Time. It’s the common denominator in life. We all have it, but few of us command it. Many of the stories we hear about people on their death beds deal with people wishing they had used their time more intentionally, and for purposes greater than their own.
But it’s no secret that we live in a world that demands our time—every second of it. From the moment we wake up, to the moment we fall asleep, we have responsibilities, obligations, and even distractions that compete for our focus. Which is why, if we’re to succeed in leading our families, we have to be fully committed to managing our time effectively.
"All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.” —Baltasar Gracian
Have you heard the phrase, “if you don’t make time for it, it will never happen”? While this is true, I would suggest there’s a more effective, more powerful way of thinking about managing your time.
Rather than make time for the things that matter, why not take time?
Let me explain my thought process.
When we “make” something, we're assembling it (in this case, a block of time) by arranging other components (other blocks of time) to create a hole in our schedule. This seems simple enough and in a perfect world, it’s probably effective. But we don’t live in a perfect world.
This methodology is hopeful. We literally hope that by moving a meeting here, or an errand there, that we'll find the margin needed to take our sons fishing or our wives on a date, or finally finish that project. It’s a very passive mindset to managing time.
Now consider the word “take”. When we take something, we reach out and grab hold of it (in this case, a block of time). Taking does not place its hope on other factors falling into place. When we take time, we’re stating, “I need this time and I am going to take this time as my own”. It’s an aggressive mindset and one that we must embrace if we are to rule the day.
Putting It Into Practice
The key to taking time: being proactive with your schedule.
If we try to take time at the last minute, chances are our schedules will already be full. Think ahead weeks or even months in advance. Sit down and figure out what the really important items are (and involve your spouse if it makes sense). Do you need to claim time now so next month you have availability to work towards a specific goal? Do you need to reserve a few hours each weekend to spend time with your kids?
Take these blocks of time now, while they’re still available, and aggressively protect them going forward. Because if you don’t run the day, the day will run you and before long, you’ll be wishing that you could have it back.