Note: This is a guest post written by Will Platnick, husband to The Christian Minimalist.
As a new parent, I need to be much more intentional about how I spend my time.
I want to make sure that I’m spending as much time as I can with my wife and son. Being intentional about time is something that I’ve learned to value over the years, but it has become even more critical since becoming a Dad. Now, more than ever, I want to be there for my family, and I know that I need to be mindful of how I divide my time between work and home.
Priorities and Time Management
In my job, it’s easy to work a lot because there’s no shortage of fun, challenging things to wrap my head around. Combine that with working from home, and it’s incredibly easy to (accidentally) ignore the people I value the most.
I know that I’m not alone in this struggle. Many people find it challenging to balance their work and personal lives, and it’s easy to get caught up in the demands of our jobs.
But let’s face it, nobody is on their deathbed saying, “Man, I really wish I had spent more time busting out that extra project at work.” We know what’s most important in our lives, but we either let other people make our priorities for us or we simply get in our own way.
To avoid ignoring my loved ones, I’ve learned to prioritize my time and manage my workload more efficiently.
At work, I make a conscious effort to define my priorities and focus on the most important tasks first. This way, I can ensure that I’m making the most of my time and not wasting it on activities that are not critical.
I also try to limit my work hours and set clear boundaries between work and home life. This way, I can be fully present with my family and not constantly thinking about work.
A Work Wind-Down Routine
One thing that has helped me be more intentional about my time is having a dedicated wind-down time at the end of my work day. At 4:40 PM, an alarm on my phone goes off, and I start my process. This routine has helped me create a clear separation between my work and personal life, and it allows me to be fully present with my family in the evenings.
I encourage you to review my wind-down routine, and see if anything in it would help you with your own work/life balance!
- Work Updates: At my job, we use a ticketing system to track our work. The first thing I do during my wind-down routine is comment on what I did for my tickets that day, and quickly write what my plan is for tomorrow regarding that ticket. This ensures that my coworkers and managers are aware of what is happening, in case I need to suddenly drop this work or if someone is dependent on my work. It also helps me stay organized and focused on my priorities.
- Task List: I make sure that my own task list is up-to-date and that I’ve written down every potential task I thought of during the day. I personally have a shortcut key that I can type from any application that lets me write a future note to myself. If you’re less tech-oriented, a quick jot in a notebook is perfect too. What’s most important is that you do it while thinking of it. If you’re an iPhone user, nothing beats the Drafts app ability to quickly get things out of your brain.
- Assessment: I spend a few minutes thinking about the day. What went well? What didn’t go well? Did I experience any frustration or friction that could use some help to make better? What improvements can I make for tomorrow? Reflecting on my day helps me identify areas for improvement and make changes to my routine that will help me be more efficient and effective in the future. The most important thing is to write everything down because if I don’t, I’ll spend all my time thinking about these issues instead of being present with my family.
- Physical Wind-Down: I’ve created a physical routine that can help signal both my mind and body that “OK, that’s it, I’m done working for the day.” I happen to have a work from home office, so my routine is unplugging every cable from my laptop, turning the lights off, and then shutting the door. This physical routine helps me create a clear separation between work and personal life and signals to my mind and body that it’s time to wind down and relax.
How can you make your own wind-down routine, using some of the aspects above?
God and Time
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)
Paul wrote these words at a time when there was intense persecution, and those professing faith in “The Way” (what early Christianity was known as by its first Jewish members) could be seized and killed at any moment.
While the same level of urgency and lack of safety doesn’t exist for many of us, the overall thought is the same: we need to be intentional about how we spend our time now, because we can’t ever get it back, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I want to make sure I’m spending my time loving God and loving others, which includes my family, because these are things that matter most to us as Christians.
Being intentional about time is an ongoing process, and I’m always looking for ways to improve. I’ve found that having a wind-down routine has been incredibly helpful in helping me be more present with my family and more efficient at work.
What habits and routines have helped you be more intentional about your time and be more present with the people you love? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas– comment below!
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