Time management? Every day a gift?

Wasting my bonus days

Regaining control of my time.

I think I’m wasting my bonus days. Or, at least, I think I’m wasting too much of them.

Imagine you have a giant bowl of mashed potatoes and are a huge spud fan. If you have a gallon of mashed potatoes, you carelessly scoop them onto your plate and don’t sweat it if some falls to the floor. But, if you have just a cup of mashed potatoes you are more protective of them, right? You savor every bite and maybe even plan out how you are going to eat them and make them last.

What if time is like mashed potatoes?

Before my liver transplant, I think I looked at my days like I had so many of them that it didn’t really matter if some of them were wasted. Really, I don’t think I even thought of how I spent them at all. When we have lots of something, most of us don’t think about waste at all.

As far as time was concerned, I thought I had a whole bowl full of “later” and more on the stove.. That was my attitude without even realizing it. I could read any book I wanted to later, take that trip later, work on getting into better shape and losing weight later, pray later, make life changes later, date my wife later …


And then a doctor told me that later was on the endangered list. She said I didn’t have much later left.

That changed me. It changed the way I wanted to spend my time. It changed my priorities and even changed my approach to life. When you lose later you look at now in a totally different light.

For the first year or two after transplant I continued to live and think like a man who had only a cup or two of later left, but during year three, I’ve seen changes in my attitude and decisions that I don’t much like.

Gradually my attitude is shifting from limited later back to the lie of an unlimited supply of time.

The primary ingredient in later is time – minutes, hours, days, weeks …

We create the recipe of our lives with those ingredients and then see how it tastes. Too many minutes in conflict added to that bowl, too many hours of stress and worry, too many weeks of postponing relationship makes the recipe bitter. Too few minutes in prayer, too few hours spent sharing life with others and too few weeks of discipline makes the mix watery and tasteless.

The first year after transplant I lived every day as a bonus day. Time served me, I did not serve time. I wrote “bonus day” hashtags, celebrated relationships and laughed a lot. I knew time was a limited and precious resource and chose where I would spend it carefully. I think Robin did too.

In year two it continued fairly strong but my time investments started shifting more toward things that were demanding my attention even though they were not worth the time I would give them.

And now, looking back at year three? My “bonus days” approach to life no longer sets my course. Now I recognize bonus days when they happen but I shape them less and less. My calendar is full of good goals. My days are normally set with hurrying from appointment to appointment and my task list is focused on tasks more than people.

It’s life just like most everybody lives. It’s life that we all have been convinced is unavoidable.

But is it? Is it really unavoidable or has it just become such the norm that we believe we are powerless to affect change? We shrug and say, “it is what it is.”

I don’t know if I have a cup of time or a gallon of time.  The truth is, none of us know how much of it we have. Still we waste it, we splash it away, we spend it on so many things that don’t deserve it and relegate the truly important to later.

I want to make the changes needed in my life to regain living each day like it is truly a bonus day and gift. I need to go back to understanding that sitting by the ocean thinking and praying is vital and not a waste of time. I want to take time to walk my dog every day while listening to the Michael Buble station on Pandora instead of believing I don’t have time. I want to be a person who takes time to go to 8th grade basketball games, spends time meeting people in coffee shops, reads real books instead of Facebook articles and learns new things. I want to change back to the person who plans his meals instead of grabbing something at the nearest drive thru hurrying here or there. I want to return to recognizing exercise as a privilege instead of an intrusion on my hectic life. I want to go back to valuing people more than programs.

I liked that me a lot more than I like this me. Now to see if I can find him again.

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15