The Earlybird Was Right

By Debbie Faulkner

If you feel you have time to leisurely read this column instead of skim it, this short article probably isn't for you.

Rather, it's for people like me. People who feel prodded along by too many things to do in too little time. People who regularly repress little stabs of guilt about undone chores, unread books and unphoned friends. People who are disappointed that their busy schedules crowd out time to smell the roses.

I've always known I should do something about my busyness problem. Self-help books on exercise, relationships and spiritual disciplines, for example, have been helpful. But I've avoided time management materials. Once I knew a time management consultant who was a high-voltage, kinetic, Type-A personality who always seemed to be in a hurry. That experience has kept me away from time management books and seminars for the past decade.

But the problem of managing my time better persisted. Recently, however, I've started something new, thanks to a recent job that required that I be at my desk at 7:30 a.m., Monday to Friday.

I was astonished I could actually do decent work so early. I was equally astonished I could make it through to lunch without slumping over my keyboard. And I was amazed at how much I was getting done.

When the job was completed, I decided to continue my early morning habit working in my office at home. This is becoming my new routine: be at my desk at about 7:30 a.m., maybe read the paper for a half hour, then switch on the computer. Again, I am amazed how much work I get done. I also notice that working an extra hour in the morning energizes me instead of tiring me out.

Right now I'm endeavoring to turn this new earlybird routine into a habit. That will take a bit of time and effort, backed up by prayer. But already I've noticed other changes sprouting of their own accord because of this one small resolve to start my day earlier.

For instance, I've always made "to do" lists each day, but now I find prioritizing my tasks comes more easily. The number of unphoned people in my life is dropping.

Life seems to have eased up a bit too. I feel more in tune with the invisible but real pace of life itself. Maybe that's how farmers used to feel who left for their fields at sunrise and returned home at sunset - satisfied. That feeling seems to be growing for me, along with acceptance. A good day's work, thoughtfully planned and prayed about, is fulfilling.

Life's little wonders also impress me more often these days. Besides smelling the roses, I'm also savoring more sunsets, trees and clouds. Not so preoccupied with the undone, I'm freer to feel life brushing against my face.

This contentment, if that's what it is, isn't static though. Out of it are welling new ideas and energy. Dreams and possibilities are becoming fun to entertain gain.

Of course, all those possibilities don't look nearly as inviting at 6:30 a.m. when my alarm rings.

Can getting up a bit earlier change your life? I know it's changing mine. Your timesaver may be different from mine. In fact, it probably will be unique to you. The challenge is to realize what it is. What little secret is life trying to share with you?

Like me, you may find the next step you need to take in time management won't come from a book.

When I told a friend that I was writing this article on time management, he thrust a time management classic into my hands. I did glance at some of the chapter titles - "Breaking the Time Barrier", "Shield Your Energy", and "The Birth of Vision." Someday I might read those chapters, but right now I'm intrigued with my new washable, plastic wall calendar. I've had it for over a year, but only recently felt the nudge to put it up. Just yesterday I started to jot down the obligations and opportunities life seems to be mapping out for the next few months. Starting to chart my life with a colored felt marker looks like it's going to be fun.


Debbie Faulkner is a freelance journalist. For more information about her writing services, contact her at:

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