nancy williams

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Archive for May, 2008

It’s Time To Take Charge of Your Time

“There’s just not enough time in the day!” Ever find yourself making that statement? Some days it just seems we don’t have time to do all we want to do. We begin a day, determined to accomplish everything on our to-do lists and soon find ourselves in a game of “beat the clock” as we race to get everything done. By the end of the day we wonder, “Where did the time go?”

Actually, we have the same amount of time each day: 24 hours, with 168 hours in a week and 8,736 hours in a year. It’s the same, whether we are busy accomplishing a lot, or curled under the covers in bed. Perhaps it’s not about how much time we have but rather how we manage ourselves in the time we are given. All too often, we jump right into the day and tackle whatever comes along without much thought or planning. We may start out well, but then distractions come along that throw us off course. By the end of the day, we’re worn out from working hard, yet we’ve not accomplished what we set out to do when we began.

God asks us to be good stewards of what he has given us, including our time and energy as well as our finances and our possessions. If we are going to honor him this way, we’ll need to be more purposeful in our planning. That means taking time to sit down and thoughtfully plan the day, the week, the month, the year. To choose activities that will help us achieve our goals and live the life we want to live, honoring the values that are our foundation.

If you want to manage your time efficiently, begin by identifying your core values. Ask yourself what’s important to make time for in your life. Consider areas like family, friends, finances, worship, your health, your home, your career. You may think of others to add as you identify the priorities that you want to honor with your time and resources. Next, set some goals in place that will help you honor those values. Measurable, achievable benchmarks that you want to accomplish. Then choose the activities that will help you accomplish your goals so you can live the life you envision for yourself.

If you follow that process, you can better determine when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to activities, choosing only those that will help you achieve your goals and honor your values. While that sounds great in theory, and we may start a new year, and even a new day with that in mind, what happens to throw us off course? We have the best intentions; however, obstacles come along that distract us if we don’t have a plan for addressing them. See if any of these “time wasters” are getting in your way.

(1) Procrastination –putting off tasks because they are large or seem overwhelming. How can you break them down into manageable pieces that you can begin to tackle?

(2) Failure to delegate – believing you have to do everything yourself. Is it more important that you do it or that it be done?

(3) Over-commitment – the inability to say “no” when an opportunity presents itself. Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is the right thing for you at that time.

(4) Lack of planning or organization – jumping into things without prioritizing; also bouncing from one thing to another without completing tasks.

(5) Communication – phone calls, e-mails, visitors who drop by, even reading material. While this is certainly an important part of our active day, if we don’t manage this communication, the interruptions cause us to lose focus and time needed to complete tasks. Try clustering these contacts to certain times of the day and managing the conversations to stay on task and not ramble.

(6) Trivia – spending time on things that aren’t of value. If we don’t keep our focus on our goals and work our plans, we can easily become sidetracked on unimportant details that make little or no difference in the outcome we desire.

God has given you the gift of time: manage it wisely.

Time To Tickle Your Funny-Bone

Knock knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I don’t start all my columns this way?!

I know, I know. A goofy way to begin what is supposed to be an insightful and inspirational focus. But, before you set this piece aside, let me ask: did that first line make you laugh? OK, maybe not an out-loud-disturb-your-neighbor belly laugh, but perhaps a groan or maybe a grin? It might not have prompted you to want to head to the store for a book of knock-knock jokes, but it may have taken your mind off the seriousness of your day, of your life, for just a few seconds. Do you do that often? I mean, do you set aside your cares and concerns, your fears and your sadness, your to-do lists and the demands before you, to let your mind look for something to make you laugh? Something to ease the stress of life and tap into a place deep inside that longs to enjoy the pleasures and joys of life.

I came across a little magazine produced by Guideposts called Positive Thinking. The March/April edition features an article by Alina Larson titled “Your Seventh Sense.” The caption that caught my eye reads “Sometimes all you need is a good laugh.” Certainly, life has its serious side and stressors seem to be coming at us from all directions – impacting our physical, emotional, even our spiritual lives. In this uncertain, stress-filled world in which we live, it’s important, it’s imperative, for us to find humor that will reduce stress and anxiety and create pleasure. A time out. Do you notice what happens when you laugh? It’s like smiling on the inside as well as the outside. Let me share a few research findings to show you the healing power of humor.

According to the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, laughter can improve heart rate, lung function, blood oxygenation and abdominal contraction. It also eases muscle tension and strengthens the immune system.

The University of Maryland conducted a study on the impact of humor on our bodies, in particular on the risk for cardiovascular disease, by showing volunteers a war film and a comedy. The serious movie caused their blood vessels to constrict, while the comedy increased blood flow and lowered blood pressure.

UCLA Cancer Center has found that children who watch funny films and TV shows are able to tolerate pain for longer periods.

Research at Vanderbilt University found that subjects burned 20 percent more calories when laughing than at rest.

A study at Appalachian State University showed that couples who laugh about shared humorous experiences feel more relationship satisfaction.

Volunteers in a Loma Linda University study found that even waiting to see a funny movie showed an increase in beta-endorphins, natural pain and stress relievers.

Sometimes things come right to us – an e-mail from a friend, a comment from a child, a funny television show, offering a little breather from life’s serious side. Rather than just waiting and hoping someone sends you something or flipping the channels in hopes of finding something amusing to watch, consider these recommendations from Ms. Larson to bring a slice of humor into your life:

At work – have a funny picture of yourself and a few toys on your desk. Eat lunch with people who can laugh at things. At home – clip cartoons and post them on the fridge. Have some toys around to play with. Don’t overdo with serious television programs but offset with humorous or educational shows. Create a humor library with music, books and DVDs that you will take time to enjoy. In the closet – add color and fun to your wardrobe. With people – get social. Spend time with funny family members and friends, children and animals. On the road – keep a humor CD in the car for those traffic jams. In your mind – make a pledge to yourself that you will look for a reason to smile and something to laugh about every day.

Life is indeed challenging, often serious, and the humor is not always easily found, but remember this proverb: “A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine.”