So, after a few posts about cleaning schedules and daily routines, I began thinking about my life before marriage, and how important self-discipline with time was to me. Believe it or not, schedules are not just for married folk. Not at all!
Some people are more attracted to plans, routines, and budgets (for time or money). Whether your personality naturally tends towards the orderly, or if you’re one of those whose skin crawls when you hear the word “plan”, let me suggest some reasons for why I believe every single woman needs to implement some self-discipline in her day.
First of all, God saw fit to stick us in this strange thing called Time. I think part of His wisdom in doing that is this: time forces us to make choices all day long, and with those choices, we have the opportunity to prioritize. Yes, what you do with you time is your decision, and it is a telling way to find what your true priorities are. At a conference I attended several years ago, the speaker challenged us to track our days for one whole week — and then make a pie chart of our findings. While I may have had illusions of how spiritual and selfless my life was, a pie chart with large wedges of media intake and “huh, what did I do with that hour?” indicated otherwise! Time, while it may not always feel like our friend, is a great way to measure what’s important to us, and what is ruling our lives.
Which leads me to this: by default, we will always cave to the tyranny of the urgent. Having a routine/schedule means that first things remain first, and don’t get squeezed out by what can (at that moment) seem soooo important.
A schedule also means that there are less hours just sort of… disappearing into thin air. If you struggle (as most of us do) with a touch of laziness now and then, a schedule will do wonders for you.
We all want to live lives of purpose. We want to be redeeming the time. And I know that personally, when I was single, I wanted desperately to know that I wasn’t wasting energetic, passion-filled years. Scheduling gives you the chance to ask God to give meaning to your days.
Hear are some tips I found helpful as I regularly reevaluated my life:
1. Create a list of priorities. Put the big rocks in first, and you’ll be amazed to find that there still is room for plenty of little pebbles.
These may include things like:
— quiet time/Bible study
— family (if you’re a young woman living at home, this is worth putting high on your list!)
— relationships (and prioritize those, too; not all relationships are created equal)
— hospitality (married woman are not the only ones called to open their homes!)
— life maintenance: cleaning, laundry, breathing room!
2. Budget REAL time, not wishful thinking. Don’t cram 30 hours of activity into one 24 hour day, and just hope those extra hours magically appear. Sit down with an actual piece of paper, divided up into hours and days, and make a schedule. And don’t forget things like driving time (I’m famous for thinking I can leave my house at 10:30 for a 10:30 appointment. Details!)
3. Budget REAL time with the REAL you in mind. Know yourself. Don’t try to keep up with someone else’s schedule. Ask God what He wants from you.
I would, for example, fill a day’s schedule up till 11pm, and start the next day at 5:30am. By the time I actually got to bed, that meant about 5.5 hours of sleep every night. Amazingly, I could make this work for weeks on end, but inevitably, my body would crash at the first “down” opportunity, and I’d get sick. Not ideal.
So ask yourself: do you need more than 5.5 hours of sleep? Be ready to be stretched, but don’t let idealism thwart your attempts at scheduling your time.
Know your emotional limits. Just because you have a free hour on paper doesn’t mean your soul can handle one more activity, no matter how noble the cause.
4. Use a day-timer or calendar of some sort. In other words, write it down. A single person is more apt to have random appointments… and is apt to double-book. You don’t want to do that! It’s irresponsible, inconsiderate, and contributes to a sense of spinning out of control. Trust me, I KNOW!
Singleness is a unique calling. For most of us, it’s just a season — and it’s a season that so many people in our culture squander. Don’t be one of those! Take those hours and days to the Lord and be ready to serve Him and His priorities. You’ll be amazed at how much purpose He can give to a life lived intentionally for Him.
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