Time Management with a Priority Pyramid

"If I could just add a couple of hours on to my day..."

A millionaire was once asked how much money was enough. His answer: "Just a little bit more."

Many of us struggle with feeling like finances are tight, and if we had just a little more, we'd be happier. Ironically, we often think the same thing about time.

The reason it is ironic is because, while people have all different levels of income, when it comes to time, every person on the planet has exactly the same amount. We all have 24 hours in every single day. There is no option of a little bit more. Ever.

Do you think the following statements are true?

1. You have exactly the same amount of time to spend each day as everyone else.

2. God has given you enough time today to do what He wants you to do today.

3. If you have more to do than you have time for, then there is more on your list than God intends for you.

Strange, isn't it, how if someone is greedy for more money, we recognize that as being ungodly, but if someone is greedy for more time, we often see that as spiritual rather than the same exact ungodly greed? Our intentions may be good--we want more time so we can do more for God or others--but what we're really saying is that God is not giving us what we need.

So, if we have enough time to do all God wants us to do, but are feeling stressed and stretched and burdened by too much to do, then something needs to change. And it's not just trying to fix what we do. That's putting a band-aid on an infection but not treating its source. Time management principles are great, but do little good if the priorities behind them are not addressed.

Therefore, instead of giving time management tips, let's first look at the things that fill up our time. What do we do with the time we are given? Why do we do it?

If you want to be a good steward with money, you need a budget. Without one, you end up spending money on less-important things and neglecting your higher priorities. Time is no different. So here's how to start thinking through how to budget your time.

Get a blank sheet of paper (or a poster-board if you're really feeling motivated) and draw a large pyramid. Separate it into 4 categories using horizontal lines. Ready? Now fill it in, top to bottom, with the following categories:

1. What I MUST do.
2. What I SHOULD do.
3. What I WANT to do.
4. Extra stuff that takes up time.

Royalty Free Vector of 3D Food Pyramid
Like a food pyramid, without the food. =)

Here's how the categories work for me:
1. What I MUST do. This only gets up to 3 things, the roles God has given me, the things I believe He has called me to be that deserve my highest priority. (Example: Being a godly wife and mother, helping women see their worth in Christ.)

2. What I SHOULD do. This category is the largest for me, those things that nag at me, that feel urgent. (Example: Be involved in church, keeping the house clean, building relationships with neighbors, keeping up with correspondence, etc.)

3. What I WANT to do. These are the things I would fill up my time with if I had a limitless supply. (Example: Writing for fun, reading, taking a painting class.)

4. Extra stuff that takes up time. Our days are filled with requirements that aren't necessarily priorities but just have to get done, like brushing our teeth (though I suppose that should go in the SHOULD category!), shuttling the kids (yes, that goes under being a godly mother, but in the day-to-day it feels like the extra stuff--you decide how yours works for you) or paying bills.

Now what? Part 2 (what to do with your pyramid) coming Friday!


  1. I am wrestling with time management right now i love the organization of the pryamid So, would working go in space 1? I feel like my 1 is wife, mom, ministry and work... So which one do I drop to only have 3?

    1. I guess I cheated. I put wife and mom as 1 thing. =)

  2. This was helpful to me because I just started a new job and am feeling overwhelmed. Thanks

    1. I'm so glad, Angie. It helped me to think through everything. Now I just need to actually apply it. =) I hope you like your new job!

  3. I have been struggling with time management issues for quite a while. I will be studying your posts. Thank you for your time and efforts.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.