This is one of those twice-annual days when time becomes a favorite topic of conversation because of Daylight Savings Time. Granted, there is much less complaining this time of year when we get to “fall back” and enjoy an extra hour of sleep.
Time, for me, is a fascinating subject. It is the Universal Gift that God has bestowed upon mankind. Every person is given 24 hours in each day to do with as he/she pleases. Eventually, it is how we use our time that distinguishes us from each other. Those who are good stewards of the Universal Gift usually are able to accomplish more with their lives and have a bigger impact for good in the world. The first key in my book Living a Life That Matters: 7 Keys for Purposeful Living is “Be a Doer, Not a Spectator.” I have noticed over the years that people living purposeful lives tend to make good use of their time. They spend their time doing rather than watching. They know what they want to do with their lives and use their God-allotted time to accomplish their goals.
As I think back through history at those who had a big impact on mankind, Benjamin Franklin certainly stands out. He was a prolific inventor, philosopher and statesman. It is an understatement to say he lived a purposeful life. He organized his life to make good use of every minute of his day. Order was the virtue he valued most, so he had a daily schedule that allowed him to do those things that mattered most to him. He would arise at 5 o’clock each morning and spend the first three hours getting ready for the day by washing, eating breakfast and asking the question, “What good shall I do this day?” In his words, his first three hours were “Arise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness! Contrive day’s business, and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study and take breakfast.”
After breakfast, he would work four hours then “read or overlook my accounts and dine.” Following another four hours of work, he would, “Put things in their places. Supper. Music or diversion or conversation. Examination of the day.” For the latter, he would ask the question, “What good have I done today?” Then he would retire for the evening and get seven hours of sleep.
We all find ourselves in different circumstances in life with varying stewardships. Parents of small children have a different set of challenges than empty nesters like me and my wife. Nevertheless, like Franklin, we can have “order” in our lives if we approach them with purpose and planning. There is no doubt that efficient use of time requires more effort and energy than non-efficient time use. It takes effort and planning to be punctual. It takes effort to get up early in the morning to do your exercising. It takes effort to find time to study each day. The person living a purposeful life understands that the increased effort will be rewarded with success and happiness.
It is never too late to take an inventory of your use of time and determine how you can use it better to benefit your life and others’. Alan Lakein summed it all up very well: “Time = Life. Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.”