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How to make a daily schedule you can stick to (at least, mostly)

168. That’s how many hours we all have in a week. If you average 8 hours a night for sleep, it leaves you with 112 waking-hours. In that amount of time, you could do a lot of things. Like: make 12,320 vinyl records, quilt 5.5 quilts or read the entire Bible roughly 1.6 times.

My iCal schedule

Needless to say, we all have a lot of time in life. Yet, the most common complaint is, “There’s not enough time in the day.” I’m guilty of this complaint, and it is usually an excuse for my poor planning. The issue at hand is that we don’t schedule and prioritize our time according to our life vision and goals.

It’s great to write out a life-vision and life-goals, but if they don’t translate into every-day-action, then they are useless./p>

When the way we spend our time reflects what we ultimately want to achieve in life, we don’t feel aimless and distracted, our morale is built up by a sense of achievement, and strain is reduced on our relationships.

While laying out my schedule, I am forced to evaluate which activities are really important to me. Once I prioritize my activities, I find my schedule to be full, but with gaping holes. How can this be? I ay out everything I wanted to do, but there is always still lots of time open.This makes it a great idea to make small tweaks to your schedule at least once a month.

The consequences of not planning your time:

  1. Life will seem tiresome (Eccl. 1:5-8).
  2. Life will seem unfulfilling (Eccl. 1:8b-9a).
  3. Life will seem uncontrollable (Eccl. 1:15).

The benefits of planning your time:

  1. Life will have focus.
  2. Life will be simplified (prioritized).
  3. Motivation will increase (achieving tasks increases motivation).

There are a lot of great tools out there to help you manage your time. Here are a few that I recommend:

  • Apple Calendar/Google Calender – The best calendar apps out there are Calendar and Google Calendar. They can create events that repeat weekly and have multiple color-coded calendars. (For example, my home calendar is blue and involves things I do in my personal life, while my work calendar is green.)
  • Wunderlist – This app is amazing. It’s the best to-do list app I’ve ever used.
  • Day planner – Don’t own a good computer or a ‘smart phone’? There’s always the good ole fashioned pen and paper. While I haven’t used this method myself, I have heard others say they have planned their weeks this way for decades. Some prefer it over digital planners.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • If you can stick to your schedule at least 75% of the time you have made a huge success
  • Since it is your life you’re planning, it’s totally fine to deviate from the schedule and say, “forget learning Danish – I’m gonna go get a banana split!”

Following God’s Path

I wish things were black and white all the time, especially in regard to what my future is. The truth is that my future is bendable. I’m choosing and rewriting my destiny every day.

In Psalm 139 it says God wrote a book for my life before I was born. He dreamed about what I would do, who I would be, and with whom I would spend my life with. He placed me in a family and with friends that He knew would be great for me. Yet my life doesn’t automatically follow the path that God has written for me.

I must choose His ways. I must walk in His path.

There are other paths, sure. I could blaze my own trail if I wanted to. But I know God’s path for my life leads me to places that would fascinate my heart and mind. His path goes by a beautiful canyon with tumultuous rapids and waterfalls. It even weaves through a garden that would put the hanging gardens of Babylon to shame.

His path is perfect; His ways are best. I must walk in His path.

How can I know where His path leads? Sometimes it dark and cloudy, and I can’t see it. How do I know I’m walking in God’s will?

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Ps. 119:105 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Ps. 32:8

The best way to follow a trail made by someone in a thick forest is to keep up close to them. If you can keep them in your vision –– or better yet, you are right behind them –– you won’t get lost or confused about which way the trail bends. It’s the same with following God. Being close to Him is the best way to know which way He is leading you.

How do you follow God? Keep up close behind Him and never lose sight of which way He turns.

Living Life Without Regret (Going For the Gold)

At the end of every believer’s life, they will stand before Christ and their works will be judged. All of their actions will be laid out on the table and they will be rewarded according to them. This judgement seat is not the same as the Great White Throne judgement, where sinners are cast into the eternal lake of fire, but it is still equally devastating.

At this judgment seat, our salvation is not on the line, but our rewards are. In that day, some will feel deep sorrow and regret for the life they squandered and choices they made. Regret on that day will be a terrible, irreversible pain.

I know I have done things I regret. So has your mother and father, your best friend, your doctor – and I’m sure, you. Life is full of things we wish we could undo: a sarcastic remark that hurt a friend, a bad thought or action, even regrets of not doing enough good.

It would be nice if life had an undo button, but it doesn’t. The cold, stark reality is that our choices and actions affect us. There is, of course, forgiveness, but there are still repercussions to our actions.

Take King David for example: his sin with Bathsheba was forgiven, but his illegitimate child still died as a consequence.

“And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.’” 2 Sam. 12:13-14

How can a person live without regret?

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but I believe these to be fundamental cornerstones of living a life without regret:

  1. Write down your life vision/goals. We must view our lives as a whole, not just as a collection of here-and-now moments. When we write down our life vision and goals, our life becomes focused. The way we spend our time must fall in line with the vision.
  2. Plan your day-to-day, week-to-week schedule. Our life vision is meaningless if it doesn’t transcend from paper into our day-to-day life. iCal or Google Calendar are great tools to plan your day in 15-30 min segments. Get a weekly routine going and stick with it. You’ll find that you have so much time that you’ll have to intentionally think What do I want to do with all this extra time?
  3. Get it into your head: Your actions matter! We must live intentionally and not frivolously spend our time. If you think you can do whatever you want whenever you want and ‘figure life out’ later, then you’re in for a sad wake-up call!

Side note: while life is not a problem to be solved, but an adventure to be lived, we should still intentionally set up time-boundaries so we can maximize the adventure of life. We only have one life to live – why squander it? We must stop living life as if we have an undo button – we don’t! We only have reward or regret. Make the right choice.

Recommended resources:

5 Reasons Why You Should Commit Your Goals to Writing, Michael Hyatt

Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper

Living Life Without Regret, Mike Bickle

A Life God Rewards – 5 Myths About the Judgment Seat, Bret Mavrich

Choice by Choice

Question: What’s your greatest hindrance from writing down a life vision? Leave a comment »

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