Written by: Blythe Moseman
Sometimes it seems like there’s too much to do and not enough time in the day to get it all done, especially in college. 16, 17, 18, 19 credit hours. Part time jobs. Sports. Homework. Social life. We want to work on our physical fitness, but by the time homework is done, it’s too late to workout. We want to be a better friend, but we find ourselves too distracted and unable to focus on caring. We want to ace a test, but studying for it keeps getting put on the backburner due to more urgent homework. Sometimes it feels like we are spinning in circles, trying to meet all the demands life throws at us, and we just can’t balance it all.
People constantly ask me how I manage to “do it all.” And all I can say is the grace of God and a solid system. Without those two things, I don’t know how I would be able to balance it all. After all, I’m taking 19 credit hours… trying to maintain my GPA… while participating in four music ensembles and newspaper… figuring out the newly married life… and student teaching to boot. Without a system, I’m pretty sure I’d be drowning.
So, how can we make better use of the same 24 hours everyone else gets? How can we live more efficiently so we can make time for the things that really matter? The answer lies in a 5 step system that I like to call “Ize Gonna Do It.”
Cheesy? Yes. Effective? Yes.
I’ve found that in order to make the most of every day, you need to recognize your weaknesses, categorize using the five realms, prioritize your time, legitimize your plan, and maximize your impact.
Let’s dig into these, shall we?
- Recognize your weaknesses.
The first step to becoming more effective is realizing you have a problem. Do you procrastinate? Do you tend to hit the snooze button 5, 6, 7 times a morning? Do you stress out about everything? Do you put homework on the back burner so you can have fun with your friends? Do you eat too much? Do you drink too much coffee? Do you spend too much time in front of the mirror? Do you have the urge to say yes to everything and then find yourself overextended? Do you struggle to focus when you’re in Doc’s?
List out things you think you’re weak in. If you’re not sure, ask a friend for their honest opinion. For me personally, I’m fundamentally an overachieving but lazy person. I have a lot of drive, but if there’s an easier way to do something, you’d better believe I’m going to capitalize on it.
2. Categorize using the five realms.
The five realms I’m talking about are Spiritual, Physical, Emotional/Mental, Relational, and Financial realms. I use these for prioritizing, making decisions, and refocusing my life. Put your weaknesses into categories. For example:
- Is it a spiritual weakness? (Maybe you’re not spending enough time with God. Maybe you’re doubting.)
- Is it a physical weakness? (Maybe you’re not working out as often as you should. Maybe you’re drinking too much coffee and you can’t sleep because of it. Maybe you watch too much Netflix and it’s giving you a headache.)
- Is it an emotional weakness or issue? (Maybe you’re always stressed out. Maybe you’re bitter about getting a bad grade. Maybe you have a feeling that you’re always going to fail.)
- Is it a relational struggle? (Maybe you’re not being kind. Maybe you’re focusing too much on what other people think. Maybe you’re angry with your family.)
- Is it a financial weakness? (Maybe you’re spending too much on things that don’t matter. Maybe you can’t pay your tuition. Maybe you haven’t been able to tithe.)
Use the realms to figure out what you’re weak in, but then also use it to fight against that. Like I said, I’m pretty lazy. But I’ve discovered that it’s far easier to do something right the first time than to do it the hard way by procrastinating and doing it wrong a couple of times. I can work my laziness against itself actually to do my best work. By recognizing our own weaknesses, we can figure out ways to fight against them.
Using the realms can also be helpful when trying to make a decision, too. For example, if Choice A has fantastic spiritual benefits but only mediocre financial benefits, while Choice B has good relational benefits but awful spiritual disadvantages, you can more easily make a decision based on which realm you put more emphasis on. This, of course, leads right into the art of prioritizing.
3. Prioritize your time.
You aren’t going to be able to tackle every single weakness or issue all at once. By categorizing them into the five realms, you’ll be able to see which areas of your life need more work. Often, you can even take one thing from each realm and work on them. Having it all listed out will help you decide what’s most important.
4. Legitimize your plan.
After you’ve decided what’s most important to focus on, set yourself up for success by creating a SMART goal. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If you’ve chosen, for example, getting more sleep as a goal, a SMART goal would be something like “I plan to go to turn off Netflix and climb into bed at 10pm every night except Fridays to get 9 full hours of sleep until the end of the semester.” This goal is Specific because you know exactly how you’re going to do it, Measurable because you have a time and a numbered goal of hours per night, Achievable if you put your mind to it, Relevant because the way to get more sleep is going to bed earlier, and Time-bound because you have an end-goal in mind. You can create SMART goals for anything you want to work on, and you can even do one from each realm simultaneously. For example, you might decide to be kind, get more sleep, read your Bible for 20 minutes, study with no distractions for 2 hours, and cut back on one coffee each week. After a while, doing those things will become habit, and you can work on improving other areas.
5. Maximize your impact.
Lastly, you need to maximize your impact. If you’ve followed the other 4 steps diligently, you’ll discover that you’ll have more time for things you want to do, you’ll have more energy to minister to people, and you’ll be a better steward of your time. Being more efficient will help you to be more effective, which will lead to having a greater impact for the kingdom of God.
This all is only possible, however, with a lot of prayer and humility. You’re going to mess up. You still might get stressed. But you need to be able to fall back on God’s power and this strategy to maximize the time God’s given you.
Have you tried this strategy or something similar? Follow the Eagle on social media and discuss your results!