I will study and get
ready, and perhaps
my chance will
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I’m Michael Gowin. I teach in the Bus Admin program here, and Brian
has asked me to talk with you about time management today. This is an
important topic that we need to talk about...
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But there’s a lot more to this than just managing your time. I want to
talk about something bigger than that.
So we’ll talk a little about managing your time and your tasks and your
self. But it’s also just as important to talk about...
why this matters. You see, if you’re motivated, these suggestions will
help; but, frankly, you’d probably get things done anyway. That’s what
motivated people do.
Did you watch the Olympics this summer? Did you see the American
men’s 4x100 relay team which beat the French team by 8 one-
hundredths of a second? On paper, the French were supposed to win,
but the Americans were motivated--motivated to do something
On the other hand, if you’re NOT motivated, the rest of what we’ll
discuss today won’t matter. You will be as useless as a deserted gas
station: you’ll have nothing to offer anyone. So let’s talk about
motivation ﬁrst. Before we do that...
I need to ask for your help. This presentation needs a title.
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We already know we’re not doing this. So... think about what this
presentation is about, and we’ll try to ﬁgure this out together. Now--
let’s get on with it.
Let’s talk about two things that are true. First, remember when you
were a child...
If you were a boy, you probably wanted to be a superhero when you grew
up. You wanted to leap tall buildings, spin webs and climb on walls, race
around in a super secret car or ﬂy in the air, and defeat all the bad guys.
If you were a girl, you probably dreamed of being a princess, marrying a
handsome prince, and living happily ever after in an enchanted castle.
As children, we were limited only by our imaginations. As we got older,
though, we began to learn about limits and constraints. Gravity brought
us out of the sky and time caught up with us.
So while we thought we were headed for this, more truthfully...
We may have ended up like this. This is not all bad because we learn an
important lesson from this. The lesson is this:
Photo: unknown from ﬂickr
You can’t do everything. If you’re hearing this for the ﬁrst time, I’m
sorry to break the news. This is truth number one. You are limited.
There’s not enough time, not enough money, not enough resources to
do everything you want to do. You can only do so much. As a result,
you have to make choices. You have to choose. Sometimes the choices
are easy: brush my teeth or be friendless? Sometimes the choices are
hard: what should I do with my life? But you have to make a choice. If
you don’t and you try to be good at everything, you will excel at
In 2001, Jim Collins published the ﬁndings of a ﬁve-year research
project intended to discover what factors made a few select companies
outperform everyone else. The opening line of the book?
Good is the enemy of great. Collins found that the most successful
companies discovered what they could do better than anyone else and
focused on doing that one thing over and over and over. These
companies became great--and they were a tiny minority. The rest?
Well, they typically do a few things well but never focus. As a result,
they might do alright--or they might not. But they never become great.
I’d suggest that there’s an application here for us personally.
Another example: a fellow by the name of Richard St. John was on a
ﬂight. He was sitting next a young teenage girl and they struck up a
conversation. He’d been a successful businessman for years; she came
from a rather poor background but wanted to improve herself so she
asked, “How do you become successful?” He said he didn’t know but the
question stuck with him and he wanted to ﬁnd out. So he began a
research project that lasted several years. He interviewed successful
people and read biographies of successful people. Athletes and actors
and TV personalities and business people and political ﬁgures and
musicians and artists--anyone who would take the time to talk with him.
He analyzed 500 different interviews and sorted out 8 factors that lead
to success. One of those factors?
Focus. Like the companies Jim Collins explored, the successful people
who Richard St. John interviewed were able to focus on developing their
How do you make good choices? It depends in part on who you are and
setting goals that get you where you want to go. I know that these are
topics that are being explored in the other aspects of your AIM course,
so I won’t belabor them here. But it’s important to remember that...
You can’t do everything, you can only do some things. So you have to
make choices if you’re going to be effective. That’s truth number one.
Now, let’s go back to childhood.
Birthdays, Christmas. Who doesn’t love getting gifts? One of the best
gifts I ever received--if not the best--was an engagement present from
my wife. Guitar. I enjoy it but others get to enjoy it as well (for
example, if I play in chapel or in Sunday worship or just at home with
the kids). This leads us to a second truth:
Your gifts are for others. This sounds a little strange at ﬁrst but it’s
true. God has gifted each of you for service. You all have things to offer
Scripture mentions numerous gifts, a few of which are listed here. (cf.
Rom 12, 1 Cor 12)
In addition to these, you all have other skills and abilities that can be
used to help others.
God has built a world that only works when we exercise our gifts for one
another. I need Brian Mills and his gifts, and he needs me and mine. I
need Candra Landers and her gifts and she needs me and mine. In this
room, we need one another. We are interdependent--we depend upon
So here’s the deal--if you have gifts...
and you don’t use them...
Your neighbor loses. I’ll say that again. If you have gifts and you don’t
use them, your neighbor loses. What did Jesus say were the two
greatest commandments? (Matt 22)
First: Because you can’t do everything...
you have to make choices.
Second: Because your gifts are for others...
You have to make good choices so that you love your neighbor. That’s
really why we’re talking about “time management” today--to help you
make good choices that enable you to show your love for one another.
You are now laying the foundation for what we hope is a lifetime of
service. If you fail to use your time well now, your ministry will suffer.
This is not so much about getting homework done as it is being
responsible for your life and loving the people you are with now as well
as those whom you will serve in the future.
It is because I love my neighbor, that I will make good choices. Repeat
that with me.
Are you still thinking about a title for this presentation?
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Now, even though I said this really wasn’t about time management, I
want to give you some practical suggestions.
Where the rubber meets the road (so to speak). Here they are.
Here are 10 ideas to work with. Frankly, you’ll be well-served if just one
of these resonates with you and helps you become more effective at
what God wants from you.
1 Flow =
Researchers describe “ﬂow” as a state of highly productive
concentration. It takes around 15 minutes of concentration to reach
ﬂow and during that time you’re really not doing work. If you are
interrupted, the clock resets--it will take another 15 minutes to get
going. Find places to avoid interruptions. Put a do not disturb sign on
your door and turn off your phone. Go to the library. Get off campus.
Whatever it takes for you to avoid interruptions.
is a myth
You’re trying to write a 10-page paper. The radio is on. You’re chatting
in facebook every so often. You answer your cell when it rings or
respond to a text message. You can’t reach ﬂow if you’re being
interrupted. Multitasking will make you less productive.
facebook, video games, youtube, the internets, movies--they’re all
good. They’re also good places to waste time. Yes, you need some
down time and you need time for recreation. When your downtime
exceeds your uptime, however, you need to reevaluate. Again,
productivity and effectiveness are the keys to determining how you
should spend your time. Does playing this game help me love my
4 Get a
Systems are all around us and help us navigate the world. God created
an ecosystem that governs the planet--night and day, seasons, planting
and harvesting. Your school schedule is a system or routine--we don’t
meet for classes on random days every week. Keeping yourself
productive requires a system as well. Any system you use must work for
you--I can’t recommend a one-size-ﬁts-all-approach, but the following
few items are part of any good productivity system.
Your system must have a “capture” method. Don’t trust your memory.
If you need to remember something, write it down. I carry a pack of
Post-It notes and pen almost all the time. If a student wants to make an
appointment and I don’t have something to write with, I always ask them
to send me an e-mail--I don’t trust my memory. Keep 3x5 cards and a
paper clip. You can fold up a piece of paper and carry it in your
pocket--whatever. Just write it down.
6 Use a
After you write things down--or when you write them down--put them
in a calendar. The goal here is to make sure things don’t fall out of your
system. You can use the planner you received at the beginning of the
year. You can use a PDA or your phone. I use the calendar on my
computer and sync it with my cell phone. Again, ﬁnd something that
works for you.
7 Start with
Before the week begins, review your calendar on Sunday night. Keep in
mind any papers, exams, assignments, or appointments you have
coming up. Review your calendar at the start of each day as well to
ensure you’re on top of everything.
As you look at your tasks for the day, sort through them and ask this
question: If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisﬁed
with my day? Aside from the little things we need to get done daily, you
can really only give yourself to one or two signiﬁcant tasks per day.
“Useful land mines” are reminders we know we won’t miss. For
example, I always put my keys in the same spot at home. If I need to
remember something in the morning, I put it near my keys. Or I’ll stick
a post-it note with a reminder on top of my computer before I put it in
my bag for the night. Put your backpack in front of the door, go out to
your car and put that paper on the driver’s seat--again whatever works
There is no 10; just thought you might like to have a nice, round
number for this.
Maybe this is #10: go to my website and you’ll ﬁnd some links to
resources on all this stuff.
So we’re near the end. Have you come up with a title? If so, let me
Remember why you’re here: someday you will graduate and move on to
serve somewhere. Teaching third graders, counseling a teen struggling
with loneliness, preaching to a congregation that needs a word of
comfort and a word of challenge, bringing the gospel to people who
have never heard the name of Jesus, helping employees in an
organization do their work better. If you use your time well now, focus
now, make good choices now, plan to love those people now, you will do
well. As Mr. Teoro and I emphasize with our business majors, there’s
nothing magical that happens when you cross that stage at
commencement and receive your diploma. Today you are becoming the
person you will be.
Today you are
Today you are becoming the person you will be.
So love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself