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Faith Alive! | Redeeming the time 4

4 – Set priorities

The next step in organising your time is setting priorities. Have a look at the time management diagram below, and ask yourself in which quadrant you spend most of your time. Most people will honestly admit that they spend the majority of their time in quadrants 3 and 4. That’s a tragedy – because, while these quadrants include many small and pressing matters, and many things that are relaxing, they do not include anything that is truly important in the long-term.

1. Urgent; Important 2. Not urgent; Important
Attending meetings Investing time in personal knowledge and skills
Meeting deadlines Building relationships
Major problems Clarifying beliefs and values
Dealing with crises Visioning and planning
  Passing on skills and knowledge to others
3. Urgent; Not important 4. Not urgent; Not important
Answering some mail and phone calls Collecting and talking trivia
Dealing with interruptions Reading junk mail
Some meetings Time-wasters
Many household and leisure activities ‘Escape’ activities

Self-test

Just to test your sense of priorities, ask yourself in which quadrant you would place the following common activities. (Suggested responses are included below.)

  1. Pray
  2. Tune my car
  3. Read junk mail
  4. Prune the roses
  5. Write to a friend
  6. Clean out the cupboards
  7. Read a daily Bible portion
  8. Buy yet another surfing t-shirt
  9. Complete a university assignment
  10. Organise next week’s football game
  11. Attend a Youth Group committee meeting
  12. Read up on the doctrine of the atonement
  13. Begin to study first principles with a view to baptism
  14. Draw up a list of books to buy for my personal library
  15. Revise notes for university exams in four months’ time

Suggested responses to the priorities self-test

  1. 1 – prayer is always urgent and important.
  2. 3 – sometimes tuning the car might be very important, but it’s not important in the big scheme of things.
  3. 4.
  4. 3.
  5. 1 or 2 – encouraging friends in Christ is important. Sometimes they need a letter now, sometimes it can wait for a week or two.
  6. 4 – but don’t tell your Mum I said that!
  7. 1 – very important, and if you don’t do it today, you missed out.
  8. 4.
  9. 1 – if you don’t get things like that done, the consequences can be serious, and can really interfere with your ability to do other things that are truly important.
  10. 3.
  11. 1 – this is God’s work, and ought to be taken seriously. It’s also something you can’t put off.
  12. 2 – important, but doing it today or this week is generally not crucial. However, don’t put it off forever!
  13. 1 – highly important, and never ought to be put off for anything. About the only things more important are prayer and Bible reading.
  14. 2 – important (personal prejudices here!), but my wife will tell you it can wait!
  15. 2 – important, but it can wait a few weeks. See the response to question 9.
 

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