Time Management Series
“Scheduling Your Time” (SL#30)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 12.1 - Time Management

“Having the time of your life” includes making time choices inside your life’s total framework. This article is organized into six topics. You make the most of your time and the quality of your life when you do your scheduling from the large picture to the small components and back again. The same Lord who taught us to “work for the night is coming” also went often to be alone in spiritual retreat.

Schedules are important to paraphrase what Woody Allen once claimed: “Showing up is 80% of life,” and being on time helps. This article will help you with guideposts and resources for short- and long-term planning. You may want to supplement this section with the support materials within the series of articles or from other sources. You can use your own calendar tools as guides for personalizing your plans.

Glossary: “schedule” (from The American Heritage® Dictionary)
Middle English “sedule,” slip of parchment or paper, a note; a list of times of departures and arrivals; a plan for performing work or achieving an objective, specifying the order and allotted time for each part; a printed or written list of items in tabular form; a program of events or appointments expected in a given time.

  1. Strategic Priority Planning
    “Every moment spent planning saves three or four in execution.” (from Crawford Greenwalt Dupont, 1972) Consider these suggested actions:
  2. Annual Calendar Planning
    “The Calendar doesn’t care how you spend your time.”--(from Carlton Sheets, 12/20/87) Continue to make this function effective:

  3. Monthly Calendar Review and Update
  4. Weekly Schedule: Use Your Own Calendar Tools
  5. Daily Appointments : Your Daily Planner
    “How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.” --Fred Brooks, IBM, chief designer. What habits already serve you well?
  6. “Do-It-Today” List
    See also my Study Resource toward the end of this article:

Conclusion/Reflection/Application--The $25,000 Question
(Quoted in many publications, apparently first in The Time Trap by Alec MacKenzie, 1972)

The usefulness of planning a day’s work is seen in a well-known story about Charles Schwab (1880-1939). When he was president of Bethlehem Steel, he presented this challenge to Ivy Lee, a consultant: “Show me a way to get more things done with my time, and I'll pay you any fee within reason.”

Handing Schwab a piece of paper, Lee said, “Write down the most important tasks you have to do tomorrow and number them in order of importance. When you arrive in the morning, begin at once on No. 1 and stay on it till it’s completed. Recheck you priorities; then begin with No. 2. If any task takes all day, never mind. Stick with it as long as it’s the most important one. If you don’t finish them all, you probably couldn’t do so with any other method. Make this a habit every working day. When it works for you, give it to your men. Try it as long as you like. Then send me your check for what you think it’s worth.”

Some weeks later, Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000 with a note saying that the lesson was the most profitable he had ever learned. In five years this plan was largely responsible for turning Bethlehem Steel Corporation into the biggest independent steel producer in the world.

List the six categories of time planning/scheduling.


A Study Resource: Creating Healthy “To-Do Lists”
by Lloyd Elder - 7/28/06

This list of a dozen tips on the habit of creating “to-do lists” grows out of years of practicing this discipline, poorly and with success, and from published resources--such as Marshall J. Cook’s Time Management, pp. 27-36. It could contribute to your taking continuous action on your priorities within a balanced schedule. Hopefully, it could also reduce your frustration. It is one tool to obey the injunction of our Lord in John 9:4 -- As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

  1. Tell yourself and the list that it is just a tool--not your master.
  2. Don’t put too much on the list--jamming it is a recipe for frustration.
  3. Put some air in it; back-to-back scheduling may cause a blowout.
  4. List possibilities and priorities, but few imperatives; focus on the important more than the urgent.
  5. Don’t carve the list on stone tablets--keep it flexible to fit your real time.
  6. Order the list creatively to take up high priorities before you drown in the small stuff.
  7. Break the large tasks (boulders) into manageable size (pebbles). Two hours a day for four days may be better than an eight-hour-day project.
  8. Keep it personal--schedule some breaks, goofs, time-out time, and reward time; keep your days and your life balanced.
  9. Balance your personal and strategic objectives as well as the daily goals/tasks. “What’s scheduled usually gets done.”
  10. Stand ready to chunk the list; something in your life--joy, sorrow, opportunity--may become so much more important than “the list.”
  11. You don’t have to make a list every day--or in the same way, or at all; make sure it serves you.
  12. Remember to include your personal and family priorities on your daily “to-do” list; that helps to balance your life.

© 2006 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership


Study Resource: “The Clock and the Compass”
from First Things First - by Stephen R. Covey
A Fireside Book, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995 (373 pages)
Review excerpts by Lloyd Elder from Section One

Covey starts by asking the question, “If you were to pause and think seriously about the ‘first things’ in your life--the three or four things that matter most--what would they be?” (p. 11). One of his strongest strategies to help answer this question is the analogy of the clock and the compass. The clock represents our commitments, appointments, schedules, goals, activities--what we do with and how we manage our time. The compass represents our vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, direction--what we feel is important and how we lead our lives (p. 19).

In an effort to close the gap between the clock and the compass, Covey turns to the field of “time management.” He introduces the concept of what could be called the three “generations” of time management (pp. 21-22). Each generation builds on the one before it and moves toward greater efficiency and control, even toward a fourth generation.

First Generation. The first generation is based on “reminders.” It’s “go with the flow,” but try to keep track of things you want to do with your time--write the report, attend the meeting, fix the car, clean out the garage. This generation is characterized by simple notes and checklists. If you’re in this generation, you carry these lists with you and refer to them so you don’t forget to do things. Hopefully, at the end of the day, you’ve accomplished many of the things that you set out to do and you can check them off your list. If those tasks are not accomplished, you put them on your list for tomorrow.

Second Generation. The second generation is one of “planning and preparation.” It’s characterized by calendars and appointment books. It’s efficiency, personal responsibility, and achievement in goal setting, planning ahead, and scheduling future activities and events. If you’re in this generation, you make appointments, write down commitments, identify deadlines, note where meetings will be held. You may even keep this in some kind of computer or network.

Third Generation. The third generation approach is “planning, prioritizing, and controlling.” If you’re in this generation, you’ve probably spent some time clarifying your values and priorities. You’ve asked yourself, “What do I want?” You’ve set long-, medium-, and short-range goals to obtain these values. You prioritize your activities on a daily basis. This generation is characterized by a wide variety of planners and organizers--electronic as well as paper-based--with detailed forms for daily planning.

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