The Bible tells us in 2 Kings* that these fifteen years were Hezekiah's most productive: he had ALL of his children after this illness, and he did an amazing amount of work in the temple and with the scrolls.  He got busy and used that time.  Maybe knowing what he'd been given lit a fire underneath him.  It was the ultimate clarifying moment.

I've become acutely aware of the passage of time.  Not the minute-to-minute time, but TIME.  How short the time is, that my children will still live under my roof and want to take vacations with me. How short the time is that I get to live with the best man in the world. How many wonderful things there are to do in the world, how many good books, and great meals and wonderful evenings on horseback, and how much I want to do every single one.

And how much time I've wasted.  I look back on the time when my kids were little, and it was really hard.  We had four kids in five years, and I spent so much time just wanting to hide!  There were just an awful lot of little hands and feet and short people in my house, and they all wanted something from me.  The time I spent chasing after stupid things that didn't matter--ouch.

No, I'm not sick, and no one in my family is.  But my wonderful husband hits a BIG milestone birthday this year, and it makes me wonder.  I love everything as it is right this very second (except that I would really love it if my closet were finished). But I can't freeze everything.  And I can't ignore the relentless passing of time.

I'm not failing at time management so much as I'm trying to get my head around TIME MANAGEMENT.  The kind of TIME MANAGEMENT that makes me examine my priorities and decide if this is really how I want to live.  Hard questions, because it is painful to realize how far I am from where I want to be--not to mention if that is even where God wants me to be!

A focus on this Big-T time is what would help me to free up real time for trail rides and wrestling and track meets and family dinners around the table.  Or family breakfasts if that is when we are all together under the same roof. Big-T time has hit me between the eyes lately, telling me, "You only get to do this once.  Quit messing around."

I don't quite know what to do with this Bible reading today, other than let it sit with me for a little while.  Somehow I have to get my hands around time management, while keeping an eye on TIME, too.

I ran across this earlier today, too:
"All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us."--J.R.R. Tolkien
I suppose so.

*Much thanks to the insight from my pastor's blog,!

P.S.  I hadn't planned on linking up with Edie's link-up party at life{in}grace.  But this fell in my lap this morning.  If you got here by the link, thanks so much for visiting! 


John Fraser said...

First off ... "except that I would really love it if my closet were finished."

This comment made my day. Literally. I laughed out loud when I read it. That. Was. Classic. (I feel your pain, though. It was a sympathetic laugh...)

Second, this post is proof that God is bigger than any of us. If there is anyone who struggles with time management, it is me. Take a look at my calendar some day. I color code every activity I do for work (Red = Team/Committee meeting, Yellow = Youth, Blue = Bible Study, Green = Worship, Pink = Office Hours, Purple = Visits ...} Anyway, when you look at my calendar you literally see a rainbow. Which is very pretty. And in a horrible way it is very satisfying.

But my point is that in spite of being horrible at time management ... you still found a challenge about time management in my blog. (Thanks for the advertisement, by the way). God can speak through our faults sometimes even more loudly than He can speak through our strengths. Although I don't do it well, God still spoke. Yay God. His glory, His praise.

A question to ponder. I've been into the idea of "volume" lately. The Volume of a prism = (L)(W)(H). What happens to W if V and L stay the same but H doubles? Of course, W has to decrease by half.

What if for you, V represents time. L represents number of people wanting your time. W represents the number of activities in which you are vested. H represents your feeling of satisfaction of how your time is spent.

Now, you know your time is constant. 24 hours per day. No less than 6 is spent sleeping. So you've got 18 left. That's a constant.

So if V is a constant, what happens H as L and W fluctuate? When either L or W (or worse, both!) increase, what necessarily must happen to H?

Of course, this is an analogy, not science. But worth the thought. Your blog post seems to be about maximizing H (satisfaction on how time is spent). To maximize H, is not the best place to start in making sure that L and W are manageable and small?

Clearly I don't have the answer. If my meanderings here in this post are correct, this is also a case of the pot calling the kettle black. LOL. I should be able to learn from this discussion and apply it to my own life, that's for sure! Thanks for the opportunity to think and analyze.

Cheryl said...

I love your nerdiness. I am right there with you. But what if this is a chemistry problem and not a math or physics problem--you've left out density. What if the question is how tightly to pack things in, or how loosely?

You should know that my also-nerdy husband got his Ph.D. analyzing how to pack spheres and other shapes into different volumes. Sort of. But molecules, not kids and horses and employees.

That I guess goes back to the idea of margin that seems to be a buzzword in the last couple of weeks.

Thanks for your always-insightful comments. I'm glad I could give you a laugh. It is only going to get more painful...the kitchen and laundry room get gutted in two weeks.

Ruth said...

Love the picture at the Aerosmith ride, it's one of our favorites. Thee are seasons that I wish we could freeze but time must go on, and there will be changing and growing. But no matter what is happening, God is still on the throne and I can rest in the promise that He has everything under control.
I came over from Edie's link party.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for visiting, Ruth!

Your comment reminds me that I used to take comfort in seasons. Not so much lately. Thank you!

John Fraser said...

Oh, I certainly agree that density is a part of the issue. If D = M/V ... then it seems as though you are simply expanding the hypothesis! Woo-hoo! {And clearly, then we could say that M = (D)(V)}

So from my earlier comment we could say that if M = (D)(V) and V = (L)(W)(H) ... then M = (D)(L)(W)(H).

Bill would be so proud at this moment. Who knew a PhD in studying densities could have such a profound affect on analyzing time management? (which technically, given the question, is fundamentally a theological issue as you point out in your blog).

But, back to the equation. What I love about how you have expanded the analogy is we've together added another aspect to show how difficult the balance really is.

If we let M (technically mass ... but if you'll allow me to make a common beginner physics mistake and call it weight) represent the "weightiness" of one's time constraints the equation is really helpful as an analogy.

M = Perseption of the weightiness of one's time constraints
D = measure of how Compacted one's schedule is
L = number of People wanting your time
W = number of Activities wanting your time
H = measure of one's Satisfaction with respect to time.

M = (D)(L)(W)(H)

From a nerdy perspective, we can clearly see that if M is a constant (at least it has a maximum value before a person breaks) as D, L, or W experience an increase then H must experience a decrease.

Huh, That's actually a really neat conclusion. We could also say that if D, L, and W experience an increase then a person must necessarily have the strength within themselves to bear a greater M or else H inherently must suffer.

As people experience an increase in any of the following:
1. the compacted nature of their schedule,
2. the number of interpersonal relationships, OR
3. the number of relationship with organizations/activities
then it necessarily follows that a person must be willing to EITHER bear more personal tension OR care about the things in their life less.

Woah! I REALLY like where that has gotten us. Profound indeed this line of thinking is.

Laura said...

Visiting from Edie's link up- glad you joined in!
Yours is the first blog I've visited in some time where the comments are as substantive as the post!
Those early years of littles and endless demands for more of me are a blur of guilty conscience.
I'm so thankful the God also redeems time - I trust that's personal in the life of the believer, since He entrusted some to me that I squandered.
Thankful for grace and for growth in wisdom as I miss much less now.
And, finally, moving into my own kitchen gutting soon...I feel your pain, and eventual satisfaction!

Teresa Ryan said...

You only get to do this're scaring me. Kind of hit the nail on the head with that one Missy! Great post!