If you are like me, you have a lot going on. Email, phone calls, meetings, classes, conversations, driving, planning, cleaning, answering questions, and whatever else you have to accomplish fill up the most productive hours of your day.
And when interruptions are the norm, productivity drops. Your day is spent playing keep-up or catch-up on a million other tasks as you try to get your to-do list down to nothing, which rarely – if ever – happens.
So when Bible Quiz season comes around, how can you spend time studying and still have time for everything else?
Answer: Time blocking.
Time blocking is the concept of scheduling time for yourself.
No doubt this concept isn’t new to you, but so few people actually do it. They think, "I'm going to study 30 minutes a day," but then things come up. The phone rings. A friend or relative stops by. A favorite show comes on television. Soon, that "study time" turns into "buddy time" and you tell yourself that you can make up for that time tomorrow. But the truth is – after the Bible – your most valuable study resource is time.
Unless you own a Tardis and believe that time is like a big ball of wibbily wobbly timey wimey...stuff, you can’t replace time once you lose it. It is gone forever. You can’t go out and buy more. That is why it is so precious.
Time blocking is more than simply hoping and wishing for the availability to study God’s Word. Hoping and wishing is not an effective plan -- you must schedule it!
Some people want it to happen. Some people wish it would happen. Others make it happen.
-- Michael Jordan
When you schedule that study time for yourself and hold to it fiercely, three amazing things happen:
1. You get finished quicker
2. You feel more satisfied with your achievement
3. You are still able to handle all those other tasks in your life
Time blocking is not difficult in theory, but can be incredibly difficult in reality. You'll be tempted to break from your time block to work on other things. However, the following five-step process has helped me time block my most important activities to get the most out of my day:
2. Find a quiet place to work with no interruptions.
Pick a spot that will help you focus with minimal distractions and use that same spot every time. Preferably pick a location that you do not use for any other activity. That way, you associate that location with studying God’s Word.
3. Let others know.
Let everyone know (politely) that you'll be studying for your time block, and you'll be checking your texts or whatever when your time is up. Be sure to let someone know where you are, though, in case there truly is a life-or-death emergency!
4. Turn off your phone and all other technology traps.
I probably just lost about half of my teen audience with this one. Your smart phone is a productivity thief. Turn it off, along with anything else that will rob you of your time. I promise, you won’t die.
5. Be held accountable.
As with any new habit, it's a good idea to allow someone else to hold you accountable. Whether that's an individual or a group of your peers, you are more likely to hold to your goals when other people are helping you keep your promises to yourself.
If you truly think you don’t have 15-30 continuous minutes a day to read God’s Word, I challenge you to track how you invest your time during a typical week. I understand and agree that everyone needs “fun” time to decompress, but surely you could shave 5 minutes here and there to accumulate the time you need to dedicate to studying God's Word.
Time is a non-renewable resource. Are you spending it wisely?