Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.

I would like to share some basic time-management principles with my dear elders. They are not necessarily new or earthshaking but they are foundational for a successful life-management. Let us together go through some of these principles.

I. Direction is more important than speed

Allan Dwindown Homes said: "The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving". The purpose is not to turn you into a clock watcher or someone that is compulsively busy. The objective is not to get everything done in the shortest time possible with the fewest wasted moments. This can be very selfdefeating and destructive. As someone has said: "What is the use of running if we are going in the wrong direction?"

The bottom line is that you can accomplish many things that may not matter. You may get started a few minutes late but the point is that you will spend a bulk of your time on something that is not really important.

What we want to do is not simply to accomplish as much and as quickly as we can, but select the best task to do, from all the possibilities available, and then do it the best way we are able.

II. Setting realistic goals

Therefore it is important that we take the time to set meaningful and realistic goals. Unless we set goals that we can accomplish we'll miss what we truly want to get out of life. Striving toward a goal enables us to greater achievements, even if we don't quite make it. We are going to talk about goal-setting in another article. But what I want you to remember now is not to try to do too much at once.

1. Don't bite more than what you can chew. In fact, time-management is an ongoing process. Remember there is only one way to eat an elephant one spoonfull at a time. This is a patient move forward, one step at a time.
2. Break your goals down into achievable steps. Instead of beginning an exercise program as a one-hour workout, start with fifteen-minute segments. Add a minute or two to your basic time instead of half an hour.

III. Time perspective often determines your mobility and personal improvement

Time perspective is the period of time you take into consideration when you are making your decisions in planning your life.

Successful people are those who have had a long-time perspective. They plan their activities ten and twenty years ahead. If we go down to the socio-economical level we will find that time perspective shortens, at the low end of the pyramid of the alcoholic or drug addict who thinks only in terms of the next shot. At the top of the pyramid is the doctor that spent twelve years preparing himself to earn a lucrative income.

1. Develop a long-range view for your life. Look as far into the future as you can. Live in light of a long-range view. If you wish to send your children to the university, start saving when they are young; if you wish to live comfortably during your so-called retirement years you have to start now to set aside ten percent of your income. How far do you look into the future when you make decisions and plans?

2. Remember the long-range view sharpens the short-range view! Taking a long-range view enables you to analyze the future impact of present decisions. Important things have a long term impact. Not with unimportant things because they have little or no long-term impact.

For example, time spent in continuing education may have tremendous impact in your ministry or career! Watching television every night, a movie or reading the sports pages may have very little impact.

People who don't take a long-range perspective in life, don't understand delayed gratification. They are usually the ones who end up with little or nothing to enjoy or share with others.

Therefore, practice taking the long-range view. Learn to handle short-term pain for long-term gain! Be willing to pay the price for a successful future. Learn to delay self-gratification.

IV. The smaller the unit of time you take in planning your day the more successful you are likely to be

Effective executives, for example, think in terms of minutes, not just hours or days. They are jealous of the time. They do not treat their time lightly! Successful people think in terms of ten or fifteen-minute blocks. Time is your precious resource! Learn to acquire time. Hire people to do things in order to allow you to invest your time for activities of higher value.

Most people unconsciously waste large units of time. Use a watch that sounds every fifteen minutes so that you can observe how you are using your time.

Keep a time log and record what you are doing. Ask yourself whether or not you are using your time profitably. The more you are aware of how you use your time, the more productive you are likely to be.

V. The work you have is significant to your personal productivity

Working in a wrong activity is the biggest waste of time. The right work is the one that challenges you to do your best. Staying in a job for which you are not suited is perhaps one of the greatest waste of time you can engage in.

Think about what you are doing. Do you want to be the best in what you are doing? Do you enjoy it enough to want to do it for the next twenty years? Do you feel challenged?

You may want to work in a different place at a slightly different capacity. That is fine. But if you can't say yes to these questions, you may be in the wrong line of work. You might do better elsewhere. Look at your current function. Is this what you would like to do for the rest of your life? If not, you should decide now what to do with your life. Have you determined what is God's ideal for you? Generally, His plans for your life will be in harmony with your desires, assuming you are committed to accomplishing His purposes in your life.

VI. People and not projects is what matters

Our projects are without value unless we have people to carry them out. So, don't get preoccupied with things or tasks. The danger of being higher achievers is based on the fact that you can think of people simply as objects to help or hinder you in getting what you want.

It is vital to remember that time-management skills are means to enable us to serve others more effectively. Not to manipulate them or avoid them. Projects are means, people are the end of the means.

VII. Keep your life in balance

An individual that excels in one area at the expense of family, friends or even personal values and priorities can hardly be truly successful. Strive for balance in the various roles and the responsibility you have chosen to fulfill.

The Bible teaches a comprehensive view of life that helps us keep things in perspective. You may want to think in terms of categories that are common to everyone's life.

For example (1) your personal relationship to God and your own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being; (2) your family including your spouse. If you are married, children, parents, and other extended family or dependents; (3) your work which has to do with your employment occupation; (4) your church. Your relationship to the family of God; (5) finally your community life which includes your responsibility as citizens and your relationship to the world and society.

Each of these categories must be kept in perspective or in harmony with each other.

Are you enjoying all the facets of your life? Do you spend enough quality time with your family, giving, sharing and loving? Do you regularly appreciate the beauty and wonders of nature? The moon, the stars, the birds, the flowers, the seasons? Are you developing your skills and knowledge related to your profession? Do you regularly find time for meaningful worship and communion with God? How about your physical life? Are you taking care of the body that God has loaned you with proper nutrition, and exercise?

Let me emphasize this last point as an example because many of us get out of balance here. Use time-management to keep your life in balance by spending time in physical fitness. Set aside time for walking, swimming, running, hiking, playing tennis or golf.

Time invested in physical fitness will keep you in good physical shape and enable you to perform at your best. Make a schedule for physical exercise at least three times a week.

If you don't have time to exercise you know that your life is out of balance.

Even taking a walk makes you much more alert and productive in the afternoon.

Avoid large lunches. Your hours of work will be more productive.

This practice will help you to reduce drowsiness that often is associated with eating large lunches.

Remember, breaks can be a valuable use of your time. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is nothing. Learn to relax from time to time. Smell the roses.

Be sure to take at least one day off a week. You will be far more productive the other six days if you relax on the seventh.

You need a day of rest, to worship, and to think in order to keep your life in harmony with your deep convictions. You need a day to think through what is important to you. You need a day to focus on the eternal and adjust your life in accordance with what really matters.

VIII. How we use our time is an individual matter and you must be the judge on how to apply the suggestions in this program

Make notes of key ideas and adapt them to your own personality and individuality.

Recognize that different techniques work for different people. Detect the ideas that will benefit you the most.

Assess your own strength and weaknesses and set priorities on what you want to improve.

Remember you are the judge.

IX. Time-management is life-management

Self-mastery is a habit that can be learned. Time management must be practiced and developed throughout one's life.

It is not something that you can master in one semester. You can't master your time by simply reading a book, or listening to an audio-cassette program or taking a course.

It is a life long adventure.

X. Time-management is a daily discipline

Each day is an opportunity to begin anew.

Begin today to apply all the concepts and skills you have learned.

You must commit yourself daily to the task of effective time-management.

Remember, use what you learn or loose it.

XI. Goals will bring satisfaction if they are related to the purpose in life

Achieving goals can be very challenging. But if they are not related to life's larger meaning, they will never be truly satisfying.

You set your mind to achieve new, bigger, and higher goals and so on. The process is endless because achieving goals doesn't bring lasting satisfaction.

Solomon knew from experience that achieving goals can become an unrelated string of hollow victories that didn't bring true satisfaction. Listen to what he says in Ecclesiastes 2: 5-11: "I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned great herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!

So I became greater than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. And with it all, I remained cleareyed so that I could evaluate all these things. Anything I wanted, I took. I did not restrain myself from any joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work, and additional reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere."

Solomon discovered that the problem of setting goals and meeting them doesn't bring the real satisfaction for life. The process can be entirely meaningless if our goals don't reflect the wisdom and the larger meaning of our existence.

We would do well answering the question: What is the purpose of my life? Stated another way: What does God want me to do with my life?

I believe that God has a purpose or mission for each one of us, that is to say, a direction in which He wants us to be moving.

The only purposes that will remain are the ones linked to God Himself. "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but is the Lord's purpose that prevails" Proverbs 19:21.

Purposes differ from goals. A goal is a specific objective we want to accomplish and is measurable; it usually has a specific completion date. Purpose, on the other hand, reflects wisdom and a larger meaning. Goals are what we do, while purposes are why we do what we do. A purpose then is an aim or direction related to the why-we-exist in life.

We need to start with a purpose in our life. It helps us to focus our lives and to give us direction and continuity.

XII. Three levels of purposes in life

There are basically three levels of purposes in our lives.

In the first level we find the universal purpose which God gives to all men. It has to do with our character or what God wants us to be; with the conduct that God wants us to have.

TheWestminster Short Catechism's first question is: "What is the chief end of man? The answer is: " Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever." It illustrates a universal purpose for all men and in the Bible there is an illustration of them as well. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" is a good example.

In the second level we find the personal and specific purpose related to our individual life. It is unique. God has a personal, specific purpose for your life.

Do you know God's special purpose for your life?

I got some good news you can discover through the study of the Scriptures and prayer.

Level three includes God's ideal for developing different areas of our life. To really understand God's Word is the purpose of level three. To be a better father is a level three purpose.To learn more about personal counseling, to live in a better home; to raise godly children, all are examples of level three.

They are limited to specific areas of our life rather than overreaching the life purposes statement. They also focus and direct our activities.

Joel Sarli is Associate Secretary of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference.

Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.