I remember hearing Elder Ian S. Arden’s talk during General Conference and really loving this phrase, “We must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive.” I couldn’t help but think about all the times I have been “busy” but not productive. It happens more frequently than I would care to admit. Especially when I let myself get sucked into the blogosphere or other social networking sites. As I listened to Elder Arden’s talk again this weekend, and as I read it today, I was reminded of Elder David A. Bednar’s devotional Things as They Really Are that I posted about a while ago. Elder Bednar stressed that life should be experienced through our mortal body, not through digital or virtual worlds.
I have to remind myself of that when I feel like my “best friends” are some of the women whose blogs I read. When I sit in Relief Society and feel like I don’t know the sisters very well, I wonder why I have been spending so much time getting to know these bloggers, and so little time getting to know the sisters in my ward (granted, I have been reading the blogs for a few years and I have only been attending this ward for a few months – but still! I need to put in a little more effort on the real-life friendships). Part of my hesitation to get to know new people is because of my pride and my judgmental attitude (which I’m working on). “Electronic games and cyber acquaintances are no lasting substitute for real friends who can give an encouraging hug, who can pray for us and seek after our best interest.”
I have been learning that the “X” button to close a window is my greatest tool. It’s like that old rule about if something inappropriate pops up on your computer, you just turn it off. You can’t hurt your computer more than the images will hurt your soul – so just shut it off. It’s a similar principle. If I can make myself press the “X” button, rather than just minimizing the page while I go read General Conference, then I am less likely to idle away my time on another website. I particularly love to read news articles – which is good, but there is always something more to read on the internet. It’s not like a magazine or a newspaper that you can put down once you’ve read all the articles. It keeps going. Forever and ever. Elder Arden talks about becoming a “master manager of our time.” This is something that I am continually working on doing – especially as a mother of young children. It’s hard to ever feel like there is enough time in the day to do everything. Almost every night when I go to bed I think, “If only I could have done more.” I can usually be found humming the hymn “I Have Work Enough to Do” – always aware that there is more to be done. I love, though, what Elder Arden said about President Monson, “With all that he does as a prophet of God, he ensures, as the Savior did, that there is still sufficient time to visit the sick, to lift the poor in spirit, and to be a servant of all.” Sometimes I think, “Why can’t I do all that, and still keep my toilets clean!?”
“Time is never for sale; time is a commodity that cannot, try as you may,be bought at any store for any price.” This quote reminded me of a trailer I saw for a movie in which time becomes money, and money becomes time. You work for time, and you can spend your time on whatever you want – but you better be careful, because if you run out of time, that’s it – you die. I haven’t seen the movie, but I think it is a good metaphor for time – you can’t buy it, of course, but you can waste it. If time was like money, and once you ran out you died, what would you spend your time on? Would you buy that candy bar? Or would you save it up and travel the world? Or give it to someone with small children?
“With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another.” So one of the most important things we can do as we learn to become “master managers” of our time is to figure out or priorities. What does matter most to us? Once we know what we value the most, we need to learn to match our activities with our priorities.
The theme scripture of our family blog is Alma 34:32 which says, “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God”. I truly believe that is what we are doing in this world, and so my highest priority would be to prepare myself to meet God. That seems pretty simple, but figuring out what I actually need to do to prepare myself (and it changes with every season of life) is the hard part. Right now, a lot of me preparing to meet God is learning to have patience – with myself, with my husband, with my children, with my season of life. The way I prepare to meet God might be different later than it is now.
Elder Arden’s talk at the very least has helped me be aware of the activities with which I choose to fill up my time, making sure they don’t give “the false impression of being busy and productive” but rather are productive. Sometimes I can be very productive without even appearing busy (playing with my children – do we ever say “I’m busy” when we’re playing with our kids?).
If you are having a hard time figuring out what matters most in your life, I would direct you to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk in October 2010 General Conference titled Of Things that Matter Most. It will probably help you. I also wrote about it here on the blog.
How do you make sure that you make the best use of your time? Do you carefully choose your activities to match your priorities? Do you sometimes confuse “productive” with “busy”? How can you make sure you are choosing the “things that matter most”? How are you becoming a “master manager” of your time?